Mass production of this tank began in 1939 and by August 1943, when production ceased, 6000 had been built . Initially, it was armed with a 37mm gun, but as the allies were increasing the size of the weaponry of their tanks and after much badgering by German Army Generals the calibre of the main gun was increased to 50mm.
Schurtzen, and applique armor were additions to this tank as the war progressed and a number of conversions, such as Sturmhaubitze, Flammenwerfer, and Sturmschutz III, kept the Panzer III chassis well employed after its use as a battle tank was over.
The need for a remotely controlled vehicle for clearing gaps in mine fields was recognized by the German forces after the Polish campaign. A contract was issued to the Borgward Company to produce a tracked vehicle, to tow mine detonating rollers. The vehicle (Sdkfz 300) weighed 1.5 tons and was powered by a 4-cylinder engine. 50 were produced between January and May of 1940. A further contract was awarded to build a slightly larger vehicle powered by a 6 cylinder, 49hp engine, weighing 2.3 tons, and designated the "B2"
The "B1V" was developed to to carry an explosive charge of 500kgs and deliver it to a target by remote control, where the charge was dropped. The vehicle was then reversed and the charge detonated remotely by the control tank.
The vehicle was designated "Sprengladungstrager" (Sdkfz 301). Tigers (sdkfz181/182), StuG 111(Sdkfz 142) and (Pzkpfw111) were used as command/control tanks in a number of Companies designated "Funklenk". These Companies saw action on the Eastern Front, Kursk, Anzio, the Ardennes, and Normandy.
The kit contains a number of sprues (22) for the Borgward and the PzKpw. III. One sprue contains the extra parts for the radio box that is fitted to the rear of the Panzer turret.
All parts are molded in a light grey plastic. A small amount of flash is evident , but not enough to keep you cleaning up forever. A pair of glueable vinyl tracks are supplied for the Borgward, and three sprues of individual track links for the main Pz.Kpw. III control tank. (240 links in total). Unforunately the guide horns are molded solid. Some of the sprues contain parts for the Stug. III which shares the same chassis as the Pz.Kpw. III.
Detail is crisp and well executed on both subjects . Instructions are usual Dragon quality: clear, easy to follow, and well laid out.
I commenced with the Borgward. I started, as per instructions, with the hull floor, drivers seat, and sides. I painted the floor of the vehicle in red oxide and the interior panzer buff ( Model Master enamel).
The instrument panel got a coat of flat white, followed by a coat of flat black after drying. I then gently scraped off the black to reveal the white raised detail of the gauges .
The demolition charge container can be either glued in position on the vehicle or placed in the dropped position. I chose to glue it in position on the vehicle.
Construction is pretty much straight forward, but care must be taken when fitting the road wheel assemblies to the hull. I used Revell Contacta glue, so that it would dry slowly and I could position the wheels and the carriers in correct alignment. Once aligned, they were left to dry overnight to enable a strong joint.
The vinyl tracks are fairly accurate in their depiction of the type of track that was employed on this vehicle. They glue together quite nicely. Once again, I used Revell Contacta. The tracks were added and the appropriate amount of sag was set before fitting the fenders.
The control tank construction was again straight forward and reasonably easy. I built it in three main sub-assemblies: the main lower hull, the top deck, and the turret. The main hull being in one piece, all that was needed was to add the suspension parts, road wheels, the side escape hatches, and the drive units. With the hull completed, I built the top deck with all the parts added: tools, hatches, the lot. That done, I got to work on the turret which has a lot of small parts like lifting eyes etc.
I had a problem with the gun barrel (H4). It was molded bent and when I clipped it from the sprue one half broke. I cursed , then decided to glue the parts together and see how they turned out. If it did not look right, I would turn a brass, or aluminium, barrel on the lathe at work. As it happened , it turned out ok and with a bit of light sanding, and a paint job it would fit the bill.
The barrel is a bit of a loose fit in the mantlet, so care will have to be taken to make sure it is aligned before the glue is set.
The fit on both subjects is very good, with some parts snapping together and requiring only a wipe of glue. I left the cupola hatch doors unglued so I can add a figure at later date .
I painted the top deck and lower hull before final assembly and adding the tracks
The track links of the main tank are well molded , with no flash. There are some ejector pin marks on the inside face, but these will be hidden anyway - so they are not a factor. As mentioned before, the guide horns are molded solid (not a big deal). These could be replaced with aftermarket links, if you feel the need. I assembled the track links in my usual way, using a straight edge and liquid cement, making two complete lower runs. I then made the two top runs, which I placed on the return rollers and set a slight sag between them.
After these assemblies dried over night, I then added the rest of the links around the drive sprockets and rear guide wheels. Even though the glue had dried, I found that the tracks were still flexible enough to adjust the sag the next day if need be. After the tracks were dry and painted, I attached the top deck and then the turret.
Both vehicles were finished in Panzer Grau from the Model Master enamel range. Decals were applied, and a wash of artists oil paints (black and burnt sienna). I then dry brushed lightly with a lightened version of the base colour. All the tools were painted by hand, placing a slip of paper between them and the hull to prevent accidental painting of the hull. Metal tools were coloured with a lead pencil, and given some rustall after wards. I applied a thinned mixture of Tamiya acrylic xf64 with the airbrush to simulate dirt and mud , followed by a dusting with Tamiya xf52 for some dust.
The tracks were sprayed with Testors Model Master Acrylic rust followed by a wash of black and a final dose of Rustall and dry-brushed to highlight the metal edges of the worn parts.
Paint chips and scratches were applied with a lead pencil. A final dusting of pastels was done to tie every thing together.
This was my first Panzer III and I don't miss those interleaved road wheels of the Tigers and the Panzer IIs. I found this kit to be enjoyable to build, reasonably easy, good fit, and with little flash. A couple of small sinks holes were discovered, but nothing to "spit the dummy" over.
The detail is sufficient , and builds nicely out of the box. Although, I am sure others would add extra detail - with some photo-etch sets and an aluminium barrel. I am sure there are some who could do justice to this kit with the skills to build an excellent diorama. Maybe having the two vehicles clearing a mine field, or attacking a bunker. I might even have a shot at it myself in future.
Nice kit Dragon .
I would like to thank GreatModels Webstore for donating the kit for review, and Ray Mehlberger, for giving me the opportunity to build an excellent kit.
Further reading & Reference: "Funklenk Panzertruppen" by Thomas Jentz, AFV NEWS Sept - Dec 1986, Vol. 21, No 3.