Very Little Bit Of History For The Modeler
The German Pz III Ausf. D was part of a line or progressive improvements
and changes to make the Pz III competitive with their opponents. While
the Pz IV started as the support tank, the Pz III was the battle tank,
until switching roles in 1942-1943. Nicholas “The Chieftain”
Moran has an excellent series of videos on the Pz III and Pz IV and
he emphasizes the innovative cupola and three person turret which
allowed greater situational awareness and efficiency than the French,
British and Soviet tanks of 1939 and 1941.
I always enjoy appreciating the kit’s box art. Starting up on
the turret we have the all-around vision cupola used on the early
Pz III and Pz IV tanks. To the right of the cupola, behind the white
letters and looking like a periscope, is a signal lamp. The 3.7-cm
main gun is a little off center and flanked by twin coaxial machine
driver’s plate we see a hinged flap for the driver similar to
that on the Pz IV Ausf. A. Above the driver’s visor are two
small holes for the drivers binocular periscope. At right (our left)
is the bow machine gun in a ball mount. On the glacis are two hatches
used for brake maintenance and I understand the driver and radio operators
could squeeze out of these hatches. These early Pz III with the eight
small roadwheels and leaf spring suspension appear to have a longer
glacis and overall length and these glacis hatches are larger than
on the Pz III Ausf. E and later variants with the torsion bar suspension
and six roadwheels that we are so familiar with.
The back of the First To Fight box gives us small 4-view drawings
showing color and markings, exploded-view assembly instructions, and
a short paragraph on the vehicle history in multiple languages. Below
is a small sheet of water slide decals of four white crosses for a
pre-war and early war Pz III. There are no unit markings or vehicle
number. This is the same decal sheet as found in the FTF Pz III Ausf.
E kit, just four early WW2 white crosses. Historical photos that I
have perused commonly show white vehicle numbers on the turret. Panzers
at this period also could have brown camouflage patches.
The kit exploded-view instructions are also located in a lower corner
of page 7 of the booklet and look clear and accurate. Though larger
than on the box art these are still too small for my preference and
eyes. Each part is clearly marked with sprue and part number. At top
center on the page are a front and rear-view drawing to help with
painting & markings, and progressive photos showing painting and
the decal markings. I do wish the booklet text were also in English
and other languages.
I counted 34 gray color, injection molded, styrene plastic parts on
three sprues. There are no crew figures, no etched brass nor cast
resin parts included. The parts are molded very well with no significant
flash or sinkholes. The parts came in a sealed plastic bag though
some of my FTF kits come in a ziplock closable bag; both bags are
good, but I prefer the ziplock type bag.
above sprue-D contains various hull, turret parts and the sprocket
and idler wheels. At far left are several resin aftermarket sprocket
wheels from OKB Grigorov that I hoped I might use on this model. The
resin OKB wheels are unfortunately a little larger in diameter than
the kit sprockets (parts D1 & D2) so may not fit well into the
quick build track part. The 37-mm gun muzzle (part D10 at upper right)
has to be drilled out with a very small drill; while the WaW Pz III
model I have has a slide-molded open muzzle.
I like to compare and contrast things. Here is a comparison of four
early model Panzerkampfwagen III all listed as 1/72 in scale. All
four pieces are lined up with the driver’s plate so we can compare
the glacis and engine deck sizes. From left to right we have a Pz
III Ausf. B superstructure as interpreted by World at War (WaW) in
pale gray styrene plastic. Next over we have the superstructure for
the Pz III Ausf. D and Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf. D kit parts by
First to Fight in a medium gray plastic and with a molded-on tow cable.
Third from the left in darker gray styrene we see the First To Fight
superstructure for their Panzerbefehlswagen III and Pz III Ausf. E
kits. Fourth over in tan plastic is Revell’s Pz III superstructure
for their Pz III Ausf. L and Ausf. M kits.
the Pz III E, the Pz III hull and superstructure went through significant
changes with each variant. Before the torsion bar suspension, the
Pz III hull appears to have been significantly longer, very noticeable
in the glacis and larger brake maintenance hatches. All these hulls
are about the same width and I think are all pretty close to 1/72
Here, above, we have three different 1/72-scale Pz III hull bottoms
to compare. At far left we look at the pale gray color Pz III Ausf.
B hull from World At War, and in the center the similar Pz III Ausf.
D hull by First to Fight and subject of this kit review. Both the
Ausf. B and Ausf. D are similar in having leaf spring suspension that
is recessed into the hull side (reducing internal volume of the hull).
The FTF hull bottom features actual detail similar to the Pz III E
hull bottom at right. The WaW hull at left lacks any detail like maintenance
panels. All three of these hulls are slide molded eliminating the
need for a 4-part lower hull section like in the Revell Pz III kit.
Comparison of the FTF kit’s commander cupola (part A9) in the
center, flanked by the plastic cupola in the World at War Pz III Ausf.
B kit, and the cast resin OKB Grigorov cupola (at far right). Both
plastic cupolas I find acceptable, but they have closed hatches, while
the OKB cupola better portrays open viewports and interior detail
visible in the open hatch.
In the above photo we have a closer look at the interesting way FTF
does the quick-build suspension system and track for this model. Rather
than molding the paired roadwheels as one thick wheel like many other
quick build models, FTF molds the inner and outer wheels separately
so they appear to be paired wheels after assembly. The Pz III Ausf.
D used a 21 tooth sprocket with oval holes; OKB Grigorov makes a better
detailed resin replacement sprocket, set 373, shown at far right that
are unfortunately too large to fit well.
is a photo of the complete suspension set on sprue-B showing how FTF
chose to simulate paired wheels.
note on the related FTF Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf. D1, kit PL1939-075:
this model represents a command version of the Pz III Ausf. D tank.
This version contains additional radios with frame-antenna on the
engine deck, a dummy main gun and dummy coaxial machine gun in a fixed
turret. Since the turret does not turn, in order to open the engine
hatches the turret was bolted to the superstructure further forward
than the standard Pz III; the rear of the turret would meet the front
edge of the engine deck plate, not overhang it. The bow machine gun
is also deleted. The only weapon apparent is a ball mounted machine
gun in the turret.
Another change this command tank has from the Pz III Ausf. D is the
use of the 20 tooth drive sprocket with round holes, instead of the
21-tooth sprocket with oval holes on the Pz. III Ausf. D. Another
interesting feature, among many, was only one hatch on the glacis
for the driver and brake maintenance, and not one for the radio operator
position. Based on the FTF box art it looks like they got these details
TRACTS No. 3-1 Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf. A, B, C, und D. Development
and production from 1934 to 1938. Thomas Jentz & Hilary Doyle
TRACTS No. 3-4 Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf. D1, E, H, J, und K.
Development and production from 1934 to 1938. Thomas Jentz &
Hilary Doyle (2006).
sample purchased by the author.
to Fight products are available at