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Bronco Panzer III Ausf A

RELATED TOPICS: ARMOR | TANKS
FSMWB0117_Bronco_PzIII_box
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The first four versions of the PzKpfw III — Ausf A-D — were built in small numbers and were basically test vehicles, although some saw combat in Poland and Norway. Ausf A was unique with its coil-spring suspension and large road wheels.

MiniArt kitted Ausf B, C, and D versions of the Panzer III with leaf-spring suspension and small road wheels, and now Bronco Models completes the set with its Ausf A.

Molded in light gray plastic, the parts show excellent detail, including delicate engraving and nice weld seams. The turret features the main interior components with optional open or closed hatches.

A small photo-etch (PE) fret provides screens for the engine deck as well as interior frames for the turret hatches and other small details.

Individual track links connect with tiny pins; a jig aids assembly.

The road wheels have an unusual step in the tread that I couldn’t see in any photos.

Clear plastic provides periscopes for the turret, glass for the vision ports, and lenses for the headlights.

Markings are given for four vehicles, one two-tone brown and gray, the other three solid gray. No painting instructions are provided for the interior.

Assembly starts with the hull and suspension. I had a little trouble getting the coil springs aligned, but they help in positioning the suspension arms. The road wheels and idlers trap small plastic caps, but it won’t be easy to leave them movable. Sloppy describes the fit of the road wheels; I built a jig to keep them in line while the glue dried.

Step 9 indicates posing the transmission hatches open. But if you do, all that is visible is an empty hull.

The well-molded track links feature hollow guide teeth and no ejector-pin or sink marks. They require only a quick clean-up of the three attachment points. The tiny plastic pins that join the links need to be carefully glued in place. A brush damp with Weld-On 3 worked well for that. The instructions call for 97-99 links per side, but I used 96 and found some sag on the right side and a little more on the left. I suggest gluing the tracks in place once they’re installed.

The separate fenders have the option of showing the front and rear sections folded up or down. I admit that installing the fender pistons (A52, P22) was beyond my ability — the PE part was just too small and delicate — so I left them off.

The turret interior was the biggest challenge, especially assembling and installing the seats for the commander and gunner. Both feature butt joints at important locations, which I bolstered with metal pins. A lot of detail painting went into the interior, but even with the hatches open, much of it can’t be seen.
 
After paint and clear gloss, the decals were applied. They’re a bit thick and required several applications of Solvaset plus prodding and pushing to settle the turret markings.

I completed the Panzer III in 38 hours, with small parts, detail painting, and the individual track links adding time.
 
The finished model perfectly matches the dimensions in David Doyle’s Standard Catalog of German Military Vehicles (Krause, ISBN 978-0-87349-783-1).

I applaud Bronco for kitting this vehicle, but it will take a modeler of considerable experience to do it justice.


Note: A version of this review appeared in the January 2017 issue.

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