Tamiya like Cyberhobby/Dragon (kit #6431) have released their version of the final Panzer III version, the close support Ausf.N armed with the short 7.5cm L/24 gun left over from upgraded Panzer IVs.
The Ausf.N was built from existing Ausf.J, Ausf.L and Ausf.M hulls which means Ausf.N appears with numerous detail differences depending on their base chassis with most having just the spaced hull armour but there are a few photos available of Ns with spaced turret armour but this is quite rear.
This new Tamiya Ausf.N kit is actually based on their Ausf.L (kit #35215) with just the inclusion of a new sprue F with the 7.5cm L/24 gun parts and new decal sheet with everything else the same as the Ausf.L kit. This means you can still built the Ausf.L with the L/60 gun from the kit contents if you so wish so really the kit could be labelled as a 2 in 1 kit apart from the markings provided.
As with the Panzer III Ausf.L the kit measures up very well against available 1:35 plans as well as the new gun housing also matching data to well within acceptable tolerances.
Quality of the mouldings is again excellent with a minimum of pin marks and virtually no flash to contend with other then the usual fine moulding seams to be removed.
This consists of 283 parts in light beige plastic, a small etched fret with 7 parts which is actually the same fret first released as set #35199 for the first Tamiya StuG III Ausf.G kit #35197. There is also the metal 7.5cm barrel end section also from the StuG III Ausf.B kit and a few poly caps for the drive sprocket attachments as well as the decal and instructions sheets.
The lower hull tub is the same as included in the Ausf.L kit and includes the axle mountings and additional final drive plates that incorporate the tow shackle mountings.
The lower rear plate, upper hull overhang and upper rear plate are separate parts with separate exhaust mufflers and exhaust deflector and inside the hull top overhang is an etched mesh screen to blank off the opening. The tow hitches are in three parts each side for good definition.
The separate hull side escape hatches are shown in the instructions to be used with two of the decal options but but not on the third which does indicate a mix of hull types as per the originals so watch the instructions on this.
There are also nicely detailed axles and shock absorbers for the first and last stations as well as separate bump stops for a well represented suspension arrangement that can be articulated with a little work if you wish for a diorama setting.
The drive sprockets are in two halves with nice bolt head detail on both sides of each sprocket and good rim contours to nicely represent the Pz.III drive sprockets as well as a separate final drive housing added to the hull sides. There are two poly caps to be trapped inside the final drive housing as you glue this to the hull for fitting the drive sprocket so don't forget to add these at this stage.
The twin road wheels again have nice hub detail but without any sidewall embossing on the rubber sections and one thing to note with the road wheels, these have a mould join seam around the middle of the rubber section and the real wheels also have a seam at the same location when new. But this was a little uneven on my wheels and I shaved the seam smooth for more worn wheels but this is up to the modeller to decide according to their preferences.
The return rollers are in two parts again without tyre embossing but this is all but invisible on the real return rollers from a normal viewing distance so may not be of concern?
At the back are the 2 part idlers with nice detail but without the inner lip and these just glue straight to the idler axles on the hull without any problems.
Included are full length vinyl 40cm track that have nice details for the medium but have solid guide horns due to the constraints of the moulding process. The track lengths can be glued together using normal plastic cement and fit neatly around the drive sprockets as you would imaging but will need to be glued to the return rollers and the slight track sag added.
The upper hull is one large moulding that includes the fenders with cut-outs for the front transmission inspection hatches, crew hatches and engine deck openings for the top inspection hatches and the rear and side intakes. The engine deck represents the later Ausf.J/L/M configuration with one piece hatches and alignment of the intake covers with detail on the deck that sees slightly recessed weld seams with separate lifting hooks for good definition.
Added to the side of the deck are the separate intake trunks and there are also etched screens provided for the intake tops which have basic details and no problems were encountered assembling these.
All the hatches have their hinges moulded integrally but with nicely defined detail and the coiled tow cable on the rear deck is in plastic with just the fine moulding seam to be removed carefully to ensure you don’t compromise the cable detail.
The front glacis plate has the separate one piece access hatches, front brake outlets and headlights.
For the main superstructure there is an inner “box” to which is added the separate side plates and driver’s plate but you shouldn't fit the separate turret V bullet splash guard supplied for the Ausf.L based Ausf.Ns even though the instructions show to fit this.
The side panels have the visors moulded closed and the driver’s plate has the two part driver’s visor also moulded in the open state and includes the right side machine gun ball housing with just the outer MG34 barrel section which could do with the muzzle drilled out for a better appearance.
The fit of the front and side plates to the inner box is very good not requiring any trimming as is the fit of the upper and lower hulls as we come to expect from Tamiya.
If building the spaced armour versions there is the separate 20mm spaced armour panel with small extended mountings for the spaced armour panel that are rather simplified if you want to get picky but mostly perfectly adequate if you didn't want to update with etched parts from sets available separately.
The fenders as mentioned are included with the upper hull and include a ‘diamond’ tread plate pattern depicted as raised on the upper surface only with locating holes for the many tools and equipment added to the fenders.
These include the tools, jack, Notek and tail lights with the tools having their clips moulded on but it would be easy to trim these off if you wanted to use any of the etched tool clips available separately to improve the look.
The main shell turret is the Ausf.L turret without the side vision ports and a separate front plate, gun mantlet as well as the side hatches with the surface detail being well done such as the top flush screws. The overall dimensions again match the data with such items as the gun barrel lengths and gun housing being well within acceptable tolerances.
The main change for the Ausf.N is the inclusion of the 7.5cm L/24 gun which includes the outer barrel section in plastic or aluminium with rifling included, this rifling is a little overscale but not that noticeable on the assembled gun due to the smaller diameter of the barrel.
There is the full gun and breech included as well as the side guards and lower shell basket on the inside of the turret but the co-axial MG34 only has the outer barrel section and adding the full MG receiver will finish off the gun mounting better. There is an opening in the inner gun mounting that makes adding the receiver easier should you decide to do this?
The main gun housing is in two halves leaving a small join seam at the sides requiring attention and has the square profile captured well and with fine weld seams and other details with a separate end sections. There are two alternate barrel sleeves, one with notched or smooth end caps depending on the decal option being used.
The kit has two mantlets, the initial one from the Ausf.J kit and a new one for this kit so make sure you use the correct mantlet for this kit (part F1) which has just the left side vision port (moulded closed) for the Ausf.L/N with the gun housing added to the front.
The side crew hatches have the frame added from inside the turret and the separate doors have nice detail on both sides if you wish to show these open as well as a separate rain guard for above the doors with no other internal turret detail other than the gun mounting.
The top Commander’s cupola is again from the Ausf.L kit and has the cupola in three parts, two parts for the cupola drum with open visors when fitted together and the separate top hatch ring as well as two top hatches with basic internal details.
Other details added to the turret include the top ventilator, the crew entry grab handles and small two part lifting hooks for the upper corners of the turret as well as separate pistol port for the rear wall.
Also included for this version are the six smoke grenade launchers for the turret sides and these have separate pots with alternate pots with and without grenades fitted, as well as the mounting plates which could do with being thinned a little and you would only need to add the wiring to finish off the assemblies.
The instructions indicate these pots are only fitted to one of the decal options so you should choose the version you are building before hand when fititng these.
At the back is a two part turret bin with main bin shell and separate top which makes into a nice representation of the standard Pz.III turret bin.
The kit provides two figures, a full Commander figure from the Ausf.L kit and a new full figure with a choice of right arms, one in a casual pose and the other holding a signal pistol. The uniform detail is adequate and should come up okay with careful painting with both having separate one piece heads with good facial detail and the new figure also has a separate set of head phones and binoculars to add as you wish.
The original figure is designed to stand in the cupola with the arms positioned to be leaning the hatch sill while the new figure is designed to be posed away from the vehicle in a diorama.
These are the usual exploded view drawings that are easy to follow as there aren’t a lot of parts and I didn’t come across any traps with assembly going smoothly throughout. For the most part the instructions are the same as for the Ausf.L kit with just a couple of minor alterations for the hull and the revised turret illustrations for the 7.5cm gun and smoke grenades but other then that follow the same sequence.
Markings included are:
This is another typical Tamiya kit, workman like with very clean details and superb engineering resulting in trouble free assembly and is as close to shake and bake kit you will find but as with any kit there is scope to add additional details if you wish?
The detail included is well done mostly but it's a little sparten in places but will build into a presentable Panzer III Ausf.N as based on the Ausf.L chassis or as mentioned you can still build the standard Panzer III Ausf.L with 5cm L/60 in you wish.
Highly recommended 7.5/10.
A comparison with the recent Cyberhobby/Dragon kit of the Panzer III Ausf.N (kit #6431) is inevitable but to be honest time does not permit a full comparison and I have included similar images in both individual kit reviews for you to do your own mini comparison.
But briefly both kits are based on the earlier Ausf/L kits rather than the later Ausf.M chassis with the level of details on the Cyberhobby/Dragon kit being above that of the Tamiya kit in most places while the Tamiya kit has the better engineered parts resulting in trouble free assembly.
Achtung Panzer No.2
Excellent detail coverage of the Panzer III with the usual detail photos and drawings of all versions of the Panzer III.
AFV Super Detail Photo Vol.6
Published by Model Art Co.Ltd.
A good overall pictorial coverage of the Panzer III.
A typical NV with good coverage of the Panzer III and the cebtre colur plates.
PzKpfw III in action #2024
The usual in action fare with photos and drawings of the Pz.III versions.