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Panzer III

Tamiya 1/35 Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf.N Sd.Kfz.141/2 Special Edition Kit First Look

by Michael Benolkin

Date of Review November 2012 Manufacturer Tamiya
Subject Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf.N Sd.Kfz.141/2 Special Edition Scale 1/35
Kit Number 25159 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch (lots of it), Aluminum Barrel
Pros Still the best Panzer III kit in any scale Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $245.00

First Look

Panzer III
Panzer III
Panzer III
Panzer III
Panzer III

The Panzer III was designed to counter other armored vehicles in front-line service while its companion, the Panzer IV was designed for infantry support. This tank remained in front-line service until the Soviet Army countered with the T-34. Even with the largest gun that the Panzer III could acommodate, it was no match for the T-34 but its companion, the Panzer IV, was designed with a larger turret ring which translated into the ability to loft much larger weapons.

This led initially to a role reversal as the Panzer IV was put into counter-armored vehicle roles while the Panzer III supported the infantry, all the while the Wehrmacht engineers worked at two new solutions to the new threat - the Panzer V (Panther) for front-line service and recycling the now-obsolete Panzer III chassis into a self-propelled armored anti-tank gun platform which could carry larger caliber weapons than the Panzer III could in a tank configuration. This new anti-tank platform would be designated Sturmgeschütz III.

Tamiya has released a special edition of their Panzer III Ausf.N kit which is definitely worth noting. The original release, kit number 35290 was released over four years ago and it represents contemporary standard Tamiya model engineering (no motorization holes in the lower hull). I've built a few of these kits in this series and they've been excellent models on the bench.

Here we have special edition number 25159 which is standard kit 35290 accompanied by an impressive set from Aber (35K08) which is an AMS modeler's dream. Indeed, when I was photographing this kit, it felt like the photo-etch parts weighed as much as the plastic kit. Of course I had to test that theory and the plastic weighs in at about 7 ounces (roughly 198 grams) whereas the photo-etched parts weighed in at just under 5 ounces (roughly 136 grams). That is a load of photo-etch!

Let's take a look at the features and options of the stock kit:

  • Nicely detailed suspension
  • Nicely detailed road wheels and return rollers
  • Nice drive sprocket
  • Vinyl (rubber band) track
  • Detailed mufflers and exhaust shields
  • Spare track stowage
  • Separately molded pioneering tools
  • Choice of radio antenna stowed or in use
  • Detailed engine deck
  • Photo-etched engine grille
  • Metal gun barrel on main gun
  • Turret stowage basket
  • Positionable top and side hatches on turret
  • Main gun details inside turret

Now for the features and options of the Aber upgrade:

  • Nice suspension upgrades
  • Replacement fenders with lots of frame and bracket detailing
  • Improved stowage brackets for pioneering tools
  • Improved radio antenna mounts
  • Improved photo-etch engine grille
  • Replacement exhaust shields
  • Improved stowage boxes
  • Photo-etched armored side skirts
  • LOTS of interior details for the open turret interior
  • Nice detailing for inside of hatches
  • Improved metal main gun barrel
  • Replacement photo-etch stowage basket for rear of turret
  • Improved smoke grenade launchers
  • Optional armored shields around turret
  • Details for crew figures (badges, shoulder boards, headsets, throat mike)

Out of the box, this kit is definitely an AMS modeler's dream as it improves existing details as well as provides armor upgrades not available in the kit. The only thing really missing are track links to replace the rubber band track.

The kit provide three distinctive camouflage and theater options:

  • Panzer III, 116, 1st Co, sPzAbt 502, Leningrad, Winter 1942-43 - Tank 116 is in its standard Panzer Gray with white winter camouflage applied
  • Panzer III, 3, 8th Panzer Regt, 15th Panzer Div, Tunisia, 1943 - Tank 3 is in a yellow and brown camouflage
  • Panzer III, 904. 11th Panzer Regt, 6th Panzer Div, Kursk, Summer 1943 - Tank 904 standard Panzer Yellow with Panzer Green and Panzer Brown in a disruptive pattern

For a nice, easy Panzer III Ausf.N build, you can opt for the stock kit 35290. But if you're an AMS modeler and you want to really bring out the details, this kit provides nearly everything you'd want for such a project straight out of the box. The suggested retail price in the US is high, but street prices will be lower and there are some bargains to be found online (check out below).

My sincere thanks to HobbyLink Japan for this review sample! You can purchase this kit for under $130 USD at HobbyLink Japan and you'll be impressed by their great service.