6753, Sturmgeschütz III (Fl) Smart Kit. 1/35th-scale styrene/multimedia kit containing 626 styrene parts (including 14 clear), two bags of Magic Tracks, two etched brass frets, one length of braided metal wire, one water-slide decal marking scheme and six pages of instructions in 15 steps.
Fire, as a weapon, is as old as warfare itself. Besides painful death and hideous wounds, fire has an immense psychological impact on the battle field. Man-portable flame-throwers were used in the trenches of the Great War (1914-1918), with Italy being credited as being the first to mount this weapon in an armored vehicle for use in its subjugation of Abyssinia (Ethiopia) prior to the Second World War.
When assaulting fixed fortifications, man-portable flame-throwers were could be quite effective. However, the wielder of the (usually rather heavy) weapon had to live long enough to get close enough to his target to use it. Mounting a flame-thrower under armor would allow it to close with its target, allow for more flame fuel to be carried, and a more efficient distribution method could be devised.
Beginning in 1941, Germany began fielding a series of flame-throwing tanks, beginning with a variation of the Pz.Kpfw.II. Later, re-cycled ex-French Char B1 Bis tanks were converted to this role, as were the Pz,Kpfw.III and the Jagdpanzer 38. A variation of the lightly-armored Sd.Kfz.251 infantry half-track was also fielded. At one point, the Sturmgeschütz III was also considered for this role, with 10 Sturmgeschütz (Flamm) III being converted and issued in June of 1943. It is not known if any saw combat and records indicate that all of them survived to be converted to standard gun-armed Sturmgeschütze by the spring of 1944.
Now, Cyberhobby has taken DMLs Sturmgeschütz III Ausf.F/8 kit and provided new styrene and etched brass parts to model the Sturmgeschütz (Flamm) III. Whats more, because of the parts break-down, there will be a large number of extras left-over, including tools and various accessories and assemblies common to a wide variety of Pz.Kpfw.III-based AFVs.
These come loosely packed in a two bags and are so-called Magic Tracks. They represent 40cm-wide links that had open guide horns and plain cleat faces. These tracks are handed, so the modeler is cautioned not to open up the bags and mix things up prior to assembly; as an added bit of help, each sides links are a slightly different color of gray styrene. Being Magic Tracks, they have no sprue attachment points, which is a definite time saver since no cutting or clean-up in that regard is required. Each has a pair of extremely faint ejector pin marks on the inner face. These can be ignored or erased as the modeler sees fit. They fit together easily but quite loosely, and must be fixed together with glue prior to handling.
The road-wheels are conventionally molded in inner and outer pieces, with integral rubber tires. The outer faces of the wheel hubs feature perforations and weld beads where appropriate, while the tires have a facsimile of the manufacturers logo (ContinentaU) on their rims. On the inner faces, the tubes that helped join the wheel halves together are molded on, providing an unprecedented level of detail in this regard. The return rollers are in two parts (inner and outer halves).
The drive sprockets come as conventional inner and outer pieces and are completely detailed. The idler wheels are also in inner and outer parts, but feature separate hubs as well as etched brass inner rings. The idler wheels also have a separate axle arm that can be adjusted very slightly for fit. The modeler is advised not to glue it in place on the hull until the fit and sag of the tracks have been worked out.
Separate internal torsion bars are given as are beautifully-detailed separate external swing arms. This will allow the suspension to be constructed in an articulated fashion if the modeler desires to place his work on a base with irregular terrain; to do so, simply cut off the pins that protrude from the hull sides, which are there in case the modeler wants a level, fixed suspension. Bump stops, slide-molded shock absorbers and final drive housings (as well as mounting plates for the latter, which have the holes for tow hooks) are also separate parts
The main part of the hull comes from a slide-mold so it is fully detailed on all faces. This includes mounts for the road-wheel torsion bar/swing arm units, idler wheel mount, bump stops and shock absorbers, as well as the various bolted strips that connected the hull to the superstructure. The belly has drain plug and access plate detail molded in place, plus bolt and rivet heads, as well as weld beads.
The bow plate is separate and its configuration represents the base armor of 50mm. The hull rear plate is composed of many separate parts including one version of the exhaust deflector, spacer plates, various access covers, tow points and exhaust pipe/muffler assemblies. These last come with opened pipe ends and separate mounts. Finally, an etched brass screen is provided to be placed under the superstructure over-hang.
The separate glacis plate also depicts the type with a 50mm armor basis and also has a separate part to depict the welded-on 30mm appliqué plate. It is also configured as an Ausf.M type hull, with the final drive/brake drum access hatch lids being of the water-tight style. The shot deflector seen in front of the drivers view-port is also molded in place. Between the hatch lids is mounted a multi-part travel lock for the flame-gun tube. A three-piece Tarnscheinwerfer-Notek black-out head-lamp, stem and base is mounted atop the appliqué plate.
Track-Guards and OVM.
Separate track-guards are provided, with the main parts being detailed on the top and bottom surfaces; neither is marred by ejector pin marks. There are a number of styrene and etched brass parts added to these main parts so that all braces, etc. can be depicted in great detail. The rear mud-flaps are separate and can be shown in the raised or lowered position; etched brass detail parts are provided as an option. The delicate T-shaped locking clasps are all-styrene.
The starboard side track-guard mounts a pair of S-shaped tow hooks, a two-part, slide-molded jack block, a six-part jack with separate four-piece mounting brackets and choice of crank handle configurations. Tow cable mounts, end-loops and brackets (with braided metal wire for the cables) are also fitted. The port-side track-guard mounts a shovel, an axe, a fire extinguisher and two-part convoy distance-keeping tail-lamp; the latter is the water-proof tubular type. Another tow cable is also mounted up forward. The tools have nice clasp details and a number of small wing-nuts are given to detail these items.
The engine deck module is a separate part and is configured much like the original; the entire assembly can be left off to depict an engine change. Coming from a slide mold, it has details on all faces including various styles of plate and weld detail as well as attachment flanges and bolt heads. It is of the type that was not inter-locked along the top/side edges. The four hatch lids are separate parts, with proper coaming detail around the hatch openings. Properly contoured armored guards surmount the hatch lids; these are separate parts as are their mounts. Spare wheels and their mounts are in the box; photos and drawings indicate they should be used. However, the instructions do not show this aspect and in fact, even the sprue maps show the parts as having been deleted. As they are indeed thereuse them! A separate tool box is now fitted. A gun tube bore swab and its associated staffs are also supposed to be mounted just behind the rear wall of the casemate. However, the latter should be left off, since they were redundant with the elimination of the StuK40 in favor of the flame gun. Drawings in the cited references confirm this.
The port-side wall of the engine deck module mounts a wire cutter, while opposite is a small sledge-hammer. On each side are separate air intake vents, with the correct means of attachment to the engine deck side-walls, including their internal openings. These are topped by etched brass screens, and detailed with lift hooks. On the starboard side an engine starter crank is stowed. A mounting rack for spare track links, stretched laterally across the rear of the deck, finishes up the area.
The casemate is characteristic of the Ausf.F/8. It is a separate, slide-molded part and attaches much like the original. It features excellent weld and panel details, mounting strips and bolt heads, all molded in place. Separate parts are provided for the side lift rings (both inside and outside), rear antennae mounts with flexible rubber bases, and rod antennae for them. Separate sponsons are given to house the radio sets. The radio parts are for the F/8 version (the originals from the Ausf.G are still in the box) and there are enough of them to create a command vehicle. Note that the instructions do not mention that the starboard side radios were only fitted to a standard vehicle. Install the radios on the port side and use the second antenna and radio set if building a command vehicle. The sponsons are slide-molded and have weld details; separate parts to stow the cable are also given. These are also where the antennae and mounts are fixed. A pair of spare rod antennae is provided to be fixed to their brackets on the outside surface of the casemates rear wall.
The roof plate is separate and has fine recessed screw head details around its edges, as well as hinge, weld and panel details, all molded on. Separate parts for the optional loaders machine-gun shield (complete with an excellent slide-molded, multi-part Gen2 MG34) are provided. These are given as two options: one deployed, the other folded down. Note that photos and drawings show that this was not fitted, but it is also possible that eventually it was. So, it is up to the modeler what he wishes to do about it.
The commander and the loader each have two hatch lids, which can be depicted opened or closed; they are fully detailed inside and out. The plate that covered the gunners sight comes in two options, opened or closed. It was normally topped by a peculiar protective cage, which is provided as a styrene assembly. However, it should probably be left off, since photos do not show it fitted and there was no gunners sight to protect. The central part of the roof includes a multi-part exhaust fan cover, with internal detail.
The front of the casemate has separate, welded-on appliqué armor plates fitted on either side. The drivers internal glass block is represented in clear styrene and comes in two options: one has the twin periscope heads deployed; the other has them folded to either side. The visor cover is separate and can be posed opened or closed. Over his left shoulder, the driver also has a separate view-port flap, with clear styrene for the vision block.
The flame gun is a slide-molded, one-piece affair. It fits inside another slide-molded sleeve, which in turn attaches to the original StuK40 mount. A plate with an opening seals off the front, while an etched brass part, after it is folded, seals the top and sides, fairing the whole into the superstructure.
The flame gun replaced the StuK40, but some parts of the latters mount are used to adapt the new parts. Like the StuK40, this entire item mounts over the drive shaft tunnel, which in turn, is molded with the floor plate. A bulkhead/engine firewall unit encloses the compartment at the rear. A pair of MP40s is provided for stowage; these include etched brass parts for slings and for the straps that held them in place on the rear wall. There is also a commanders seat. The commanders scissors telescope comes in two versions, one of which is stowed, the other deployed.
Molding, Fit and Engineering.
Slide-molds have been used in a very intelligent way either to allow for better detail rendition, or for ease of assembly. On visible surfaces, not a single ejector pin mark was found and there was no shrinkage of any kind. Fit of major parts was excellent and mold seams were faint and easily dealt with.
As far as I could tell, using the scale drawings in the cited references, this kit is extremely accurate in its major dimensions, shapes and angles. Reference 4 shows that the flame gun configuration is well-rendered, while vehicle detail discrepancies and how they relate to the instructions have been outlined above. Suffice to say, everything that is needed is in the boxall the modeler has to do is conduct a bit of research to get it right. In the area of omissions I noted that there is no ammunition magazine, or belted ammo for the optional loaders external MG34.
Decals and Markings Information.
The decals are the usual excellent Italian product from Cartograf. They are crisp, in register and have thin, closely-cropped carrier film. Markings for one StuG.III Flamm are provided in the form of three Balkenkreuz national insignia. Since the reference photo shows that they were the only markings seen, they are perfectly adequate. The base color in this case was overall Dunkelgelb.
These are in the conventional drawn style. I have mentioned where the modeler must deviate from them, above.
This is a well-rendered, if slightly confused kit. The modeler is presented with what he needs to construct an accurate model and the result will please fans of the Sturmgeschütz and those who like models of limited-production German AFVs.
Frank V. De Sisto
References consulted for this review included, but were not limited to:
1. Sturmgeschütz, s.PaK to Sturmmörser; Panzer Tracts No.8, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
2. Sturmgeschütz and its Variants; Speilberger Series Vol.II, Schiffer, by W. Spielberger.
3. Panzerkampfwagen III and its Variants; Speilberger Series Vol.III, Schiffer, by W. Spielberger.
4. Flammpanzer, German Flamethrowers 1941-1945; Osprey New Vanguard, by T. Jentz, H. Doyle & P. Sarson.
5. Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two, Revised Edition; by P. Chamberlain, H. Doyle & T. Jentz.
Cyberhobby kits are available from retail and mail order shops. For details see their web site at: www.cyber-hobby.com.
Note: Since May of 2005, I have been writing books for Concord Publications, a sister company to Cyberhobby. The reader may wish to take this into consideration. For my part, I will attempt to maintain an objective viewpoint when writing these reports.
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