Tauchpanzer III Ausf. H - Smart Kit
Dragon, 1/35 scale
Reviewed by Cookie Sewell
|Stock Number and Description||
Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale ‘39-‘45 Series Kit No. 6683; Tiger I Ausf. H2 7.5 cm KwK 42
|Media and Contents:||587 parts (532 in grey styrene, 35 etched brass, 18 clear styrene, 2 DS Plastic track runs)|
|Price:||pre-order price US$67.99 via Dragon USA Online|
|Review Type:||First Look|
|Advantages:||Another unique variant of early model Pzkw. III; alternate version to the Ausf. F “Operation Seeloewe” kit|
|Disadvantages:||Kit comes with DS tracks, which will disappoint a few modelers|
|Recommendation:|| Highly Recommended for all WWII German Panzer III fans
As noted in the review of the earlier “Tauchpanzer” kits, 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 and G 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.
This new kit now builds into the Ausf. H version of the Panzer III with the wading kit and the early short 5 cm gun. It carries over most of the same components from the cyber-hobby F and “defrocked” G kits less the DS Plastic seals and hoses.
As with all DML Panzer III kits 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. The gun follows most of the DML standard design concepts and faithfully replicates the internal mantlet as well as the rest of the small details of this petite weapon.
For the H model this kit does provide the early Pzkw. IV cupola as well as a different turret shell with the ventilator fan mount. It switches over from the 3.7 cm gun to the 5 cm gun but many of the early variants’ parts are also included.
The kit comes with 36 cm DS Plastic track runs, and I keep strongly hinting to DML that they should include both DS Plastic and “Magic Track” single-links as that would please the greater percentage of modelers (the “weekenders” and the “accuracy buffs”).
Technical consultants are Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.
As this kit covers the “defrocked tanks it provides for three finishing options: 2./Pz.Rgt. 35, Russia 1941 (panzer grey, white crosses, red bear, choice of yellow 2xx numbers); 3./Pz.Rgt. 7, 10th Panzer Division, Russia 1941 (panzer grey, white crosses, white rune, bison, white 544); 5.Pz.Rgt. 35, 4th Panzer Division, Russia 1941(panzer grey, white crosses, yellow 503). A sheet of Cartograf decals is provided.
Overall this is the last original design of the diving Panzer III and offers much more colorful markings.
A 91 Pzkw III hull details and turret mounting
A 53x2 StuG III Wheels and torsion bars (5 mini-sprues connected)
B 24 Pzkw III upper hull details, mantlets and fenders
B 46 StuG III Road wheel arms and lower hull details
D 33 Pzkw III gun and details
E 20 Pzkw. III - turret and details
F 14 Pzkw. IV - cupola
G 52 Pzkw IV F - turret and hull details
G 12 StuG III OVM and light components
K 40 Pzkw. III - engine deck covers and accesories
15 Pzkw IV F Clear styrene
P 1 Pzkw. III Early Model hull pan with side doors
Q 22 Seeloewe depth gauge and hose brackets
Q 22 Seeloewe seal and snorkel float
P 3 Clear Styrene
R 9 Sealing frames
S 41 Pzkw. III Early Model turret with 3.7 cm gun (Ausf. G turret)
X 2 DS Plastic Track runs
MA 26 Etched brass
MB 16 Etched brass
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.