Sturmgeschutz IIIAusf. C/D 7.5cm KANONE (Sd.Kfz. 142) Smart Kit
The history of the Strurmgeschutz III is well known. The most widely produced AFV of the German military industry during WWII, the STUG III served in every theater that the Germans fought in from 1939 to 1945, with the Finnish Army against the Soviets and even saw action in the post WW2 Mid East conflicts between Syria and Israel.
Upon opening the box you will find 17 sprues in light grey plastic packaged individually.
The kit has 2 sprue A’s. The parts are delineated by either black or blue numbers in the instructions.
The lower hull,
1 clear plastic sprue, 1 photo-etch sheet, 2 runs of yellow-tan DS track, 1 small sprue of DS crew clothing (boots, blouse, jacket)
The 8-page blue and white instruction sheet with 19 steps.
You are offered 3 marking options for vehicles from the same unit in the USSR during Operation Barbarossa.
Before I began the build I removed all the sprues from their bags and examined them. The kit has an abundance of extra parts. The detail is excellent and I was pleased to see numerous extra GEN 2 tools with the finely detailed clasps available for the spares box.
There are many great references for the STUG III. I used Achtung Panzer No.5, which is an excellent guide for all the STUG variants.
I strongly recommend using some form of reference for this project as the number of similar parts in the kit and some issues with the instructions can create problems. In addition, I suggest you mark each sprue with a large piece of tape with the sprue letter on it to easily identify the sprue you are looking for. With this done and the instructions marked with notes I moved forward.
NOTE: You will be prompted throughout the instructions to fill/ sand/ drill and/or remove various holes and mounting points. DO NOT DO THIS until you are certain they will not be needed. I found throughout the build that areas filled needed to be reopened, mounting points that were removed are needed and so forth. I will point these out as I come to them.
Steps 1 through 6 cover the build up of the lower hull and suspension parts. Step 1 has us build up the road wheels, drive sprockets, idlers and return rollers. All the parts for these items come from sprue A (black) and sprue B.
In step 2 you begin to add detail to the lower hull. All straight forward stuff and the detail is excellent.
Here you run into the first issue with filling and cutting. You are instructed to fill mounting holes for the fender mounting brackets. DO NOT DO THIS! If you do you will need to open them in step 18. Step 3 involves adding torsion bars, rocker arms and other detail.
You are again instructed to remove mounting points. TEST FIT the parts first! Some of the points do need to be removed but not all. In addition the mounting points at the top of the lower hull are for placement of the upper hull and rear deck. DO NOT remove them until you are certain that they will not be needed. I did remove them and found later that some of these points were actually used. I was able to get a good solid alignment but this is due the exceptional engineering of the kit. Step 4 deals with the lower hull's rear plate. More mounting points that will be needed are shown to be removed. I recommend that you test fit the parts and continue accordingly. Also, the PE heat shield needs some finessing to get shaped and added to the rear plate. I advise doing Steps 4 and 6 together to get the best possible fit and outcome.
Adding the idlers, road wheels, drive sprockets and return rollers is accomplished in step 5. There will be some gaps where the rear plate and the idler tightening bolt housing meet. I used thinned putty and a flexi-file to get these filled.
This ends the build of or the lower hull for now. The next 2 steps deal with the fenders.
Steps 7 & 8
The right and left fenders are built up at this stage. You will really begin to appreciate the fine gen 2 details here. Tools, forward and aft mud flaps, lights, horns and mounting brackets are attached. The fit is superb.
NOTE: Hold off on adding the cleaning rods; C12, until after you attach the fenders to the hull to insure proper placement.
Steps 9 through 12
The upper hull/fighting compartment is assembled in these 4 steps. You have the option to add MP-40’s to the aft of the fighting compartment. I did add them but I suggest you wait until you have added D12; Radio rack/Radios from step 10. In addition, I taped down the roof plate; C1, to the upper hull; R28, to insure proper placement of the MP-40s and lifting hooks found inside the fighting compartment.
With the interior dealt with for now I began adding the external detail. Fit is great and there were no issues at all.
I did not add the antenna at this point so as to avoid knocking it about and if you plan on adding figures hold off on step 11 until you have your figure placements sorted out. I ended this portion of the build by adding the transmission access hatches to the forward upper hull.
The rear deck is built up in this step. This is all straight forward.
The only thing I would do differently is to add K1; tow cable and mounting brackets, instead of the individual parts shown in the instructions. It is not so much that the fit, scale or detail is poor. It is more that if you want to add a tow cable it will be more difficult with the individual clamps and clasps than if you add K1. The detail is equally crisp so it is up to the modeler but since this option is not provided in the instructions I felt it should be noted here. Also there are no handles supplied for the engine access hatches, there are mounting points but no handles that I could find. I used some fine gauge wire as a substitute and that worked well.
Steps 14 through 17
The interior and main gun takes up these 4 steps. You will again appreciate the detail and crispness of the parts. First build up the aft part of the gun to include the breach block. Ammo storage racks in 3 sub-assemblies are also built up here.
Next the gunner's seat, elevation wheel and gun sights are attached to the left side gun mount and the lower gun mount is attached to the 2 piece floor assembly. Some surgery is required but it is not too complicated. Build the rest of the main gun and add the sub-assemblies from step 14 and you are done with this part of the build.
Steps 18 & 19
In step 18 you are directed to add interior sub-assemblies, fenders, transmission cover plate, rear deck, tracks and upper hull. Since I planned on having open hatches I did not add the upper hull at this point.
With everything in place I finished the build by adding the last few details to the kit. I had some issues with the PE mounts for the antenna cradle. These items are very delicate and my gorilla hands were not gentile enough. I ended up using bits for strip styrene as a substitute.
This ends the build portion. I ended up with 3 sub-assemblies at this point.
PAINTING & WEATHERING
I began by priming the interior areas with Vallejo black primer. When dry I applied an off white mixture of Vallejo for the interior color. I let this dry and then began detail painting. I mixed up a red oxide to represent the floor color, applied that with a brush and then hit all the details. A satin clear coat went on next and then a general wash of dark brown for the floor and light brown for the walls and other areas painted white was applied. Dry brushing with Model Master Enamels, a touch up of details and some weathering was followed by a coat of Dulcoat clear flat. When all was dry I cleaned any paint I found off of contact points and attached the upper hull and main gun.
I taped off the open hatches on the roof and applied Vallejo black primer, let dry followed by a coat of German grey darkened with black grey. I then added thinned lighter coats of German grey until I had the color the way I wanted. Details were base painted and then a coat of clear gloss applied to ease the application of markings. The kit comes with 3 marking options.
With the markings in place I added a satin clear coat, applied a filter with a MIG product and then a pin wash of black/brown also from MIG. Dry brushing, detail painting and a coat of clear flat were followed by some weathering using pigments. A few items of stowage were attached and the build was done.
The STUG II is one of my all-time favorite vehicles to build and this kit is an absolute dream. The level of detail and the quality of fit are outstanding. The issues with the instructions are easily dealt with using a good reference or 2. Some may not like the DS track but for quality of detail and time saved using them versus an after-market set they are a great option. I look forward to building another Dragon STUG III in the near future.
Pros: Level of detail
Quality of engineering
Ease of build
Cons: Issues with instructions
DS Track is the only option provided in the kit
Highly Recommended for German Armor fans and folks that like really nice kits.
Thanks goes out to DRAGON USA for this review kit.
Reviewed by Henry Milton
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