Pz.Kpfw. III (5cm) Ausf. H Sd.Kfz. 141 Early Production - Smart Kit
Based on requirements laid down in 1934, and first seeing production in 1937, the Panzer III was fielded as the primary battle tank of the Wehrmacht at the outset of World War II. Upon engaging the Red Army’s T-34’s and KV-1’s it was evident the Panzer III was at a significant disadvantage. The E-, F-, and G- models were retrofitted with a larger 50mm main gun, which became standard on the –H model along with additional armor bolted to the rear, glacis and front superstructure of the hull. The Ausf. H also received an improved transmission and redesigned sprockets and idlers. Of an initial order of 759 Ausf.H’s, only 308 were produced until April 1941.
Building on the success of an earlier release of the Panzer III Ausf.H Late-Production tank (Item No.6642), Dragon brings a Smart Kit to the bench that depicts a similar Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.H in its early-production configuration. Introduced in this early Ausf. H are newly-tooled 40cm Magic Tracks, one-piece slide-molded lower hull, idler wheels, and drive sprockets.
Features of this beautiful kit don’t stop there, however. Masters of slide-mold technology, the kit also prominently features slide-molded turret, gun barrel with rifling and mantlet, gun sleeve, engine deck, torsion bars, cooling-air intake, hydraulic shock absorbers, and toolbox with padlock. Options are also included for full crew compartment detail, and open or closed turret slide hatches, engine hatches, and starter crank port.
Other features to delight the rivet counters include richly-detailed
- Photo-etched air-intake grills
- Complete gun assembly
- Armor plate with weld seams and weld seams on hull bottom
- Full details on lower-hull sides
- Hollowed-out undercut on turret bottom
- Fenders with detail on both top and bottom surfaces
- Injection-molded fender catches
- Rear hull tooled with smoke candle rack
- Injection molded tow cables for engine deck with cable brackets
- Injection-molded on-vehicle tools with clasp details
- Gearbox access hatches
- Separate fine-drive housing covers
- Road wheels
- Track tension adjuster
- Suspension swing arms
- Hollowed-out exhaust pipes
The decal sheet includes markings for 5 tanks, all in the standard Panzer Gray color Scheme.
Conclusion and Recommendation
Dragon certainly packs a bunch of wallop into this early up-gunned and –armored Panzer III. With a box packed full of features and detail, the modeler certainly will realize a great “bang for the buck.”
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this kit to intermediate and advanced modelers looking for a solid replica of an early Ausf. H Panzer III right out of the box, and also to the more adventuresome looking to add aftermarket powerplant and other detail.
Thanks to Dragon Models USA for the review sample and to IPMS/USA for the opportunity to get a “first look.”