I’m starting my next diorama which will feature a broken down and abandoned Panzer III, set in North Africa. I have an aborted build of Dragon’s Panzer III ausf M Neo which I though I could use as a donor for parts, including the partial interior. I decided on the newish Academy ausf J for the base kit as it looked like a decent kit at a good price.
First, just a brief mention of some of the highlights as I haven’t seen this kit mentioned that much or many build logs.
- Options for either the L/42 or L/60 variants
- Options for two different fender layouts
- Link and length tracks
- PE mesh screens included
- Marking options for 5 different vehicles (all North Africa)
It’s clear that Academy are planning additional variants as there are a substantial amount of parts included for the ausf M & N. There are a couple of things I’m not so impressed with though.
- The tracks have solid guide horns which are very unlikely to be correct for the the marking options provided. Every reference photo I have seen of the J in North Africa have hollow guide horn tracks.
- All of the hull hatches have the hinges moulded on in the closed position. Only the turret has the option of open or closed hatches. All of the vision ports are also moulded closed.
Construction starts with the lower hull which is flat pack design instead of the usual tub. This all went together very well with only a small amount of filler needed at the rear. I also made the first modifications to the kit here. I didn’t fit the forward bulkhead and removed the locating lugs from the hull sides. All of the light pin marks and locating holes were also filled in. The other change I made was to create the openings for the hull escape hatches. The hinge and hatches where replaced with spares from the dragon kit.
The underside of the fenders aren’t up to Dragon’s standards but that is to be expected on a cheaper kit. There are a lot of location and pin marks to be filled though, if they bother you. I decided to fill them but very few will be seen with the tracks on.
All of the suspension parts fit perfectly with little clean up required. Academy have done a great job on the wheels. They fit perfectly, detail is good and the clean up is a breeze. I added a little damage to some of the tyres. The tracks were replaced with the furils I had built for the Dragon kit, which also fit very well.
The upper hull parts are a modular design similar to Dragon. These parts also fit well with no issues. They hold together well even when just dry fitted.
So far I’m pretty impressed with this kit. The fit is almost on par with Tamiya and the detail, while a little softer and simpler than Dragon, is pretty good. Next up is preparing the hull interior.