The increasing air superiority enjoyed by the Allies throughout the second world war created a pressing need for mobile anti-aircraft Artillery for the German army. With the Allied invasion of Europe, this need became an absolute priority with marauding allied fighter bombers decimating German armoured columns. The first mobile anti-aircraft guns were either towed or fitted on half-track chassis and it wasn’t until 1944 that a dedicated Flakpanzer was created with the chassis of a panzer VI fitted with either one 37mm or four 20mm cannon. These enjoyed some success during the Normandy campaign shooting down 45 Allied aircraft. However, as the war drew to a close an increasingly desperate German army considered pressing into service the rather obsolete Panzer III chassis to perform the same function. The war ended before the idea was fully explored. It is this subject that is the basis of this kit.
The CyberHobby kit comes in an open top box pretty much stuffed to the brim with sprues! These consist of:
- 16 grey plastic sprues
- 1 clear plastic sprue
- 1 P.E fret
- 2 ‘Rubber band’ style tracks
- 1 bag of ‘Magic track’ individual links
- 2 hull halves
- 1 small decal sheet
First impression upon opening the box is one of a very comprehensive kit with a great deal of attention to the small details that set this apart from a standard Panzer III. Items such as the small stowage boxes for the spare 20mm barrels are very nicely rendered and the slide moulded double sided parts especially on the gun are very crisply detailed. However, a quick look at the instruction manual reveals that a good quarter of the parts supplied are not used in this variant.
As far as the interior is concerned the rather intricate torsion bar suspension is very nicely represented as well as the external items of running gear, the rather intricate arraignment of road wheels are all present and correct. I expect a high degree of planning and dry fitting would be needed to avoid any issues! . The wheels themselves display a high degree of detail. A nice touch is the addition of a few pieces of photoetch that add some extra detail to the drive sprockets.
The interior moulding for the turret is superb with lots of detail present on both the barrels of the gun and the interior of the turret. Various items of kit are also nicely displayed along with ammunition racks and magazines for the four 2cm guns.
Unfortunatley no interior detail is included for the drivers position. The hatch is moulded closed on the kit which is a bit of a shame. Obviously such details could be scratch built, it would have been a welcome option to have them included, as the rest of the kit displays such a high degree of detail, it would be good if the manufacturer had added that little extra.
External detail is also very good. The weald beads on the hull and turret are very well rendered as a are the numerous nuts and bolts covering the hull. The detailing on the fenders is especially well moulded with the random plates and bolts all in place. I can see these small additions really setting the model of nicely with a pin wash once the model is completed.
The tracks are accurately reproduced, with the very intricate link patterns being present and correct. 22 magic track links are also included to give the modeller some slack, literally. Once again, it’s a purely personal preference, but it would have been good to have a whole set of magic track links to give the modeller the opportunity to really set the model off if they have the time and patience.
The instructions themselves are reasonably well laid out, it did however take some study and a good read through of the sheet to establish the separation between the various stages of construction. It is also a shame that the colour chart only lists Mr colour, as these are rather hard to source in the U.K but with a conversion chart this should not be a problem. Being a prototype, no service history is given on the camouflage options. Another issue is the rather limited three colours used to print the paint guide, finding other sources of reference may well be required to achieve a realistic and accurate paint finish.
Once again, it is only to be expected that the decal sheet is rather limited as the vehicle never actually saw active service. As a result of this, no unit markings or serial numbers are present. The sheet consists of national markings and not much else.
This is a beautifully detailed kit and a lot of time and effort has obviously gone into creating the subtle and not so subtle differences between this and the standard Panzer III. Its an unusual subject that would cause many people to stop and take notice at any model show. There are only a few minor detail omissions which is a shame on what is otherwise a great kit.