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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Bolt Action - Review: Warlord Games/Italeri Panzer III

By Anthony "Anfernee" Mason

  Hey guys,

  Anfernee here to chat about a cool little gem I picked up recently for Bolt Action. While I am usually a stickler for the German big cats, I was excited to get my paws on the fairly new, 1:56 Panzer III plastic kit from Warlord Games. This is one of the plastic kits made in conjunction by Warlord and, model kit maker, Italeri. I am a huge fan of plastics and adding in a Panzer III, gives me some new variety to add to my lists for Bolt Action.

  This plastic kit from Warlord lets you build a variety of late-war variants. From the Ausf J, with it's Reinforced Rear Armour, to the Ausf L & M, with the options of Schurzen, and the Ausf N, with it's light howitzer. The amount of parts Warlord & Italeri have managed to fit onto just the two sprues is quite amazing. The box art is also quite evocative, showing a trio of Panzer IIIs advancing through a burning field, in the middle of a fire-fight. You also get an assembly guide and a sheet of decals. You may notice in the photos later that I prefer to hand-paint my vehicle markings but there is absolutely nothing wrong with the decals Warlord supplies, if you prefer that route.

  One of the first things I have to mention in this review is, I have been critical of the Warlord plastic kits in the past for the way their two piece tracks go together. This flaw often leaves unsightly gaps in the track assemblies. Well with this kit, the tracks are now four pieces. While I still prefer the single piece assemblies some other companies do, this four piece track assemble for the Panzer III goes together perfectly, leaving no gaps or  noticable blemishes. This is a big improvement in my mind and is deserving of praise. The tracks themselves have a heap of detail, a running theme you begin to notice when assembling this kit.

  Now the assembly guide/instruction book is fairly clear, although this kit in general is a lot more advanced then many of Warlord's other plastic kits, that I have had the joy of assembling. Because of the many differences in the varieties you can build, certain parts need holes drilled, which is shown in the instructions. The instructions clearly show which steps you need to follow depending on which variant you are building. As I said earlier, the level of detail is pretty stunning, but there were also some pieces that I felt should have been molded on or maybe even left off. I simply refused to even attempt to cut off the pieces you can see in the picture below, which are suppose to go onto the turret, for fear of them disappearing into the ether the moment I cut them from the sprue. I guess for the really invested historical nuts out there they will love these tiny pieces, but I thought they were asking a lot for a wargaming model.

  I assembled my Panzer III as an Ausf L and gave it a plain dunklegelb paint job with a liberal count of Army Painter Strong Tone wash.  The crewman is also included in the kit, although the stowage on the back of the turret was added from other Warlord kits. You don't get much stowage other then some spare track links in the kit, but with all the other options you get, I feel like it is not a problem.

  You get both the earlier shorter barrel 5cm KwK 38 L/42 gun, the longer barrel KwK 39 L/60 gun and the 7.5cm KwK 37 L/24 howitzer. These can easily be interchangable if you wish to swap the barrels around and take different variants and are willing to over-look the cosmetic differences of the variants. Effectively giving you two different tanks for the price of one. Schurzen are also included, although I left mine off for a change and to make my Panzer III stand out from my Panzer IVs and StuG IIIs, who mostly have Schurzen attached.

  So there it is.  My new Panzer III, ready to ride to the Ostfront to try and hold back the Red Tide. This is a very good model kit. While it might be a little advanced for a first-time, young gamer, just starting in the hobby, it is packs a lot of variety and versatility into one kit. The level of detail in the molded on tools and the optional extras like smoke dischargers, extra armour and spare road wheels is excellent, and they have changed the track assembly that I disliked in earlier kits. All in all, I give it a solid 9 out of 10 for the general gamer. Only losing a point on some of the smaller pieces being incredibly finicky to try and cut off and attach.

"Anf" is a long-time gamer from Down Under, who currently focuses his hobby time on Bolt Action.
With an equal love of rockets and Ice Hockey, he constantly explores weird and wonderful army lists in his never-ending quest to collect them all.

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