Takom Pz.Kpfw. III Ausf. N mit Schürzen
First Look review of this kit is at http://www.amps-armor.org/SiteReviews/ShowReview.aspx?id=14692
Despite the series name "Blitz", this was not the quick build I expected; some of that was due to my lack of experience and skill, some to the way the kit is made. I will address some of the issues encountered during the build that caused delays. Also, some of the photos are dark, due to my lack of a good model photography set-up and simple point and shoot camera. I do not have the confidence to build a kit and then paint, especially all the small details such as tires, tracks, and tools, so I paint as I go, and the photos will reflect that.
Once cleaned up, all the suspension arms sit level
Despite the size of the font, the tire logo Continental can be made out on both return rollers and road wheels. Vallejo German Green Brown Primer 73.606.
Steps 1 through 3 are like most armor kits - building up the suspension and wheels. Takom's bathtub style bottom hull has nicely molded access hatches and maintenance ports on the hull bottom, along with the various mounting holes for road wheels, sprockets, idlers, and return rollers. The mounting holes for the suspension arms are keyed to two small pins on the arms, but some of them were not exact fits, requiring a bit of fine filing or shaving with a sharp knife blade. The idler wheel mounts are molded in one piece with the adjustment arm, which makes that part of the assembly easy. The bump stops and shock absorbers are nicely detailed and fit without any problem. Step 3, making 12 road wheel pairs and six return roller pairs, required removing flash from several of the strengthening pins on the inside faces of several road wheels. In addition, there is also a small keyed pin to be used in matching up the road wheel pairs, which also was not an exact fit, requiring a little shaving as well. The wheels all attached to axles without any problem.
Step 4 is building up 15 track links (B1) and attaching them to the front lower hull along with retaining bar D52. This assembly was attached later after the camouflage pattern had been applied to the kit.
Steps 5 and 6 are building up the rear hull panels and attaching tow points and pintle, eight-part exhaust system, and two air ventilation hatches (A7), which can be displayed open or closed. I planned on building them in both configurations, but when trying to attach the plate, broke the arm (A38) that holds it open, so ended up gluing both closed. My recommendation is to attach A7 after the plate has been attached, not before like the instructions direct. Note that part D14, the rear hull plate, slides over the idler adjustment arm, but required a little careful force to get it to slide over the arms without breaking them.
Step 7 is attaching the idler wheel and sprocket assemblies; note that the sprocket has a small pin, about 11 o'clock in the photo that matches up to the hole about 4 o'clock in the final drive.
Step 8 is building up and attaching the link and length track assemblies, but as noted above, I wait until I've done the main painting before installing the tracks. Although there is no track building jig, like other Takom kits I've built, there is a built in sag that closely matches the return roller placement, and both sets of track runs built up without any problem. I'm not sure why, but the directions show the right side run as using 10 single tracks on the sprocket and idler builds, while the left side run uses 11 single tracks on the sprocket and nine on the idler.
No, not painted red, just don't know how to adjust color balance on my digital camera.
Steps 9 through 17 are building up the upper hull, and again, I deviated from the directions and attached the parts that I felt would not be in the way of painting and would not be at risk of being broken off while being handled. These steps involve drilling holes for upcoming tool and schürzen bracket attachment; building up and attaching headlights, left and right hull side plates, front mud flaps, fender supports, armored covers for engine grills, brake vents on the front glacis, and the first PE parts, rear brackets. Parts such as an 8-link track run for additional armor on the glacis plate, and rear tow cables were left off until after the painting was done. The armored air intakes on the rear sides were installed, along with the spare road wheel supports and more PE parts, rear mud flaps, jack support, front armor plate with bow MG34 and driver's visor, followed by the additional spaced armor for the front plate. The front hull plate (part D17) has two rectangular shaped extrusions on the backside that are supposed to fit into two similarly shaped holes in the front hull assembly, but did not fit. I had to use a razor saw to carefully saw at least 1MM off of both in order to get the hull plate to fit. The two-part ball mount was another fit problem, requiring some more sharp knife work along with a bit of sanding before the two keyed parts would actually fit together. Although it is a nicely detailed MG34, none of the receiver part of the gun can be seen once installed, so adding the various control arms to it are not necessary, although I did it for the review. Although I painted the schürzen plates off the tank, I did not install them in step 17 until after the turret was finished.
Steps 18 through 21 are attaching ventilator cap, side hatch stops, grab handles, commander's sighting vane (PE), rain guards, side hatches, either open or closed (I left both sides open). There is no hull interior, other than the gun breech, so either add AM interior details or figures, or both. Build up and attach the turret storage basket, smoke grenade dischargers, commander's cupola and hatch. Although there is an option for open or closed cupola periscopes, there are no clear parts. I used Testor's clear glue for windows to make the glass in the open 'scopes, which worked nicely.
Steps 22 and 23 are building up and installing the main gun, which is a single part, slide molded gun barrel, with a slight seam that came off with gentle sanding. There were a couple of fit problems with the gun assembly, specifically installing the gun/recuperator assembly into the interior mount (M7), requiring yet more sanding and knife work. In addition, there is an optional ring, parts M4 or M5, that is supposed to slide down the main gun barrel and mate up with the gun housing (M8), but of course, the part I chose, M5, did not fit, so I had to use a rat tail file to carefully sand down the inner diameter until it would fit. The gun breech went together well, as did the shell casing basket and recoil guards. Attaching the two parts (E31 and E32) which permit the gun to elevate and depress was a little fiddly, and is a great testament to using polycaps for that function! Make sure when installing the gun assembly into the turret, you install the gun first and then the turret ring.
Step 24 is installing the turret schürzen brackets and side and rear schürzen plates; there is an option to leave the schürzen access opening to the turret side hatches open or closed. I left both open, and fortunately the glue for the brackets had not dried completely so that I could nudge the two brackets a little closer together so the access hatch would actually attach. Otherwise, all the schürzen brackets attached without any issue.
After painting the base color (Vallejo Dunkelgelb 71.025) and camouflage (Vallejo Panzer Olive 71.096), all remaining tools, tow cables, and spare road wheels were attached, along with all schürzen plates. Following that, the model was airbrushed with Vallejo Satin Varnish 70.522, and once that dried, decals attached with Tamiya MarkFit. Speaking of decals, out of the four color options provided, I chose the one for 6.Kompanie, II./Panzer Regiment 3, 2nd Panzer Division, Kursk, July 1943. Build complete!
As mentioned at the start of the review, this was not a quick, Blitz-like build. There were fit problems and fiddly part problems that required more time to fix than I expected, but the kit is build-able and nicely detailed for what is in the box. At no point did I feel like hurling it at the wall in frustration, and I only lost one small part due to tweezer launch. The only other PzKpfw III I've built was Tamiya's Pzkpfw III Ausf. M/N back in the '70s, when I was in Japan, so I cannot compare this to the many PzKpfw IIIs now coming to market from other manufacturers, but comparing the finished kit to the Panzer Tracts line drawings and photos found on line, Takom has done a nice job presenting a fairly accurate kit. As for the fit problems, no kit is perfect, so now that I know what to expect, I would build another Blitz kit and hope that if there were fit challenges, what I've learned on this build would make the next Blitz kit build easier.
Recommended for Intermediate to Advanced builders. If you're a beginner and looking for a challenge, than by all means go for it.
Thanks goes out to TAKOM for this review kit.
Reviewed by Joseph "Mac" McDaniel
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