|Pz.kpfw. III Ausf. G||by Dave Showell|
|Manufacturer: MR Models (Kit # 7257)||email: showell1(at) rogers.com|
This is MR Model's resin and white metal conversion to back date Revell's Panzer III M or J to the "G" version. In fact, you don't end up using much of the Revell kit - mostly just the lower hull tracks, and bogey wheels. The resin parts of the kit consist of a new upper hull, with revised rear deck and headlight fittings on the front fenders, a new turret with side view ports and the lower cupola extended out at the rear, gun mantlet, early style twin mufflers, a rear engine vent, rear hull plate and rear fenders. The resin parts are extremely well moulded, particularly the headlight fittings. I really wish that MR had not moulded on the tools although they are nicely done - I would have preferred to arrange them myself.
In white metal, MR provides the early style drive wheel and idler, side hull hatches (these were not included in the Revell "M" kit), a smoke candle box, split hatches with nice interior detail, a fire extinguisher, notek driving lights, a shaded headlight, two regular headlights, two reinforced early style shackle brackets for the glacis, and a turned aluminum short 5cm Kw.K.38 L/42 gun barrel. By the way, thats my fake "hold and fold" tool in the background. It came in handy for bending the tracks.
While the Revell Panzer III tracks are quite nice, I chose to replace them with the Part etched brass set. These look a little thin perhaps (I'm not certain if this is a legitimate complaint or if they just seem thin against other 1/72nd scale track sets) but have excellent detail, including open guide horns. The Part tracks fold together very easily, although you have to be careful that the tops of the guide horns don't have a visible seam. I used a dot of super glue on each guide horn, followed by a quick sanding with a file, to make them look solid. In an earlier project (MR Model's Befhelspanzer IIIK) I ran into the problem of the etched brass tracks not conforming tightly enough to the toothed drive wheels. For the "G", therefore, I removed most of the teeth where the track would come into contact, leaving just the nubs. This allowed the track to "sit down" properly.
I began by assembling the Revell lower hull and bogies. I used the white metal hull side hatches (I was using the Panzer IIIJ as the base) in place of the plastic ones because they seemed more detailed. I then assembled and attached the white metal idler wheels, after reducing the length of the mounting post a bit (I found it was too long and would have made the tracks crooked). I then assembled the etched brass tracks and formed them around the drive wheel. You really don't want to do this with the drive wheels glued in place - they'll snap off causing serious frustration. I bent the tracks, then glued them to the drive wheel, then mounted the whole, ensuring that the tracks lined up with the plastic bogies and return wheels. The kit requires two lengths of etched brass track, one considerable shorter than the other. The brass holds the sag quite nicely. With the lower assembly complete I painted it - Modelmasters Acrylic #79 RLM Sandbraun (a Luftwaffe colour, I know) and several thin coats of grey, rust and tan/brown for the tracks.
I had decided to do this kit in Deutches Afrika Korps (DAK) colours, so I went out to purchase a suitable pot of paint. Totally by accident, I picked up the RLM Sandbraun instead of Sandgelb which I was looking for. In fact, I didn't even notice my error until I had put the first coat on the lower hull. While the colour was obviously too orange looking, I though it would come out okay once I had done some pin washes in brown and then dusted it with tan. At the end of the project, it still looks a little bit too orange in places to my eye, but not bad overall.
Preparing the upper hull entailed a few problems. The pour block for the upper hull piece is at the rear and extends downwards on an angle. The problem is that that area is where you have to mount the resin piece with the engine vent (on its underside). The piece with the engine vent on its underside also forms part of the upper rear deck so the upper hull piece, where the pour block has to be removed, has to be completely flat to receive
it without a gap. This requires really careful filing to get it right. I also had to file the edges where the sides of the upper hull meet the sides of the lower hull, in order to get a good fit on the glacis.
The rest of the kit fit together without any problems. The instructions suggest cutting the ring below the turret from the Revell kit and gluing it to the bottom of the resin replacement turret. At first I wasn't going to do this, but I think it actually helps to position the turret correctly.
I added a rack for jerry cans on the rear deck, as well as some other miscellaneous gear.
The figure is from Migs Afrika Korps set. The base is done with rock dust left over from a building (a new front porch on the family cottage) project last summer. I just glued the finer stuff to the base and added some small stones.
AMPS East 2004
I managed to get this kit done in time for AMPS East 2004 held in New York State last September. For those of you who aren't familiar with AMPS (Armor Modeling and Preservation Society), the organization has developed and uses a very detailed judging system. Unlike most competitions, pieces are judged not against each other (i.e. 1st, 2nd, 3rd) but against a fixed set of criteria (and are awarded a gold, silver or bronze). They judge only your work, not how it stacks up against other models on the table. These criteria are available on the AMPS site (http://www.amps-armor.org/contestRules.asp). A really great feature of this judging approach is that not only do the judges (usually a team of four or five) take a good amount of time examining your work, but they also provide written comments sheets indicating the score you received in the three major criteria categories (9 sub categories) and why. These are necessarily brief (i.e. seam lines on engine deck, decals silvered on turret, etc.) but usually of great use to the modeller who wants to improve and do better on the next model. Heres how I did:
Total = 24.5 out of 30
(with 4 judges the lowest score is dropped, if 5 judges are available, highest and lowest are dropped)
I must say I found these comments a little less useful that those you get at the National Show but I think there were fewer judges at AMPS East. The end result was a silver medal (advanced category), which I was very happy to receive.