by: Mark [ ]
The Panzer III Ausf. L (Sd.Kfz. 141/1 ) started life as an Ausf. J with a larger main gun. It used the upgraded 5cm KwK 39 L/60 main gun. The initial production version (Dec. ‘41-Apr ’42) was still called the Ausf. J. The vehicle was renamed the Ausf. L in April 1942, including the previously produced Ausf. J versions with the L/60 gun. An estimated total of 1470 were produced from Dec. ’41 through Oct. ‘42, including the redesignated Ausf. J’s.
What’s in the Box
This kit from Tamiya was released in 1997. The kit has less than 250 parts. The box does an acceptable job protecting the contents. The five sprues are packed into three bags. What’s in the box:
5 sprues molded in beige
Chassis molded in beige
1 Rubber-band tracks
1 Decal sheet
1 12 page Instruction manual
Looking at the Kit
The quality of the styrene is good for a kit from this timeframe. There is little or no flash on any of the parts. Any ejector pin marks are located in such a way that they shouldn’t be seen once built. A total of 23 parts are listed as not being used. The instructions are standard Tamiya format, consisting of 12 pages of line drawings. Assembly is broken down into 20 steps.
Step 1 and assembly begins with the installation of the suspension arms, six per side. You just need to make sure that they are all level, before the glue dries, so the hull sits square. You also install the idler shafts, bumper stops, and the front hull tow hook extensions.
Step 2 adds the final drive covers; don’t forget to add the polycap first. The shock absorbers and return rollers are added next. Finally the hull rear plate is installed. Parts D28 & D29 are listed in this step as optional. These are the hull escape hatches. Now, all three kit versions show the hatches as installed. So, why list them as optional? All hulls built from Dec. ’41 through July ‘42 incorporated the hatches. Starting in July ’42, a new hull was being phased into production. So, from July ’42 to Oct. ’42 both configurations were rolling out of the factories. From Oct. ’42, all hulls were the simplified version without the hatches. So, if you are building a version other than one included with the kit, then use your reference pictures to determine if the hatches are there or not.
Step 3 installs the rear tow hooks, muffler, and radiator (?) outlet. Tamiya sells a separate PE grill set (35199), as do several other third party suppliers.
Step 4 assembles all the road wheels, idler wheels, and drive sprockets. The road wheels are one piece. Therefore, you will need to paint the rubber using your preferred method.
Step 5 installs all the running gear and the spare track links on the front of the hull.
Step 6 begins the Upper Hull assembly. First, you need to drill five 1mm holes from the underside. Then all of the hatches, hull side panels, and radiator outlets are added. Again, PE grill are installed if you have them.
Step 7 Continuing with the upper hull, the front glacis plate is installed. The ball MG is only the barrel. If desired, you will need to drill it out to make it look more realistic. The front brake cooling ducts are installed. Left fender supports and spare road wheel mounts are added. The armored covers are added to the engine hatches. Finally, the S-hooks and breaker bar are installed.
Step 8 provides two options for the front spaced armor. All three kit versions use option B. Use option A if building a different version and it shows this style.
Step 9 adds the spaced armor from step 8. You finish this step with the right fender supports and the tooling.
Step 10 assembles the antenna case, Notek light, jack, and headlights.
Step 11 installs everything from step 10, plus the tool box, jack block, and rear convoy light. The spare road wheels are assembled and installed.
Step 12 adds the right fender tool box, antenna base, antenna case and tow ropes. Parts A18 are optional and can be added if your reference pictures show them. None of the three kit versions show them installed. Finally, the inverted V-deflector (D27) is also an optional part. This was phased out of production starting in June 1942. The three kit versions all show it being installed. If you are not installing D27, then do not forget to remove the mounting pins on the top of the hull.
Step 13 adds the rubber band tracks. These can be glued using your normal cement. Finish this step by attaching the upper hull to the lower hull.
Step 14 covers the mantlet and the mantlet’s spaced armor frame.
Step 15 deals with the main gun and assembly. The L/60 gun lacks any detail, not even a breech block. It is a two piece part and will require the join line to be removed. The gun is designed to elevate up and down. Care needs to be taken with gluing parts C5 and C6. Once the sub-assembly is done, you add the recoil housing and the armored MG34 barrel. There are no internal details for the MG. Finally, you add the mantlet spaced armor. Part C13 is optional. This was not installed on all vehicles during production. So, check pics of the version you are building to see if it is installed. In the kit, only option 1 shows this being installed. Options 2 and 3 only have the spaced armor frame installed.
Step 16 assembles the main gun with the turret top and bottom.
Step 17 through 19 adds all the external bits to the turret.
Step 20 completes the assembly by installing the turret to the chassis. Also, the figure painting callouts are identified. In addition, the extra spare track links can be added, if you desire.
Decals – Options are provided for three different vehicles:
No. 133, 1st Company, sPzAbt 502, Russia, September 1942
10th Panzer Division, Tunisia, February 1943
18th Panzer Division, Russia, Winter 1942