Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.A

Kit #: W-001 Article by Peter van Kempen - P(dot)Kempen5(at)chello(dot)nl
Edited by
Rob Haelterman

The first issue of this new kit, made by IBG and marketed with a magazine as with First to Fight, was announced on the Braille Scale Modelers forum.
There will be 10 issues in total about German technology in tank designs, to be released during 2018. Available information shows a very early running gear StuG III, and a Panzer II with early pattern running gear, shown on the Neurenberg toy fair.
One can (pre)order these kits at two distributors only: Guideline publications in UK, or ModellBau Koenig In Germany. It’s not possible to order these through IBG, who claim to be the manufacturer.
Meanwhile, other webshops, as Jadar also offer these kits and some were on offer through UK bookshops.
Mine came through MBK, as they are closer to where I live and postage cost is lower.
The kit was delivered soon after its release, arriving by post in a few days. The cardboard box shows the Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf.A in three-quarter view in its suggested paint scheme. It is very similar to that used by FtF, as is the fixation by a blob of glue to the attached magazine.
The magazine, containing the vehicle data and a description of the careers of two commanders, is written in two languages, German and English, as opposed to the single use of the Polish language in the FtF equivalent. That’s an advantage, as not everyone can understand Polish and this devalues the FtF magazine somewhat. For this vehicle, its contents are more extensive on technical details for this vehicle, and brought much news to my modeling desk. I believe this magazine and its content is very useful and will be kept as a reference by many modelers.

The model itself is packed in plastic bags and the parts are supplied on 5 sprues, with a decal sheet marked as WAW001 and giving us the early white and yellow crosses, used early in the war.
The well registered decal numbers are for one of the two vehicles identified as participating in the hostilities in Poland, captured on photographs. In this kit we get numbers 223, including one number 223 in a smaller size, to be able to copy the picture and the markings on photographs of tank 223, as shown in the magazine. The reverse side of the box shows us the painting scheme; the front, left and right side and back elevations of the vehicle are repeated on one side. The other side of the box identifies IBG as the manufacturer.
As always, when a newly issued kit comes to market, I could not wait to go over the contents and assess the potential of the model and parts.
The first thing that draws attention is of course the running gear, being unique for the first edition PzKpfw III Ausf. A.
This first pattern running gear is very different; later variants had more roadwheels.

This kit appears to follow a quick build approach not unlike FtF and S-Models. To improve the detail of the one piece molded tracks and wheels, some extra work will be needed.
I also noticed some soft details. That said, this is a very welcome release indeed to fill gaps in any 1/72 collection!

It has potential for super detailing, but for this, usual cutting, filing and obtaining aftermarket items will be needed, just as with other quickies of this design.
For those, who are content with S-Models and FtF standards and have some painting experience, this reasonably priced model will do just fine. The outer track details are just ribs, due to molding restrictions, and if not replaced by aftermarket track sets will need a thoughtful approach to camouflage or improve the surfaces coming in view. From the side, the track links are reasonable represented, though a bit rough in details. That also goes for the hull surface and fenders, just a bit more so than the more subtle tread plate and detail the Revell kit PzKpfw III offers.

These slight disadvantages can be corrected, or hidden by average modeler skills, adding strategically placed mud and a careful finishing, and do not form a serious obstacle to get this kit made up into a beauty.

And, as no other kit of this type in 1/72 scale is available, beggars can’t be choosers!
When looking at the hull top and sides, and comparing them with Revell, the attention goes to the quality of the running gear suspension, typical for the Ausf. A.

Suspension detail is molded as one piece with the lower hull assembly. Although it will be hidden from the eye by the running gear and big road wheels it looks OK. Detailing and mold lay-out of these spring supports, for a quick build, is not bad at all and can be highlighted easily when coming into sight for one reason or another. Very carefully removing a wheel from the tracks would give the chance to remount it in another position, as the one piece molded track units all have the wheels in one and the same position.

The roadwheels are in one piece, but need a groove in the middle which accommodated the center track guide horns. When taken out, this can be represented by adding a groove or thinning up the outer wheel and adding a second half with a distance for the groove.
That’s a minus in this kit, coming from the choice to do these road-wheels as one part molded to the tracks. Due to the wheel pattern, this is a bit disturbing, and might urge you to go the extra mile to take the wheels off, and remount them with added detail onto improved or new tracks in various positions. A very nice post showing results of this work by Rob Searson can be found here. One can only hope IBG will reissue these models with better detailed running gears (as Italeri did with some of their QB issues), just to keep everybody happy and get some more mileage out of the molds, made exclusively for the publisher. Another thing that is apparent is that this model A’s suspension and its hull was longer than later version Panzer IIIs with the “standard” six roadwheels, as issued from the Ausf. D onward: the overall length given in the magazine is 5,6 meter, against 5,41 meter given for the early Panzer III Ausf.D-F in the Bellona vehicle prints, series seven. Comparison of the hulls and sides with the Revell parts makes this very clear. The difference seems to be due to a different frontal lay-out and the length of the running gear itself, evident from the comparison pictures of the hull top lay-outs shown.

With regard to scale: using the given width of the Ausf. A, 281cm translates into 3,9 cm in 1/72 scale and the measurement over the sides gives exactly that measure, so width seems to be spot on for 1/72.
Length however, is more difficult to assess: the given overall length is 5,6 meters; in the rear, a hinged section of mudguard extends more (1,7 mm) than the corresponding 1/72 dimension of 7,8 cm. If this extended flap on the rear can be excluded from the equation, and by looking at the track length with a small margin for the extending mudguards, front and back, that dimension would correspond exactly to the 1/72 scale length.
Apart from the deviations in length with the later models PzKpfw IIIs, as discussed, I also looked at the turrets

They seem to be very much the same in height, as in real life they were. Considering all, I do not expect that in height there will be any surprises, scale wise, but I lack the exact height measurements for this kit because this in-box review/comparison does not show the built result. I have not been able to unearth more dimensional details on this version. Variable extensions always make a good assessment difficult, as here. Based on sources available to refer to for this Ausf. A, and comparing parts with the Revell kit, I give it the green light scale wise, until contradicted by better informed parties.

For your better understanding of what’s on offer here, I’ve compared the Revell PzKpfw III kits turret, hull, bottom and track sides. Revell is well known for their accuracy and detail. Comparing the Revell PzKpfw III kit parts with some of the relevant main parts of this new kit by IBG is a bit uncommon for a review, but I hope this helps to get a better idea of what’s on offer, which is the purpose of this exercise.
Looking at the total picture of kit parts, their finish, design, surface detail and comparing all to a representative better quality 1/72 scale kit (as Revell is in my opinion), I can recommend this newcomer to the hobby as a very valuable addition to fill gaps in any Pz Kpfw III collection, and an opportunity to model something entirely different.

Recommended for both wargamers and modelers alike!

Note: This kit was bought and assessed by myself, using my own standards of appreciation. I have no connections whatsoever with the distributors or manufacturers of this kit.

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Article Last Updated:
25 March 2018

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