Summertime is officially here and what better way to kick it off than with a DAK build?
This particular project will revisit some old familiar ground as almost all of the Pz 3 Hs ended up in North Africa. I have previously built a Pzkpfw III Ausf G using the old Dragon Imperial kit some years back and this kit, #6642, allows me to do something similar again but with a modern-quality kit to work from. One of the vehicles included in the marking set is Red 5 of the 18 PzRgt, 15 Pz Div, and it just so happens that there's also a pic of that particular vehicle in Trojca book on the Pz 3.
You can see the obvious appeal, it's got some nice field modifications in the form of spare tracks, water can racks on the fenders, and the addition of the canvas barrel cover, so should provide some fun 'extras' to play with!
As is the usual practice for Dragon kits, Step 1 starts with the road wheels, idlers, sprockets, and return rollers. Since I'm using workable replacement tracks, I always build a short run of 16 links to use as a gauge to ensure the gap arrangement will play nice with them later on in the build. The idler wheels include PE inserts on their inner rims, these were added using liquid glue to provide some flexibility with getting their placement just right before the idler halves were joined together.
With that taken care of, the roadwheels and return rollers got their turn. Each had their attachment points cleaned up and the mold seams removed using a 220-grit sanding stick. The return rollers were assembled while the roadwheel halves were left separate to allow for easier painting later on when that time comes.
The step also calls for the assembly of the idler wheel tension arms but I left that out for now until I'm ready to install them in Step 3 along with the other hull details that it integrates with so as to avoid any potential problems. This one is off and running!
Anthony, thanks for watching, August will be here before you know it and you can put those brand new digs to work!
Tobi, bench time in the summer is always precious! As for the tracks, they are Pz III links, just turned with the guide horns inward as they are attached through the tow points on the bow. Pics show this as a common thing for both DAK Gs and Hs, often with a couple of spare road wheels stuffed inside them too depending on the vehicle/unit. This particular vehicle has a spare wheel mounted on the rear fender along with what looks like a chopped/modified antenna tray to allow it to fit. Not sure if I will go that route or use another common feature for the unit where there's two stacked on top of each other on the opposite fender like what you see in the box art.
Leon, thanks as well, good to see you still poking around these parts!
John, no argument there! I've built several of their variants and each one was a fun project from start to finish...just as long, as always with a Dragon kit, you navigate the instructions and all the different same-letter sprues and parts carefully!
Joe, don't know how far it would have to be to qualify as 'going for broke' but will definitely be adding quite a few of the 'personal' touches that the photo supports for this particular vehicle. Glad to have you along for the ride!
Russ, the Tamiya III was the only game in town for a long time, I remember building it as well when I first got started with armor. Glad to have you along for the ride!
Dupes, ah the good old days! Output and available build time has definitely slowed waaay down, but it feels good to get back to it when I can. Of course I was never in danger of ever approaching your record-level year when you made a run at 100!
Work continued on the lower hull components and suspension. Step 2 is a fairly simple step, it adds the bottom portions of the fender supports and the crew side escape hatches. The left side gets the modified "special" frame support for the first mount due to the need to have to clear the shock absorber that gets installed in the next step.
Step 3 is an involved step as it adds all of the suspension elements. Since Dragon re-used the hull from their previous early-Pz III variants, one of those components involves placing the first return roller mounts, part V21, into the correct revised postion closer to the drive sprocket for the Ausf H. There are two locator holes provided in the hull side (one gets filled in while the other is there to help place the part) but the parts themselves don't have pins to make use of them. I used some white styrene rod to create my own and drilled out the locator hole so that they could pass all the way through the hull side. For the unused hole, that was filled with the same white styrene rod and sanded smooth after the glue had dried.
The rest of the step adds in all the suspension arms, torsion rods, shock absorbers, and bump stops along with the bow plate base and front portions of the drive sprocket base. All of the parts are 'handed', so I worked on one side at a time to avoid accidentally installing things on the wrong hull side. The middle 4 swing arms can be made to be workable if you remove the mount pins they sit on but since I have no need for that, I left them static along with the fixed front and rear arms that connect up with the shock absorbers. I also added the drive sprocket housings that were included in Step 1 but left the sprockets themselves off for now.
Next up will be working on the rear hull plate and exhaust system.
Post by 383 Silverado on Jul 4, 2019 11:00:47 GMT -5
Looking good Bill. Looking at those torsion rods gives me the "hee-bee jee-bee's" just remembering having to replace a broken torsion bar in the field on an M88. That do....do sum suckin' right there!!
Thanks Joe! My dad was career Army and I remember he used to have one of the tanker's bars at the house for use on various projects. That sucker was heavy, I can only imagine what it would be like trying to use one of those to repair a damaged torsion bar in the field!
ADT, school term finished up with a bang! Campus scored the highest it had ever done on the 8th grade Social Studies test, very proud of what the students accomplished this year. Especially since it was my last one for the time being, I've been moved up into the leadership team as the campus Instructional Coach, so that means next year I'll be working with the teachers on the campus vs. directly with students in the classroom. Will make for a fun/different challenge and hopefully (fingers crossed!) mean a little more bench-time too throughout the year. Glad to hear you and your son are still building together!
Dealing with the rear hull plate and exhaust details turned out to be more complicated than it looked at first glance. Steps 4 and 6 deal with this in the instructions and after careful study of how all the parts needed to go together in reality vs. what the instructions called for, I did it a little different.
First up was prepping the actual rear plate components called out in Step 4. The base plate had its details removed and sanded smooth per the instructions so that the applique plate could be added on top of it. I also assembled the tow points so that they would play nice with the applique plate.
The applique plate was kept separate and the exhausts and crank starter cover installed in position. This was done after I had tried a test fit of the applique plate and realized that the designed cutouts weren't quite big enough to fit correctly around the tow points on the original rear base plate. They don't clear the final bolt on the tow point mounts equally and this presented a small challenge to correct. Since both openings had to be trimmed equally to avoid the exhausts getting off-center, I installed them where they needed to go and then fixed the openings by carefully enlarging them with the point of a #11 blade and checking the fit until it would drop into place as originally intended. I also deepened the exhaust pipes by drilling them out with a drill bit/pin vise to improve their look.
In Step 6, there's a little pop-up box that deals with the upper parts of the rear hull that include the air vent and the angled armored plate that covers it. The assembly order that the instructions call for is a little bizarre and very awkward. It calls for it all to be attached together as a single assembly first and then installed into the hull as a single module. I found it much easier to keep the components separate and take advantage of the hull plate and rear frame as additional alignment guides. More on that a little later on. There's also a second box for the option of the type of smoke grenade box between an early and later version. Since this is a late production H, I opted for the later armored version. It was also assembled but left separate for now. It's worth noting that the Dragon diagram part numbers for this are all slightly off...you do need Parts B21, B22, B23, and B24 to assemble the complete box but the numbers assigned to the different parts in the diagram don't match what's actually numbered on the sprues.
Now it was time to pull it all together. I added the angled plate, part V46, as called out in Step 6 and also installed the idler mounts called out in Step 5. I did have to shave down the molded spring detail a little on the inner sides of the idler mounts to get them to fit properly but otherwise pretty straightforward.
Next up came the smooth original hull rear plate. I used finger pressure and liquid glue to get a good join here and also added the crescent-shaped housing covers (parts B2/B3) for the idler tensioners that the instructions originally wanted to be added in Step 1 but are best done here so that they line up properly with the rest of the idler housing features as extension on the rear plate.
As you can see in the previous pic, there are little dimples in the original rear plate that are designed to accommodate the exhaust pipes and why the applique plate has to fit just so for everything to work properly. I installed the applique plate and used finger pressure and liquid glue to ensure it sat flush all the way around.
Once that was set, I could use the exhausts and the support frame cutouts in the applique plate along with the hull side extensions to take the vent frame (part V12) that the instructions wanted to be installed in the call-out box in Step 6. This was much easier to line up correctly and had more contact area to work with vs. trying to install it to the angled armored plate (U8) that the instructions wanted me to do. It also meant I could use finger pressure to ensure that it didn't bow out and stayed flush with the openings like it needed to do.
That same benefit applied to the angled armored plate itself when it was added to the hull.
Last, but not least, the smoke grenade box was added to round things out. At first glance, it looks like it doesn't quite fit like it's supposed to, but the real deal had the frame overhanging slightly off the hull plate as you see in the pic. The key is to make sure that it's up flush under the flange though, something that isn't clear until you have the whole thing assembled vs. installing it in the call-out box.
Now that's out of the way, the next hurdle to clear will involve the fenders!
Thanks Leon! Been spending time with the fenders trying to figure out just how much I want to rearrange them to include some of the features seen on various vehicles in the 8th Pz Rgt/15th Pz Div in N. Africa. The crews in that unit did a lot of customization to their vehicles!
I started work on the fenders as the next step with the build but had to make some key decisions first on what field/crew modifications I wanted to include on my vehicle. The reference pic for "red 5" shows only the right side and it's clear that the crew rearranged the gear on the fenders to suit their particular needs. The left side, however, is anyone's guess as to what they did or didn't do there, so I used another set of reference photos of a similar vehicle in the same unit as a guide.
Both of them show an interesting feature set that combines the 'double-stack' spare wheels where the jack block normally would be and a long storage box added in between the fender supports forward of the jack, so I decided to modify my left side fender to include these features. To do that meant I had to check the fit on all the different gear very carefully to ensure it would all play nice with each other. The jack and fire extinguisher have to interact just right with each other and that, in turn, has an effect on the other arrangements on the fender space available. It's also worth noting that there's an error in the instructions for the part number on the jack mount supports...they are "keyed" to fit in a specific spot on the fender with their mount pins so it's important that they go in the right spot. The instructions have the parts numbered incorrectly, G54 and G56 are actually reversed from what is shown in the diagram so watch out for that if you decide to assemble the jack completely prior to installation as the instructions call for. I installed the base mounts on the fender since I needed them to guide the fit of the jack itself and assembled the jack completely along with its crank handle to ensure it had the right dimensions when placed in the mount but left it removable and the top part of the brackets uninstalled.
For the storage box, I used one from a set of Pz III/IV storage resin boxes that MiG Productions put out many years ago that has been sitting patiently in my aftermarket storage bin for just such an occasion. The resin box had to be slightly trimmed on the ends to fit the space available but did the trick nicely afterwards. For the spare wheel arrangement, the kit includes spare wheels and supports on the same "A" sprue (labelled StuG III G) that the regular wheels came on, so I put them to use. The triangular support works perfectly but in the absence of locator marks for it, I cleaned up one of the wheel halves and used that help with the placement to ensure the spare wheels would sit correctly later on. I also removed the small molded on details that went with the jack block mount in that space once I had committed to the arrangement.
The rest of the fender details were installed following the instructions in Step 7. Holes were opened up to take the wire cutters and I modified them slightly by removing the molded-on clamp handle and replaced it with a PE one from a generic Griffon PE clamp set for better detail. Griffon clamps also were installed with CA for the long crow-bar after removing its molded on clamps. The kit-supplied PE provided the details for the air intake opening, the fire extinguisher's bracket, and the stub fender under the rear mud flap. All of the tools and the resin storage box were left removable to allow for detail painting and flexibility with installing the fender itself to the hull later on. The toolbox (parts B19 and B20, the instructions don't mention that you need to add B19 to complete it) that would normally go on this fender was also assembled but will get relocated to the opposite fender since it's spot is now taken by the long resin storage box.
Next up will be the opposite fender which should be a much easier proposition by comparison.
Work continued on the fenders, this time on the right side and Step 8 in the instructions. This side is a little simpler compared to the left side but still required some rearrangements. The first order of business involved raiding my spares bin for all the available water cans I had...I needed to match what's in the photo for "red 5" and I happened to have exactly that. The rack clearly goes beyond the final fender support, so I had to test that out and make sure that the scratch-built rack would accommodate the 6 cans in that space. Because one sits on top of that final support, I had to build in a little extra space in the rack for that. Fortunately, I had plenty of scrap PE brass on hand from a ship railing set used on a past project and used that to create the rack. It was also already primed, so double bonus!
I replaced the molded on clamps on the crank starter with Griffon PE clamps and also test fit the possible arrangement of the displaced toolbox. It's not permanently mounted yet, have to make sure it will play nice with the antenna mount before I can do that later. The kit-supplied shovel's blade was a little thick, so I carefully trimmed it down to a more in-scale appearance with a #11 blade and added a Griffon clamp handle to it although it's virtually hidden away by the antenna support tray.
Everything was left removable as much as possible and will get added in after the fenders are permanently attached and/or in the detail painting stages as the situation requires.