DRAGON MODELS LIMITED
6581, StuG.III Ausf.G Dec. 1943 Production, Smart Kit. 1/35th-scale styrene/multimedia kit. Contains 483 styrene parts (including 13 clear), two bags of Magic Tracks, three etched metal frets, one length of braided metal wire, three water-slide decal marking schemes and eight pages of instructions in 19 steps, plus addendum leaflet.
The latest iteration in a still-growing family of Sturmgeschütz III kits purports to allow the modeler to construct an Ausf.G produced in December of 1943. For the most part, the kits designers have got it right regarding the major features. However, since production of the StuG.III Ausf.G was severely disrupted at Alkett by Allied aerial bombing in November of 1943, realistically only MIAG was producing the Ausf.G a scant few weeks later. The key items in this latest release, which point to a MIAG-produced vehicle, are the return rollers. They are the all-steel type with six ribs and no perforations. Reference 6, below, identifies these at MIAG-only types.
Therefore, the modeler should beware of using the cast Topfblende gun mantlet, since this has long been acknowledged as being exclusively an Alkett-produced Ausf.G feature. This is not a serious problem since the original welded/bolted gun mantlet is still in the box. The other concern now is that the modeler uses the correct tubular track-guard support brackets, parts G32 and/or G33, instead of the pressed type, parts L5. A triangular sheet metal support will need to be added to the tubular brackets, which is easily done with a bit of scrap sheet styrene.
Of course, since September of 1943, MIAG applied Zimmerit in their signature cross-hatch pattern; this is not represented in the kit. Conversely, following the kits instructions to the letter AND drilling six holes in each return roller, will result in an Alkett-produced StuG.III Ausf.G. If thats the chosen route, the modeler also has to add waffle plate Zimmerit.
These come loosely packed in a two bags and are so-called Magic Tracks. They represent the 40cm-wide links that had hollow guide horns as well as slots and grooves in the cleat faces. These tracks are also 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. This type of track was introduced in March of 1941 and is reported to have been in use until the wars end, so it is one possible combination with this production batch of the Ausf.G, regardless of manufacturer.
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. Spare road wheels and spare track pins are also given for stowage. The new MIAG-style return rollers are in two parts (inner and outer halves). They feature six ribs on an all-steel wheel.
The drive sprockets come as conventional inner and outer pieces and are completely detailed. Their outer faces are now without the armored hub caps previously seen, so the rim bolts and other details are now given. It should be noted that the center of the hub identifies it as a MIAG type, in use since November of 1943. 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 which can be very slightly adjusted to accommodate the fitting of the tracks.
Separate internal torsion bars are given as are beautifully-detailed separate external swing arms. This will allow the suspension to be fixed 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 new final drive housings (as well as mounting plates for the latter, which are tailored for an 80mm bow plate) 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. Panel seams and weld beads are also present. The belly has drain plug and access plate detail molded in place, plus bolt and rivet heads, as well as weld beads. It should be noted that by the time this variation was in production, at least the hull sides-to-rear plates featured interlocked weld beads. However, the idler wheel mount covered this feature, so it is not visible on a completed vehicle.
The bow plate is separate and its configuration represents the base armor of 80mm. The lower 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 upper hull plate over-hang. The plate itself also has interlocked weld beads. It also has four rows of cone-headed bolts on its face; remove the outer-most rows on each side for a more accurate configuration.
The separate glacis plate depicts the type with an 80mm armor basis. On this is mounted a three-piece Tarnscheinwerfer-Notek black-out driving head-lamp, stem and base. The split-style final drive/brake drum access hatch lids are all separate parts and feature separate internal locking levers.
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. These are the types with fixed mud-flaps, which are correct for the time in which this Ausf.G variant was produced. 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. I have mentioned above which track-guard support bracket parts are to be used in combination with other parts in this box. Most of the tools, as well as the five-part jack, two-part, slide-molded jack block, tow cable mounts, end-loops and brackets (with braided metal wire for the cables), fire extinguisher and Tarnscheinwerfer-Notek distance-keeping tail-lamp are attached to the track-guards. It would appear that in March of 1943, the tail-lamp was changed to the tubular type. It is in the box but marked as not for use; use it! The tools have nice clasp details, while the tow cable mounts and jack mounts are separate parts. A number of small wing-nuts are given to detail these items, where appropriate.
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 represents the interlocked type, which was introduced in various forms by various manufacturers, from March to July of 1943. The four engine access hatch lids are separate parts, with proper coaming detail around the hatch openings. The armored guards that surmount the hatch lids are separate parts as are their mounts. A separate tool box as well as gun tube bore swabs and staffs are also mounted here. The latter includes fine separate bracket detail, while more tools are mounted on the side walls. At the sides, the armored guards for the engine cooling air intake vents also have interlocked weld seams. These slide-molded parts attach to the engine deck module, which includes their internal openings. These are topped by etched brass screens, and detailed with, among other items, lift hooks.
The casemate is also configured as a separate part and attaches much like the original. It comes from a slide-mold and features excellent weld and panel details, mounting strips and bolt heads, all molded in place. Separate parts are provided for the side lift rings, rear antennae mounts and flexible rubber bases (but STILL no rod antennae for them!), spare track rack (including separate wing-nuts) and cover for the exhaust fan.
The separate roof plate was attached to the casemate with recessed screws; they are properly-rendered here. The commanders cupola is a multi-part affair with clear periscope heads and clear scissors telescope. The separate hatch lid for it is a multi-part affair that includes separate locking latches and rubber bump stop. A cast armor splash guard for the cupola is also provided. The loaders hatch lids are separate and include internal details. The MG shield comes in two variations and can be shown erected of folded-down. The MG34 is a slide-molded Gen2 item complete with opened bore and cooling jacket perforations. It has a separate receiver cover, but no belted ammunition or drum magazines are provided.
Up front, the casemate features separate armor plates for (50mm plus bolted on 30mm appliqué) for both sides. The drivers two-part view port cover can be posed opened or closed, with the internal glass block represented in clear styrene; it is complimented by a separate splash plate.
Both the cast Topfblende and welded/bolted mantlets are in the box. Either is properly-rendered and I have mentioned in the introduction which one should be used, depending on the version the modeler wishes to replicate. The gun tube is a single styrene part with a slight seam that will need to be cleaned up; for this I recommend the classic Flex-I-File. The slide-molded muzzle brake is a three-part affair and includes the internal lug and external locking nut.
Schürzen and Mounts.
The Schürzen are based on etched aluminum panels with styrene mounting rails and hanging hardware. They are the first type, which has been dated to April of 1943. The plates are given as separate etched aluminum items and are thus rendered in scale thickness; another advantage of this material is that it can be bent to depict battle damage. Furthermore, some (or most) of the plates can be deleted if the modeler wishes.
Internally, the 7.5cm StuK40 main gun is complimented by an almost totally complete mount. This includes cradle, recoil cylinders, mount, traverse and elevation hand-wheels, gunners seat, multi-part breech block, sight mounts and clear Sfl.Z.F.1a gun sight. This entire item mounts over the drive shaft tunnel, which in turn, is attached to the floor plate. A bulkhead/engine firewall unit encloses the compartment at the rear. Above that is the inner works of the exhaust fan, which includes a separate fan blade unit. There is also a commanders seat.
Separate inner sponson units are detailed with various radio sets along with some of their ancillary accessories. To these are fitted separate mounting racks. Enough equipment is given to create a command vehicle. There is much missing here, although a pair of MP40s are now included, so use em! Some of missing items are standard equipment such as head-phone boxes, gas mask canisters and MP40 ammunition magazine containers. Many modelers will have these in their spares box. Major items such as 7.5cm ammunition racks and lockers, the entire drivers compartment, some vents, pipes and conduits, will all have to be scratch-built or sourced from the after-market industry. In essence, the interior is provided in this manner so that if the hatch lids are depicted in their opened positions, things will be busy enough.
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 reference 1, 2 and 6, this kit is extremely accurate in its major dimensions, shapes and angles. In the area of omissions I noted the following that would still be of concern to me personally: there are STILL no rod antennae provided. Some minor details need to be tweaked, which I have touched upon above. Finally, the time period in which this assault gun was produced means that Zimmerit is mandatory, but it is not included in the kit.
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 and painting guide for four (EDITED: three) assault guns are given as follows:
White 127, StuG.Kp.1019, 19.Luftwaffe-Feld-Division, Ukraine 1944.
Black 1068, StuG.Brig.226, East Prussia, 1945.
Pz.Jgr.Abt.2, 12.Panzer-Division, Estonia 1944.
The only markings I could confirm are those for white 127. However, they are incomplete. There should be a second set of Tac numbers and a Balkenkreuz on the superstructure sides, aside from those seen on the Schürzen; these are not provided. In addition, the vehicle in question is a later Alkett version as shown by the waffle-plate Zimmerit pattern, factory-installed stowage rack on the engine deck and second style of Schürzen. The latter feature was seen from March of 1944.
These are in the conventional drawn style and appear to be well-done. As usual, they are busy.
Although this kit is a bit schizophrenic (it does not quite know what version it is), it can be built into an accurate replica of a specific factory type, with what is included in the box. I have provided the basic information for these small tweaks. Doing these things, finding correct markings and adding Zimmerit is all the modeler really needs to be concerned with. That is not an unusual situation for any kit manufacturers product.
Frank V. De Sisto
References consulted for this report 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. Sturmgeschütz III & IV 1942-45; Osprey New Vanguard 37, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
5. Sturmgeschütz III Vol.1, Development, Production, Deployment; History Facts, by P. Müller & W. Zimmermann.
6. Sturmgeschütz III Vol.2, Variants, Modifications, Technical Drawings; History Facts, by P. Müller & W. Zimmermann.
7. Sturmartillerie & Panzerjäger 1939-1945; Osprey New Vanguard 34, by B. Perrett.
8. The Sturmgeschütze in World War II 1939-1945, a Photo Chronicle; Schiffer, by W. Fleischer & R. Eiermann.
9. Sturmgeschütz Vor!; J.J. Fedorowicz, by F. Kurowski.
10. 7,000 Kilometers in a Sturmgeschütz; J.J. Fedorowicz, by H. Engel.
11. Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two, Revised Edition; by P. Chamberlain, H. Doyle & T. Jentz.
12. Sturmgeschütz III; Squadron Armor in Action 14, by B. Culver.
13. Sturmgeschütz III Ausf.G; Squadron Walk Around 5702, by T. Cockle.
14. Sturmartillerie; Aero Armor 3, by W. Spielberger & U. Feist.
15. StuG.III; Sturm & Drang 2.
16. Sturmgeschütz III, StuG.IV & s.IG33; Achtung Panzer 5, by M. Bitoh, H. Kitamura, T. Namie & S. Hards.
17. Sturmgeschütz III in Combat; Tankograd, by M. Zöllner.
18. German Sturmartillerie at War, Vol.1; Concord 7029, by F. De Sisto & L. Lecocq.
19. German Sturmartillerie at War, Vol.2; Concord 7030, by F. De Sisto & L. Lecocq.
20. StuG w Akcji; Armagedon, by A. Majewski.
21. Model Art AFV Profile 3, Sturmgeschütz III Long Barrel; Model Art Co., author unknown.
22. StuG.III w Miniaturie; Kagero 35001, by G. Parada & S. Jablonski.
23. Sturmgeschütz III; Miltars Kits Hors Serie 3, by V. Deygas & A. Milesi.
24. Modelling the Sturmgeschütz III; Osprey Modelling 22, by G. Edmundson.
25. Toadmans Sturmgeschütz III Ausf.G; Toadmans Tank Pictures (Compact Disk), by C. Hughes.
Note: Since May of 2005, I have been working on books for Concord Publications, a sister company to DML. The reader may wish to take this into consideration. For my part, I will attempt to maintain an objective viewpoint when writing these reports. DML kits are available from retail and mail order shops. For details see their web site at: www.dragon-models.com.
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