In Progress: A very early Panzer III
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The Panzer III was the first real Main Battle Tank of the German Army and an industrial answer to Generaloberst Heinz Guderian specifications for a fast medium tank designed for mobile tank warfare. The tank was developed by MAN, Daimler-Benz, Rheinmetall-Borsig and Friedrich Krupp AG. Early in the 1930'ies torsion bars were still in early development and therefore, early Panzer II's were always fitted with several types of leaf-based suspensions. This feature offers the main visual distinction between the early Panzer III's from version A up to D. The D-version in this build had an 16-road wheel chassis with 3 leaf spring assemblies, balancing 4 bogies of two road wheels per side. The early hand-cranked turret had a 3.7 cm main gun, able to penetrate most armor available around the mid-1930'ies and three MG34-based machine guns (two co-axial in the turret and one ball-beared MG15 in the front glacis plate). The vehicle had Waffen Amt reference Sd. Kfz. 141. They saw some action in Poland and France but soon became obsolete because of the limited armor protection and firepower but also due to the complicated suspension type requiring complex maintenance procedures.
An excellent reference on the Panzer III is Spielberger's book, where I got most of my knowledge on - what is in fact - my favorite German tank of WWII.
This kit is by MiniArt of Ukraine and was released around 2015. MiniArt seems to have an virtual monopoly on early Panzer IIIs and the D-type is the last in the series before the first torsion-bar suspension based E-version appeared. As most of you know, the market for Panzer III's of type E or later is VERY well served... I personally like MiniArt very much because it's one of those alternative brands offering 'the-other-model' at democratic prices. Also, they have a decent range of diorama material in their offering as well as some very nice soft skin vehicles and railcars. Generally, MiniArt is known for its high level of detail, great engineering although this comes at a higher parts count compaired to some of the mainstream kit-makers like DML or Tamiya.
I started this kit last Summer, in July 2018. Since I took the Krupp Radio car project on the side, I had it on the side for about 6 months. Because I try to maintain the rule: No new kit is started before the unfinished one is dealt with, I placed it on the bench again beginning January this year, after my Krupp L3 H163, Kfz. 72 project was finished.
I am currently finishing the plastic build phase. There is a lot of parts and detail to this kit but the many hours do pay off. I'm sure this will be a great model when finished.
Also, check my setup: Because modelling is a rather static hobby whereby we spend many hours on the bench, I decided to install a standing modelling desk last year. I build most of my models standing upright. The desk is in my home-office, so it's always accessible for me. I'm quite pleased about this decision on the standing desk and would recommend it to anyone looking for alternative pose than seated. It's healthier too as far as I know and given I already have a predominantly seated day-time job, this offers some other options...
The plastic build job is almost finished, I now will turn to adding the PhotoEtch that is in the kit. There are some very tiny parts to add here and there and this MiniArt kit comes with all detail you would want. I only found one (small) drawback to the kit: The plastic is rather brittle. Otherwise, very much thumbs up on this art, keep 'em coming MiniArt!
The interior is great although I read some reviews mentioning these early Panzer III's did not have the turret basket featured. I can't tell for the pictures I have seen either refer to later III's or do not show the interior that clearly...
Ok, I will keep you posted on any progress! I hope you all like it already.
I have not spent too much time on the bench in 2019 because of tremendous workload in scale 1:1, but also because I will become dad very soon again, so lot's of preps for the baby-boy to come (maybe he will become a modeler too, who knows).