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Panzer III Ausf.J/L/M

Gallery Models 1/16 Panzer III Ausf.J/L/M Kit First Look

by Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2022 Manufacturer Gallery Models
Subject Panzer III Ausf.J/L/M Scale 1/16
Kit Number 64011 Primary Media Styrene / Photo-Etch
Pros Nicely detailed kit Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $184.98

First Look

Panzer III Ausf.J/L/M
Panzer III Ausf.J/L/M
Panzer III Ausf.J/L/M
Panzer III Ausf.J/L/M
Panzer III Ausf.J/L/M
Panzer III Ausf.J/L/M
Panzer III Ausf.J/L/M
Panzer III Ausf.J/L/M
Panzer III Ausf.J/L/M
Panzer III Ausf.J/L/M

The Panzer III was developed in the 1930s to counter adversary armored vehicles while the Panzer IV (developed in parallel) was intended for infantry support. When Panzer III units drove deep into Russian territory, the tanks were effective on the battlefield - until they encountered the T-34. The Panzer III's main gun couldn't kill a T-34 without a great deal of luck, what was needed was a more powerful main gun. Unfortunately, the turret needed to house a larger main gun wouldn't fit on the Panzer III's small turret ring, but the Panzer IV did have a larger turret ring. From that point in the war, the Panzer IV would become the tank hunter and the Panzer III assumed the role of infantry support. A number of Panzer III chasses were converted into self-propelled anti-tank guns Sturmgeschutz (StuG) III.

Gallery Models released their first 1/16 armored vehicle with the StuG III Ausf.G kit late last year. You can see our first-look of that kit here, and our build review of the kit here. At the time of our build review, it was clear that other kits were following, and here is the first Panzer version, the Panzer III Ausf.J/L/M. The kit is molded in gray styrene and is presented on 23 parts trees (duplicate trees not shown) plus four trees of black styrene, one tree of clear parts, 7 trees and one bag of rust-colored parts, and one sheet of photo-etched parts. As with the StuG III kit, this model has a great deal of detail, though with the exception of the main gun, there is little other detail inside the turret or hull. This isn't a problem other that some of the hatches are positionable, though there is no point of leaving any of them open unless you add a figure or two.

The lower hull reveals how sturdy this model will be after assembly - the hull is thick, as are the other hull components. What is also encouraging is that this kit is not over-engineered nor based upon numerous tiny parts. There isn't any difficulty building this gem.

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Very detailed suspension and lower hull details
  • Detailed road wheels with separately molded tires for ease of painting and vinyl retainers to allow fitting and removal of wheels as needed
  • Drive sprockets and return wheels also have vinyl retainers for fitting and removal as well
  • Torque bar suspension is workable
  • Detailed track that is movable after assembly
  • Detailed fenders with pioneering tool mounts for the included tools
  • Choice of styrene or turned aluminum main gun barrel (the metal barrel is for the Ausf.J)
  • Detailed main gun with loading breach details
  • Detailed periscopes on the commander's cupola
  • Photo-etched grilles around engine compartment
  • Nicely detailed stowage on the engine deck
  • Dye-cut styrene armored skirts to protect the sides of the vehicle

One of the things that drain my will to live is assembling track. This track is the exception to this as their is no provision for 'snap together track' here that usually does anything but snap together. Instead, each track link is literally pinned to the next track link, just like in full scale. Since I built this track for the StuG III kit, I know now what to expect and won't have any issues there. The one problem I did encounter is with the number of tracks per run. When I used the recommended number of links, the track run was too tight on the wheels/sprockets, but adding one more link made the run too loose. What is missing in the design of this kit is an adjustable track tensioner as part of the return roller, but now that I know of the problem, I will rework the return roller mount to be adjustable so I can achieve the right fit.

Note, there are two instruction books included in this kit. One is for the Ausf.J and Ausf.L, with notes inside showing which pages pertain to a specific version. The other instruction book is dedicated to the Ausf.M.

Basic markings are provided for one of eight examples (with color profiles illustrating the different distinctive camouflage patterns in use:

  • Ausf.J, 3 Pz.Rgt, 10 Pz.Div, Tunisia, 1943
  • Ausf,J, 631, 2 Pz.Div, Russia, 1941
  • Ausf.L, unknown
  • Ausf.L, 124, Russia, unknown
  • Ausf.M, 503, 3 Pz.Rgt, 2 Pz,Div, Kursk, 1943
  • Ausf.M, 3 Pz.Gren.Div, Kursk, 1943
  • Ausf.M, 412, unknown
  • Ausf.M, 621, 6 Pz.Div, Kursk, 1943

The full-scale vehicle really isn't that large, but in 1/16 scale, this model is definitely going to be an eye-catcher on the contest table or your own display shelf.

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!