by: Bill Cross [ ]
One of the more-remarkable but little-known facts about WW 2 was how Nazi Germany whipped Poland, France, Norway and Great Britain in the opening stages with only a handful of mobile armored units. The myth of Blitzkrieg was perhaps a balm on wounded French and British pride at having been so thoroughly beaten, but in actuality, most of Germany's army marched on foot to the English Channel. And its armored units were equipped with tanks like the Pz. III and Pz. IV that were woefully under-gunned, or else like the Pz. 38(t) that were borrowed from the nations it conquered along the way.
Germany's tanks were surprisingly unprepared to fight the new mobile wars of the mid-20th Century: their production required labor-intensive foundry work, their design was boxy and employed relatively thin armor plating, and their narrow tracks made them of limited value in a truly off-road campaign. Ince Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, it was almost immediately apparent the Pz. III was too lightly-armed & armored, and that its narrow tracks were ill-suited to the vast stretches of the eastern Steppes in Winter or those periods of heavy rain that turned what roads there were into sucking fields of muck.
Yet German tank designers adjusted quickly to the new realities, first by gradually increasing the firepower of its existing tanks, adding wider tracks, and more armor plating, and then by introducing radical new designs like the Panther. The Pz. III which had been intended as the Third Reich's Main Battle Tank evolved to carry more armor, a larger gun, and then, when the platform proved unable to sustain a properly-sized cannon, the chassis become the basis for the highly-successful StuG III tank destroyer.
The Pz. III was not only the workhorse of the early Blitzkrieg and North Africa, but with its StuG III variant was by far Germany's most-produced tank. A pivotal variant was the Ausf. G: it is the last version to run on the early 36cm tracks, and it carried both the 3.7cm KwK L/46.5 cannon, and later, the 5 cm KwK 38 L/42. Cyber-Hobby has released the lighter-gunned version as a Tauchpanzer (wading tank) limited edition White Box.
I have no information on how many of the 600 Ausf. Gs carried the smaller pop gun, or were able to take advantage of the wading technology, but the new kit now rounds out the Pz. III major variants.
Inside the usual Cyber-Hobby White Box are:
25 sprues of dark gray plastic
1 hull tub
1 turret box
2 sprues of clear plastic
2 frets of PE
2 wires for the fenders
2 bags of Magic Tracks (handed left & right)
a tiny sheet of decals
instructions & painting guide
Cyber-Hobby is the arm of Dragon Models dedicated to limited edition runs of rare or unusual items, and this wading version of the III/G is a good use of its mission. The results are excellent: one "knock" on German war production is the excessive amount of ornate fabrication used on things like drive sprockets, and in the case of the Pz. III Ausf. G, this is both true and wonderfully-rendered by C-H. The over-sized drive and idler wheels look like something out of a 30s tractor, with fluted bases and
As with many recent Dragon issues, the kit is a reboxing of some older sprues along with items particular to this kit. Since the German Waffenamt (procurement office) tried to standardize the Pz. III & Pz. IV components, it should be no surprise the kit borrows 3 sprues from the standard Pz. IV repertory, along with one from the initial Ausf. J. There is also a sprue from the Pz. III Ausf. F and three from the venerable StuG III Ausf. G.
With so many previous sprues in the mix, there are quite a few parts left for the spares bin. The overall impression is one of crisp molding, and most of the hatches and other details are separately-molded. Super detailers may want to add some clamps and other items, but this one looks like it will build up OOB quite nicely.
It's good to have a new version of this variant, a welcome upgrade from the older versions including the C-H Orange Box kit. Some of the touted features include a working torsion-bar suspension; one-piece lower hull (replete with weld seams and details on the hull bottom and sides); plus of course, Magic Tracks. A generous offering of PE will enhance things like the idler wheel without taxing anyone's modeling skills.
In keeping with the C-H mission, the painting guide & decal offering is skimpy: just one ad hoc unit (Pz.Abt. D) from 1940 in Panzer Gray. I can find no information about any such unit.
I have always loved the Pz. III and I now have one of every variant except the A-D prototypes which saw no more than 30 of any one produced, and which saw limited service in the Poland campaign. Those earlier variants will also require extensive new tooling, as the suspensions were the leaf spring variety, and not the torsion bar version used from the Ausf. E forward.
Thanks to Dragon USA for providing this review sample. Be sure to mention you saw it reviewed here on Armorama when ordering.