Dragon model continues to please fans of German armor with the release of this new kit of late production Panzer III Ausf. H. Dragon already issued models of Ausf. E, F, G, J, K, L, M, N and several StuG III variants, so you can guess that the sprues in this particular kit are a mix from previous releases.
A standard Dragon cardboard box with a nice artwork from R. Volstad on top and kit’s features printed on sides and bottom. Inside the box, sprues are packed in individual bags and a Dragon card with PE parts, decals and magic tracks on it.
The box states that the kit has more than 700 parts and those include:
• 15 grey styrene sprues
• 3 clear styrene sprues
• 1 grey styrene lower hull
• 1 grey styrene turret
• 1 PE fret
• 1 bag with individual magic tracks
• Decal sheet and instructions
Needless to say the quality of the kit and molding are superb and for sure you will enjoy building this model. Surprisingly there are not that many parts that will remain on sprues after you are done with the model!
Since there are several reviews of Panzer III models from Dragon here on Armorama:
I will focus on answering the question if Dragon succeeded in making an accurate replica of the Panzer III Ausf. H late production.
The instructions have exploded view drawings and they require attention. Please be careful and check everything before gluing, especially the PE parts. I haven’t found all of the incorrect part numbers, just be aware that they are present!
Steps 1-8, running gear, lower hull and fenders.
Construction begins with building drive sprocket and idler wheel and those are correct for Ausf. H-N. Idler wheel comes in several parts including PE inner rings for better detail and track tension adjustment bolt is also correct for Ausf. H-N. Road wheels and return rollers are nicely detailed but you will need to correct the manufacturers logo “Continentau” into “Continental” (that’s common for all German vehicles from Dragon). The other specific Ausf. H features are here – new shock absorbers and repositioned first return roller (just follow the instructions and you will do it correctly).
In step 4 you will assemble rear hull parts and those are again correct for Ausf. H – extra armor with great bolt detail and smoke candle with armor protection. As an option Dragon offers the previous version of smoke candle as well, but this was typical for Ausf. H early production.
Fenders come as one piece and have detail on both sides. The rear mud flaps are correct for Ausf. H. Tool clamps come in plastic and some of us would like to see a PE option included since this is a smart kit and it is aimed on saving money on aftermarket products.
Steps 9-13, completing the hull and tracks.
Engine deck has PE air intake grills, new radiator and engine access hatches with ventilator covers that were introduced in Ausf. G tropical version and were used until Ausf. L. As per instruction the old access hatches are also available but I would advise to check reference images of particular vehicle you would like to build before gluing them. Other specific features of Ausf. H are also present – new lifting hooks (part A63), front hull 30mm extra armor with excellently reproduced male screws, cast brake cooling air intakes, tow eye brackets and front lights. Note that side visor ports can be done workable. I wish that Dragon included chains for tow eyes.
Tracks are nicely reproduced early, 40mm type with hollow guide horns and plain clear faces and come as magic tracks in one bag meaning they are universal for both sides. 98 track links per side and rest you can put on the vehicle for extra protection.
Steps 14-21, turret, stowage bin, completion of a model.
These steps begin with construction of a very detailed commander’s cupola that comes from Pz IV kits. Periscopes come as clear plastic parts and can be opened or closed as well as the hatch. 5cm Kwk/L42 has full detail but that’s the only interior you get in the turret. Turret has correct shape for Ausf. H with a one-piece rear wall, workable visor ports; correct pistol port armored covers in the rear, ventilator and a signal tower on the roof. As an option Dragon offers to remove wooden isolation strips from the stowage bin. Those strips were made so that if they touch the aerial it doesn’t stop to work, so I wouldn’t remove them unless you find a reference picture for that. And don’t forget to fill some of the nuts on turret roof. At last -a small surprise - Dragon included pre-formed brass wire to make front light cables! (Usually I do it myself).
Painting and markings.
The decal sheet from Cartograf is of excellent quality and includes accurate markings for 5 variants.
3 vehicles form Pz. Rgt.8, 15 Pz. Div., DAK 1941. Dark yellow comes on top of panzer grey.
1 vehicle from 2nd Pz. Div., Greece 1941 in plain panzer grey and 1 vehicle form 1st Pz. Div. Easter front, 1942 in dark yellow over panzer grey.
A great offer from Dragon model will build into nice and accurate model of Panzer III Ausf. H out-of-the-box. I can recommend it to any modeler interested in German armor. Of course there is always room for AM products and you can find numerous upgrade offers from many companies like Aber, Voyager model, etc.
What I don’t understand is why Dragon made late version and not “2 in 1” kit –for early Ausf H. we just need earlier drive sprocket, earlier idler wheel, earlier shock absorbers and unarmored smoke candle (which is offered in this kit as an option!). Since Ausf. F was released previously that seems natural for me.