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Armor/AFV: Axis - WWII
Armor and ground forces of the Axis forces during World War II.
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DML Panzer III Ausf. J Kit 6954
KKarns
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Posted: Friday, April 24, 2020 - 12:16 AM UTC
Hi Folks, I'm new to the field of military armor modeling despite years of fine scale structure modeling experience. As a result of my research, I decided to search out DML Kit #6394 on the secondary market to be my first build. In my enthusiasm to get started I inadvertently pulled the trigger on DML Kit #6954. I haven't been able to find any information (side from basic stuff) or reviews of this kit. Would appreciate any comments or advise from the wise and knowledgable folks here!...Thanks.
RobinNilsson
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Posted: Friday, April 24, 2020 - 12:28 AM UTC
Scalemates is a useful resource where the ancestry/lineage of kits can be traced.
https://www.scalemates.com/kits/dragon-6394-pzkpfw-iii-ausf-j--108504
6954 is a descendant of 6394 so 6954 is on the far right in the "family tree"
Dragon has the habit of adding parts to older kits and combine sprues from different kits to make something new.

I think it would be safe to assume that the newer kit is at least as good as the 13 years older kit
KKarns
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Posted: Friday, April 24, 2020 - 01:55 AM UTC
Hey Thanks much Robin. Appreciate the prompt response and your thoughts here. I did go to Scalemates as a matter of course but was hoping for more of a personal opinion on the kit or a review of the same. Your response is the type I was looking for and serves as a bit of morale support going into this build. Thanks again.
panzerbob01
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Posted: Friday, April 24, 2020 - 01:58 AM UTC
6954 is the 6394 kit re-boxed with a few extra pieces added in to allow one to build a few ausf J aside from the initial run.

I am sure that it uses the same molds - not a new-tool of the 6394 parts. But those 6394 parts were a great kit (like most of its concurrent fellow Pz.III offerings from the early 2000's, barring a couple of detail issues Dragon inserted into its Pz. III Smart Kit offerings...) which has well-withstood the test of time, so the recent re-box should be equally as good in terms of molding, detail, etc. 6954 will build up into a splendid Pz.III.

IF you are looking for some detail discussion of issues, fixes and tweaks, read the reviews and find some discussion of its parent 6394 kit - these will very most likely apply about 100% to the 6954 kit.

IMHO, you have done fine and should not worry that you have somehow flubbed. In fact, now that this question has surfaced... I am thinking about getting the 6954 kit!

Cheers! Bob
RobinNilsson
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Posted: Friday, April 24, 2020 - 02:01 AM UTC
Both of these kits have tracks made up of individual links. Dragon calls it 'Magic Tracks'.
Indy-link tracks takes a bit more time to assemble but, in my opinion, they are superior to the DS-tracks (Dreadful Stuff) that come in many other kits from Dragon.

If you feel that you could use some tips when the 'Day of the Tracks' come then just ask in this forum.

/ Robin
KKarns
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Posted: Friday, April 24, 2020 - 02:28 AM UTC
Great advise regarding the perusal of a 6394 build. Now that I have your input regarding the 6954 being basically the 6394 in most respects, I can confidently start my reviews prior to working my kit up. I know Adam Mann has a nice review of 6394 on his site and I will check things out here as well.

Right, the little experience I have amassed so far steers me clear of DS tracks and look forward to a detailed build as I'm very used to fiddly small parts work. Your orders are as follows: Obtain a 6954 and feature your build here and I will lurk in the hull following your every move! lol.

Thanks so much Robin, pleasure to be here.
marcb
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Posted: Friday, April 24, 2020 - 03:18 AM UTC
It's a great kit. Well researched, with a lot of options.

Biggest problem, might be what version to choose.

Some more possibilities.

Afrikakorps
https://echelonfd.com/products/details/AXT351026


Kharkov
https://www.archertransfers.com/AR35316.html


Enjoy your build.
KKarns
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Posted: Friday, April 24, 2020 - 03:44 AM UTC
Marc, appreciate your input here and you have introduced one of three major issues I feel I will need to address at some length:

The first two issues are a high quality technical build from a modeling standpoint and solid paint and weathering work. I feel I can do a reasonably good job of putting the parts together to come up with a nice finished base model. I also believe I can do a reasonable job at painting and weathering...you all can be the judge of that down the road!

However, the one thing that worries me is the accuracy of the build. My goal is not just to build a nice tank model but to build one that is accurate and precisely detailed for the period, service location and model. Knowing which parts to fit where, when there are options based on multiple factors is daunting. I am not planning to rely on the kit instructions to guide me in this direction other than for basic stuff. I know research is needed and this I will do as best I can.

Thanks Marc for the links of a couple of options and I like the DAK version...maybe? Keep in touch if you don't mind nursing me along!lol.
Hangelafette
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Posted: Friday, April 24, 2020 - 08:10 AM UTC
Hi Ken,

You have chosen wisely, this kit harkens back to Dragon's golden age, magic tracks and multiple build options. My only nitpick is that in earlier times Dragon included full PE rings for the interior idler wheel detail. In the newer kits each 'ring' is 3 separate pieces, which are a pain to install.

If you are interested in accuracy, I highly recommend Jentz and Doyle's Panzer Tracts No. 3-3.

A couple issues I am aware of:

The turret supplied with the kit has 9 bolts on the roof that were only present on long barreled version (L/60). If you build the short barrel version, they should be sanded off.

If you build a DAK version, all of the short barrelled and some of the long barrelled tanks would use a modified tropen engine deck. Dragon provides the parts but not the instructions. See step 9 from here: https://www.1999.co.jp/eng/image/10188195/70/3.

If you build a long barrelled DAK tank, the engine deck above or the later engine deck (Dragon provides the instructions) can be used. (Both of Marc's pictures show the later deck.

If you build a short barrel DAK tank, the majority had a canvas mantlet cover, Panzer Art offers a resin replacement barrel with the cover.

Good luck with your build!

-Nate
KKarns
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Posted: Friday, April 24, 2020 - 11:41 AM UTC
Nate, Just the kind of help I need...great stuff you have provided. I really appreciate it. Right, I saw that issue regarding the PE sandwiched between the idler wheel parts that were previously one piece vs the three separate ones. Unless this was how that part was originally on the tank, it would seem Dragon folks aren't the ones building the kit or they would have been a single piece!lol. I think Adam Mann made that point on one of his kit reviews.

I'm getting stoked on this kit now that I have a bit of solid background and confident it will end up a really nice piece. You guys have been amazing and can't thank you enough for the help and encouragement. Following some additional field work I'll post what version I plan to work up.

Thanks again. Ken
TopSmith
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Posted: Friday, April 24, 2020 - 05:17 PM UTC
Ken. Look for photographic evidence of your build. The different variants were not always cut and dried. There were part overlaps when a new variant started but some old parts were still installed until they ran out. So there were hybrids of sorts. Then there were rebuilds and repairs that may cross variants.
KKarns
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Posted: Saturday, April 25, 2020 - 12:32 AM UTC
Hey Greg, You make a great point here regarding the variants made to any particular Ausf. In fact, here is a quote to illustrate this taken from Panzer Tracts No. 3-3 by authors Jentz & Doyle:

"With seven different assembly firms and seven different armor suppliers, each starting to implement 30 independent modifications at different times, there is a very high number of possible combinations of secondary features."

Sound wisdom in recommending modeling my build following photographic evidence and supported by what documentation I can find.

Thanks here to Nate for turning my attention to Panzer Tracts No. 3-3 which is an absolute must for any Ausf. J, L, M, and N.

Also Greg and others, goes without saying how much your service is appreciated...
Robbd01
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Posted: Saturday, April 25, 2020 - 04:14 AM UTC
Great post. I have had the idea of doing a PZ III J for sometime and finding the Dragon kits (either of them) was a challenge. Either they were non-existent or if found ridiculously expensive. I ended up finding a "Pz.Kpfw. III Ausf. J Control Tank & Borgward IV Ausf. B" - No. 9054 and was going to exclude the Borgward portion and do a PZ III J from the 24th Panzer Div ala Stalingrad. I shall be watching this post for any other tid-bids that come up building this thing. If it ever gets to my bench.

Cheers

KKarns
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Posted: Saturday, April 25, 2020 - 07:16 AM UTC
Great to hear Robb, I'm leaning towards the DAK version inspired by the pic Marc posted with Rommel sitting on the turret roof of 221. Its also mentions a figure possibly available from a DAK figure set with Rommel in this pose! I'll see how much info. I can get on 221. Another reason to go with the DAK is my apprehension of tackling a camo paint scheme at this stage...I can do yellow...I think.
Robbd01
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Posted: Saturday, April 25, 2020 - 07:51 AM UTC
I went looking for that Panzer Tracts 3-3 book and apparently it is just as rare as the Dragon kits. However I did find a site that has it in PDF. Now worried about another Napster controversy, I did not post the link but if you hit the search engines you will find it. Anyways on page 3-3-41, bottom pic shows a Pz IIIJ long barrel with the 24th Panzer Div markings in the lower left of the pic on the track fender (same pic can be found in Squadron Sig's Panzer III).

Cheers

alanmac
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Posted: Saturday, April 25, 2020 - 09:58 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Great to hear Robb, I'm leaning towards the DAK version inspired by the pic Marc posted with Rommel sitting on the turret roof of 221. Its also mentions a figure possibly available from a DAK figure set with Rommel in this pose! I'll see how much info. I can get on 221. Another reason to go with the DAK is my apprehension of tackling a camo paint scheme at this stage...I can do yellow...I think.



For the figure set you'll want the set created by Masterbox

See here
http://www.mbltd.info/figures/1-35-scale/world-war-ii-era/3561.html
KKarns
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Posted: Saturday, April 25, 2020 - 12:21 PM UTC
Robbie, In that same text (Panzer Tracts no. 3-3) the authors state that the L/60 (longer barrel) was introduced on the Panzer III in December 1941 but they were not assigned as Ausf. L until April 1942. So, you could have an Ausf. J with the L/60 correctly named until April1942 which time they were officially renamed Ausf. L...me no expert...lol... just stating what is described in the book.

Thanks Alan...as a result of your post on the figure set, I just ordered it...so a DAK it is number 221.
KKarns
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Posted: Sunday, April 26, 2020 - 02:26 AM UTC
Question for those familiar with previous DML Panzer III, Ausf. j kits...There is no clear parts sprue in the 6954 kit and doesn't appear there should be based on the sprue schematic. However, other DML kits for this same Panzer III J such as kit 6394 contains clear parts. Particularly concerned with how the vision ports on the copula will appear without clear lenses?? Does this have to do with this being a Smart Kit?
panzerbob01
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Posted: Sunday, April 26, 2020 - 05:14 AM UTC
The sort-of "obvious" answer is that the newer kit will require the builder to paint up his vision blocks to emulate the glass as best he can - like on one's typical Tamiya kit....

How much does this actually matter? Personally, I like the clear parts for viewing prisms and glass - just somehow adds at least a tiny additional whiff of realism to the builds - but I must confess that in many cases, it doesn't really appear notably different then painted solid styrene bits, even under moderate inspection. The key opportunity for clear vision bits being effective is when there is possible light coming thru, or when the viewing bits are actually very visible when one is looking at the build. Like in an open cupola on a Pz. II or such... Closed-up cupolas and hulls probably don't show off any cool see-thru effects for clear vision bits (you are looking from the light into a dark interior...), so... having none may not matter much, if going that way in a build. It's a nice detailing opportunity, in MHO - but not a deal breaker either way to me. (And PS, as a model show judge, I often try to shine my "death ray" light thru cupola slits - NOT as a judging step or criterion, but just to see the effect if there are clear bits involved!)

Headlight lenses are, to me, a different thing. IF you can pretty much see that lens, then you can pretty much see THRU that lens, and a clear lens adds a lot to the headlight detail, IMHO.

From what is being said, I guess that the clear bits are one of the things Dragon may have deleted in these newer kits - I've never actually handled nor inspected the most-recent kits and all my Dragon kits are the original 2005 - 2010 era Smart Kits, which did have the clear cupola vision bits, etc. Again, I could live with not having them, but I do like having the clear bits...

For the sticklers, I am pretty sure that there are AM cupola clear part sets for many tank types...

Just my opins, of course!

Bob
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Posted: Sunday, April 26, 2020 - 05:58 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Great to hear Robb, I'm leaning towards the DAK version inspired by the pic Marc posted with Rommel sitting on the turret roof of 221. Its also mentions a figure possibly available from a DAK figure set with Rommel in this pose! I'll see how much info. I can get on 221. Another reason to go with the DAK is my apprehension of tackling a camo paint scheme at this stage...I can do yellow...I think.



There is probably a two-tone paint scheme on the DAK panzer.
KKarns
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Posted: Sunday, April 26, 2020 - 08:05 AM UTC
I would have to agree Bob and thanks for taking the time to give me your thoughts. It was just disappointing to see the elimination of clear parts for this kit when the exact same vehicle kit years before came with the clear parts. You would think over time the details would evolve that require improvements from a kit manufacturer not the elimination of them. Also on step 12 of my kit there is an option for regular headlamp or the slit lamp...not much of a choice without the clear lens...as you mentioned.

Another example i noticed was the PE between the two parts of the idler wheel I believe, was a full circle part on previous kits and on my current kit of the exact same tank it comes in three separate pieces! Nate pointed that out as well here. That to me makes no sense unless the part was suppose to be in three pieces on the original vehicle. I have gotten wind, during the short time I have been involved with military modeling, that Dragon has some issues of late so maybe this is the kind of thing that is out there?

Great Greg!, I guess I'm going to have to jump in sometime on the camo painting anyway lol. Thanks for the heads up.
panzerbob01
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Posted: Sunday, April 26, 2020 - 09:13 AM UTC
On that 3-piece PE plate for the idlers...

I suppose that someone out there has a good idea as to why the D chose to change the PE set... I don't think that the original had a 3-piece bit, but maybe... That change actually happened pretty far back maybe in 2010 or so. It doesn't seem to me to be much of a possible savings for the D over making a 1-piece ring, but then I don't know that it may somehow reduce the amount of thin brass sheet used sufficient to actually save something when applied across all the later Pz.III - based kits where such idler rings apply. The draft photo-art has already been done for the original part, so going to the 3-part piece just meant redo of the photo-art to make the new PE. No savings by doing that! In any case, they are not much more difficult to use, so modelers don't seem to carp much about this change... In fact, the first Pz.III kit I built I left those rings out... simply forgot them. Didn't notice what was on (off) for a couple years, until I'd seen enough various -III kits with those bits on to start wondering... LoL!

The clear-parts deletion is, IMO, fairly more annoying. The more so as it forces a choice onto the modeler concerning headlight options. (though, in practice, most but the very earliest Pz.III in service had cloth or metal slit-covers over their headlights... And certainly all J actually had such covers installed from the get-go. Having a naked, fully-exposed-lens headlamp probably didn't commonly occur on later Pz.III when in the field.) This change in parts was probably done because deleting that small clear sprue somehow saved a few cents per kit. Seems like tiny potatoes to me but there it is - no clear in the newer kit. Phooey!

Bob
KKarns
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Posted: Sunday, April 26, 2020 - 09:57 AM UTC
Thanks Bob, really enjoy your insight! I'm really not in any place to complain anyway as I haven't "paid my dues" with a good quality build of a DML kit yet, which I hope is about to change. Waiting on a few supplies and I'll get started.
Robbd01
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Posted: Sunday, April 26, 2020 - 10:25 AM UTC
Hey all, Is there any comments on Dragon's Pz IIIJ kit number 9011? I went to check on my Borgward kit to see if it came with photo etch and clear parts and in my quest for the a Pz IIIJ I apparently also picked up kit 9011. BTW neither have a clear sprue or PE.

Cheers


Edit:
Folks after this post dug up my long time research on a Pz. IIIJ it seems that according to Scalemates my 2 kits (there is a 3rd) all have their roots from the Gunze Sangyo kits. Looks like what Ken was asking about are kits that according to Scalemates are new tools from Dragon only. So Ken my apologies for clogging up your post with my questions when it looks my kits are not related.

KKarns
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Posted: Sunday, April 26, 2020 - 10:09 PM UTC
No worries Robbie, all good stuff. Nice that you have your Pz III J kit(s) worked out. I have learned a great deal in a short time mainly due to this site and the wonderful contributors. More later...