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Panzer III Ausf.J 'North Africa' Kit

Academy/MRC 1/35 Panzer III Ausf.J 'North Africa' Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review October 2020 Manufacturer Academy/MRC
Subject Panzer III Ausf.J 'North Africa' Scale 1/35
Kit Number 13531 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-etch
Pros Excellent details and options Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $53.95

First Look

Panzer III Ausf.J 'North Africa' Kit
Panzer III Ausf.J 'North Africa' Kit
Panzer III Ausf.J 'North Africa' Kit
Panzer III Ausf.J 'North Africa' Kit

As the Panzerwaffe was pushing through countries throughout Europe in the early days of World War II, the Germans were taking the lessons learned with the Panzer I and Panzer II tanks to create a combat duo - the Panzer III for anti-tank warfare and the Panzer IV for infantry support. As the war carried on, the Panzer III and IV evolved to meet the improved armored vehicles in each theater, but for several years, the Panzer III and its 50mm gun were effective in combat. That is, until after the invasion of the Soviet Union and its encounters with the T-34. As German crews reported "We're going to need a bigger gun", the Panzer III ran out of growth potential with its smaller turret ring at a time when bigger guns meant bigger turrets, which in turn meant that a larger turret ring was needed to deal with that growth. Since the Panzer IV had a larger turret ring, the Panzer III became the infantry support vehicle while the Panzer IV was up-gunned to combat enemy tanks. Even so, the Panzer III saw service through the end of the war (and beyond), and those that were deemed 'surplus' were re-engineered into other combat platforms like the StuG III and a variety of self-propelled artillery platforms.

Academy continues to produce some nice new armor subjects. This kit follows the Panzer IV Ausf.H kit from early 2018 and with each new release, you can see further improvements in their design, engineering, and injection molding processes. Like their Panzer IV, this Panzer III kit is molded in desert tan styrene and presented on 11 parts trees, plus one fret of photoetched parts. And like their Panzer IV, this kit is designed around a multi-part hull with internal bulkheads for strength/stability. Unlike their Panzer IV kit however, this kit uses link and length track versus the former's 'rubberband' track.

Among the features and options:

  • All new-tooled parts
  • Multi-part lower hull which provides greater strength and surface details
  • Lower hull has no holes for motorization
  • Hull uses overlays to capture the specific details of the version represented in the kit
  • Detailed suspension and roadwheels on lower hull
  • Link and length track
  • Positionable crew hatches
  • Choice of external stowage configurations
  • Choice of exhaust muffler shields
  • Detailed turret
  • Choice of short or long-barrel main gun

Markings are provided for nine subjects:

  • Panzer III Ausf.J, Red 221, 2 Kp/Panzer Regt 5/Panzer Abteilung 190, North Africa, 1942
  • Panzer III Ausf.J, Black 712, 7 Kp/Panzer Regt 5/21 Panzer Div, El Alamein, 1942
  • Panzer III Ausf.J, Red 1, 1 Kp/Panzer Regt 8/15 Panzer Div, Libya, 1941
  • Panzer III Ausf.J, Red 2, 2 Kp/Panzer Regt 8/15 Panzer Div, Libya, 1941
  • Panzer III Ausf.J, Red 7, 7 Kp/Panzer Regt 8/15 Panzer Div, Libya, 1941
  • Panzer III Ausf.J, Red 3/141, 2 Kp/Panzer Regt 8/15 Panzer Div, Libya, 1941
  • Panzer III Ausf.J, Black 1/175, 1 Kp/Panzer Regt 8/15 Panzer Div, Libya, 1941
  • Panzer III Ausf.J, Red 5, 5 Kp/Panzer Regt 8/15 Panzer Div, Libya, 1942
  • Panzer III Ausf.J, White 512, 5 Kp/Panzer Regt 8/15 Panzer Div, Libya, 1942

This is another nice offering from Academy and proves that you don't need over-engineering to render a nicely detailed model.

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!