Sometimes I feel so sad because one of my favorite weapons or characters in a game turns out to be really weak or even utterly useless. Now I am not saying that the Panzer III Ausf.A is a useless tank but I have to say that it does not fare so well. Let me take this opportunity to elaborate:
First off, before I start talking about the negative sides of this vehicle, I want to talk about its appearance. I absolutely LOVE the way this panzer looks. Its dark paint job really appeals to me and I love its curved turret with a centered commander’s hatch. Compared to the Panzer II, the Panzer III Ausf.A has a much wider main hull making it look sturdy and reliable (although reality is quite different). Also, I noticed that many tanks in the German tech tree have rather ehem… “ugly” rear sides. Take a look at the rear side of the VK 36.01 (H) and then look at the rear of the Panzer III Ausf.A. The rear of the former looks exceptionally clean and very organized with exhaust pipes placed in a symmetrical fashion near what appears to be fuel tanks. In addition, the slanted slopes of the turret even appear artistic (at least to me). Overall, I think this tank scores at least 9/10 in appearance. Unfortunately, its merits seem to end there.
As mentioned in the previous review of the Panzer II, I will be evaluating a tank based on three categories: Armor, Firepower and Mobility.
Without doubt, this tank totally sucks in the armor department. You can just state with absolute confidence that this tank has no armor. It has thinner armor than the Panzer II! With 14 mm thickness front, side and rear, you will be penetrated by anything and everything all the time. When I played as a Panzer II, I was not afraid of going head on with a Panzer Ausf.A. My FlaK 38 could easily penetrate its armor. To make matters worse, the tank catches fire so easily and its modules get damaged so often that I sometimes think this tank should have 3 repair kits! As if that’s not enough, your crew will get knocked out quite often reducing your combat capabilities even further. You will be thoroughly annoyed to see that your gunner gets killed 1 second after you used your Multi-Purpose Restoration Pack. While I am not entirely sure about this, I think some tanks receive more damage from internal fires and Panzer III Ausf.A seems to be one of them. If your panzer catches fire and is tracked, you can almost guarantee an immediate death as its paper-thin armor cannot withstand even the weakest enemy fire. This tank gets its tracks blown off so often that its high mobility advantage gets nullified.
There is one way to use your armor effectively to a certain extent. Hide your entire hull behind a small mound or obstacle and only show your turret. With 30 mm of armor all around, using your turret armor is your best bet. Still, don’t rely on your turret armor to save you as there are plenty of tanks out there that can penetrate mere 30 mm of armor. One more thing, your commander’s hatch will stick out like a sore thumb at times so make sure you hide your entire tank when you are trying to take cover. I had many times when I yelled out in frustration because my hatch got hit.
In short, I have had all too many frustrating battles in which I lost to lower tier tanks because my armor simply could not stand up to the challenge. This drawback alone really makes this tank a very difficult vehicle to master.
When you decide which gun to mount on this tank, you are at a dilemma: Should I choose the 20 mm FlaK 38 or the short barrel 50 mm L/42 gun? Now most players on the forums have said that choosing the L/42 is the wiser choice as it can reliably penetrate most tier 4 enemy tanks (with the help of costly APCR rounds :/). The principal problem with the L/42 is its horrendous accuracy. You can expect to miss shots even at fairly close range because this gun has a disappointing dispersion of 0.48. FlaK 38 has a better dispersion value at 0.45 but has lower penetration, making you quite useless in tier 4 battles. With the FlaK 38, you can use spray-and-pray tactics and do some damage rather than none at all. I also want to add that the view range is quite unremarkable at 230 m, which means you won’t be able to satisfy the role of a scout very well. Overall, the gun selection for this tank is mediocre at best.
This is where the Panzer III Ausf.A really shines. In my previous blog post for the Panzer II, I described this tank as “more of a car” than a tank. On flat ground, it can maintain speeds of 65 km/h and even reach 70 km/h at times. Such high speeds allow it to show up in areas where the enemy least expects. On Mines map, I often flank around the enemy rather than heading straight for the central hill to look for opportunities to attack a player who does not pay attention to me. If I find that the enemy had also decided to flank in the same direction, then I can quickly readjust my tactics and flank the opposite way. Also, if you ever do get into a 1 vs 1 situation, you could use the tank’s excellent acceleration to perform peek-a-boo tactics behind solid cover like a rock or a mound.
Sadly, this tank has poor steering when traveling at high speeds. So it is important not to drive straight into the enemy lines and expect this Panzer to rapidly change directions on the spot. I want to say that this tank’s mobility is so good that it compensates for its practically non-existent armor and mediocre firepower. Unfortunately, that is not the case. While this tank is unarguably fast, it’s not fast enough to perform crazy dodges. Skilled players can often train their guns ahead of the tank’s movement path and as I mentioned, even a single shot can blow this tank’s tracks off, which spells out its doom. In essence, even the mobility factor does not suffice to cover its shortfalls.
If you are brave enough to try out this tank, I recommend the following equipment configuration to make up for its bad accuracy and maximize its mobility:
- Improved Ventilation: +5% to all crew skills
- Enhanced Gun Laying Drive: +10% to aiming speed
- Coated Optics: +10% to viewing range both when stationary and moving
For ammunition, I carry:
- Armor Piercing (AP): 50 rounds
- Armor Piercing Composite Rigid (APCR): 26 rounds
For consumables, I carry:
- Multi-Purpose Restoration Pack (* Cure-all package for your crew and tank)
- Adrenaline (* Boosts your fire rate by 25% and increases chances of damaging enemy tank modules by 10%)
- Chocolate (* +10% to all crew skills throughout the duration of the battle)
Hmm… dangerous tanks for the Panzer III Ausf.A? If you are driving a Panzer II, then vehicles like the T7 Armored Car can be considered semi-harmless; however, with this tank, EVERY tank is dangerous. Let me restate that: EVERY TANK IS DANGEROUS.
Unless you are a brave player who is very smart and has 100% knowledge of every map that this tank can play in, I strongly do not recommend this tank if you are concerned about win rates like myself. I played around 70 battles with this tank but struggled to maintain a win rate above 50%. Maybe this tank does not suit my play style but I can state with certainty that this tank is not for noobs or players who like to stand firm and trade shots. If you have good tips regarding this tank, please feel free to share them below in the comments section! Educate me and cheers!