by: Jacob Hederstierna-Johnse [ ]
The Pz.Kpfw. III Ausführung G was produced from May 1940 until February 1941. About 600 of the Ausf. G were produced. The initial production batch was armed with the 3.7 cm. KwK L/46.5 gun, but the majority were fitted with the 5 cm. KwK38 L/42 gun. The Ausf. G had increased armour protection on the rear hull, and late models were fitted with an additional bolted on 30 mm. armour plating, on the front of the hull. It also featured new drive sprockets and idler wheels, which were fitted with the 40 cm. track, the new Fahrersehklappe 30 ("driver's visor"), a ventilator on the turret roof and an armoured smoke candle rack on the rear hull plate. The late versions were fitted with the new commander’s cupola, which was identical with the one mounted on the Pz. IV, and the Rommelkiste (the turret-mounted storage bin) became a standard from the factories.
The kit comes in the old familiar Dragon sized box, with a nice box art from Chang Heum(?). On the side and bottom of the box, there’s depicted the numerous special features of the kit. The sprues come in clear sealed plastic bags, and the whole kit contains 650 parts, including the following:
Twenty sprues moulded in grey styrene
Three sprues moulded in clear styrene
One separate hull tub
One separate turret top
One separate commander’s cupola.
Two bags with together 216 (left and right side) 40 cm. Magic Track links (hollow guide horns)
One fret of photo etched parts
Two pre bent pieces of wire.
One decal sheet
One instruction booklet (Not in colour)
hull & wheels
Dragon has released this kit as a “Smart Kit”, which means that the details and parts are simplified, and should be easier to assemble. Thus simplified, it doesn’t lack details; on the contrary, this kit has loads of crisp and well engineered details. Even under the turret and on the underside of the fenders there are nice surprises to be found. As a Dragon tradition, there are also a lot of parts, which are for other Pz. III (and even some Pz. IV) kits, and therefore not to be used on this kit. Many more things for the spare box, indeed.
The assembly starts with the drive sprocket, idler wheels, return rollers and the road wheels. The drive sprockets and idler wheels are all new tooling, and depict these early Pz. III features beautifully. The road wheels and return rollers are from Dragons earlier StuG. Ausf. G kit. They are nice and crisp and very well detailed, which even have “CONTINENTAU” (the last “U” should be made an “L”) moulded on the rubber rims, and the hubs on the road wheels also have the screw for filling and controlling oil. A well thought detail. The track tension mechanism is made up of 3 parts, and looks so much better than the “lumps” from the old kits from back in the ‘90s.
Next is the hull assembly, which starts with inserting the torsion bars, which while it is a neat feature, are not workable. This is followed by the escape hatches, which can be made either open or closed, and have nice details inside, such as bolts and handles. Beware though; there are two nasty punch marks on the inside of each hatch. The lower hull tub is a masterpiece itself. If you for some reason want to portray the vehicle turned over, the bottom of the hull is loaded with details, even very realistic weld seams!
The instructions show you which bolts to cut off to choose from an initial version or the early version. This I personally find a bit strange, since Dragon only mention the early and late version everywhere else in the building manual. However, as one of the sprues actually contain parts from a 3.7 cm. gun, with work, it might just be possible to make a “real” initial version. Well, enough of the nit picking. The road wheel arms and buffers are also good looking, and these come from Dragons StuG. G kit as well. The shock absorbers on the other hand are new, and these are truly small gems. Very well detailed, and with a minimum of clean up required.
Step 4-6 is the assembly of the rear hull plate, which holds two three piece towing eyes. The exhaust pipes are hollowed out for you, so they look like the real deal. The drive sprocket, idler wheel, return rollers and the road wheels are fitted, as well as the rear hull plate, the smoke candles and the rear top armoured plate.
Next up is the fenders, which in my opinion are excellent executed. There’s just as much detail on the underside as on the top side. The fenders are made thinner at the ends, so they look more in scale, and even the small hooks for holding the mud flaps in place are included both in styrene and etch. The tools are very nice in detail, specially the jack, which come in no less than 10 pieces. I really like the tool clamps, which are a huge improvement over the old “lumps” from the dark ages. The Bosch headlight come in three pieces! Be careful to remember to drill the right holes in the fenders for some of the tools. It’s very annoying to discover, that these should have been made after you have glued the fenders on.
The assembly of the upper hull deck starts with the engine cover. Again Dragon gives us the option of fitting the tow wire or not. The wire is moulded in styrene, with all the holders moulded on to it, and these holders are cast very fine. If one chooses not to use the pre-moulded wire, the alternative is using just the holders, which are small and delicate styrene castings from the A sprue. All the hatches on the engine deck can be glued in either open or closed position, and they are fully detailed on both sides.
Also, these hatches have no sink marks! The same goes for the inspection hatches for the transmission, which also can be set at open or closed, but on these the handles are moulded on the hatches. There is, though, a small PE detail on the underside of the hatch, which will look good, if these are left opened. Dragon also supplies some nice PE grills for the air intake. The headlights can be build either as black out, the ones with only tiny slits, or as fully opened ones, with a clear styrene part for the glass part.
The front glacis is fitted with the ball mount Kugelblende 30, which comes with the excellent manufactured MG 34. Dragon has really pulled off a great resemblance of this awesome machine gun in its mount. Just a real shame that it can’t be seen when the tank is fully assembled. The driver’s vision slot has a clear styrene part for glass part of the vision block.
upper hull sides
The sides of the upper hull are fitted with vision blocks and once again cleverly designed, so they can be set as opened or closed. The antenna mount is going on the radio operator’s side, but I strongly suggest not gluing the antenna on until the rest of the vehicle is assembled. I would definitely break that thing off several times, before I would have finished the model.
There are two commander’s cupolas included in this kit, one for the early version and one for the late. The early commander’s cupola is made up of a staggering 24 pieces, the new one of “only” 14 pieces! They are both very well detailed, and both the hatches and the vision slits can be made either open or closed. The vision blocks are made from clear styrene, which will look very cool, if being careful when painted. The hatches have no sink marks, so no worries there.
Now it’s turret time, which starts with assembling the gun and mantle. The KwK38 L 42 main gun is beautifully slide-moulded, which means no visible cast seams on the pre-hollowed-out barrel. You just have to be a bit careful when removing the sprue, so there won’t be a dent in the gun barrel. I would suggest using a very sharp knife and then a fine file. The gun comes with a superbly cast recoil housing, with some really nice details. You can set the armoured visors in either open or closed positions. The gun has some really nice details on the recoil cylinders, crew guards and the gun breech, which also can be made as open or closed. The bag for spent cartridges has some nice looking texture on the outside, but does have four punch marks in the bottom on the inside. This might be an issue, if the commander’s cupola is left open, but on the other hand, the missing interior would probably be a bigger problem than four punch marks.
Step 16 is the final assembly and completion of the hull. I think it would be wise to put the tracks on first; this will make it much easier to install the tracks, because these kind of tracks, can be a bit fiddly to get on, when the fenders are in place. The tracks are Dragon's MagicTracks, which in my opinion are excellent. They are pre-cut and require only a minimum of cleaning. I know some dislike these tracks saying that they won’t get the right kind of sagging between the return rollers, but I never had any problems with them. When assembling the rest of the upper hull, I would suggest dry fitting these parts before starting to glue them together.
Well, back to the turret. Wonder why the instruction leaves the hull, for building the gun and mantlet, then finish the hull, and then go on with the turret… Hmm!
The top part of the turret comes in one slide-moulded piece, and looks quite good. Dragon has done a wonderful job on this with great weld seems and some really minute screws on the top. The only punch marks are inside on the roof part of the turret, but these will be very hard to spot, once the whole thing is assembled. They can be filled and sanded, but if you going to do this, I suggest doing it before you’ve started the assembly. Remember to cut or drill out the hole for the ventilator in the turret roof, before starting the construction!
The interior is OK. Personally I’d like a little more, but compared to the earlier products, they’ve come a long way, and as a “look through the hatch”, it at least shows some sort of “business”. Well, we can’t have it all, can we? The armoured visors on the side of the turret and the pistol ports on the rear can both made open or closed. By personal experience I know how hot it can get in an armoured vehicle, so given the option to build these visors and hatches open, it really adds to the realism of the kit.
None of the examples in the painting and marking guide show vehicles with the Rommelkiste, which is a real shame, because the kit provides us with a great little piece. The Rommelkiste, or stowage box, is well-detailed, with countless small rivets, beautiful cast clasps and some really nice wooden aerial insulation on the sides. With a little search in books or on the internet, I’m quite sure one can find a picture of an Ausf. G with one.
Step19 is the final assembly of the turret and mounting the turret to the hull. Again there are a whole lot of nice details. Especially the lifting hooks on the top side of the turret are really great. They come in two pieces, and they really look like the real deal. The escape hatches on the side of the turret are also high quality, with nice crisp details both on the in- and outside, and do I have to say, that they can be made either open or closed?
painting & markings
Dragon gives you the following options for painting and markings:
16. Pz. Div., Russia 1941
2. Pz. Div., Russia 1941
13. Pz. Div., Russia 1941
Two different vehicles of 2. Pz. Div., Greece 1941
This is a really nice and well executed kit. It represents the Pz.Kpfw. III Ausf. G very well and it can be produced into a great kit straight from the box. Dragon has paid a lot of attention to even the smallest detail, which in the end will make this kit top of the line. I highly recommend this kit, and I’m sure Dragon will keep pressing on to give us these and maybe even more impressive kits in the future. I thank you for this fine review sample.