Pz.Kpfw. III (5 cm) Ausf. G (T)
|Stock Number and Description||Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale ‘39-‘45 Series Kit No. 6773; Pz.Kpfw. III (5 cm) Ausf. G (T) -Smart Kit|
|Media and Contents:||675 parts (611 in grey styrene, 39 etched brass, 23 clear styrene, 2 DS Plastic track runs)|
|Price:||pre-order price US$54.95 via Dragon USA Online|
|Review Type:||First Look|
|Advantages:||Another updated early production Panzer III; many options for specific display or finishing; “Smart Kit” minimizes the amount of etched brass required|
|Disadvantages:||Kit does not come with “Magic Track” single links, which will disappoint a few modelers|
|Recommendation:||Highly Recommended for all WWII German fans|
As I wrote when the “Seelowe” kit was released, as countries mechanized in the 1930s many soon came to the conclusion they would have to either deal with amphibious landings or water crossings. As the old farmer said, “cast iron sinks”, and so all of them understood as designed tanks cannot 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 (Japan) or enormous floats (US) to work. The USSR opted for very lightweight amphibious tanks, but they had minimal combat value other than reconnaissance. Britain opted for a retractable waterproof canvas skirt and propellers driven 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 approach 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 invasion of England that was planned for late 1940 (after the pesky RAF had been 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 the 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 avoid 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. For 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 could 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 crossed the Bug River.
The best solution for all concerned was later proven to be either dedicated landing craft to get standard production tanks ashore on landings or simply capturing or building bridges over rivers. As a result, most of the tanks so modified served out their lives as gun tanks in line units, albeit many 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 application. This is basically their recent Ausf. G Early kit with the specific Tauschpanzer parts added to it.
Once again DML requires the modeler to drill out holes in the kit for specific 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 does not miss them (the “Calvin and Hobbes” dictum of “directions are for sissies” does NOT apply to kits this complex!)
The suspension begins with five of the original seven “mini-sprues” and three new ones provided for the early model “porthole” drivers and more complex idlers, plus newly molded shock absorbers.
The hull pan is one with 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 earlier kits 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. A completely new engine deck is provided 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 enough room for a nice resin interior here and enough ports and hatches to see it. Note that the kit comes with both the early 3.7 cm gun and the later 5 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 paying 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 just can’t win on this subject (perhaps they should offer BOTH sets in these kits!)
Technical consultants are Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.
The kit provides three different finishing options: 2./Pz.Rgt. 35, 4th Panzer Division, 1941 (panzer grey with white crosses and the “red bear” insignia, 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 targeted decals is provided by Cartograf.
Overall this is another “gap filler” for Panzer III fans and should prove popular.
A 91 Pzkw III J hull details and turret mounting
A 53x2 StuG III Wheels and torsion bars (5 mini-sprues connected)
B 18 Pzkw III upper hull and fenders
B 46 StuG III Road wheel arms and lower hull details
C 7 Pzkw. III - mantelet seal and fittings
D 33 Pzkw III J gun and L/42 5 cm barrel
E 19 Pzkw. III turret base, mantlet, details
G 52 Pzkw IV F - turret and hull details
G 15 StuG III OVM and light components
G 12 German Generic - jack assembly
K 34 Pzkw. III Ausf. J Initial Production engine deck details
L 1 DS Plastic - left track run
15 Pzkw IV F Clear styrene
P 1 Pzkw. III Early Model hull pan with side doors
P 4 Clear styrene
Q 24 Pzkw. IV Early Model Cupola
Q 43 “Seelowe” Panzer III Tauschpanzer fittings
R 1 DS Plastic - right track run
R 6 Clear styrene
R 9 Panzer III Tauschpanzer fittings - engine cooling flaps and frames
S 44 Pzkw. III Early Model turret with 3.7 cm gun
T 4 Early model Pzkw. III drivers
U 12 Pzkw. III turret plate and applique armor
V 61 Pzkw. III Early Model engine deck and details
X 6 Early model Pzkw. III idlers
Z 4 Shock absorbers
MA 21 Etched brass
MB 18 Etched brass
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.