7283, StuG.III Ausf.G Early Production. 1/72nd-scale styrene/multimedia kit containing 126 styrene parts, two DS soft styrene track lengths, five etched brass parts, five water-slide decal marking schemes and six pages of instructions in seven steps.
DML has finally issued their first Braille Scale rendition of a Pz.Kpfw.III-based AFV, in this case the ultimate German assault gun, the Sturmgeschütz III Ausf.G. This is the early production version that began coming off the line in early 1943; it differed from the initial production Ausf.G in the revised angle of the forward sections of the casemate side wall and the movement of the exhaust fan from the roof, to the rear of the casemate.
DML has essentially scaled down their 1/35th-scale Smart Kit, which means that small scale modelers are going to see a level of fine detail on this kit that just may prove to be mind-boggling. Read on
(And yes Al, they finally sent me one! It was waiting at home when I got back from AMPS East, along with the SU-85M and Tarawa M4A2. Reviews will soon follow.)
These are standard 40cm-wide types with notched link faces; the inner faces have solid guide teeth. This makes them perfectly appropriate for this version of the Sturmgeschütz. They are crisply rendered in DS soft styrene, and can be fixed together with standard liquid styrene cement.
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. On the inner faces, the pins (or tubes?) that helped join the wheel halves together are molded in place providing for an excellent level of detail. Spare road wheels and spare track pins are also given for stowage. 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. Separate final drive housings complete this area. The idler wheels are also in inner and outer parts, to include the hub cap. There are also separate shock absorbers for the two stations on each side of the hull
The main part of the hull comes from a slide-mold so it is fully detailed on all faces. Much of the suspension system is molded in place including the torsion bar/swing arm units, idler wheel mount, bump stops and 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. This is all very subtle and will repay careful painting.
The bow/glacis plate is separate and its configuration represents the base armor of 50mm with bolted-on 30mm plate, with crisply-rendered nut and bolt heads. On this is mounted a one-piece Notek black-out driving head-lamp, stem and base; thinning down the base will enhance the appearance of this assembly. The transmission access hatch lids are molded in place on the separate panel.
The hull rear plate is composed of many separate parts including one version of the exhaust deflector, spacer plates, tow points and exhaust pipe/muffler assemblies. These last come with opened pipe ends. Finally, an etched brass screen is provided to be placed under the superstructure over-hang.
Separate fenders are provided, with the main parts being detailed on the top and bottom surfaces; neither is marred by ejector pin marks and there are a couple of etched brass parts that can be used to dress them up. There are some tools molded in place, specifically the shovel axe and S-shaped tow hooks. These all feature excellent relief and include properly-rendered clasp details; some imaginative paint work will really pop these out. The remaining tools, as well as the slide-molded vehicle jack and block, tow cables, fire extinguisher and convoy tail-lamp are attached to the fenders. The tools have nice clasp details and there is also a slide-molded tool box for the engine deck.
The engine deck 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 molded in place while the armored cooling cowls that surmount the hatch lids are separate parts. A separate tool box (already mentioned) as well as gun tube bore swabs and staffs are also mounted here.
At each side are proper air intake vents in two styles. One style has the screen molded in place, while the other is topped by etched brass screens. These parts come from slide-molds and include lift hook details where appropriate.
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. The casemate sidewall-mounted lift rings are molded in place and should be removed and replaced by appropriately-shaped wire. At the forward edge of the casemate, there are two banks of three smoke grenade dischargers; these are nicely-rendered and come complete with the notches at their bore ends. The rear wall receives a separate vent cover plate (with the fan housing provided for the interior face), two antenna mounts and a spare track bracket (no spare links are provided).
The roof plate is molded in place and has fine recessed screw head details around its edges, as well as hinge, weld and panel details, all molded on. A separate loaders gun shield (complete with MG34) is provided, while his hatch lids are also separate and come in two configurations: one can be depicted opened, the other closed. The commanders cupola is a multi-part affair with a separate hatch lid; it comes in two configurations, one of which has a separate flap so it can be closed over (the included) scissors periscope. The opening for the gunners sight is filled with a delicate, slide-molded sight head. Up front there are separate armor plates with the drivers view port cover (unfortunately, IMHO) molded closed. The plates have fine bolt head details and crisply-rendered lift hooks on their edges.
The gun mantlet is the welded/bolted type; it comes from a slide-mold and is completely detailed with proper weld beads and bolts. The gun tube is a single part with an integral, slide-molded muzzle brake. There is a rudimentary cradle and inner gun section as well as trunnion brackets and blanking plate, making this quite a complete assembly. Care with the glue will result in a mount that will traverse and elevate.
Molding, Fit and Engineering.
Like many of their recent new-tool kits in the larger 1/35th-scale, DMLs designers have gone to great lengths to provide a level of detail on the styrene parts not often previously seen, especially in this scale; it is almost as if this is a Mini-Smart Kit. Although not a new technique (it is as old as injection-molding), 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 usual, the road-wheels and return rollers will require the most effort to clean, since there are 24 of the former and 12 of the latter; all have seams around their middles as well as sprue attachment points.
As far as I could tell using the Eyeball, Old Man, Mk.1, this kit is accurately-rendered, with proper shapes and angles. I have no 1/72nd-scale line drawings to refer to, so the jury is out as far as dimensional accuracy.
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 five assault guns are given as follows:
SS-StuG.Abt.2, 2.SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Division Das Reich, Russia 1943.
SS-StuG.Abt.3, 3.SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Division Totenkopf, Russia 1944.
Panzer-Grenadier-Division Großdeutschland, Russia 1943.
Soviet 1288 Self-Propelled Gun Regiment, Ukraine 1944.
16.SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Division RFSS, Italy 1944.
Casting a wide net in my reference library, I found a color plate for the captured Soviet machine in reference 19. The Das Reich markings are confirmed in a photo seen in reference 18, while the markings for Totenkopf are similar (but not the same) as a December 1942-type Ausf.G from LSSAH, seen in reference 9. In the interest of my supposed sanity, I leave the remaining research to those interested. As per convention, the Waffen-SS units are not listed as such in the instructions (I have listed them here as they should be), probably due to concerns with European laws.
These are in the conventional drawn style and this is a simple kit with relatively few parts.
This is the first in a series of Pz.Kpfw.III-based kits in this scale from DML; the detail is, as I mentioned previously, really very, very fine. Fans of the Pz.Kpfw.III and StuG.III series are going to have quite a few new kits in their future. Rejoice!
Frank V. Curley Stooge De Sisto
References consulted for this review included (Phew!!), 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. Sturmgeschütz III & IV 1942-45, Osprey New Vanguard 37, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
4. Sturmartillerie & Panzerjäger 1939-1945, Osprey New Vanguard 34, by B. Perrett.
5. The Sturmgeschütze in World War II 1939-1945, a Photo Chronicle, Schiffer, by W. Fleischer & R. Eiermann.
6. Sturmgeschütz Vor!, Fedorowicz, by F. Kurowski.
7. 7,000 Kilometers in a Sturmgeschütz, Fedorowicz, by H. Engel.
8. Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two, Revised Edition, by P. Chamberlain, H. Doyle & T. Jentz.
9. Armor Battles of the Waffen-SS, Fedorowicz, by W. Fey.
10. Michael Wittmann and the Tiger Commanders of the Leibstandarte, Fedorowicz, by P. Agte.
11. The Eastern Front, Armor Camouflage and Markings 1941-45, Squadron 6102, by S. Zaloga & J. Grandsen.
12. Sturmgeschütz III, Squadron Armor in Action 14, by B. Culver.
13. Sturmgeschütz III Ausf.G, Squadron Walk Around 5702, by T. Cockle.
14. Panzer Colors III, Squadron 6253, by B. Culver
15. Sturmartillerie, Aero Armor 3, by W. Spielberger & U. Feist.
16. StuG.III, Sturm & Drang 2.
17. Sturmgeschütz III, StuG.IV & s.IG33, Achtung Panzer 5, by M. Bitoh, H. Kitamura, T. Namie & S. Hards.
18. Panzer Vor!, Vol.2, Concord 7056, by F. De Sisto.
19. Sturmgeschütz III im Kampfeinsatz, Tankograd 4007, by M. Zollner.
20. Sowiecka Artyleria Samobiezna 1941-1945, Wydawnictwo Militaria 171, by M. Kolomyjec & M Makarow.
21. StuG.III w Miniaturie, Kagero 35001, by G. Parada & S. Jablonski.
22. StuG w Akcji, Armagedon, by A. Majewski.
23. Sturmgeschütz III, Miltars Kits Hors Serie 3, by V. Deygas & A. Milesi.
24. Modelling the Sturmgeschütz III, Osprey Modelling 22, by G. Edmundson.
Reviewers 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 reviews.
DML kits are available from retail and mail-order sources and from DragonUSA at: www.DragonUSAonline.com. For information and images see their web-site at: www.dragon-models.com.
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