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“Kasserine Pass” Afrika Korps Tamiya 1/35 Panzer III L, 10th Panzer Division, Tunisia, February 1943

Here it is…………… I finally finished this one and have the time to post it. This one will be my 101st article here on Imodeler.

Beware, there is one graphic photo in this article, that has a dead German soldier in it. He was presumably a crewman in the tank I built a model of. I normally like to include original pictures with my models if I can find them. Unfortunately, this is the only picture I was able to find that showed the actual tank.

I want to begin by thanking my friend, Professor David A. Thomas, for coming up with the Group Build for the “Battle of Kasserine Pass”. David was there every step of the way during this build, providing a lot of encouragement along the way.

The Battle for the Kasserine Pass was a very significant event, that helped to change they way that the US Army operated in combat. It also was an eye opener for the top brass, and numerous persons in “leadership positions” were sacked for their poor performance.

The actual battle for Kasserine Pass occurred between February 19th, through the 24th, of 1943.

When I picked the Panzer III to model for the Group Build, I was under the impression that this particular tank was used by the DAK, (Deutsche Afrika Korps) in the Battle of Kasserine Pass.

I will abbreviate the name Kasserine Pass by using the initials “K.P.” from here on to simplify things……..

Lo and behold, after some digging on the internet, I found out that the Battle of K.P. consisted of many other smaller fights, that all played a part in the final outcome. Thanks to the internet, I was able to actually find out the end of the story behind this particular Panzer III tank, #115.

Panzer #115, was part of the 10th Panzer Division, and was used in Tunisia. Immediately after the battle of K.P., The Germans reorganized and started another Battle, only two days later. This new operation was called “Operation Ochsenkopf”, which is German for “Ox Head”.

Operation “Ox Head” is also known as the “Battle of Sidi Nsir”, and the “Battle of Hunt’s Gap”, depending on your sources. This Operation was another Offensive attack in Tunisia and lasted from February 26th, through March 4th, 1943.

Here is a great article on Wikipedia that covers the Battle more in depth, should you be interested. The original black and white photos, as well as the bulk of the historical information came from this Wikipedia article…………….

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Ochsenkopf

This time, instead of fighting the Americans, the Germans were fighting British forces. The German units involved were elements of the 10th Panzer Division, (where the bulk of the Division was actively engaged in another Operation, called “Spring Storm” elsewhere), The “Hermann Goring Division, and the 334th Infantry Division.

These three German units were to attack the British Forces in three separate prongs, (that looked a lot like an Ox’s head on paper), giving the Battle it’s name.

My Tamiya Panzer III was used on the “Southern Horn” attack. It was knocked out by a British “Churchill” Tank, like these pictured here.

Who knows ???? We could be looking at one of the tanks that actually knocked my Panzer III out in real life………..

According the article on Wikipedia, The Germans lost two 88 mm, two 75 mm, and two 50 mm anti-tank guns, four smaller anti-tank guns, 25 wheeled vehicles, two 3-inch mortars, the two Panzer III and inflicted nearly 200 casualties. Here is a graphic picture showing the Panzer III that I built a model of.

Apparently it was one of the two Panzer III tanks lost by the Germans on the “Southern Horn” during the battle.

I tried to replicate the picture by posing my model in a similar fashion.

Initially I wanted to add crew members to this build. But after I found this photo, I decided against it, as I thought it was not the proper thing to do. I almost decided that I would not post the photo with the dead German tanker……………. but then I wanted to remind everyone that War is horrible. This picture should remind us all that there is a human side to our models……………….

Getting back to the model, this one was an absolute joy to build. The fit was spot on. I added a metal turned aluminum barrel by Jordi Rubio, and I used individual track links that were made by Dragon / DML, in place of the kit rubber bands.

I like to use individual track links when I build a kit where the tracks normally had a sag to them. Most of the time this is for German and Russian tanks.

I painted this one using Model Master enamels. The primary color used is RAL 8020, Afrika Braun 1942.

Other than these additions, the tank was pretty much built right out of the box.

The turret has a nice 50 MM main gun and breech assembly in it. I painted mine and posed the doors open, since the original plan was to add three crew members. You can see some of the details in this photo………….

I was going to add one crewman on each side of the turret, and have the Commander in the center hatch.

I used the kit OVM tools, and mounted them where the instructions advised they went.

This is something that you should be wary of if you are planning on building one of these. More often than not, there are subtle differences with how these tools are placed with tanks from various units.

I added tracks to the front slope in a few places, just as the original had done. This was often done to augment the armor’s thickness, but in reality, most of the time this had a negative impact. I’ll explain why next.

When an incoming round hits a “hardened” armor plate (the type of stuff tanks are made of), if the angle is good, it might deflect away and not penetrate. However, when the incoming round strikes something that is a softer type of metal, (like that used in track blocks) it might actually allow the nose of the round to dig in, making it easier to penetrate the tank.

Then you have the added weight, which will affect the performance of the vehicle in a negative manner.

However there are some types of rounds where the additional thickness afforded by the track blocks, is the “HEAT” type rounds. These rounds use a chemical reaction from a shaped charge, that literally burns a hole into the armor.

One thing I did immediately notice once I found the original photo, is that the front mantle by the main gun had the additional “Bolt On” armor removed. This was one of the improvements made to the Panzer III “L” series, where they allowed for a space between the first layer and the main armor plates. So I left this additional plate off the model too……….

I painted the Fire Extinguisher in Dark Panzer Gray, as these items were manufactured at a different time from the build of the tank. The Dark “Panzer Yellow” that is often seen on mid war German vehicles, was just starting to come out when this battle happened. As such, I decided it would be best to paint the extinguisher Dark Gray………… I used the same logic for the spare road wheels ………..

The extinguisher is mounted in between the spare road wheel set and the jack.

I used the kit supplied tow cables. Normally I replace them with small diameter copper wire, but these looked pretty good, so I decided to paint them and glue them in place on the rear deck……………

To me, the Panzer III was a good looking tank……….. It had the lines……………. and it was a good tank for it’s time.

The “L” version had the long barrel 50 MM main gun. This was a major step to increase the usefulness of the tank, when it was coming up against better armored and bigger gunned tanks, like the T-34.

Being a former tank crewman, and spending quite a lot of time in the desert, I can only imagine how these men lived and fought. I know that we trained to perfection. It’s often the crew that makes the difference. We had great tank crews……………… I’m sure my fellow tanker buddy Jeff Bailey would say the same of his unit and their crews.

This is the sight you want to see as a gunner…………….. The back side of the opposing tank……….

If you cant get into that position, the sides are your next best bet………….

If you happen to see the small hatches on the sides, just above the road wheels, that was the escape hatch. It was discontinued on later Mark III tanks.

Once I painted the model, I gave it an overall light dusting using highly thinned Tamiya “Buff” color.

I think it turned out pretty well overall, and I am very pleased with the overall fit and quality of the model.
If you get into a rut with a more complicated build, I highly recommend these Tamiya kits.

They build up rather fast………………

You can see how I built this one, by following this link to the build log under the Kasserine Pass Group Build.

http://imodeler.com/groups/battle-of-kasserine-passtunisia-campaign-build-group/forum/topic/135-tamiya-panzer-iii/

Thanks again David, for creating the GB, and encouraging along the way.

Many thanks go to Martin and his staff, for hosting this wonderful website, where we can post our work in a friendly environment.

“As usual, Comments are Encouraged………………”


32 responses to “Kasserine Pass” Afrika Korps Tamiya 1/35 Panzer III L, 10th Panzer Division, Tunisia, February 1943

  1. Nice clean build, my friend….I really like this one – 101 and counting. 🙂

  2. A really great build!

  3. Good to see this build finished. Your 101st posting complements the WIP very well, just the right amount of interesting information and the pictures are great as well. I’m sure David is very pleased with this addition to the group build.

    • Thank you George. I am happy that this one is completed too. Now I can concentrate on the “other” projects…………… 🙂
      I try to keep my articles down to a length where they are not overly boring………….. and pictures help to bring the build to life. Especially if you can find a few of the original …………..
      Take care my friend.

  4. Absolutely fabulous build my friend, as always your reporting on the work done is a joy to read as much as looking at the end result. Very nice entry to David’s GB on K.P. and who knows, maybe your Pz III and my Tiger I met each other once near the town of Kasserine in early 1943…

    Your 101st may not be able to get airborne (..) but it still looks very menacing from the front!

    • Hello Michel,
      I’m glad you liked this one. Your Tiger (and Opel Blitz) would look right at home parked next to this little Panzer III……………… 🙂

      Maybe I should have posted up a C-47 with D-Day stripes, or one of Patton’s Sherman’s racing towards Bastogne for my 101st posting. I have the proper kits but sadly they are still unassembled……………

  5. He just keeps going, and going, and going, and …

    If you were Airborne, this 101st piece would REALLY be special!

    Awesome Mk.III, Lou. I’m like you; I find the Mk.III to be a somewhat handsome tank … much more than the Mk.IV, only because of the roadwheels. Silly, right? These tanks were more modern looking than the Churchill tanks – the type that knocked this one out, apparently. The French Char tanks are also odd, to me though they DO look like they’re pretty well protected. Trouble is, they had a tiny gun and turret. What size was the main gun on a Char? 22 Long Rifle rimfire?? Seriously, didn’t these Mk.III tanks have 3 different guns in their lifetime? First, a 50mm like was on this version, then wasn’t there a longer barreled gun and lastly, a 75mm with a short barrel?

    Another thing I learned here: I had never noticed the escape hatch before. There’s learnin’ goin’ on here.

    I agree about the importance of the crew quality. It has been shown time and time again that a mediocre crew in a great tank (or plane, or whatever) can often be defeated by a great crew in an average vehicle.

    Bravo, Louis! The Iron Works are putting out some HEAVY metal for sure!
    Exit stage right, to the sounds of the Red Rocker … or Don Felder … your choice!

    • Hey my fellow DAT brother !!!!!!!!! It was good talking with you today………..

      Yes if I were a “Screaming Eagle”, this 101st posting would be like icing on the cake……….

      This may sound strange, but I like the looks of the Mark III better than the Mark IV too. I think it is the road wheels………….. and it’s not silly to me. I get it.

      The Panzer III started out with a smaller 37MM main gun, but they were originally designed to have a 50 MM. They decided to install the smaller main gun because the Wehrmacht used a 37 MM anti tank gun at the time, and they wanted to “streamline” ammunition supplies. Things changed once they started losing tanks to the French Char and the T-34. That’s when they decided to install the 50 MM it was originally designed for. But the original 50 MM was a shorter barrel than what you see on my model. In an effort to increase muzzle velocity (and stopping power) they lengthened the tube to what you see here.

      Finally on the Panzer III N, they installed the short barreled 75MM, which was the same Main gun used on the earlier Panzer IV’s (like the D model). These did look odd to me…………… and I get the .22 rim fire joke, that was good……….

      I’ll take a well trained crew in a mediocre tank any day………… We qualified our old “Dinosaur” M-60A1’s on Table 8 using the more stringent M-1 time qualifications. All of our tanks qualified on the first go round in our Troop…………. Some (including mine) qualified as “Distinguished”. Several times our crew scored the highest in our Troop. Once we even scored the highest in our Squadron, and took home the “Top Gun” trophy……………… Not bragging………… well OK maybe a little …….. 🙂

  6. This is a masterclass build. Well done!!!

  7. Louis, Excellent !, Not much more needs to be said !

  8. Beautiful, precisely built Panzer II with just the right balance between out-of-the-box “every man” appeal and the necessary aftermarket additions that sets it apart. Great work, Louis, and yet another fantastic contribution to the KP group build. As you so eloquently point out, these machines are weapons of war that ultimately ended up on the short end of history. We build them, at least in part, to commemorate the human cost. (My A-20 could have been of any number of p[articular aircraft; I chose one that was shot down to make the same point.)

    Thanks for all you do, Louis. You’re a force of nature on iModeler!

    • David my friend,
      You’re a good man, and I’m glad you understand the point I tried to make with this one.

      My sincere thanks go out to you, for starting this GB, and for coaching us all along the way. You gave us a blank pallet and together we all told the story. Your A-20 build really knocked it out of the park. For me it’s a toss up between the A-20 you built for the Kasserine Pass GB, and your Piper Cub as far as which one is my all time favorite article of yours.

      The stories behind them are real eye openers. I have a few more builds under way, and hope to have them finished in a timely manner.

      Thanks again my friend………………. 🙂

  9. Louis, that’s one pretty tank! The open side hatches give it something extra, to me.

    • You know what Bernard ?? Initially I had intended on installing a crewman in each open hatch. Then I decided against it after I found the photo of the real tank. I didn’t think it would be proper to do that. So I let the tank do the talking for me. (if that makes any sense)………….. But I agree, the Panzer III and Panzer IV look best with the side turret hatches open for some strange reason.

      • Louis, exactly! Sometimes we are compelled to do certain things, without knowing why. Trust your “hunches”. Years ago, I saw a model of a Mk III on the cover of a British Military Modeling magazine. It was under way, and a crew member was sitting in the open side hatch. It’s someplace in my cuttings from old magazines, for projects I want to try, someday. I also figure if I was a tanker, in the desert, I’d take any chance to get some air on my face, even if it was hot air.

        • I was a tanker and I served in the desert. Believe me it gets pretty darned hot !!! The tools get so hot that you will burn your hands if you touch them. We cooked eggs on a fender once !!!

          So I understand the open hatches…………………. 🙂

          and more often than not, I follow my “gut instincts”. This has saved my “bacon” a time or two………….for reasons unknown to me. It’s sort of like a “6th sense”.

  10. Both a beautiful and a poignant build Louis, it is a magnificent model, and you remind us that every war-time build ultimately commemorates bravery and sacrifice, in the main of young people. Congratulations on your 101st build on iModeler too, Louis. As has been said before, you give a lot to this site and it is greatly appreciated!

    • Thanks for the kind words Paul.

      I am very pleased with how this one turned out. It also gets the point across that you and several others have picked up on. War affects all, young and old alike. The young tend to pay the price on the field, while the elderly pay for it at home………… in some form or fashion.

      I am thankful that Martin and his staff have provided us a fantastic place to display our work. I am especially thankful for the friends I have made here, like you. 🙂

  11. Louis, I really like this Panzer III, it’s a great looking machine and you’ve captured her perfectly for me; a pricision build with very light weathering. As Bernard says, the open hatches definitely adds to the overall look.

    Regarding the photo of the dead crewman, I think it is justifiable on the grounds you cited; war demands a terrible price and these men, especially the Tankers, rarely died ‘well’. I think there is something quite ghostly about your build as the open hatches and gentle touch on the wear both lend the project a ‘Marie Celeste’ type feel to it. The absence of crew almost speaks more about the delicate, fragile hold these men had on life. The empty tank as a metaphor of the ultimate hollowness of war.

    Lovely work, Louis.

    • Thanks David.
      You are very good at what you do. You get it………………

      If you ever get the chance to read the book called “Death Traps”, by Belton Cooper, don’t pass it up. He was a young US Army Officer that was tasked with recovering battle damaged US tanks in Europe from D-Day onwards. He put some of his own experiences into this book, and talked about how often times they couldn’t tell literally “who was who” when it came time to remove the remains of the crew from knocked out tanks.

      You put into words exactly what I was thinking……….. War is hollow, and it makes some survivors hollow afterwards for a long, long time. Some never recover. All carry some sort of guilt afterwards.

      The things my Dad told me during his last two weeks on earth were horrible. He was a Korean War veteran, and served in tanks and the Infantry. He was one of the “Frozen Chosin”, so you get the idea. I am glad that he finally started opening up to get these things off his chest. Hopefully when he died, he felt better having done so.

  12. Sorry for the late post Louis, seems that of late I’ve been busier than a one arm paper hanger at a paper hanging contest. That Panzer III of yours looks great! You’ve got that track vehicle thing down rather well I would say. I’ll have to try one in the future. Great addition to the GB. Keep it up buddy.

    • Hey Tom. Great to hear from you. Thanks for the compliments buddy. Now I really need to build up one of your “patented” landscaping bases for a desert scene. That would really be I icing on the cake !!!!
      I have been rather busy too with other “life” things that keep getting in the way. So I completely understand your position.

  13. Just bought this on kindle, Louis. I read Tom’s ‘Frozen Chosin’ – so have a small idea of what your father had to endure.

    I’m glad he was able to talk to you before before he left; there’s something in that unburdening of the spirit that veterans often find so difficult, but when they can find the opportunity, it seems to reconnect them with humanity. If my experience is anything to go by, I’m 100% sure he found peace in sharing.

    • Hello there David !!!

      I think that you’ll enjoy the book. I know that I did. The writer tells the story from his point of view and talks about the horrible things that he saw happen to various tank crews and how they had to get as many Sherman tanks back into service after battle damages. One thing that got my attention was how the tanks still were “smelled of death ” after they were cleaned up and freshly painted. Very poignant indeed.

      I am glad that I was there for my Dad during his last few weeks of life. I think that it was just as therapeutic for me as it was for him. We really got to know each other at a different level than most people ever get the chance to. I finally understood why Dad acted the way he did at different times in our lives, and we forgave each other for things that happened in our past.

      I wrote down some notes on my Dads experiences and on occasion I re read them.

      War is horrible to say the least. I hope that Tom C’s book helped to shed light on how the US Army bought some time for the Marine Corps at Chosin, but they paid one hell of a price for it. No one ever talks about the Army at Chosin as the Marines are the ones who made the headlines.

      Please let me know how you like the book.

  14. Already loving the book, Louis. Thanks for the recommendation.

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