Panzerkampwagen III Ausf.G
Preview by Rob Haelterman - heman_148(at)hotmail(dot)com
Until recently, I had never heard of this brand. Looking at this kit, and having started building the First Air M13/40, I immediately realized that this is a shame.
I don't know if this sample kit is
representative of the kits that are on sale, but it comes without
a box. Unlike the M13/40 it comes with a limited manual and dry decals
and unlike the M13/40 it is not a full kit, but a conversion set for
the Revell Panzer III.
Parts lay-out: solid hull, solid turret, gun mantlet, hull front, separate fenders and return rollers. All the rest will have to come from a Revell kit. The turret has nice counter-sunk rivets. The fenders have the appropriate surface texture and have the tools molded on.
The hull is a monobloc casting, with very little clean-up needed and generally very crisp detail. The arms of the suspension have softer detail and the bottom of the hull lacks any detail. Anything not hidden by the roadwheels is very nice, however. As you can see, the fittings for the fenders are molded onto the hull. Combined with the separate fenders, this gives you a unique chance to model a Panzer III with (part of) its fenders missing.
The short barreled 50mm gun and uparmored bow are provided, as well as the early type headlights, front and rear Notek and the return rollers. I am not sure why these are provided, as my references do not indicate any changes during production of the Panzer III, but it might be due to the incompatibility of the Revell parts. Not visible on the picture is the business end of the gun barrel, which is hollowed out.
The instructions are limited to 5 pictures of the finished tank, with some annotations in Japanese, a page full of Japanese text (which I cannot read, unfortunately) and two paint schemes, which I guess are from 15 Pz.Div. in 1942. (The Japanese use the same numerals as we do, so I guess that this is what the "15" means.)
The decals are by Archer Fine Transfer. These are dry, rub-on decals, and are typical of Archer's quality: very finely printed and very thin. Even though they will be more difficult to apply, they will give the best result you can imagine. While you get more than enough transfers, you don't get the number "6" of the second marking option. I am also unsure if the "F","G","J", "S" and "A" were ever used on the Panzer III. One of the transfers in my set had accidently rubbed onto its protective backing, which means that it is lost.
As the Ausf.G has a very convoluted history with an incredible amount of (substantial) changes implemented during the production run, before switching to the Ausf.H, it is not always easy to pin down what this variant should look like. A brief analysis:
So, looking at it all, I would say the kit would suitably depict a very late Ausf.G Trop or an early Ausf.H. The only thing to modify, in either case, would be the position of the first return roller to make it compatible with the 400mm tracks; this is child's play.
 Panzer Tracts 7-2, PanzerJäger, T.L. Jentz and H.L. Doyle
 Achtung Panzer 7, PzKpfwI/PzKpfw II, M. Bitoh, Dai Nippon Kaiga
Thanks to Gunji Ueda of First Air for the preview sample.