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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Introducing the Panzer III

The Panzer III, aka Sd Kfz 141 or Pz.Kpfw. III, was a German tank designed in the mid-30's as a tank fighter. Equipped with a 37mm anti-tank gun it was adequate against the light allied tanks encountered durig the early war campaings, but it proved outmatched in gun and armor when it went into Russia. The Panzer III was also equipped with a 3-man turret which freed the commander from loading and firing tasks to observe the battlefield and direct the fighting. This was a substantial advantage compared to other early war tanks. Up to 1942, there were multiple variations (Ausführung) of the tank made, from Ausf A to N. Ausf F introduced a 50mm gun but even that was not enough to match the Soviet tanks. Before it was retired, Ausf N actually upgraded the main gun to a low velocity 75mm gun to be used against infantry and 'soft' targets, but this meant that the Panzer III was no longer meant to be used as a tank fighter. Altogether, close to 6000 were built before production stopped in 1943. The Panzer III's chassis was more successful however, becoming the foundation of the Sturmgeschütz III of which close to 9500 were produced, many of them conversions from Panzer IIIs. The Panzer III saw action in Poland, France, the Balkans, North Africa and the Soviet Union. After the Battle of Kursk it was phased out in favor of the Panzer IV and subsequent heavier tanks, with only a few being around by the time the allies invaded Italy and France. In terms of scale models, we have a couple options available to us Courtesy of 21st Century Toys.

21st Century Toys Panzer III - Afrika Korps
This tank was released by 21C Toys after some of the heavier tanks had been issued, so I thought it would be a bit wimpy compared to its predecessors. However I was pleasantly surprised. It is certainly smaller, being true to its scale, but it has sufficiently nice detail making it worthy of one's collection. For instance, you can tell that it belonged to the Afrika Korps because of the insignia with the plam tree on the front of the tank.

21st Century Toys Panzer III - Afrika Korps
Here's another version of the Panzer III from 21C, this time, with a tan color, maybe more in line with what you normally associate with the DAK. I think I actually like this one better than the previous one. Note that this one also has an antenna that folds back down. 

21st Century Toys Panzer III
Here is another version of the Panzer III. Presumably the one that fought on the eastern and western fronts. I find the green color a bit unusual. In the pictures of real vehicles that I have seen, it has always been painted grey, but I trust 21C did their research when they developed this model. In any case, like AK version, it is also a nice reproduction of the original.

Click here to see a post about the Panzer IV

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