The Tauchpanzer was developed for a German planned amphibious invasion of Great Britain, code named ‘Operation Sea Lion’. A number of Panzer IIIs were converted into diving tanks and had the ability to drive along the seafloor. They were fitted with special breathing apparatuses and the plan was to lower them from ships onto the seafloor near the coast of Britain and have them drive onto the shore. This plan was eventually aborted and the Luftwaffe was used instead.
This kit portrays a Tauchpanzer III Ausf.G, which was the most common version of this tank.
This kit comes in a standard Dragon Models
size box. The sides and back of the box show the special features contained in the kit. The box indicates there are over 400 parts contained in the kit, however, a great deal of these parts are not used for this kit. Dragon Models
has used sprues from a variety of previously released kits such as; Pz.Kpfw.III, Stug III, and Tauchpanzer III Ausf. F. Inside the box you will find 21 sprues in light grey plastic, 3 sprues in clear plastic, 2 frets of photo etch, a small sheet of decals, instructions, and 2 x one piece vinyl tracks.
The instructions are like most Dragon Models
kit instructions, very busy and a little difficult to follow for a newer modeler, however they should be no problem to follow for people with some modeling experience. I recommend looking through the instructions prior to building and test fitting parts prior to assembly.
The kit parts are nicely moulded and detailed. On looking through the parts some of the details that stood out prior to assembly were; the road wheels and return rollers with“CONTINENTAU” moulded on the rubber rims, the nicely detailed fenders with the tread plate pattern on both the upper and lower surfaces, the tool clamps, and the realistic weld seams. I was disappointed to see the kit came with the “old school” one piece vinyl tracks. On reviewing the kit prior to assembly I was overall impressed with the crisp and detailed moulding and it looked like it would be a great kit out of the box.
Step 1 begins with the construction of the road wheels, idler wheels, return rollers, and drive sprocket. As I’ve already pointed out the moulding on the road wheels and return rollers is great. On the real vehicle and word “CONTINENTAL” is moulded onto the rubber rims not “CONTINENTAU”, this was purposely done to avoid royalties. Dragon Models
has made this very simple to fix. The “U” is a very square bottom U and I just simply removed the right side of the U with a sharp hobby knife to make the L. The kit also comes with some photo etch pieces for the idler wheels. Other than having to sand off the mould lines from the road wheels this step was quick and easy.
Step 2 involves assembling the lower hull escape hatch and mounting brackets for the fenders. There is an option to have the escape hatch opened or closed. I decided to have it closed. The hinges for the hatch are two separate parts and are nicely moulded with no fit problems.
This step involves assembly of the suspension system and some other small details on the lower hull. There are pieces of the lower hull which need to be removed (cut, sanded or filed off) and I would recommend removing these pieces first before doing any construction. One of the features of this kit is the suspensions system with the torsion bars connected to the road axels. Unfortunately this feature has some issues. I followed the kit instructions and assembled the torsion bars as instructed. When I moved onto inserting the road axels into the opening of the torsion bars I found that the openings were on the wrong angle and if assembled as directed would have the road wheels about half way up the lower hull, an obvious issue. I checked, double checked and triple checked the instructions to ensure it wasn’t an error on my part and discovered that the issue was with the instructions, the diagram in the instructions even show the opening at the end of the torsion bars on the wrong angle. Parts A1 and A2, the torsion bars, should be reversed in the instructions and be inserted on the opposite sides. Switching these parts will allow the opening for the road axel to be on the correct angle. If I would have done some test fitting first I would have caught this mistake, but I did not. In the end I had to alter parts B5 and B6, the road axels, so they would fit and be on the correct angle. The rest of the parts in this step fit well.
Step 4 is where you install the road wheels, idler wheels, return rollers, and drive sprockets. I skipped this stage because I like to leave those items off until after painting and some weathering is done. I did attach parts V43 and V42, the mounts for the idler wheels.
Step 5 and 6
Steps 5 and 6 both involve working on the rear hull area. There are some parts to remove from the rear hull plate and some care must be taken to do this without damaging other details. Some minor filling was needed where part V33, the rear hull plate, and the idler wheels mounts meet.
Step 7 and 8
Next step is the fenders. In these steps work is done on both fenders and there is plenty of work to do. Overall the fenders themselves are nicely detailed and so are the tools but there are a few things that need attention. Some time must be taken to review the instructions prior to assembling anything. The instructions in this step are very busy to read with several sidesteps in boxes with arrows surrounding the diagram of the fenders. There are some holes that need to be made in the fenders to attach parts, make sure this is done before attaching any parts or it will be a challenging task. All of the tools were nicely detailed and so where to tool clamps. I found installing the jack and the fire extinguisher a bit tricky, there just didn’t seem to be enough room for both. I managed to get them both in place but have to wonder if the fit was that tight on the real tank or if it was a kit error. The instructions call for parts B19 and A28 to build the small tool box which is installed on the fender. The kit does not tell you to use part B20, which is the front of the box, but you need to or you will have a tool box with no front. As you can see from my pictures the one fender, part B14, has a bit of a warp to it. I got this fender all straightened out in a later stage of assembly.
In step 9 work begins on the upper hull, specifically the engine compartment area. All of the hatches on the engine deck can be depicted open or closed. Each hinge is made of two separate parts and are nicely detailed. During this step the tow cable is also attached. There is an option to attach the tow cable or just the tow cable mounts. I decided to attach the tow cable. There were no issues with fit during the step of construction and again the crisp details and great moulding is obvious.
Step 10 continues with the upper hull assembly including the front glacis plate and machine gun mount. There is a separate sidestep for the assembly of the machine gun, which is well detailed. There were some fit problems with the vision port area. The clear part, part M6 did not want to fit into the opening in the port and needed some sanding.
The upper hull construction continues with the front of the upper hull including the crew hatches which again can be placed in an open or closed position and again had interior details. There are two sidesteps in this step which require holes being drilled. All of the parts fit great during this step and required little clean up.
Step 12 was a quick step to complete. During this step the upper hull sides were assembled. The vision ports can be depicted open or closed and have nice details if one decides to model them in the open position. I decided to make them closed. The antenna is also built during this step. I decided not to glue the antenna in place during this step as I wanted to have it in the down/stored position and would have to put it in place once the fenders were attached.
Step 13 and 14
During step 13 work stops on the upper hull and moves onto the commanders cupola and main gun. The cupola is very detailed with the option to have the vision ports open or closed and the hatches open or closed. The interior to the cupola is very detailed, and I was pleased with the fit of all parts and crisp details. The main gun went together well, but Some filling was needed around the machine gun mount, part G23.
Step 15 completes the main gun assembly. The fit of the parts were fine, however, there are several ejector pin marks on part E12 which need to be filled and sanded.
After a quick break, assembly of the hull continues. During this step all of the previously built pieces are put together to make the hull. A little bit of filler was needed to fill a gap between the front glacis plate and the front of the upper hull. Also during the step the rear of the lower hull is assembled including the exhaust and smoke grenades/grenade rack. The smoke grenades and rack are nicely detailed and include photo etch chains.
Work on the turret starts during this step. The vision ports can be positioned open or closed and have nice interior details. There are a few holes that need to be drilled in the turret and some details the instruction call for being removed. I would recommend looking through the instructions and doing all of this work on the turret before assembling any parts. All of the parts during this step fit well and again are nicely moulded.
During step 18 the final details are added to the turret including the crew hatches which again can be depicted open or closed and have interior details. There are again several sidesteps during this step which need careful attention. The instructions show parts D4, grab handles, being put into place on the top of the turret above both crew hatches and show holes for them to fit into. There are no holes on the turret to insert the grab handles so I did some careful measuring and drilled the holes. Some filler was needed to fill the gap between the main gun mount and the turret. Some filler was also needed to fill gaps between the lower part of the turret and part Q17, the stowed inflatable ring.
Some finishing touches are put on during step 19. Some of these details include the wiring for the front headlights and hooks for the front and rear fenders. Parts B28 and B27, the wiring for the lights was a little bit short and did not reach the lights, I added a small piece of styrene plastic to each one so they could reach. Final part of the assembly is putting the tracks into place. I put the tracks, road wheels, idlers wheels, return rollers and drive sprockets in place for the final picture, however, they are not permanently in place as I prefer to leave these items off during most of the painting process.
For the most part this kit is a good build. Most of the parts fit well and go together easily. There are a few spots that require some special attention and filler. I was surprised with some of the errors in the instructions. These Dragon Models
“Smart Kits” are supposed to be easy to assemble without compromising detail which is probably one of the reasons this kit has the “old school” type tracks, to attract newer builders. Well, I agree that the detail on this kit is very good for being almost all plastic but some of the errors in the instructions could cause a major headache for a newer modeler. I would not recommend this kit for someone new to model building, however, if you have some experience and are able to deal with a few instruction errors then this is a great kit to build. I do not like the kit provided track and think it’s a shame Dragon Models
did not provide the option to use individual links. The details and crisp moulding are a real high point for me with this kit.
Tauchpanzer III Ausf G