ARM: Review - DML 1/35 scale Pzkw. III Ausf. J (Tp) Early Production

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale ‘39-‘45 Series Kit No. 6543; Pzkw. III Ausf. J (Tp) Early Production - Smart Kit; 749 parts (488 in grey stryene, 216 “Magic Track” links, 28 etched brass, 19 clear styrene); pre-order price US$49.95 from Dragon USA Online
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 few 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 new 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 III 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 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 “lift” needed to give an accurate representation of the original.
    The kit provides only the early model’s L/42 gun barrel with its “slide molded” hollow bore with a complete breech assembly. Options also include blackout or clear headlight lenses and all view ports 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 “after market boys” 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 “Magic Track” 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 “boutique” upgrade kits are on the way for those who believe one can never add enough brass!
    As this kit is designed to replicate the early production tank some different parts on the sprues are used. However, a goodly number still 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: 5th Panzer Division, Russia 1941 (NOTE – box art disagrees with itself! Directions show sand with 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“targeted” sheet of colorful markings is provided by Cartograf.
    Overall this finally provides the Afrika Korps version of the J model.
    Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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