Joined: 17 Sep 2006
|Posted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 6:19 pm Post subject: DML #6320 StuG III G Early Production Smart Kit
The original intent of the Sturmgeschutz (StuG) was to provide self-propelled assault artillery support for the infantry. As the war progressed and the need for antitank capability increased, the role of the StuG shifted into that role and culminated in the design of the StuG III Ausf G. This vehicle began production in December 1942 and would continue for the duration of the war with a total of approximately 7800 vehicles produced, making it one of the most numerous combat types fielded by the Germans in the process. Throughout that nearly 2.5 year production run, the vehicle underwent several design changes and revisions as combat conditions shifted. While Pzkpfw III production halted in 1943, the chassis design lived on and continued to form the foundation of the StuG III G for the duration. The DML (Dragon) kit #6320 represents a vehicle produced early in the production run and has the full title of StuG III Ausf G Early Production.
The kit is packaged in the standard slip top cardboard box with the sprues packaged in individual clear bags. The standard “Dragon card” is also included which has the separate bags of Magic Tracks, PE fret, decals, clear parts sprue, a small weapons sprue, and the braided steel wire secured to it. The kit consists of over 500 parts with a small number of these marked as “Not for Use” arranged in the following:
• 11 sprues of light gray styrene
• 1 sprues of clear styrene
• 1 light gray styrene hull tub
• 1 braided steel wire
• 1 PE brass fret of 20 parts
• 2 bags each of 108 handed Magic Tracks links
• 1 decal sheet
• Instruction booklet
The kit bears the label designation of “Early Production” due to the features it represents that were introduced within a few months of the start of the production run of the Ausf G but this is a modeler’s/manufacturer’s designation and not something the Germans used on an official basis. While always tough to pin down with precision, the kit parts represent features introduced or seen in production during the April-May 1943 period. These consist of the early style muzzle brake on the StuK 40 L/48 (style change introduced in May 1943), the presence of bolted-on 30mm plates instead of welded plates on the hull front (transition started in May but not fully completed until Oct 1943), the single bolted on plate over the driver’s visor (April 1943), and the option of fitting the hull side smoke grenade launchers (fitted Feb-May 1943 but dropped after field complaints of small arms fire activating them and blinding the crew). After June 1943 vehicles were retrofitted with Schurzen in the field, something this kit lacks, so it has a somewhat limited accuracy window attached to it as a result. If you’re interested in a vehicle with Schurzen, then kit #6365 is the one you should look into.
Suspension and Tracks:
The kit suspension follows the now-familiar DML Pz III/StuG III family approach of using the sprues originally created specifically for this kit and includes torsion bars connected to the swing arms. The road wheels include excellent hub, rubber rim, and lettering detail. PE parts are included for the idler wheels to accurately represent their inner rim details. The idler mounts are of the fixed type design and are not adjustable for track tensioning or sag purposes.
The tracks provided are of the static Magic Track individual link variety and are handed and molded in different shades of grey to distinguish one side from the other and feature hollow guide horns. Each link has small ejector pin marks on either side of the guide horn that will need to be dealt with and individual links may also have small amounts of flash requiring clean-up.
Hull and Fenders:
The hull consists of a large single piece tub with excellent molded detail on the exterior and interior portions including hull bottom detail for various access hatches and ports. The rear hull underside includes the air exhaust deflector as a three part styrene assembly and PE screens for the vents. The hull also features the front extension towing eyes introduced on the Pz III J as separate parts that are integrated into the final drive housing mount bases.
The fender layout is correct for a factory-standard StuG III G with the shortened non-hinged front and rear flaps and the fenders include tread pattern detail on both top and bottom surfaces. The tools include molded-on clamps with hollow handles although the handles are not in-scale thickness and could use a little thinning for a better appearance. The rear Notek is the earlier square style instead of the tubular style that began appearing in 1942 on the StuG F/8s. Braided steel wire is provided to construct the two tow cables along with styrene cable ends. The wire is packaged in a tight circle and very stiff/springy, so patience is needed to form it in the correct complex shape for each fender. Different lengths are required (130mm for the left 135mm for the right) per cable and you should test before cutting to see if that includes the cable ends in the total length required.
Upper Hull and Casemate:
The upper hull consists of three modules covering the glacis and maintenance access hatches, the casemate, and the engine deck. The glacis has the bolted on 30mm extra armor plates as a separate part with excellent bolt detail and multi-part front Notek assembly. The access hatches have excellent detail on both the interior and exterior surfaces should you decide to add an interior and display them open.
The casemate is molded as a large tub with a separate roof panel. All of the hatches can be posed open to display the interior if desired. The casemate front plate includes separate bolted-on armor plate parts and a clear part for the driver’s vision port. The option is called out in the instructions in regards to installing the front smoke grenade launchers with parts either with or without grenades inside available for variety.
The option is provided on the casemate roof to fit the MG shield in either the raised or lowered position. A small side note, the loader’s hatches needs to be open if you do mount the MG shield and show it posed in the upright position as it couldn’t remain standing on its own and relied on the hatch to keep it in place. The commander’s cupola is highly detailed and includes clear periscope parts and a PE backing insert. The cupola hatch has a detailed head-pad and a separate small hatch for the “rabbit ears” scope, providing the option of posing the hatch closed with just the scope exposed or the hatch fully open to show off the interior.
The engine deck is nicely detailed and includes PE screens for the side air intakes. Tools are included with molded-on clamps and the gun cleaning rods are a multi-part assembly for added detail as well. Two spare road wheels and mounts are provided along with the option of including 6 spare track pins in each of the wheel holes for added choice/detail.
Due to all of the hatches that can be posed open, quite a bit of the interior is visible if you decide to go all-in and display it. The kit includes highly detailed radio and communications gear for the side panniers but only provides the rear fume extractor fan by way of detail on the upper rear casemate, other details such as the crew MP40s and ammunition pouches are missing and will have to be sourced elsewhere for accuracy sake.
The StuK gun breech is highly detailed and is a multi-part assembly and is part of a highly detailed mount and interior arrangement. The gunner’s sight is provided as a clear part and seats are provided for both the gunner and commander. The floor and rear bulkheads have finely detailed compartments and tread plate included, the only thing really missing from the interior are the ammunition compartments.
Instructions and Finishing Guide
The kit instructions follow the standard DML mode of fold-out black and white exploded diagrams and sub-diagrams and consists of 19 steps for full assembly. The decal markings are printed by Cartograf and are clear and in-register. The Painting and Markings guide provides for the following 5 possibilities:
• 2.StuG.Abt., PzDiv “Das Reich”, Russia 1943, dunkelgelb/olivgrun scheme
• PzGrenDiv “GrossDeutschland”, Eastern Front 1943, Dunkelgelb/olivgrun scheme
• Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front 1944, overall dunkelgelb
• 3.PzDiv, “Totenkopf” Ukraine 1944, whitewash over dunkelgelb
• 1288 SP Gun Rgt., Ukrain 1944, whitewash over dunkelgelb (Russian captured)
This kit has been out for some time now and at the time of release heralded a new line of Pz III/StuG III vehicles by DML. Its sprues show up to one degree or another in all of DML’s related family releases and the kit remains one of high detail and quality. Due to the lack of Schurzen and the limited window of production features it carries, the options available from an accuracy standpoint via this kit are somewhat limited and kit #6365 may be a better choice for some as a result. Recommended for the StuG enthusiast looking for those early production features prior to the introduction of Schurzen.