Monday, January 30

Illuminating new box art for Takom's latest releases in 35th scale...

Two of Takom's latest kits, the T-55AD "Drozd" & Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.N w/Winterketten are now taking more of a real form in new boxart which confirms a few things about the kits. See what else we now know about them in our preview...

Illuminating new box art for Takom's latest releases in 35th scale...

T-55AD "Drozd"
From Takom
Kit No #2166
1/35th scale
Plastic kit w/ Photo Etch included.
The subject in real life: T-55AD "Drozd"
Designed as an alternative to passive or reactive armour defence systems to defend against anti-tank rockets and weapons, the Tula Machine Design Bureau under A. Shipunov developed the world's first active tank defence system, called the KAZT Drozd (Kompleks aktivnoi zashchity tanka:: Tank active defence system-Thrush) or Drozd entered development in 1977 on the basis of an army requirement and the first prototypes were ready by 1978. The Russian Army lost interest in the concept, but the program continued due to support from the Soviet Naval Infantry.
The Soviet Naval Infantry was having difficulty replacing its T-55 tanks as later types such as the T-62 and T-72 posed weight and size problems in standard navy amphibious ships and landing craft. The development costs for Drozd are believed to have been around $170 million. This represented a much smaller investment than the cost of developing a new tank specifically tailored for the needs of Soviet Naval Infantry.

T-55AD with "Drozd" APS turret at the Kubinka Tank Museum.
Production of Drozd began on a limited scale from 1981 to 1982. This system was first fitted to T-55M or T-55AM tanks, which were then re-designated T-55AD. When fitted to the upgraded T-55M1 or T-55 AM1 tanks with the improved V-46 diesel engine, the designation became T-55AD1. The Drozd tanks are not fitted with the applique armour, but do carry the 9K116 Bastion guided missile system. The total Drozd production run was small at less than 300 tank systems. It does not appear to have been commonly deployed by the Soviet Navy Infantry, probably due to the extensive security measures taken to protect the system's existence. By the late 1980s, when Kontakt-1 reactive armour became available, the Soviet Naval Infantry switched to T-55 tanks with reactive armour as a more practical alternative to the cumbersome and relatively expensive Drozd system. The Drozd system has been exported in small numbers to several Western European countries, China, and to one undisclosed Middle East client.
The Drozd system consists of three main elements, two launcher arrays on either side of the turret and an auxiliary power unit on the rear of the turret. Each launcher array consists of four launch tubes with a Doppler radar sensor array mounted above the tubes. The radar sensor arrays actively emit a radio frequency beam forward of the tank. The auxiliary power unit can provide power to the system and can surge up to a maximum of 800 watts for short-periods of time.

A graphic showing the system's effective arc.
The radar is gated to acquire targets moving at speeds of between 70 to 700 meters per second; this gating process avoids engaging the system against small arms and other high speed projectiles (e.g., long-rod armour penetrators). On acquiring the incoming slow-moving projectile, the Drozd's analog computer determines which of the eight KAZ projectiles to launch. The radar system determines the range of the incoming missile or rocket, and the computer calculates when to fire the KAZ projectile, and does so automatically. The KAZ is launched to intercept the enemy missile at a variable range from 2.7 to 7 meters from the tank.

T-55AD with active protection systems(Drozd) in the South Caucasus, 1990.
The KAZ projectile is 107 millimetres in diameter, weighs 9 kilogram and is rocket boosted out of the tube with an initial velocity of 190 meters per second. The fuze detonates the warhead from 2.7 to 7 meters in front of the tank, and there is no guidance aboard the KAZ projectile after launch. The high explosive warhead has a pre-fragmented steel casing, which on detonation breaks up into 3 gram slugs travelling at 1,600 meters per second. From a Russian promotional video on Drozd, it would appear that the KAZ projectile explodes over the incoming missile with a directed downward blast. The launcher arrays are configured to cover 80 degrees in azimuth, and -6 to +20 degrees in elevation. The Drozd system includes a rearward pointing light system for warning nearby friendly units when it will fire. The Drozd launchers take around 10 minutes to reload from an on-board supply of rockets.

T-55AD with Drozd APS at the museum at Kubinka in Russia

The kit from Takom:
This kit is one of the many adaptions of Takom's popular T-55 kit in 35th scale. This features the updated turret as the main change to the "Drozd" variant. Those of you not willing to make or to buy the (very good) MiniArm version of this tank can now get this variant for the first time in injection moulded plastic. The CAD drawing below shows the addition to the regular T-55 in a pink shade to make it easy to see the changes here. Two marking variant are included in the box, and the kit has single track links to make the running gear. 

Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.N w/Winterketten
From Takom
Kit No 8011
1/35th scale
Plastic injection moulded kit with photo-etched-parts included.
Two marking choices included
The Subject: The Panzer III Ausf. N
The Panzer III Ausf N was an attempt to increase the potency of the tank by arming it with the 75mm KwK L/24 gun. This weapon fired an effective high-explosive round and an excellent shaped-charge that had better penetration than the long-barrelled KwK39 L/60 which it replaced.
The Ausf.N mounted a short-barrel 7.5 cm Kampfwagenkanone 37 L/24 (7.5 cm KwK 37 L/24) tank gun, previously used on the Panzer IV. It was a low-velocity tank gun that was designed to fire mainly high explosive shells. If it had to engage armoured vehicles in combat it could fire the Panzergranate armour-piercing AP shell, but it was only effective at short ranges. Later on in the war, crews had the option to load the new 7.5 cm HL-granaten 39 hollow-charge high-explosive anti-tank HEAT projectiles which had a greater effect against tank armour. 

British Army captures Panzer III Ausf N unit Norway June 1945
The Ausf N was recognisable by its short-barrelled gun and the lack of spaced armour on the mantlet. Many of the later Ausf Ns were fitted with a new cupola with thicker armour and a single hatch in place of the earlier split-hatch design. Ausf Ns were also given side skirts for greater protection from March 1943.

Panzer III Ausf N 1 Italy 1944
The initial order was for 450 tanks, but the troops at the front liked the Ausf N so much that Ausf M models were also equipped with the short-barrelled 75mm gun. With additional Panzer IIIs being so armed, the total number of Ausf Ns was brought up to 700. The Panzer III Ausf.N was increasingly used in the infantry support role once the 75 mm long-barrelled Panzer IV, Panther and 88mm armed Tiger tank entered service.

Panzer III Ausf N winter. This is the subject of this boxing, with the Winterketten included.
Starting in May 1943, Schürzen 5 mm skirt armour plates were mounted on the hull side and 10 mm plates on the turret, to prevent the Soviet 14.5 mm anti-tank rifle penetrating the side armour of the Panzer III. Draftgeflecht metal mesh screens were also trialled. They were both as effective as each other, but the Schürzen skirt armour plates entered production as it would have taken too long to develop the support hangers for the metal mesh screens.

Panzer III Ausf N with Schurzen
In the field, the Ausf N was used to provide close support for the Tigers (each heavy tank company had 10 Ausf Ns to nine Tigers), as the smaller vehicle was more agile at close quarters, whereas the Tiger was rather slow and vulnerable. The Ausf N was also used in the panzer regiments of the panzer divisions. In mid-1943, during the Kursk Offensive, German panzer units were equipped with 155 Panzer III Ausf Ns.

Panzer III Ausf.N specifications
Dimensions 5.49 m x 2.95 m x 2.50 m
(18ft x 9ft 8in x 8ft 2in)
Armament 75 cm Kw.K L/24
Machine Guns 2 × 7.92 mm MG34
Armor 16 mm – 60 mm
Weight 23 tonnes
Crew 5
Propulsion: Maybach HL 120 TRM V-12 285hp gasoline/petrol engine
Max Speed 40 km/h (24.85 mph)
Range 155 km (96 miles)
Total built 614 – 750 approx.
This new kit from Takom: 
The  Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.N w/Winterketten (Kit No 8011) from Takom is one of their newest in the "Blitz" kit range. These offer the same amount of detail with fewer assembly hang-ups - and hopefully more models being able to be built. The hull is all new, and the winterketten are included in this boxing.
We know from a study of the box art the kit will offer:
- Link & Length style tracks
- Hatches that can be posed open or closed (no interior on this kit)
- Photo Etch for the smaller detail that cannot be easily replicated by plastic
- Two different marking choices from the "Krew" at AMMO

That is all we know about these releases for now. You can see more about Takom's kits on their website or on their  Facebook page.