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James H

1:35 Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf. D/B

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1:35 Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf. D/B
MiniArt

Catalogue # 35213

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The Panzerkampfwagen III, commonly known as the Panzer III, was a medium tank developed in the 1930s by Germany and was used extensively in World War II. The official German ordnance designation was Sd.Kfz. 141. It was intended to fight other armoured fighting vehicles and serve alongside and support similar Panzer IV which was originally designed for infantry support. However, as the Germans faced the formidable T-34, more powerful anti-tank guns were needed, and since the Panzer IV had more development potential with a larger turret ring, it was redesigned to mount the long-barrelled 7.5 cm KwK 40 gun. The Panzer III effectively swapped roles with the Panzer IV, as from 1942 the last version of Panzer III mounted the 7.5 cm KwK 37 L/24 that was better suited for infantry support. Production of the Panzer III ceased in 1943. Nevertheless, the Panzer III's capable chassis provided hulls for the Sturmgeschütz III assault gun until the end of the war.

The Panzer III was used in the German campaigns in Poland, in France, in the Soviet Union, and in North Africa. Many were still in combat service against Western Allied forces in 1944-1945: at Anzio in Italy, in Normandy, and in Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands. A sizeable number of Panzer IIIs also remained as armoured reserves in German-occupied Norway and some saw action, alongside Panzer IVs, in the Lapland War against Finland in the fall of 1944. By the end of the war in 1945, the Panzer III saw almost no frontline use anymore and many of them had been returned to the few remaining armaments/tank factories for conversion into StuG III assault guns, which were in high demand due to the defensive warfare-style adopted by the German Army by then. A few other variants of the Panzer III were also experimented and produced by German industries towards the last phases of the war, but few were able to be mass-produced or even see action against the encroaching enemy forces of the US, UK and Soviet troops.
Extract courtesy of Wikipedia

 

The kit

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This is now the sixth incarnation of MiniArt’s original Ausf.B kit since its original introduction in 2014, and if you’ve not delved into one of these then I think you could be in for a surprise. This new release, the second this year, concentrates on the ability to model this vehicle as either the Ausf.D or Ausf.B variants. Packaged into a deceptively small box with a typically attractive MiniArt artwork on the lid, this release really does pack a punch when it comes to sprue and parts count. Lifting the well-fitting lid, all of the plastic within is bagged into a single cellophane sleeve, with numerous sprues within separately packed too, but not all. A single PE fret and decal sheet, plus the 18-page manual, complete this ensemble. The decal sheet is packed into the same sleeve as the clear sprue.

The PE fret is packaged into a card sleeve, and further protected itself with a thin film covering both sides of the item. 

In total, there are FIFTY-SIX sprues of medium-grey styrene and a single clear sprue. Now, before you get too excited at that figures, please remember that I include multiples of the same sprue, where applicable, and also individual parts that aren’t on a sprue, such as the turret and cupola. Sprue C and Cc are also moulded as one item, but for simplification, I have separated these for the photos and shown them individually. The kit itself does seem to comprise of between 1000 and 1100 parts, so this is no quick project, and some stuff will be pretty fiddly, such as the track assembly, plus all the spare links that adorn the front of the vehicle. The tracks are also workable. Other kit details from the MiniArt site say that the chassis is also workable, and the kit has an accurate turret interior with hatches that can be posed in either open or closed position.

Instead of the bathtub lower hull we see on some armour, this section is built from three separate parts, including the lower hull sides. It does become pretty evident why when you see the level of detail moulded onto the latter. Even the best slide-moulding would have struggled with an all-in-one part! However, slide-moulding is a big feature of this kit, with many of the sprues having elements of this included, whether it’s to create simple things like open-ended barrels, but also for things you wouldn’t expect, such as the leaf suspension units and fire extinguisher. MiniArt have made some excellent use of this technology for parts that you simply wouldn’t have associated with this particular moulding.

Whilst the Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf. D/B doesn’t have a full interior, which seems to be vogue at the moment, it does have a nicely detailed turret interior with many of the structures that you’d expect to see within, such as crew seat positions, traverse motor, azimuth, detailed main gun and twin MG34 installation. Some PE is also supplied to supplement the turret interior. All hatches are also poseable, but of course this would only really work with the turret due to the lack of detail within the main hull…unless of course you wished to use the opening to pose a figure.

Now to those tracks. Having seen some great solutions recently to assembling these things on contemporary kits, with this one, you’re on your own. There isn’t any track assembly jig that I can see, so you’ll have to do these one by one, and also the track pins will have to be fitted with the bare minimum of cement so that it doesn’t run down the locating hole and glue the links solidly together. If you take your time, you should have no problems, and you’ll have also learned some patience skills too. There must be around 500+ parts for the tracks alone (96 links per side, plus two pins per link, coupled with the main links that adorn the front hull). 

Moulding quality is exceptional, with no flaws, visible seams or other things to niggle and gnaw away at you. 

 

Sprue Ac (x4)

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Sprue Ad (x4)

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Sprue Ae (x3)

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Sprue Af (x2)

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Sprue B

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Sprue Bc (x2)

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Sprue Be

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Sprue C

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Sprue Ca

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Sprue F

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Sprue Bd (x2)

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Sprue Kd

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Sprue Hc (x2)

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Sprue K (x21)

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Sprue Ke

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Sprue Ka

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Sprue Bf

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Sprue L (x5)

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Sprues E, Fx, G
 

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Photo Etch

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Decals

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A single decal sheet, printed with nice, thin inks and solid colour. Carrier film is minimal, and everything is in perfect register. The schemes included are shown here:

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Instructions

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MiniArt’s instructions are a joy to read and follow and should present no problems during construction. A complete parts map is included, but if any parts aren’t to be used, they aren’t shaded out as they really should be. Some painting reference is included during the construction phase, such as for the turret internals, and all colours are supplied for Vallejo, Mr. Color, Life Color, Tamiya, AK Real Color, Humbrol, Revell and Mission Models codes.

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Some superb colour illustrations are provided for the FOUR schemes in this kit, with clear decal placement notation.

Conclusion
For what really isn’t too much money for a kit these days, MiniArt provide the modeller with a very comprehensive and nicely featured release, with some superb engineering and excellent detail. They sure are on the way to providing an excellent family of modern-tooled Pz.Kpfw.III kits and if you’re in the market for something to see out those last cold, dark evenings this winter, you could do far worse than to entertain yourself with this lovely kit!

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My sincere thanks to MiniArt for the review sample seen here.

 

 

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Great review of this beauty. It's on my to buy and build list, especially as it'll be a perfect build to my upcoming book Finland at War Vol. 2

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Sweet looking Kit! Now send my way so I can build it for you lol!

 

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2 hours ago, Dave J said:

Sweet looking Kit! Now send my way so I can build it for you lol!

 

+1. I really would like to build that!!

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