Saturday, March 6, 2010

Project: 1/48 Panzer III Ausf. M Progress I


Here is the progress on this model so far. I am approximately half-way through the construction phase. The conversion from an Ausf.L to an Ausf.M requires a little bit of modification to the base kit, as well as a brand new turret. The white spots on the front of the hull are where I filled the mounts for the headlights -- the M model moved these to the fenders. Although it cannot be seen in this photo, the rear mounts for the mufflers were also filled as the Ausf. M has a new deep wading muffler. Also not seen here is the rear hull muffler mount. Installation of this component required cutting down the lower rear hull piece just above the idler mounts. 
Also seen here is the right side suspension components, fully assembled. There was a gap of approximately half a link, which I partially hid by stretching the track components, and also hiding under one of the fenders. I have had similar problems with all of Tamiya's Panzer III based kits, so I can only assume this is a flaw in the kit.

When assembling the tracks on kits with hard plastic components, I will often glue them together before painting (if possible) for a stronger assembly. In the past I had tried assembling the tracks after painting, but the bond with super glue never held well (you are, after all, bonding one paint layer to another), and epoxy was both more messy and more time intensive. After the tracks are fully assembled, I remove the entire assembly, complete with wheels, and then paint the components as necessary. This both creates a strong assembly as well as a more neat appearance.

One thing that is always tricky to do -- but very important when working on a conversion -- is coordinating the two sets of instructions, both the kit's and the conversion's. I accidentially jumped ahead and mounted the engine intakes without adding the photo-etch frames (the gray parts on the upper rear hull -- on the real tank these were hinged so that the intakes can be sealed for deep wading). This is going to require me to modify the parts in order to fit them on the kit, requiring extra work. On the other hand, it has to be said that the photo etch parts might interfere with a good bond to the hull, so in the end this mistake might be for the better.

Still to be done is completion of the left side suspension components, completion of the turret (still needs the door stops installed, the barrel contoured, stowage bin latches installed, and the turret hatch installed), and of course the finishing touches on the upper hull (tools, headlights and bow machine gun) then it's off to paint. Discussing with the publisher of the decals, I will paint this vehicle in a scheme of dark yellow for a basecoat, and a splotchy pattern of dark green, similar to many of the tanks serving at Kursk.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, this may seem like an odd question and I hope you'll indulge me...

    But how wide are the tracks (in mm) and what's the diameter of the sprocket wheel (in mm) for this kit. I'm playing around with the idea of retrofitting a space marine rhino with the panzer tracks and wheels and I just need some measurements before I drop any cash.

    Thanks in advance.