Joined: 17 Sep 2006
|Posted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 3:57 pm Post subject: DML #6460 Sd.Kfz. 166 Stu. Pz. IV 'Brummbar' Mid Production
The German army recognized early on in the war the need to have mobile heavy artillery capable of demolishing buildings or bunkers and made repeated attempts to mount the sIG33 15cm weapon on various Pzkpfw I, II, or III chassis designs with limited success. The concept of a “sturmpanzer” using the Pzkpfw IV chassis was tried next and the end result was the Sturmpanzer IV Sd.Kfz. 166 “Brummbar” (grizzly bear) design that used the Pzkpfw IV chassis and an enclosed heavily armored mount for a redesigned 15cm weapon designated the StuH 43/1 L/12. Each vehicle sported 100mm thick frontal armor, carried a crew of 4-5, and stored 38 rounds of ammunition on board. Initially produced on Pzkpfw IV chassis that had been sent back for repair and later using new chassis and hulls along with reconditioned hulls, approximately 300 Sturmpanzer IVs were produced between March 1943 and March 1945 in four different series with varying features from one series to the next. DML (Dragon) kit #6460 Stu.Pz. IV ‘Brummbar’ Mid Production 2-in-1 seeks to represent a vehicle with features seen on the second series of 80 vehicles produced between December 1943 and June 1944.
The kit is packaged in the standard slip top cardboard box with the sprues packaged in clear bags with multiple sprues per bag, so care is needed when removing them to avoid damaging some of the more delicate parts. The standard “Dragon card” is also included which has the separate bags of Magic Tracks, PE fret, decals, Schurzen metal plates, clear parts sprue, weapons sprue, and the braided steel wire secured to it. The kit consists of over 800 parts with a large number of these marked as “Not for Use” arranged in the following:
• 17 sprues of light gray styrene
• 1 sprue of clear styrene
• 1 light gray styrene hull tub
• 1 braided steel wire
• 1 PE brass fret of XX parts
• 2 aluminum sheets with 5 Schurzen plates each
• 2 bags each of handed Magic Tracks links
• 1 decal sheet
• Instruction booklet
The kit bears the “Mid Production” label that Dragon assigned as part of the usual “modeler’s convention” of trying to distinguish different variations in a vehicle’s production run via terms like “early”, “mid”, or “late”. In this particular kit the “mid” production label translates into features that apply to the 2nd series of vehicles produced between December 1943 and March 1944 that utilized Pzkpfw IV H chassis components. The vehicle was also produced when zimmerit was applied, so that will also need to be added by the builder for complete accuracy sake.
The key defining features for the 2nd series include the solid-block driver’s compartment outfitted with periscopes in place of the Tiger I-style driver’s view port, the redesigned gun muzzle and ball mount, redesigned roof hatches and splash guards added including sliding covers for the gunner’s periscope, extra bolted on armor for the front hull bottom, and a new design for the rear deck spare wheel holders. DML’s kit captures all of these details as well as other smaller variations and includes in the “2-in-1” option the choice of adding extra antennas to produce a Command version versus the Standard version.
Suspension and Tracks:
The kit suspension uses the now-common non-working simplified suspension of all the Pz IV Smart Kit family of kits. The road wheels provided have excellent rim and hub detail with lettering molded in and the correct style of pressed hubs appropriate for Pz IV Hs produced after September 1943. Options are provided for two different types of steel return rollers, both of which are correct depending on your choice as some mix-and-match did occur between the types in H production. The cast sprockets are combined with the option of either the earlier-style tubular idler or the later-style cast idler which was introduced beginning in October 1943, making either choice correct depending on your preference and references for your particular Sturmpanzer vehicle. The idler mount can be positioned to aid with determining track sag within reason, providing some flexibility with either the kit-supplied Magic tracks or AM sets. Two different styles of mount are provided and both were seen on Hs, so the choice is yours.
The tracks provided are of the static Magic Track individual link variety and are handed and molded in different shades of gray to distinguish one side from the other and feature solid guide horns and the chevron ice cleats on their faces. 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 depending. 98-99 links are normal for Pz IVs and the instructions call for 100 links per side depending on the desired amount of sag you wish to create. Additional links are provided to create the necessary spare track runs for the hull front and glacis, but not enough of either left or right to do all the spare tracks so some mixing and matching is called for.
Hull and Fenders:
The hull consists of a large single piece tub with excellent molded detail on the exterior including hull bottom detail for various access hatches and ports. The rear hull plate is a separate assembly and the large cylindrical exhaust is a multi-part effort complete with hollow exhaust pipe and weld bead detail on the cylinder. Two different styles of rear tow bracket are provided but this is a holdover from earlier kits as the only correct choice is the H27/H23/B9 combination.
The fender layout is correct for a factory-standard 2nd series Sturmpanzer IV and includes tools with molded-on clamps. The fenders have excellent tread pattern detail on both the upper and lower surfaces and PE or styrene options are provided for the air intake vent covers. The options for the rear Notek light provides for the black-out flap raised or lowered with a separate PE part for the flap if you wish to show it raised. The option is also provided to fit the side-mounted air filters depending on whether or not this feature was present on the IV-H hull used to build a particular Sturmpanzer.
The kit also includes braided steel wire and styrene ends to construct the tow cables for the fenders with a called out length of 115mm per cable. Be aware that this length likely includes the styrene ends and you should test fit before committing or you will end up with too-short cables. The hull glacis plate requires 5 holes to be opened up to fit the spare track run for that location and the option of either PE or styrene track mounts provided. The engine deck includes PE parts for the sliding cooling covers as well.
PE or styrene options are provided for the rear fender braces depending on your choice. The rear deck braces securing the casemate to the engine deck are also provided as either PE or styrene parts as well.
The casemate is provided as a single box-part with a separate roof panel and access hatches for the rear. Separate pistol port plugs are provided along with PE chains, allowing the ports to be shown open or closed for added detail. The rear hatches can be displayed closed using a single part or open with separate hatches and both options have molded on detail on the inner surfaces. If displaying open, the solid grab handles are removed and separate grab handle parts installed in their place for greater realism.
The roof hatches can also be displayed open or closed and parts are provided to show the loader’s MG34 in a deployed position complete with locking support arms for the hatch plate which does double duty as a splinter shield. The gunner’s periscope is provided as a clear part and the sliding cover in the roof is molded in position, putting some limits on how the gun can be posed/positioned as a result.
Additional parts are provided to create the “adler’s nest” antenna mount and star antenna for a command version. These parts are all provided in styrene only and are fitted to the left top corner of the casemate rear and are only used if creating a command vehicle equipped with additional radio communication gear.
Gun and Interior:
The 15cm StuH 43 gun provided consists of a single-piece barrel that attaches to a multi-part breech and mount assembly with the option of posing the breech block in the open or closed position. Recoil guards are provided along with the gunner’s seat. Two different styles of gun elevation and traverse mechanism are provided and it’s not clear whether one style is correct over the other for a 2nd series vehicle so the choice is yours as to which to go with. The gun mount itself is highly detailed and if assembled carefully will allow the gun to elevate freely
The fighting compartment includes a floor plate with fine tread plate detail but no other details are provided for the large interior space. Items such as the ammunition storage, crew gear, communication equipment, etc. are not included in the kit so bear that in mind if considering posing the hatches open.
The Schurzen provided in the kit are the solid plate design commonly fitted starting in 1943 and DML provides the side plates themselves as metal parts to accurately reflect the 5mm thickness in-scale while the front extensions are in styrene only with beveled edges. The kit also includes optional parts to mount only the base bolt plates for the side plates to the side hull as a nice added bonus since many crews didn’t fit the side plates due to their tendency to easily snag on obstacles or brush. Those base plates are provided in both styrene and PE options for even more variety.
The fenders have the lowest support braces molded on to avoid problems with lining up the plates correctly and the metal plates have locater marks etched into them for the styrene u-shaped brackets to insure they too are in the right places. The brackets represent only the standard width and do not include the wider option to space the plates to clear the wider Ostketten-type tracks as seen on the real vehicles, so be aware of that if you decide to use that type of AM track.
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 23 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 3 possibilities for different vehicles all serving in the same unit in Italy 1944:
• Stu.Pz.Abt. 216, Italy 1944 w/out schurzen, dark brown stripes over dark yellow
• Stu.Pz.Abt. 216, Italy 1944 w/ schurzen, dark brown stripes over dark yellow
• Stu.Pz.Abt. 216, Italy 1944 w/schurzen, dark brown stripes over dark yellow
The Sturmpanzer IV ‘Brummbar’ is one of those massive brute type vehicles that have always fascinated me and DML has delivered a very nicely detailed kit based off the Pz IV Smart Kit line. The kit is limited in its decal markings to a single unit and the lack of some of the interior details aside from the gun mount means that the individual builder may be forced to source other markings or additional interior details to take full advantage of the kit. Zimmerit will also need to be added for it to be completely accurate but should not be an issue in terms of either adding home-made or using an available aftermarket set.
A Build Log is also available to evaluate assembly and fit.