Early Panzers in Poland 1939 – MiniArt Pz. Kpfw. III Ausf. D + Diorama
This article is part of a series:
I started off with this project in July of last year while in Vienna. It involves MiniArt's #35169 model of the early Panzer III, the D-model. Figures are kit #35191 from the same manufacturer. The chassis of the tank was finished by August 2018 and I continued this project in February of this year. A long build, about nine months but with a few projects in between...
The Panzer III was conceived by Feldmarshall Heinz Guderian as the first MBT in history (an armored vehicle intended for the tank-vs-tank combat role). Other than the lightly armored Panzer I and II series, the Panzer III was developed in the mid 1930'ies as a dedicated fighting panzer, fitted with the - then state-of-the-art - 37mm KwK 36 L/45 antitank gun also used as single towed piece by the early panzer troops.
The early D model was the last series to have a leaf-based suspension, giving the vehicle its distinct look. From the E-model onward, Panzer III models (and the later Stug III variants) had a much simpler torsion bar suspension fitted. To do honor to this early Panzer, I decided to build MiniArt's version. The diorama was inspired by a set of B/W pictures I could find online dating back to the Polish campaign from September 1st 1939 onward. About 80 vehicles of this type saw action in this conflict which finally triggered WWII...
The kit is of superb quality and detail. It builds into a fine model even OOB because of the file molding, clear parts and PE set included with the kit. I did not fit a metal barrel as the plastic one was side molded in one piece. The kit has a high part count also because of the complexity of the chassis and suspension. A nice plus is the partial interior: The kit is featured of a turret basket with seats, gun recoil mechanism and levers. The plastic is rather brittle but otherwise: A job well done @miniart!
This project was built over several months because of lack of time "at the bench". I reported regularly on the advance in the build report you can find here:
Painting and Weathering:
I first gave the finished vehicle a shot of brown acrylic primer from the rattle can. The brown resembles red oxide primer used to add some corrosion resistance to the steel armor plating. I applied white Revell enamels as a pre-shading, followed by a Revell German Grey main coat. Tools and wheels were hand-painted and added only at the last step (my way of doing things). The weathering step was initiated by a shot of satin acrylic varnish from the can, to make the Panzer bulletproof :).
The figurines were first assembled, sanded, adjusted with putty and then primed with grey acrylic. The paint job was completed based on a basic set of acrylics which were then mixed. I used some references for the uniforms but -that early in the war - they were standard black and helmets were also garment-lined. Check this great entry by Dr. Thomas @davidathomas on how not to paint figures and place them next to an otherwise OK vehicle or airplane... 😉
The dio features a Panzer III in the Polish campaign. As part of the first panzer division, these tanks were the main thrust to the Polish capital Warsaw around September 13th. The dio fitures a road marker "45" as for 45km to Warsaw. The setting is that the tank waits in the marching line somewhere in the vicinity of the industrial city of Lodz on a dust road. The roads in central Poland were not the best, so tanks and other vehicles often ended up spending hours in traffic jams up until engineers enabled the passing of large units, reinforcing bridges and widening roads and turns. This is not an "action" dio, but I like to focus on the every day life of tankers, which often consists of waiting rather than action-related adrenaline sprees... @lgardner and @mikegolf can surely comment here 🙂
I hope you like this entry! Special thanks to @lgardner, @dirtylittlefokker and @jamesb for the moral support in pulling this one off. Next on the bench is my entry to David L/S At The Movies GB. Stay tuned!
This build is dedicated to my son Laurent, born April 5th 2019. Find the little bird in the dio!
Great to see this finished; the comparison shots are especially satisfying. Never sure why more modelers (self included) don’t take black and white shots, they always look great in my mind - maybe it’s an age thing.
There’s a lot to ‘like’ about this diorama, from the main Panzer III Build which is technically superb, to the figures and base, right down to the lonesome crow (which is a lovely touch, Michel). There’s a saying that war is 95% boredom and 5% pure terror, and you seem to specialise in those moments between the action; a moment of held breath...controlled tension.
A great piece, one to add to the ever more interesting spread of subjects you take on.
This is a great all-around build. Everything is spot on. Thanks for sharing.
A superb job as usual, Michel ! I liked the way you utilized the bottle corks.
Indeed Robert, it is a great way to enjoy the same bottle twice 😉 @roofrat
Excellent work, sir...nice job!
Great looking Panzer, Michel! You captured a ... I'd say "moment," but as you mentioned, tankers (as well as most everyone else) spend a LOT of "hurry up and wait" time! The 95% boredom, 5% terror figure is pretty close, I'd say. Truthfully, it wasn't "terror" per say, but about every other similar emotion for sure. In Desert Storm I was too busy to be terrorized!
This workhorse tank is very familiar, but I didn't know about the suspension issues, nor had I ever seen a photo of the early type that actually showed the suspension like the one you displayed here. This is VERY interesting!
The whole dio is well thought, planned, and perfectly laid out. It's a real eye-catcher, especially to us old "Treadheads."
The wee birdie is a GREAT touch, and congratulations on the birth of your son, Laurent! Thanks for sharing!
Jeff summed this up very well... we old "Treadheads" think alike. 🙂
I like everything about this article ! The early Panzer III's (and even IV's) don't get modeled very often. The lack of a storage bin on the back of the turret is another feature on the early Panzers.
The leaf spring suspension is amazing on your build ... as are the crew, and the diorama base, well... you get the idea...I could go on and just list everything ! It's all up to your usual excellent standard my friend. I especially like the mix of original era photos and the Black and White pictures of your model.
The little crow is a neat addition as well. I noticed it after viewing the photos several times. Each time I look at these pictures, I notice something new.
I can remember driving our tank on the narrow streets in Southern Germany, and driving it through the countryside. Typically we only stopped long enough to get some fuel. We took the opportunity when stopped to do some quick maintenance on the track and give the road wheels a few pumps of grease. However when we were finally at our objective area, and once the tank maintenance was taken care of, life was pretty much as you have depicted here.
I think this is something that all tank crews have in common. Hurry up ! ... and wait. You get to know each other pretty good and the tank becomes your home away from home. It's a bond that's hard to describe.
Congrats on your baby boy. Before you know it, next April will be here. They grow up way too fast.
Thanks for sharing this with us ! Two thumbs up my friend.
Thanks everyone for your nice comments! Have a great Sunday!
🙂 … Greetings … 🙂 :
Congratulations on the birth of your baby boy, for sure a new modeler and member to this forum in very little time.
Interesting work and yet … very distinct from the norm. Always nice and very much welcomed moments are those when seeing a diorama. Your dedication and skills can bee seen Michel, thank you for sharing with us this work and pictures.
Hi @de4ever, thanks for your kind words. I will surely introduce Laurent to the hobby. He looks like me so all chances are he might like my habits too 😉
Great project that turned out beautifully! Well done.
Thanks Greg! @gkittinger I'm doing my best, if the B/W picture looks like the real WWII report I'm a happy modeler!