The Flammpanzer III (F-1) was a conversion of the Panzer III Ausf. M, and 100 were produced early in 1943. The conversion was fairly easy, as the 50mm main gun and ammo stowage were simply replaced with a 14mm flame-thrower and fueltanks. Extra armour was added to the front, to counter the nessecity to get closer to the enemy, due to the short range of the flame-thrower. The Flammpanzer was not a great succes, and vehicles returned for re-fitting were commonly rebuilt into either standard Panzer III's or Stug III's.
The Dragon kit of the Flammpanzer for which this Eduard set is designed is of 1996 vintage, and as such lacks much of the recent refinements we have come to expect from Dragon. Although not a bad kit by any standard, it will benefit considerably from this set.
what's in the bag
The set consists of two very finely detailed Photo-etch frets, containing 255 parts. The frets are sandwiched between two pieces of stiff card for protection, and packed in a clear plastic envelope. The instructions are as usual colour-coded and very clear.
a closer look
This is a very comprehensive set, and will add detail to every corner of the Flammpanzer, apart from the wheels and the flame-thrower. A welcome inclusion is the detail for the turret interior.
I'll list the contents first, and will look in detail at some of the more specific parts.
- mudguards, back and front
- spare track holders, including the locking hooks
- additional front armour, and brackets
- air intake mesh, and brackets for the covers.
- new jackblok, with straps, brackets and belts
- fire extingisher bracket
- complete exhaust bracket
- tow cable mouting clamps and guides
- interior detail for turret, hatch and doors
- smoke dischargers and brackets
- hinges and padlocks for toolboxes
- various hinges, straps, strips with bolt and rivet detail, toolclamps, etc
The Dragon kit supplies a spare tracklink bracket for the glacis, which this set replaces with a better shaped and scaled alternative, and this set also contains a bracket for the lower hull front, which includes three hooks to lock the spare links in place. The hinged front mudguards come complete with bracing brackets and retainer hooks, giving this part of the Panzer a much busier look.
The additional front armour of the Dragon kit gets a major overhaul, and only the main front armour plate is retained. The Photo-etch replacements look much better, but the brackets are very small, and once the plates are in place not much of this effort will be obvious.
The mesh covers for the air intake are identical to those for the StuG III, and a beautiful example of how woven mesh can be re-created in flat Photo-etch. It is almost a pity to cover them up, but the Flammpanzer has a cover over each intake (presumably to stop any fire from entering the engine bay by accident?) for which the Eduard set supplies some equally nice mounting brackets. These are a bit complicated to fold at first sight, so study the instructions and the parts carefully before you start folding.
The two plastic kit toolboxes on the side mudguards are retained, but after removing the molded on hinges and locks the Photo-etch replacements make these look much better. Eduard have managed to create padlocks which come in one piece, need only one fold, and look convincing. Only close inspection under a large magnifying glass would show them to be 'flat'.
The jack support block is a mixed blessing. Although the look of three individual blocks, held together by two metal straps, is captured very well, the wood grain is identical and straight on each block, which looks artifical. The mounting bracket and retainer belt make up for this, but once more the complicated folding of the two small brackets is not show in the instructions.
The tow cable brackets on the engine deck are a typical example of Eduards simple but effective approach to tool clamps. One part, straight forward to fold, they not only improve the Dragon parts, they also look good without the cable stowed, if you would want to attach the cable to the tow shackles in ready mode, as they so often were on the real thing. You get an option to use a 'simple' U shaped bracket on the corner, or a more invloved, three part corner bracket with a locking clamp. The rear mudguards, as the front ones, come with bracing brackets and retainer hooks. The right rear mud guard comes in two versions, one with a hole in it, and one without.
The turret is well provided for in this set, and the interior is not forgotten. A backrest for the commander, an ammobox (with interior detail, for signal flares?), two junction/control boxes with wiring and another (storage?)box go against the back wall, there are replacements smoke launchers which are a vast improvement over the overscale plastic kit pieces, replacement clasps for the turret bin lid, rain gutters for the turret doors,and insulator strips for the turret bin edges. Talking of turret doors, these are given a major make-over, with locks, handles and vision block mounts.
The rest of the set contains the usual toolclamps, brackets and some retainer chains.
This is a comprehensive set, aimed primarily at replacing overscale plastic parts on what is basicly a sound and accurate kit. Perhaps a worthwile investment for those looking for that little bit extra, it may seem extravagant to those less concerned about scale milimeters. Something that Eduard might need to look at is the lack of clear folding instructions for some of the more complicated pieces. This would make these otherwise easy sets usefull for even the Photo-etch novice. As it is, previous experience would be a great bonus when using this set. That aside, this is a very good set, with very fine detail, and if you have the Dragon Flammpanzer III, and want to get the best out of it, this set is recommended.
My thanks go to Eduard for providing this review sample