Forces of Valor 1/72 Panzer III Ausf. N (87011) Build Review

If you have read the in-box review of this kit, you’ll know that it’s not the highest quality of kits. You may therefore be wondering why I’m even bothering to build it? The answer is: I learn something from every kit I build and in this case, there is something particular I want to test. Specifically, I haven’t been happy with the two small-scale kits of German tanks I have built and attempted to paint with a camouflage pattern. The colours just look  too stark in terms of contrast and I want to try experimenting with filters to try to reduce that contrast. And that’s really what I will be focusing on here. But, to get something to paint, I first have to finish the build…

I will be attempting to make a couple of small improvements to the kit. First, I separate the conjoined blocks of roadwheels into separate pairs of roadwheels. The blocks look really nasty to me, and it only takes ten minutes or so to go from this…

To this.

The I fabricate some replacement schürzen for the hull using thin plastic card. These are still a little thick, but they are better than what was provided with the kit.

Then, it’s on to construction. The hull goes together with no problems at all and no filler required. Fit is good, in fact, many parts snap into place with no need of glue.

The turret isn’t quite so good and some filler is required for a couple of gaps at the bottom front and at the front of the rear stowage box. There is also a minor issue with the hatches – these are only designed to be open. If you want them closed, some trimming and filler is needed to get a good fit.

Now that it’s done, the upper schürzen mountings do look very thick. So, I quickly make some new ones out of thin plastic card.

With basic construction done, I decide to do a quick check of the tracks. These are vinyl tracks, but they’re thicker and less elastic than most I have come across. I add a couple of roadwheels for a dry fit (I’m leaving them off to paint the tyres more easily) and I add the tracks, just to check that they’re long enough. And here’s the result:

As you can see, the tracks are about 10mm too short! Initially, I was tempted just to stop here. Two out of the last three tank kits I have worked on have had too-short vinyl tracks, and I’m getting rather bored with it. These are even worse – they’re relatively thick and strong and so short that there’s a good chance that the joint will break or the rather flimsy rear idlers would snap if they are joined and then stretched to fit. After some rumination, I decide to go ahead with the rest of the build without even trying to join the tracks. I’ll leave the open section on the top run where, hopefully, it will be hidden by the schürzen.   

Next, the painting. I begin with an undercoat of Mig Jiminez Dunklegelb base, then I highlight using Dunklegelb shine and give it all a final thinned coat of the base shade. Then I apply a basic camouflage scheme using Mig Olivegrun and Shokobraun. There is no standard scheme – these camouflage colours were applied in the field and they range from carefully thought out and meticulously applied schemes to something that looks as though it has been done by tossing buckets of paint at the vehicle.

However, the contrast between the camo and base colours is too great. I want to try to use a filter to tone this down. The question is, what colour do I want to use? I have painted a scrap of card in the same colours as the kit and I use this for testing. I try very dilute mixes of oil paint and thinners with dark brown, ochre and a mix of brown and titanium white, but none give particularly satisfactory results, mainly because they all pool badly. Eventually, I use a dilute mix of acrylic white and clear varnish to tone everything down and make it look dusty. Then, I overpaint with a filter of very dilute dark brown oil to emphasize shadows.

Frankly, the result isn’t great. The brown wash works well enough, but I clearly I still have work to do on the filter. It has toned-down the camo contrast but at the expense of a blotchy overall finish. I may consider buying a ready-mixed filter and trying that in future.

All that then remains is to paint the roadwheel tyres , the tools and some other small bits and pieces. I also paint the tracks and discover an odd thing that I have seen on other vinyl tracks – they accept paint, but strangely the original colour of the vinyl seems to show through when the paint dries. I painted the tracks a dark gunmetal with lighter gunmetal highlights but when dry, they look black with lighter highlights. On another kit I might have tried again but on this one, I’m just keen to get finished and move on.

So, here is the completed Forces of Valor Panzer III. At least with the hull schürzen in place, you can’t see the gaps in the tracks!

After Action Report

I didn’t enjoy this build and the principal reason can be summed-up in one word: Tracks! I think you know what I mean! With the provided tracks, this kit is basically unbuildable. When I discovered that, I was tempted to abandon this build without finishing it. I persevered only because I want to use this as a test-bed for new painting techniques. The paint job turned out pretty badly, and that certainly isn’t the fault of this kit. However, while otherwise this might be a good kit for a beginner, the fact that the vinyl tracks are just way too short could only cause disappointment and frustration.

I can’t say I’m especially happy with the finished model. The mouldings are a mix of very good and not so good. Some of the fine detail is nicely done but the odd and overscale hull schürzen and the very thick turret schürzen mountings, for example, look very strange. Construction is generally straightforward and fit isn’t bad at all in most places.

I didn’t notice until I parked it next to some other 1/72 kits that this kit is also too large. On the original Panzer III, the hull was 2.9m wide, excluding schürzen. That should equal a whisker over 40mm wide in 1/72. However, this kit is actually almost 46mm wide – its hull is close to the width of a Tiger tank in the same scale and it’s noticeably larger than a T-34. On its own, this isn’t too noticeable but next to other kits in the same scale, it just looks wrong.

This isn’t a dreadful kit, but neither is it particularly good. With so much choice covering the Panzer III in this scale, it’s just very difficult to see why you’d choose this one. There are cheaper and easier to construct small-scale tank kits for beginners and there are much more accurate and detailed kits for not a lot more money for more advanced builders. Sorry Waltersons, but for me, this is probably one kit to avoid.    

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Forces of Valor 1/72 Panzer III Ausf. N (87011) In-Box Review and History

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