Pz.Kfw. III Ausf. N DAK (Deutsche Afrika Korps)

Kit # 7386

Review by Stephen Brezinksi - sbrez1(at)comcast(dot)net
Edited by Rob Haelterman

Picture from Henk of Holland website, used with permission.

This model is the last significant version of the German Panzerkampfwagen III tank and represents a change in role from a battle tank with a high velocity 37-mm or 50-mm gun to a support panzer with a low velocity 75-mm gun.
This kit is basically the same as the new DML Pz III L kit # 7385 except for the different main weapon, so the comments below on the parts should also count for both kits.

The Box Art
The typically very nice DML box art painting depicts a Pz III in tan coloring accompanied by several Pz.Kpfw.VI Tiger I tanks. One of the Pz III N’s initial roles was to support the Tiger Battalions. Let’s see what the vehicle looks like, so we can later see if this is what is in the box. The radio antenna on the starboard side is raised and sandbag supplementary armor is piled around the front and sides. On the bow are two lengths of spare track. Between the sandbags we see the bow machine gun peaking out on the left and the driver’s direct vision visor on the left.

Up on the turret we see a commander figure, a helmet hanging from the triple smoke grenade dischargers, and the short 75-mm gun and the coaxial machine gun. The wheels we have seen before on the DML Sturmgeschütz III kits.

The Pz III is set in Tunisia and painted in Afrika tan. There are markings for two Panzer III’s in North Africa.

The Parts Diagram
There are about 89 light-gray injection molded parts, 6 etched brass parts and two DS plastic band tracks. The parts diagram below the box art is typical of DML kits and shows this kit’s four sprues and separate upper and lower hull parts. Unlike many DML kits there are not a lot of extra, unused parts we can scrounge for use with other models.

The lower hull is slide molded, so has good detail without having to be made in three parts like the Revell and ESCI Pz III kit lower hulls. Like the other kits, the torsion bar arms are molded in-place and cannot articulate. There are no sandbags for laying on the bow but these can be made with some epoxy putty.
Two small photo etched frets, MA and MB, supply air intake screens and a plate over the front appliqué armor.

Here is a comparison of the multiple-part, light gray Dragon Panzer III hull parts at far left, the gray plastic ESCI/Italeri Pz III upper hull in the center, and the amber plastic Revell AG Pz III hull at right. I imagine DML’s goal with producing the upper hull in about nine parts where the others do the same thing in one or two parts is to achieve greater detail? Or perhaps options to produce multiple variants with modular parts?

On the fenders we see that a lot of the tools are molded into the fenders like what Revell and ESCI did; though done very well, this is very disappointing for me. On the engine deck the towing cables are also molded onto the deck like with the old ESCI kit. What is most disappointing for me is that the six rectangular engine vents are also molded down onto the engine deck like the old ESCI kit. Unforgivable for a company like Dragon! DML did not do this when they produced their StuG III kits, so why did they do it with their 1/72 Pz III which has basically the same engine deck? To add salt to the wound, the vents are so low that we cannot cut a reasonable groove along the bottom to simulate the vent opening like I have done with the ESCI kit. Come on Dragon, this would have meant just six more parts, just six simple rectangles in a kit that does not have a lot of parts to begin with! My assessment is that this was poor judgment for the designers and will keep me from purchasing any more of these Pz III kits from DML. I guess we could cover the engine deck with tank riding infantry or stowage?

The lower hull is one-piece slide molded with the sides and torsion bars and roadwheel axles molded in, similar to their StuG III kit.

Here, on sprue-A ,we find a superbly rendered turret bin at upper left. At upper right are the hull superstructure sides with nice visors; and is that interior visor detail on part A14 even though there is no open hatch to be able to see it? Below the superstructure sides are four separate shock absorbers that ESCI and Revell mold into their Pz III hull sides. The driver’s plate, rear plate, and mantlet are superbly done.

The turret cupola is well done but unfortunately all the visors are molded closed so if displayed in combat the commander cannot see anything! This is a problem with ESCI and Revell Pz III and Pz IV cupolas also. The screw detail on the turret roof looks good. Like the ESCI and Revell turrets, the grab handle above the side hatches is molded onto the roof: disappointing.

A small issue is that the six turret smoke grenade dischargers at center left (parts A22 & A23) are molded pointing in one direction; all six actually pointed in slightly different directions in an arc across the front of the turret. The two mufflers are particularly well done. There is one spare track holder included (part A38) on the bow of the panzer but no spare track as portrayed in the box art.
There are no crew figures included,

Of particular interest are two small hatches at upper left. These are lower side hull escape hatches for an early Pz III variant. I suspect and hope that a 37-mm or short 50-mm armed Pz III may be in the plans.
(Ed. note: these hatches might be used on this kit as some Ausf. N were built on early Ausf. L chassis.)

While the ESCI Pz III Ausf. N and Ausf. M, and the Revell Pz III Ausf. M come with Schürzen side skirts and brackets, the Dragon kit does not.

This scan compares the gray DML wheels with the Revell wheels below. Both are done very well but I like DML’s just a little better. The return rollers are slide molded as one unit. Based on the sprue-D tab at the left that states “1/72 StuG III” we see that this DML sprue is the same as that in their Sturmgeschütz III kit.

DML’s assembly instructions are their standard exploded view style with eight clear steps. Something I don’t recall from DML’s earlier instructions is the notes on handling and stretching the DS plastic track material located at lower right of this scan. Missing from the DML model is the deep fording muffler that is available in the ESCI and the Revell AG Pz III kits. (Ed. note: this muffler would be appropriate for Ausf. N built on Ausf. M chassis.)

The directions show an antenna base attached to the hull side, part A14, but I could not find this antenna base on the sprues.

The DML DS tracks are done very well and should be the same as that with the DML StuG III kit. Though some dislike band tracks like these and prefer hard link & length, for me it is more how well they are done that matters. Excellent band tracks are much better to me than mediocre link & length.

I have mixed feelings about this model kit. The parts are molded well and overall the parts and scale appears accurate, certainly an improvement over the elderly ESCI kit. The kit impresses me as being designed by two engineers with different goals, one bent on designing a fine display model and the other designing a simple wargaming kit, and neither accomplished their goal. The molded-on ventilation covers on the roof of the engine deck and the molded-on tools are a great example of a lazy shortcut that detracts greatly from what could be a great display model and why I will not buy another DML Pz III when I have an equivalent Revell kit; then again I could use many DML parts to improve my old Attack Pz III models.

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Article Last Updated: 18 February 2012