Takom- 1/35 Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf. M mit schürzen
In gearing up for what would eventually be known as World War II, Germany had placed importance on armor in developing its doctrine of Blitzkrieg. Having a medium tank that could engage and destroy enemy armor and provide infantry support at the same time was part of the strategy, but the means to produce such a design were not in place in the mid-30's. The Panzer I and II were a stopgap to help train crews for future tank designs and help industry evolve the methods and techniques required to produce such tanks. Considered the godfather of the Panzer III, Heinz Guderian envisioned a tank with a more powerful 5cm KwK39 L/60 main gun to replace the 37 mm (1.46 in) Pak 36.
The basic design layout was similar to the Pz. I and II, but the turret was enlarged which allowed for three men to crew the turret (commander, gunner, and loader) which increased the rate of firepower and efficiency. After various design changes and variants, contracts for the Ausf. M was placed in February of 1942. Powered by the Maybach HL 120TRM engine, it was nearly identical to the previous Ausf. L but with the addition of deep wading equipment. Schürzen 5 mm skirt armour plates were added to the hull side and 10 mm plates to the turret in 1943 as a deterrent to Soviet anti-tank rifles. It would see action during the battle of Kursk and the defense of Sicily. The Eastern Front would show how ineffective the main gun would be against KV-1 and T-34 Soviet tanks. While a total of 1000 units were ordered, only 250 were produced. The rest were either converted to Ausf. Ns, StuG IIIs, Flammpanzer IIIs, or dismantled.
What's Inside the Box
This is a Blitz kit which gives a basic fret of photoetch and no interior-- more geared to beginning modelers with reduced price. That being said, the parts are very crisply detailed. There are eight gray sprues, an upper and lower hull, the turret packaged with it's schürzen, turret stowage bin, PE fret,and decal sheet featuring four distinct schemes that are all based in Kursk in July, 1943. They include:
- 5. Kompanie, Panzer Regiment 3, 2 Panzer Division, Kursk, July 1943
- 3rd Panzer Grenadier Division "Totenkopf", Kursk, July 1943
- 6.Kompanie, Panzer Regiment 11, 6 Panzer Division, Kursk, July 1943
- 4. Kompanie, Panzer Regiment15, 11 PanzerDivision, Kursk, July 1943
Sprue A, of which there are two, contains parts for the sets of road wheels, rear idlers, sprockets, return rollers, suspension arms, headlights, schürzen brackets, and smoke grenade assemblies. Detail is excellent with each tire labeled "Continental" and any ejection marks located on the sides not seen.
Sprue B, of which again there are two, contain the link and length tracks. All outward facing surfaces are sink mark free, as are the back sides of the individual links that go around the rear idlers and sprockets. The short lengths have a sink mark on the back side on nearly every link and the two longer lengths on nearly every other link.
Sprue C is small and contains the parts for the jack, as well as tow hook attachments and shock absorbers.
Sprue D contains pioneer tools, tow cables, muffler, fire extinguisher, and side, rear, and frontal armor plates. Of note are the great details on the cables and the tool box clasps.
Sprue E contains parts for the commander's cupola, as well as the gun, including the breech, mantlet, slide molded one-piece barrel, and turret base. There are two attachment points directly on that barrel which will require careful sanding.
Sprue F contains more of the details for the schürzen hanging brackets.
The lower and upper hull parts are quite nice. The lower is a one piece tub with excellent side and underside detail. Both have subtle but concise weld lines, and the hatches can be posed closed and open, which hopefully means we may one day see a kit released with an interior. The diamond plate texture is also quite excellent.
The turret, rear stowage, and turret schürzen are also all separate. You may have to sand off the four sink marks on the inside of the schürzen as they may be visible even after installation.
The decals for the four schemes look to be quite nice and the PE includes the schürzen plates which are all separate so leaving one or a few off is easy. After annealing, they could also easily be bent up. The instruction manual is quite small...and as usual the color scheme section requires an Optivisor or reading glasses to decipher. I'd love to see them enlarged in print for those of us with old eyes.
Takom looks to have created an excellent representation of this iconic medium tank, and I see it will soon be followed by a StuG III as well. I hope one day to be able to build one with a full interior. Detail as I have already pointed out is really extraordinary and it ought to build up into a very nice model. It would've been nice to have a scheme for a Sicily Pz. III, but I imagine one might be able to sub in from the spares box or aftermarket source if the desire is there.
Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders, pending full build.
Thanks goes out to Takom for this review kit.
Reviewed by Michael Reeves
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