MiniArt 1/35 Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.D Kit First Look
|Date of Review||October 2015||Manufacturer||MiniArt|
|Kit Number||35169||Primary Media||Styrene, Photo-Etch|
|Pros||Beautiful detailing||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Advanced||MSRP (USD)||$64.99|
The German Panzer III was an evolutionary development from the lessons learned in the field with the Panzer I and Panzer II series. The Panzer I and Panzer II were classed as light tanks, while the Panzer III and Panzer IV were medium tanks. The Panzer III was originally designed as an anti-armor combat vehicle while the Panzer IV was intended for infantry support. The early Panzer III was armed with the KwK 36 L/45 (based on the PaK 36 anti-tank gun) in the turret plus two machine guns. The D-model received 30mm armor in the hull and turret, a needed upgrade over the 15mm armor on the earlier models. The first version of the Panzer III to be produced in larger numbers was the F-model at 450 units whereas the total number of A-E models was less than 165, so these early variants were used to sort out the bugs in field operations.
Here is one of MiniArt's new Panzer III kits representing the D-model. The kit is molded in panzer gray-colored styrene and presented on 47 parts trees plus engine deck, turret ring, and turret, one tree of clear parts, and one fret of photo-etched parts (duplicate trees not shown). Eighteen of those parts trees are tracks and four are track pins - more on this later.
Among the features and options in this kit:
- Nicely detailed lower hull and suspension
- Detailed drive sprocket and return roller assemblies
- Detailed road wheels
- Positionable crew hatches
- Positionable engine deck hatches
- Detailed turret interior/turret basket
- Track assembly jig included
Painting instructions are provided using Vallejo, Testor, Tamiya, Humbrol, Revell, Gunze, and Lifecolor paints. Decal subjects include:
- Panzer III Ausf.D, 132, unidentified Wehrmacht unit, Germany, winter 1939
- Panzer III Ausf.D, 10, unidentified Wehrmacht unit, Germany, winter 1940
- Panzer III Ausf.D, 242, 1 Bn/1 Panzer Regt/1 Panzer Div, Poland, Sept 1939
- Panzer III Ausf.D, -, 1st Panzer Div, Poland, Sept 1939
Assembly of the kit appears to be straightforward without the over-engineering found in other brands. I was hesitant when I saw the individual track links and pins that must be inserted on both sides of the track. If I had to do this the hard way, I'd quickly lose my will to live. MiniArt provides a jig which holds eight links at a time and the pins are spaced the correct distance where you clip seven pins on their sprue stub from the tree and insert them into the jig. You can build up your track fairly quickly using this method and the putting the links into the jig will quickly reveal any flash or other obstructions that will need to be cleared before assembly. With careful application of liquid cement, you can keep the track movable long enough to be mounted to the tank, apply sag where desired, then cement the track into place to retain that shape.
This is a nice looking kit and while there is no interior inside the hull, the interior details in the turret will make it worthwhile to keep those hatches open up there. Get one of these gems for your bench!
Note that there was some disruption of kit flow from MiniArt between their urgent move from the Crimea to Kiev and the changeover of US distributors to DragonModels USA. You should see this kit and others returning to a steady flow in North America as you read this. If you do shop around online, you'll see street prices of this kit at around $40 USD.
My sincere thanks to MiniArt for this review sample!