Joined: 17 Sep 2006
|Posted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 4:42 pm Post subject: DML #6642 Pzkpfw III Ausf H (5cm) Sdkfz 141 Late Production
The Pzkpfw III Ausf H was the first in the Pz III family to be purposely designed to be armed with the 5.0cm KwK L/42 gun as opposed to previous variants armed with the 3.7cm KwK. Additional armor in the form of face-hardened 30mm plates bolted onto the hull front, driver’s front plate, and hull rear increased the protection in those areas as a result of combat experience. The added weight also resulted in widening the suspension, leading to use of wider road wheels, drive sprockets, and 40cm tracks. Ausf H production ran from October 1940 through April 1941 and approximately 286 vehicles were produced. This kit #6642 from DML (Dragon) has the full title of Pzkpfw III (5cm) Ausf. H Sdkfz 141 Late Production and has features from the February-April 1941 period, hence the “late” designation.
The kit is packaged in the standard slip top cardboard box with the sprues packaged in clear bags, some of which contain multiple sprues per bag, so care is needed when removing them to avoid damaging some of the more delicate parts. The standard “Dragon card” is also included which has the separate bag of Magic Tracks, PE fret, decals, clear parts sprues, and some small miscellaneous gray sprues attached. The kit consists of over 700 parts with some of these marked as “Not for Use” arranged in the following:
• 18 sprues of light gray styrene
• 3 sprues of clear styrene
• 1 light gray styrene hull tub
• 1 turret top half
• 1 PE brass fret (33 parts)
• 1 bag of 216 Magic Tracks links
• 2 pre-bent copper wires
• 1 decal sheet
• Instruction booklet
The “late” production designation is a DML label applied to this particular kit, presumably to distinguish it from future kits with different features appropriate to an earlier period in the H production run. The main feature that makes it a “late” is the presence of the engine deck armored vent modifications for vehicles serving in hot “Tropen” climates.
Suspension and Tracks
Additional “late” features include the use of standard 40cm width sprockets and idlers instead of modified earlier sprockets and idlers with spacers to widen them to accept the new tracks used on the H. Also used was a new style of shock absorbers although the older type continued to be installed until supplies were exhausted. The kit includes only the older style as a “late” feature. The kit suspension follows the now-familiar DML Pz III family approach and includes torsion bars connected to the swing arms. The road wheels are the wider type appropriate to the H and include excellent hub, rubber rim, and lettering detail. PE parts are included for the idler wheels to accurately represent their inner rim details. The tracks provided are of the static Magic Track individual link variety and are not handed, a change from DML’s position in previous kits. While the instructions call for 98 links per side, the standard for Pz IIIs is 93 links per side and with 216 links provided, the kit has plenty of spares left over. Each link has small ejector pin marks on either side of the guide horn that will need to be dealt with and individual links may also have small amounts of flash requiring clean-up.
Hull and Fenders
The hull consists of a large single piece tub with excellent molded detail on the exterior and interior portions including hull bottom detail. The instructions direct you to remove 6 small bolts from the hull underside and also require a hole to be filled on the left hull side to make it accurate for the Ausf H. Options are provided for the rear hull smoke grenade holder as either the earlier unarmored version or the later armored version, so check your references as to which is appropriate for the vehicle you are building as these were switched over on an irregular schedule. PE parts are included for the hull front mud flap rests for added detail.
The fender layout is correct for a factory-standard Ausf H and the fenders require minor alterations in the form of various holes opened up here and there to accept the tools and equipment. Vehicles in the field were often modified, particularly those serving in Africa, to carry spare road wheels or fuel/water can racks and the kit does not provide parts or make allowances for those types of field modifications. Small sections at the rear of the fenders mush be removed to be accurate for an H and this is called out in the instructions. The tools include molded on clamps with hollow handles although the handles are not in-scale thickness on some tools and could use a little thinning for a better appearance. Options are provided for the small width indicator lights as either gray styrene lights with blackout covers fitted or clear parts without the covers. Options are also provided for the rear fender flaps that include use of PE parts as the mini fender extensions when the flaps were raised.
The upper hull assembles in a modular fashion with the fighting compartment composed of a base frame and panels added to the sides and front. The driver’s front plate includes clear parts for the armored glass insert and the hull MG34 provided has the armored sleeve feature that was introduced with this Ausf. The side vision ports can be posed open or closed and also include clear armored glass parts for the driver’s side port.
The front access hatches have excellent detail on both top and bottom surfaces, a nice touch if you decide to add an interior and want to show it off through the hatches. Pre-bent copper wires are provided to create the electrical wiring conduit to the main headlights. The rear deck includes PE grills for the side air intakes along with the option to install the tow cable holders empty as separate parts or integrated with the tow cables as a single piece.
The turret comes as a one-piece half with a separate base and front plate. The turret roof requires that some molded-on slot screws be puttied over as the molded design is from the Ausf J and the instructiond indicate which stay and which go. This will require some nerves of steel and/or a good magnifier to aid in the process as some of the unneeded screws are tiny and close together to screws that need to stay. The 5.0cm gun assembly includes a detailed breech, recoil guards, and spent shell basket to fill up the turret interior. No other interior detail is provided aside from the commander’s seat and no provision is made for the canvas exterior dust covers commonly used in North Africa. Clear parts are also provided for the mantlet vision ports but test fitting first is recommended if you decide to attempt posing one or both of those ports open to be sure they won’t interfere with the port hinge mechanism. The option is also provided to mount the coaxial MG sleeve with the MG included or empty.
The commander’s cupola is very nicely detailed and includes interior and exterior details. Options are provided to pose the armored shutters in either open or closed positions and clear glass inserts provided for added detail. The turret side vision ports also include clear parts and may be posed open or closed. Last but not least, the turret side hatches include clear parts for the armored view ports and may also be posed open or closed. A rear turret stowage bin is included in the kit and is very finely detailed. The bin includes molded on wooden “rub” strips that weren’t seen on earlier bins, so the option is there to remove them if so desired for your particular vehicle.
Instructions and Finishing Guide
The kit instructions follow the standard DML mode of fold-out black and white exploded diagrams and sub-diagrams and consists of 21 steps for full assembly. The decal markings are printed by Cartograf and are clear and in-register. The Painting and Markings guide provides for the following 5 possibilities:
• PzRgt 18, 15 PzDiv., North Africa 1941, two-tone Tropen scheme
• PzRgt 3, 2 PzDiv, Greece 1941, overall panzer gray
• 1 PzDiv Eastern Front 1942, two-tone Tropen scheme
• PzRgt 8, 15 PzDiv, Tobruk 1942, two-tone Tropen scheme
• PzRgt 8, 15 PzDiv, North Africa 1941, two-tone Tropen scheme
Overall the kit is up to the usual DML standard we’ve come to expect from their Smart Kit line of Pzkpfw III vehicles. The molding of the kit parts is excellent and highly detailed. The kit markings provided focus heavily on vehicles serving in North Africa which is not surprising as that’s where the majority of Ausf Hs ended up as a coincidence of when they were produced relative to the fighting there. It is interesting to see DML move away from the “handed” Magic Track approach and no longer make that distinction in terms of overall accuracy. The lack of Africa-specific details such as fuel/water can racks, spare road wheels, or gun canvas cover means that the modeler interested in true accuracy will need to attend to those themselves via aftermarket parts or by raiding their spare parts bin. Highly recommended for the Pz III enthusiast.