Pz.Kfw. III Ausf. N DAK (Deutsche Afrika Korps)
|Kit # 7386||
Review by Stephen Brezinksi - sbrez1(at)comcast(dot)net
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.