Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale =9139-=9145 Series Kit No. 654=3; Pzkw. III Ausf. J (Tp) Early Production - Smart Kit; 749 parts (488 in g= rey stryene, 216 =93Magic Track=94 links, 28 etched brass, 19 clear styrene= ); pre-order price US$49.95 from Dragon USA Online=20
Advantages: repeat of Early Production J kit with a different set of tracks
Disadvantages: kit does not come with DS tracks, which will disappoint a fe= w modelers
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all WWII German fans
For reasons best known to themselves, DML has now released a tropicalized = version of its Ausf. J Initial Production kit (No. 6463) which only adds ne= w tracks and a new sheet of markings. These appear to be a universal 38 cm = track link used on both sides of the tank, with both sets of tracks facing = the same direction. Note that this is the 16th different new mold Panzer II= I kit released by DML or its cyber-hobby.com boutique affiliate.
As with its base kit, the hull pan is similar to that from the StuG but ha= s the side hatches and other detail changes. It retains the full torsion ba= r suspension from the other kit and the detailed suspension components and = muffler assembly. As with the StuG all hatches are separate with some inter= ior details and can be positioned as the modeler chooses. All engine deck v= entilators are spaced and mounted on separate frames to get the correct app= earance and =93lift=94 needed to give an accurate representation of the ori= ginal.=20
The kit provides only the early model=92s L/42 gun barrel with its =93slid= e molded=94 hollow bore with a complete breech assembly. Options also inclu= de blackout or clear headlight lenses and all view ports and viewers may be= positioned open or closed as well.=20
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 en= ough room for a nice resin interior here and enough ports and hatches to se= e it.=20
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 g= oes, be careful of what you wish for as you may get it! Also the kit only c= omes with a modicum of etched brass - mostly grilles, brackets and the trac= k guides for the idler wheels. I am sure that =93boutique=94 upgrade kits a= re on the way for those who believe one can never add enough brass!=20
As this kit is designed to replicate the early production tank some differ= ent parts on the sprues are used. However, a goodly number still go to the = spares bin.=20
Research and drawing was by Hirohisa Takada, Shin Okada, Minoru Igarashi, = and the Dragon engineering team. Technical consultants were Tom Cockle and = Gary Edmundson.=20
The kit provides three different finishing options: 5th Panzer Division, R= ussia 1941 (NOTE =96 box art disagrees with itself! Directions show sand wi= th grey and red 123); Pz.Abt. 190, Africa 1942 (sand with grey spots/wear, = white 113); 21st Panzer Division, North Africa 1942 (sand, black 712). A=93= targeted=94 sheet of colorful markings is provided by Cartograf.=20
Overall this finally provides the Afrika Korps version of the J model.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.=20