DRAGON MODELS LIMITED
6713, s.IG33 auf Fgst.Pz.Kpfw.III (Sfl.) Smart Kit. 1/35th-scale styrene/multimedia construction kit. Contains 665 styrene parts (including 19 clear), two bags of Magic Tracks, one turned aluminum gun tube, two pre-formed pieces of metal wire, two etched brass frets, one length of braided metal wire and six pages of instructions in 16 steps, plus addendum.
In the meat-grinder that was the battle of Stalingrad, the need for a heavily-armored assault gun was keenly felt by the Germans. Typically, Der Führer, Adolf Hitler, took a personal interest in the issue, ordering the quick design and fielding of a 15cm s.IG33 infantry gun, mounted on a Pz.Kpfw.III chassis, with 80mm of armor. Within weeks, two groups of 12 vehicles each were constructed. The first 12 were delivered to units fighting in Stalingrad, while the remaining 12 were later issued to units trying to fight their way into the city to relieve the Axis forces trapped within. Survivors served until at least the Kursk offensive with 23.Panzer-Division.
While these vehicles had no discernable impact on the battle for Stalingrad, they have provided modelers with yet another subject based on the Pz.Kpfw.III. DML has combined parts from their StuG.III, Pz.Kpfw.III and 15cm s.IG33, along with several sprues with new parts to create this particular AFV.
These come loosely packed in two bags and are so-called Magic Tracks. They represent the 40cm-wide links that had hollow guide horns and plain 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.
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 return rollers are conventionally-molded 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 separate cranked axles, which, with some work, can be adjusted; the modeler is advised not to glue them 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 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 final drive housings, as well as mounting plates for the latter, are also separate parts.
Hull and Fittings.
The main part of the hull is based upon the 8.Serie/Z.W. Einfache Panzerwanne (simplified armor hull) as originally seen in DMLs recent StuG.III Ausf.G kits; as such, it lacks the side-wall escape hatches. Another visual change is the simple all-bolted angle-iron hull/superstructure connecting strip, replacing the scalloped, partially welded strip. The hull is produced from a slide-mold so it is fully detailed on all faces. This detail includes mounts for the road-wheel torsion bar/swing arm units, idler wheel mount, bump stops and shock absorber mounts, 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 bolts and rivet heads, as well as weld beads, where necessary.
The bow plate is separate and its configuration represents the base armor of 50mm introduced on the StuG.III Ausf.A. Since this particular vehicle had a 50mm base armor, all of these conversions were based on the Sturmgwschütze chassis, rather than a Pz.Kpfw.III chassis. The glacis plate assembly is new for this kit; it includes the openings for the service hatches, which are finished off with separate lids. The glacis plate hatch lid configuration is of the type first seen on the StuG.III Ausf.D. A multi-part gun tube travel lock is fitted between the access hatch lids; care with the glue will allow this assembly to remain movable. The upper appliqué armor plate is then fitted, as is one for the bow. Both have bolt details molded on, but those on the upper plate are too large. The modeler can use the still-included part (U4) from the Pz.Kpfw.III, but he will have to fill in some slots and add a pair of styrene disks. Or he can shave the bolts off of it and place them on the new part T11, after removing the molded-on oversized bolts. A bracket is provided to hold spare track links on the bow plate.
The upper rear hull plate includes molded-on mounts for the rear towing eyes; the latter are composed of three parts for each pair. A separate dome-shaped access plate is then fitted. A separate intermediary-angled plate connects the rear wall of the hull to the belly plate; it includes weld and access port details molded in place. Where the instructions in step 4 tell the modeler to remove certain mounting strips from part V33, they should be ignored; leave the strips in place.
Track-Guards and OVM.
The track-guards are detailed on the top and bottom surfaces; neither is marred by ejector pin marks. The well-rendered dot-pattern non-skid plates are complimented at one point with an etched brass part that continues the pattern at a right angle where it surrounds the engine cooling air inlet armored cowl. A number of separate parts go to make up the fillets where the track-guards met the hull. There are two different rear mud-flap configurations provided; these will allow them to be raised or lowered without any accuracy or detail compromises. Furthermore, optional parts are provided, but not called out for use; these are parts A40 and A41. They are complimented by etched brass or styrene detail parts; the port-side assembly features the cut-out for the watertight Abstandsrücklicht (distance-keeping tail-lamp); the starboard side has a cut-out for the brake lamp.
On the port-side track-guard, sits a multi-part Tarnscheinwerfer-Bosch black-out head-lamp. These included removable covers, which enabled the head-lamps to be used in a conventional fashion. DML provides these as three-part assemblies, but (surprisingly) no internal clear lens element is given. The modeler should add a bit of wire, per the drawings in reference number 1 (page 8-46), to represent the electrical power conduit. The Abstandsrücklicht (distance-keeping tail-lamp), introduced with the Notek system is also provided as a multi-part styrene and etched brass assembly; it is mounted on the rear edge of the port-side track-guard. A brake lamp is mounted on the opposite track-guard.
The tools are all separate parts, each of which features nice molded-on clasp and bracket details. A six-part jack with optional foot-pads and four-part mounting brackets is fitted on the starboard rear track-guard. An axe and a fire extinguisher are fitted in the same position on the port side. The fire extinguisher includes an etched brass mounting base. The remaining tools can go in the spares bin. Stowage of a pair of road-wheels on each track-guard, at the rear, is provided by the use of multi-part mounts and two-part road-wheels. These come with options that include etched brass parts.
With the exception of the head- and tail-lamps, no other track-guard fitting is provided with a mounting location hole. In fact, the instructions even forget to tell the modeler to open the holes (which are indeed there) for the head-lamp. Finally, the rear of parts B14 and B15, the track-guards, need the mounting flange removed. This is replaced by parts V38 and V39, but this is not hinted at in the instructions.
The Heckpanzer (rear armor) 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. The hatch lids are separate parts, with proper coaming detail around the hatch openings, and separate hinges. The armored cowls that surmount the hatch lids are separate parts as are their mounts.
Separate parts for the Heckpanzers lifting hooks are also given for maximum detail fidelity. Although the parts provided contain two all-styrene tow cables (both not-for-use), a new option is provided in this kit. Now, braided metal wire and styrene end-loops are combined with the already included mounting clamps for a much more realistic appearance. This has been one of my main criticisms of most of DMLs Pz.Kpfw.III-based kits, so I am particularly happy to see this option catered to. Separate engine cooling air intake vents are provided; these are topped by etched brass screens. The rear face of the Heckpanzer module receives various separate mounting strips as well as an access lid.
Also new for this kit are two large multi-part stowage lockers as seen fitted over the deck. They feature separate lids and mounting brackets.
This assembly is where the majority of the new parts are seen. The main part comes from a slide-mold so it includes the side and the rear plates, as well as the roof plate, molded as one piece. Weld beads and various other details are molded in place, while separate hatch lids are provided for the roof and the rear plate; those on the rear feature separate MP-Stopfen (pistol ports) and handles. Separate lift hooks are also fitted to the side walls. The roof features a separate cover for the gun-sight aperture, which is embellished with pre-formed metal wire brush-guards. DML has also included an etched brass antenna mounting bracket that is surmounted by a two-part 2-meter rod antenna; this is the first time such parts have been included in a StuG.III-based kit from this manufacturer.
The front plate is a separate main part, with separate appliqué armor plates on each side of the gun aperture. An MG-Kugelblende (ball mount) is mounted on the starboard face; it includes a movable, multi-part Gen2 MG34 of the type without the armored barrel cooling jacket. On the port side, a two-part Fahrersehklappe (drivers visor) can be depicted opened or closed. It has a clear part to represent the internal glass block, which is not shown in the instructions or on the parts tree page; it is part M6. In the center of the casemate are more separate parts to depict the armor on either side, as well as the part that slid up and down when the gun was elevated and depressed.
The entire assembly has a series of pegs along the lower edge of the front and sides. These fit into openings on the track-guards, which were previously drilled-out, as per the instructions. However, the four pins on the casemates front plate do not fit. In fact, two of these pins have no place to go at all. Therefore it is recommended that all four of them are cut off; the pins on the side walls will be enough to hold things in place. Care must be exercised when drilling the above-mentioned holes so that the casemate assembly sits properly in place, as the fit is not entirely precise.
The gun is completely-detailed throughout and is based on parts previously seen on various DML releases, notably the Bison I. The piece will elevate and recoil if the modeler is careful with the glue during assembly. Several new parts are provided to create the pedestal, while the remaining parts come from the StuG.III kits. This includes a floor plate with drive-shaft tunnel, rear bulkhead/firewall and commanders seat.
The gun tube is provided as a turned aluminum part with rifling in the bore. The breech block can be modeled opened or closed, while the gunners sight is provided as a pair of clear parts; it has the option of being depicted fully-extended or retracted. All hand-wheels are separate as are the equilibrators. The recoil sled is completely detailed, inside and out. New etched and styrene parts are provided for the external segment of the recoil sled. These represent armor plating and part of the gun tube travel lock system.
Molding, Fit and Engineering.
Like many of their recent new-tool kits, DMLs designers have gone to great lengths to provide a level of detail on the styrene parts not often previously seen. 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 (except the track links), not a single ejector pin mark was found and there was no shrinkage of any kind. Fit of most of the major parts was excellent and mold seams were faint and easily dealt with.
Where I could match the kits components and dimensions against reliable scale drawings from reference number 1, below, I found no discrepancies of any import. Physical details compare well with available photographs.
Decals and Markings Information.
The new decals for this kit are the usual excellent Italian product from Cartograf. They are crisp, in register and have thin, closely-cropped, matte carrier film. Markings for three s.IG33s are given as follows:
StuG.Abt.177, Stalingrad, 1942.
Red/white G2, Panzer-Regiment 201, 23.Panzer-Division, Ostfront 1943.
Red/white G4, Panzer-Regiment 201, 23.Panzer-Division, Ostfront 1943.
The vehicle from StuG.Abt.177 is finished overall in Dunkelgrau, while the other two were repainted in the post-February 1943 scheme based on Dunkelgelb base with a disruptive pattern in Olivgrün and Rotbraun. References indicate the markings are substantially accurate, so they can be used with complete confidence.
These are in the usual drawn style and contain a number of errors and omissions; hopefully I have addressed them all. It should be noted that Tom Cockle has also made me aware of a number of glitches in the kit, which I have worked into this report. THANKS Tom! As usual, the instructions are busy, and there are many steps within steps. Modelers are cautioned to proceed with care.
While this latest release hints at a too-quick release, everything that is needed to construct a very accurate model is included in the box. True, some parts need modification and there are the usual glitches in the instructions. But, most modelers of some skill, experience, and who may possess some of the references noted below, should be able to come up with a fine finished display piece.
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; Spielberger Series Vol.II, Schiffer, by W. Spielberger.
3. Panzer III and its Variants; Spielberger Series Vol.III, Schiffer, by W. Spielberger.
4. Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two, Revised Edition; Arms and Armour Press, by P. Chamberlain, H. Doyle & T. Jentz.
5. Sturmartillerie & Panzerjäger 1939-1945; Osprey New Vanguard 34, by B. Perrett.
6. Sturmartillerie; Aero Armor 3, by W. Spielberger & U. Feist.
7. German Sturmartillerie at War, Vol.1; Concord 7029, by F. De Sisto & L. Lecocg.
8. German Sturmartillerie at War, Vol.2; Concord 7030, by F. De Sisto & L. Lecocg.
9. Sturmgeschütz III, StuG.IV & s.IG33; Achtung Panzer 5, by M. Bitoh, H. Kitamura, T. Namie & S. Hards.
10. Internet correspondence with Tom Cockle.
Frank V. De Sisto
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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