Panzerbeobachtungswagen III Ausf. F (Sd.Kfz. 143) - 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. 6792; Panzerbeobachtungswagen III Ausf. F (Sd.Kfz. 143) - Smart Kit|
|Media and Contents:||612 parts (555 parts in grey styrene, 32 etched brass, 23 clear styrene, 2 DS plastic track runs)|
|Price:||pre-order price US$58.99 via Dragon USA Online|
|Review Type:||First Look|
|Advantages:||First new foray into the supplemental Pzkw. III tanks; 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 link tracks, which will disappoint a few modelers|
|Recommendation:|| Highly Recommended for all WWII German fans
In the 1950s, we had a cartoon character named Yogi Bear whose tag line was that he was “smarter than the average bear”. So it was with the Germans when they developed their tank families.
Unlike the rest of the nations – which only later on developed dedicated command and support tanks – the Germans saw the need for such vehicles early one. While higher echelon command and control was carried out using specially equipped halftracks like the Sd.Kfz. 251/3 and /6, they also adapted tanks for special purposes. The most common one were the Befehlswagen or command tanks and the Beobachtungswagen or observation tanks.
The Pz Beob Wg III Ausf. F was a conversion of the Ausf. F line tank made in 1943 in which the following actions were taken: the 3.7 cm main gun was removed and replaced with a dummy; a ball mount for a 7.92mm machine gun was fitted in the turret front; the hull machine gun was removed and the port covered over; and radios for communications with artillery units were fitted to the tank in addition to the armored vehicle radios. Normal allocation was two for every Hummel or Wespe battery. 262 total vehicles (based on Ausf. E to Ausf. H chassis) were converted.
Due to its unique appearance the observer tanks are always a popular conversion from a standard Pzkw. III, and now after long prodding DML has released a nice new kit of one. This model takes their nicely done Ausf. F kit and adds or replaces 73 parts and adds a new sheet of etched brass.
As with all DML Pzkw. II kits the suspension begins with five “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 in the turret, but in this case as it is the observer’s vehicle they are of no use (gun breech et al) and so there is nothing to show inside the turret. The cupola provided is from an early Pzkw. IV kit and comes with a number of options and two different types of view block mountings. Covers can be displayed open or closed.
The kit comes with 36 cm DS Plastic track runs, and while not wrong many modelers appreciate the Magic Track single links. As I have done in the past, perhaps DML should include BOTH sets in the kit and let the modeler decide which one to use!
Technical consultants are Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.
The kit provides two different finishing options: Abt. 500, Eastern Front 1943 (sand with green blotches, no markings save an L and 500 on the left fron fender); Unidentified Unit, 1942 (panzer grey with black crosses on hull sides). All markings are targeted and from Cartograf.
Overall this is a popular conversion and most modelers will appreciate DML doing it for them! This is another nice“complete the record” Pzkw. III variants.
A 91 Pzkw III J hull details and turret mounting
A 53x2 StuG III Wheels and torsion bars (5 mini-sprues connected)
B 24 Pzkw. III fenders, smoke candles, hull details
B 46 StuG III Road wheel arms and lower hull details
D 32 Pzkw III 3.7 cm gun
G 52 Pzkw IV F - turret and hull details
J 28 Pzbeobwg III conversion parts
L 1 DS Plastic Track - Left
K 34 Pzkw. III Ausf. J Initial Production engine deck details
15 Pzkw IV F Clear styrene
N 14 Panzer antenna components
P 1 Pzkw. III Early Model hull pan with side doors
P 4 Clear styrene
R 1 DS Plastic Track - Right
R 6 Clear styrene
S 41 Pzkw. III Early Model turret with 3.7 cm gun
U 9 Pzkw. III turret race, applique armor
U 1 Pzkw. IV cupola base
V 61 Pzkw. III Early Model engine deck and details
W 2x2 Early model Pzkw. III drivers
X 6 Early model Pzkw. III idlers
Y 1 Pzkw. III Early Model turret shell
Z 4 Shock absorbers
MA 32 Etched brass
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.