Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale =9139-=9145 Series Kit No.6463; Pzkw. III Ausf. J Initial Production - Smart Kit; 750 parts (488 in grey stryene, 218 =93Magic Track=94 links, 27 etched brass, 19 clear styrene); price estimated at US$50.50
Advantages: many options to match specific tanks at set points in the production run; =93Smart Kit=94 minimizes the amount of etched brass required
Disadvantages: kit does not come with DS tracks, which will disappoint a few modelers
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all WWII German fans
DML has now released a dedicated version of the initial production model of the Pzkw. III Ausf. J version, which adds a single new sprue, new brass and =93chops=94 out unnecessary oarts from the previous Ausf. J kit (No. 6394). It retains the parts from the StuG III =93Smart Kit=94 molds as well most of the original kit. 31 new parts are added to this kit.
The hull pan is similar to that from the StuG but has the side hatches and other detail changes. It retains the full torsion bar suspension from the other kit and the detailed suspension components and muffler assembly. As with the StuG all hatches are separate with some interior details and can be positioned as the modeler chooses. All engine deck ventilators are spaced and mounted on separate frames to get the correct appearance and =93lift=94 needed to give an accurate representation of the original.
The kit provides only the early model=92s L/42 gun barrel with its =93slide molded=94 hollow bore with a complete breech assembly. Options also include blackout or clear headlight lenses and all viewports and viewers may be positioned open or closed as well.
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 =93after market boys=94 as there is more than enough room for a nice resin interior here and enough ports and hatches to see it.
Some modelers are now learning to love the new DML DS plastic tracks, but this kit was not a beneficiary of that technology so the modeler will have to use the excellent if tedious =93Magic Track=94 links. As the old curse goes, be careful of what you wish for as you may get it! Also the kit only comes with a modicum of etched brass - mostly grilles, brackets and the track guides for the idler wheels. I am sure that =93boutique=94 upgrade kits are on the way for those who believe one can never add enough brass!
As this kit is designed to replicate only the initial models of the J sent to Russia, there are no options for using any of the later parts in the kit so a goodly number go to the spares bin.
Research and drawing was by Hirohisa Takada, Shin Okada, Minoru Igarashi, and the Dragon engineering team. Technical consultants were Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.
The kit provides three different finishing options: 2nd Panzer Division, Russia 1941 (grey - white 631); 2nd Panzer Division Russia1941 (grey - white 624); and 11th Panzer Division (grey - white 32). A small =93targeted=94 sheet of colorful markings is provided by Cartograf.
Overall this continues the family, but those hoping for a =932-in-1" with an Afrika Korps version will have to await another kit.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.