Pz.Kpfw. III Ausf.E
Pz.Kpfw. III Ausf.G

Kits #:
First to Fight: PL1939-014
S-Model: PS720016
Preview by Peter Van Kempen - P.Kempen5(at)chello(dot)nl
Edited by Rob Haelterman

Right picture taken from Henk of Holland website, used with permission.

These two quickbuild Panzers, Panzer III Ausf. E number PL 1939-014 by First to Fight, and Panzer III Ausf. G 5cm (DAK), number PS 720016 by S-Model are available for some time now.
I bought both because the tracks were the early version and both companies succeeded to have the tracks meet in the middle to represent guide horns, and avoided the ribs that are visible in other tracks as in their Pz.Kpfw. I versions. Most available 1/72 models are later types, Ausführung L onwards to M and N.
Both these models are value for money, fill a gap in the series and show great surface detail. A first look at the FtF product shows us the typical boxart, the simple single sprue for one tank, a toothpick, glue jar and the magazine that goes with it. Both the boxart and the magazine show you details to paint, how to assemble, and information about the vehicle, specifically issued by FtF because the type PzKpfw III E was present in the first fighting that took place when Germany invaded Poland.

I obtained the S Models Kit from our well-known website friend Henk Timmerman, one of the second sets of his collection of S-Model kits; hence I do not have a boxart to show. (Ed. Note: we took the boxart from Henk's site.) I’ve used a picture of the boxtop in the background showing you one of each sprue that you get twice in every S Model box. The S Model kits are more extensive as you get PE detail, transfers and a separate sprue with spare wheels and some other details, not included on the main sprue. Both companies represent the early version of the suspension (drive sprocket and idler) and their engineering and quality is almost the same, and very well done. The outside of the tracks are wanting, and the holes need to be drilled out, but as the horns are represented and the wheels are very well detailed, this can be overcome in a diorama setting. Those of you who want it perfect can take off the tracks, divide the idler and drive wheels and reconstruct them with borrowed tracks from other kits. I had a look at my spares box and believe even road wheels from other kits could be used. The supplied road wheels are 7 mm diameter both for FtF and S Model. I measured some others in 1/72 like Esci (those are 7.5 mm and the largest around), Revell (7.3 mm), 1/76 kits as Nitto (7.0 mm) and Matchbox and Airfix (6.8 and 6.9 mms respectively). It should not hurt the eye in my opinion, so you can create your own details using the very well depicted old drive sprockets and idlers of both kits for early type Pz.Kpfw. III’s, if you want. The most fortunate or laziest can use the old idler type as supplied in the Trumpeter Sturmgeschütz III Ausf.B that has also the newer idlers, which were also used for the type, included in the box.
I made a line up of main parts delivered in these two kits I am previewing here, to show you where they are different. I have written the manufacturers of shown parts in the second picture. The dark gray sprues and parts are always FtF, the crème Parts are S Model; Revell is darker yellow and Trumpeter is light grey, Attack almost white.

The turrets: the early pattern turret top detail of the FtF version is clear, with the observation dome, and the older type cupola. Against that, the later turret top in the S Model kit is showing a later ventilator configuration as started in the F version and of course, the newer cupola and the turret bin.
The engine deck details are, in my humble opinion, very well rendered in the FtF version, nicely depicting the flat deck and the panels in early configuration, with a sloping rear over the radiator covers. In turn, the S Model deck has molded on ventilation covers over three motor covers and elevated ventilation flaps as supplied over the radiator covers in the tropical Pz.Kpfw. III version it depicts.

The width of the vehicle was measured over the side mudguards/fenders and given as 2.9 meters in several sources. The basic dimensions did not change much in the series. Inclusion of the overhanging gun and exhaust muffler housing makes it difficult to find a clean base on the parts to judge the length, scale wise. Finally, I recalculated the length of the side fenders/mudguards over the tracks and that gave me a total length of 5.38 meters to check on scale. It might not represent the actual vehicle length so bear with me; it’s an indication only!

The width at 1/72 should be 40.4 mm and I found both S Model and FtF top decks to measure 40.2 mm; good enough in scale for me.
For your info that was 40.6 mm for a Revell Kit, 40.9mm for Trumpeter and 41.2 for an Attack kit I had lying around. Against that, a Matchbox 1/76 hull measured 39.0 mm. It’s not science, but it appears the two are in scale or slightly underscale in width.
As I explained the length is complicated as the protrusions of guns and exhaust causes differences. Based on the side fender/mudguard length of 5.38 meters going back to 74.7 mm in 1/72 scale, that measured 73.3 mms for the S Models and 73.8 mm for the FtF hull mudguards. Here, it seems a bit short for true 1/72 scale but again in my opinion, not so grave to reject these very nice and inexpensive kits. For your information, Trumpeter measured 74.6 mm, Revell 73.9 mm, Attack 74.8 mm and the 1/76 scale matchbox was 70.3 mm long here.

So far for scale; back to detail. The gun supplied by FtF clearly is less large then the S Model one and that’s correct: The Ausf. E sported a 37 mm gun and the Ausf. G had a 50 mm gun installed. This explains the size. There’s a small sink in the FtF gun possibly because they made one part of the gun with the two aligned MG’s for the mantlet. Both kits have the tools molded on and the patterns are according the layouts I have seen. Too bad they are very thin and I would add a true piece over the blobs that the companies gave us. It would take a load of scratching and painting with shadows to suggest these tools being three-dimensional on the deck. That’s a minus for both kits. Good that the S Model cupola is open, against FtF closed one. Well done in both kits are the Nebelkerzen or smoke dischargers that are on the back of both types of vehicles. Generally the S Model Ausf. G was more seen in upgraded versions, with heavy gun, new running gear including idler and drive wheels and wider tracks, and the E type was more relegated to supporting functions as command tank and observation vehicle, later on in the war and the conflict in Africa.
That offers a lot of modification options that make buying these quickies even more attractive for both modellers and wargamers alike.

I am looking forward to assembling these for my own collection, and believe they are the better deal to get an early type Pz.Kpfw. III on display, compared to the expensive Dragon kits around. As to their quality, they are above the wargames versions and deserve more support from the Braille scale community than they get now.

Both were bought by me for my own collection and are herewith highly recommended!

Robert Kru adds: There are some inaccuracies in the S Model kit: it has the driver's visor and cover for the starter crank at the back from an Ausf. E/F.

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Article Last Updated: 29 November 2015