StuG III Ausf. A Michael Wittmann, 'LAH' (Barbarossa 1941)
Dragon's StuG. III Ausf. A Smart Kit 6860 is an impressive box of styrene! Wittmann's StuG. III Ausf. A was previously released as Imperial Series kit number 9031 in 1996, and was a nice kit then, but comparing my stash kit to this review kit - wow! I have to admit, this is the first Smart Kit I've built, and only the second Dragon kit, so I may just be easily impressed. Right off the bat, I noticed that the majority of the sprues come from a variety of other kits, and it looks like well over half won't be used in this build - there are a LOT of unused parts. There are sprues here from: Pz Kpfw III; Pz Kpfw III Ausf J Initial Production; StuG III C/D; StuG III E; StuG III F/8; StuG III G; and Pz Kpfw IV, as well as a few pieces of photoetch and DS tracks (which I haven't worked with before, either).
New Kit Artwork
Kit Highlights on Box Back
Sturmgeschutz assault guns were initially developed to support the infantry as sturmartillerie, or assault artillery, that could destroy obstacles, bunkers, machine gun nests, and anything else that was halting the infantry's advance. The first 30 StuG. III Ausf. A were produced by Daimler-Benz from January - May 1940, while another 20 were produced by Alkett from June - September 1940 using the Pz. Kpfw. III Ausf. G chassis. Armed with the 7.5cm Kanone L/24, the same as the Pz. Kpfw. IV Ausf. A - F, with a maximum range of 6,000 meters, the StuG. A fulfilled its infantry support mission extremely well, and frequently was called upon to engage enemy tanks. The StuG. III Ausf. A was in combat in Holland, France, and Russia, where Michael Wittmann commanded one while assigned to an SS unit. This kit, like its predecessor, represents Wittmann's StuG. III Ausf. A during Barbarossa, the opening stages of the invasion of the USSR.
The kit parts are free of flash, well-molded, with sharp details, molded in a light grey. Those annoying shallow holes left behind by the production process are mostly in areas that won't be seen after construction; the one exception being any hatches that are left open - those circles will have to be filled and sanded. Although the kit comes with some interior detail in the fighting compartment, to include the gun mount, breech, recoil guard, and gunner controls, commander and gunner seats, ammo storage bins, radios, MP40's, there is no driver's position, no final drive, and no engine. Exterior detail looks good, with the normal complement of tools, headlights, antenna bases and holder, and hatches that can be built open or closed. The one-piece gun barrel is styrene, and requires the modeler to cut out a short section of the barrel. Photoetch is limited to inserts for the idler wheels, chains for the smoke candles, MP40 straps, a bracket for a storage box, and screens for the two engine air intakes.
None of the blue marked parts will be used in this build
Color chart - only three color brands listed: GSI Creos Corp. Aqueous Hobby Color; GSI Creos Corp. Mr. Color; Model Master Color
Step 1 - build the sprockets and idlers
Step 2 - build the roadwheels, return rollers, torsion bars
Step 3 - suspension arms, shock absorbers, first return roller's mounting arm
Step 4 - exhaust and tow brackets on rear hull
Step 5 - adding wheels
Step 6 - building and adding the smoke candles assembly to the rear hull
Step 7 - Building the jack and adding it and other tools, braces, lights, rear flaps to right fender
Step 8 - adding tools to the left fender
Step 9 - adding front plate to superstructure, gunners scissors scope, and MP40's to rear of fighting compartment
Step 10 - adding roof and panniers to superstructure side, antenna mounts, radios to rear of fighting compartment
NOTE: The directions show either two MP40's or two radios mounted on the rear of the superstructure. I have not been able to find any indication that the Ausf. A ever had two radios mounted at any time. According to my references, the Ausf. A only had one radio receiver, and never a transmitter. If I find any information to confirm the two radio installation, I'll edit this review with that information.
Step 11 - install hatches on the hull roof
Step 12 - add maintenance hatches to the front glacis
Step 13 - add hatches and air vents to engine deck
Step 14 - build three ammo lockers, gun breech, recoil guard, inner mantlet
Step 15 - build up gun firing platform, add gunners seat and controls to left hand trunnion, add two trunnions to gun breech assembly, install gun breech assembly on firing platform. NOTE: some minor surgery is required on part E8
Step 16 - in this step, you'll have to remove a small amount of the gun barrel. Dragon does not specify how much, instead showing how much to leave - 10mm - and then building up the gun barrel assembly.
Step 17 - add two ammo bins to firing platform assembly
Step 18 - attach gun barrel assembly and engine deck assembly to hull superstructure assembly; install third ammo bin into chassis; add upper hull assembly, glacis plate, both fenders, and both tracks to the lower hull; add front headlights and tow brackets to front hull.
Markings given are simple and few for Michael Wittmann's LAH, Operation Barbarossa, USSR 1941; Abteilung Schoenberger, USSR, 1941; and Unidentified Unit, USSR, 1941.: white crosses on upper hull side, unit markings on front or rear. You could also build it as used in the French campaign, if you want to do some research on markings and units. Base color is going to be dunkelgrau, and appropriate colors for wheel rubber, tracks, tools, and weathering based on location and season.
Cracking open the box - there's a lot of sprue in there!
Sprue A (small) - there are two of these, and about half these parts will be used
Sprue A (large) - generic Pz Kpfw III parts, about half of which will be used
Sprue B (generic Pz Kpfw III) - only use five parts
Sprue B (StuG. III Ausf. G) - use about half of these parts
Sprue C (StuG III Ausf E) - use all but one part
Sprue D (StuG III Ausf. C/D) - use all but five parts
Sprue E (StuG III Ausf G) - use about half these parts
Sprue G (StuG III Ausf G) - use twelve parts. NOTE: When taking these out of the bags, the engine deck was broken off and I placed it with the wrong sprue for this photo - the engine deck actually belongs with Sprue V, pictured further below.
Sprue J - use the 3/4 torso and arm
Sprue K (Pz Kpfw III Ausf J Initial Production) - use about half
Sprue L (left side, Pz Kpfw IV) - use six parts, including gun barrel, and Sprue M (right side), use only the commander's head and arm
Sprue Q (StuG III Ausf F/8) - use about half
Sprue R (StuG III Ausf F/8) - use the upper hull and roof, one of the antennas, and about four other parts
Sprue S - use the three pieces in the bottom half of the sprue
Chassis interior and hull side - note that the first return roller station will have to be attached
Nice detail on the bottom as well
A closer look at the side
Sprue V (Pz Kpfw III) - this is the sprue the engine deck photographed above should be attached. You'll use about half of the rest of the parts.
Sprue T - sprockets X 2; Sprue X is the two idler wheels; Sprue Y is four sets of roadwheels; and Sprue Z is four shock absorbers - use them all!
Two DS tracks, one marked L and the other marked R
Cartograf decals for three StuG III Ausf. A, including Wittmann's
Last, but not least, the ONLY sprue actually marked for StuG III Ausf A 6860!
The kit looks challenging, just given the sheer number of parts and busy nature of the directions - the only problem I anticipate is misreading a part call-out. I'll start working on this beast this weekend - I need to remember to actually take step-by-step photos for the build review!
Highly Recommended for Intermediate to Advanced builders.
Thanks goes out to Dragon for this review kit.
Reviewed by Joseph "Mac" McDaniel
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