Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale ?39-?45 Series Kit No. 6773; Pz.Kpfw. III (5 cm) Ausf. G (T) -Smart Kit; 675 parts (611 in grey styre ne, 39 etched brass, 23 clear styrene, 2 DS Plastic track runs); pre-order price US$54.95 via Dragon USA Online
Advantages: another updated early production Panzer III; many options for s pecific display or finishing; ?Smart Kit? minimizes the amount of etche d brass required
Disadvantages: kit does not come with ?Magic Track? single links, which will disappoint a few modelers
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all WWII German fans
F I R S T L O O K
As I wrote when the ?Seelowe? kit was released, as countries mechanize d in the 1930s many soon came to the conclusion they would have to either d eal with amphibious landings or water crossings. As the old farmer said, ?cast iron sinks?, and so all of them understood as designed tanks cann ot float. So each nation came to its own conclusions on how to address the problem.
The US and Japan opted for pontoons to allow the tanks to float, but this resulted in either having to have specially designed lightweight tanks (Jap an) or enormous floats (US) to work. The USSR opted for very lightweight am phibious tanks, but they had minimal combat value other than reconnaissance . Britain opted for a retractable waterproof canvas skirt and propellers dr iven by the tracks, but this proved to be fragile and only really effective in light seas or calm water.
The Germans basically conceded that the tanks would sink, so their approac h was to waterproof the tank and fit it with a snorkel system and pressure relief exhaust so it could operate autonomously under water. For their inva sion of England that was planned for late 1940 (after the pesky RAF had bee n eliminated) the Germans converted 168 Pzkw. III Ausf. F tanks to use this system; these were dubbed ?Tauchpanzer? or diving tanks.
The system consisted of a number of seals to prevent water leakage into th e hull and a pressure relief exhaust fitting that prevented water backflow into the engine. A floating snorkel buoy was developed that was fitted with a rubber hose that could stretch up to 15 meters in length for air intake; to avoid taking in the exhaust gases which would bubble up and also to avo id problems with a high sea state there was an extended intake tube on top of the snorkel buoy, as well as a short radio antenna for communications. F or navigation purposes underwater a gyrocompass was fitted for the driver.
The tanks were to be driven off a ramp from a landing ship into the water and then driven to land, where the seals would be removed so the tanks coul d then join in combat. But after the cancellation of ?Seeloewe? at the end of September 1940 the tanks were then converted to a simpler system to provide for limited water crossing capability of only about five meters for use in the invasion of Russia. The best known use of the vehicles was on 22 June 1941 when the modified Pzkw. III tanks of the 18th Panzer Division c rossed the Bug River.
The best solution for all concerned was later proven to be either dedicate d landing craft to get standard production tanks ashore on landings or simp ly capturing or building bridges over rivers. As a result, most of the tank s so modified served out their lives as gun tanks in line units, albeit man y of the special fittings were left in place.
After a dedicated ?Seelowe? kit of the Tauschpanzer III was released, DML has now gone back to release a kit of the vehicle in its more common ap plication. This is basically their recent Ausf. G Early kit with the specif ic Tauschpanzer parts added to it.
Once again DML requires the modeler to drill out holes in the kit for spec ific parts, as well as calls out options. Alas, theses are tucked into the very busy directions and thus the modeler must be attentive to ensure he do es not miss them (the ?Calvin and Hobbes? dictum of ?directions are f or sissies? does NOT apply to kits this complex!)
The suspension begins with five of the original seven ?mini-sprues? an d three new ones provided for the early model ?porthole? drivers and mo re complex idlers, plus newly molded shock absorbers.
The hull pan is one with the side hatches and other detail changes. It ret ains the full torsion bar suspension from the other kit and the detailed su spension components and muffler assembly. As with the earlier kits all hatc hes are separate with some interior details and can be positioned as the mo deler chooses. All engine deck ventilators are spaced and mounted on separa te frames to get the correct appearance and ?lift? needed to give an ac curate representation of the original. A completely new engine deck is prov ided for the early variants of the Pzkw. III with this kit.
The kit includes the rudiments of an interior, but unlike many Russian or Ukrainian kits the details they provide are highly accurate as far as they go. This should please the ?after market boys? as there is more than en ough room for a nice resin interior here and enough ports and hatches to se e it. Note that the kit comes with both the early 3.7 cm gun and the later5 cm one, so the modeler actually has a choice between the first 50 and the succeeding early tanks. Both cupolas are also provided ? and for ONCE a guide as to which finishing option had which cupola! Kudos to DML for payin g attention to that detail.
The kit comes with 36 cm DS Plastic single runs, and while not wrong many modelers appreciate the ?Magic Track? single links for accuracy. DML ju st can?t win on this subject (perhaps they should offer BOTH sets in thes e kits!)
Technical consultants are Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.
The kit provides three different finishing options: 2./Pz.Rgt. 35, 4th Pan zer Division, 1941 (panzer grey with white crosses and the ?red bear? i nsignia, red 212); 2./Pz.Rgt. 35, 4th Panzer Division, 1941(white crosses, ?red bear? insignia); Pz.Abt. D, 1940 (white 110Y). A small sheet of ta rgeted decals is provided by Cartograf.
Overall this is another ?gap filler? for Panzer III fans and should pr ove popular.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.