Academy- German Panzer III Ausf. J "North Africa"
I am not going to go into great amounts of detail on the Panzer III tank as a whole because you reading this review probably know just as much, if not more, than I do. I will delve a bit into the J model which was the most common variant. It served in North Africa as this kit features, as well as the Eastern Front. It featured a larger redesigned hull, the 5 cm Kw.K 38 L/42 main gun, and was powered by the Maybach HL 120 TRM petrol/gasoline 285 hp engine. The basic armor thickness in the hull front and rear was increased to 50mm, with the front glacis being 25mm thick and the hull sides 30mm. North Africa based tanks also featured armored vents on the rear engine deck.
What's In the Kit Box
This is a completely new tooled kit from Academy which is bonus for me as the Panzer III is my favorite German tank. Coming off of reviewing the Takom release earlier this year, I thought it would be fun to try to build and compare the two. There are eleven tan colored sprues with one PE fret, and link and length tracks. There is a good bit of plastic included in the kit so let's get to it...
Sprue A contains the lower hull pieces and armor plates. The kit does not include the tub type hull-- having all pieces separate to assemble. The outward facing sides are free of knock out marks-- these are relegated to the inner faces but with no interior, it shouldn't be too much of a problem. The exhausts are not drilled out which is puzzling as we will soon see that a lot of the rest of the kit is slide molded.
Sprue B features the fenders and track guards, top deck plates, hatches, glacis, and tools. Detail on the parts is excellent with the fenders and top sides showing great tread plate detail. The tools seem nice but the clamps seem a little blocky to me...(?)
Sprue C consists mostly of turret details, including extra armor plate for the sides (with just a hint of flash) and mantlet, turret hatches, rear turret stowage box, and some slide molded detail for the base of the gun.
Sprue D has track guards for the other end, deck details, mantlet detail, smoke grenade brackets, MG, and other fiddly bits.
Sprue E contains more hatches and covers, mantlet parts, jack block, tow cables, and both long and short one-piece gun barrels that are slide-molded and look great.
There are two G sprues and they contain some track lengths, sprocket wheels, suspension arms, one road wheel each, and the rear idlers with a few instances of flash.
There are four H sprues and these contain the rest of the track links and lengths, suspension arms, more smoke discharger parts, and the remainder of the road wheels and return rollers, as well as some fiddly bits. Detail is quite nice on the road wheels, which feature raised detail on the "Continental" labels.
The instruction manual is also quite nice- with a diagram showing all holes that need to be drilled on the parts before assembly. Each step features red markings for where to apply glue to mate the parts together which is helpful for beginners. Where steps that indicate addition of PE are found, they are labeled with blue. The PE fret includes screens and small chains.
Markings include decals for five different versions based in North Africa. Some of the versions have markings for different tank companies.
It is great to see brand new kits coming from Academy and I really like the changes in the design of the instruction booklet. Parts details look crisp and some of the parts featuring the slide molding will hopefully work out great. The bits of flash were minimal and easily removed and this ought to turn into a great looking Panzer III. The kit is labeled as a North Africa kit and there is no shortage of scheme options. This ought to be fun!
Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders pending full build.
Thanks goes out to Model Rectifier Corporation for this review kit.
Reviewed by Michael Reeves
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