Wednesday 16 October 2013

Zvezda Flammpanzer III

I discovered I 'needed' some Panzer III (Lang) for mid 1943 Eastern Front engagements, less down to Kursk than the accounts of the post Kursk battles in George F. Nipe's 'Decision in the Ukraine'. I was struck by the mixture of vehicles in the panzer regiments and the recurring (and ever declining) numbers of Panzer IIIs.I am already amply provided with Panzer IIIs of the short barrelled variety, but I couldn't quite bring myself to use those as substitutes.

A pair of Panzer III, er retrofitted Fs? Ls? I really don't know....

Some brief research that the 15mm market is awash with short barrelled Pz IIIs of various types, but my favourite manufacturers didn't do a single long barrelled one between them. I refuse to pay inflated BF prices, and the most cheap and cheerful option was to bash up a couple of Zvezda Flammpanzers. Quite what posessed Zvezda to make this model, I do not not know, only 100 were made and as a scale model of a Flammpanzer III, it is appalling. The Flammpanzer III was built on the Ausf M chassis, so should have late road wheels, deep wading exhaust system and no lower side escape hatches as a minimum. Instead they have just plonked a Flammpanzer turret on what appears to be an Ausf E chassis.

For my purposes however, that is fine, as I just wanted some cheap 50L60 armed Panzer IIIs. All I had to do was sand down the gun barrels to make them taper, as the flame tube is straight and it is actually quite noticeable. As a kit, these are well up to the usual Zvezda standard, they just aren't very good models of the subject matter.

The anachronistic road wheels are clearly visible, but that aside, this is actually a beautiful model with exquisite fine detail.

Early exhaust system clearly visible. Those nice straight lines take a drybrush well though. Shame about the join on the engine deck. Oh well.

From the front, and at a distance from the side, it does actually look quite like a Panzer III Ausf L.

So there we have them, anachronisms aside, these were a joy to build and they painted up beautifully. I wanted to make them look very high mileage so the disruptive camo was very lightly applied and then the whole thing very heavily weathered with successive layers of mud and dust. Photographic evidence for camo on mid 43 Panzer IIIs is a bit contradictory as most of them would only just have been repainted and many photos just show them as plain sand,  but that would just be a bit too Afrika Korps I felt. I did find a few examples of camo'd ones in the end. Numbering them as 3 Ko. is based on the SS Panzer Regiments at Kursk who organised the third company in each battalion as a light one, and it turned out that many of the Heer battalions also had a third (and sometimes fourth) company of Pz IIIs too.

I rather like the idea of them being real old clunkers retrofitted with 50L60 guns, and for that the Zvezda models were perfect. In the event that sanding the gun barrels didn't work, plan B was to chop them off and replace them entirely with spare barrels from the PSC Sov 57mm AT guns, but as it turned out I didn't need to. Despite the wrong road wheels, I am pleased with how these turned out, and at the price, who is complaining? I am still amazed that PSC and not even QRF do a Panzer III (Lang) though.


  1. They look great! I also have these, but use them as Flammpanzers. I don't mind the discrepancies that you point out though. I do have some long barrelled Panzer IIIs from Command decision and rather nice little tanks they are too!

  2. Thank you. The CD ones aren't an option since Skytrex went belly up although I imagine someone will buy the moulds eventually. The re-released ex-Skytrex 20mm stuff looks great. I could probably have done some conversion work on the PSC Pz III G/Hs but the the Zvezda ones are just so cheap.

  3. They seem to be starting with the early war stuff but I think they bought the whole range. Might be worth emailing them

  4. Seems like a good alternative to the expensive new plastic FoW Panzer IIIs. Any tips on sanding down the gun barrels?