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StuG.III 0-Series (35210) 1:35


Mike
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StuG.III 0-Series (35210)

1:35 MiniArt

 

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You can't beat a good StuG.  The SturmGeschutz III was engineered based upon the chassis of the Panzer III, bit eschewing the turret of the latter, and replacing it with an armoured casemate that mounted a fixed gun with limited traverse.  It was originally intended to be used as infantry support, using its (then) superior armour to advance on the enemy as a mobile blockhouse.  It soon found other uses as an ambush predator, and was employed as a tank destroyer hidden waiting for Allied forces to stumble into its path.  With the advances in sloped armour employed by the Soviets the original low velocity 75mm StuK 37 L/24 cannon was replaced by higher velocity unit that were also used in the Panzer IV for tank-on-tank combat.

 

The earliest prototypes were made of mild steel and based on Panzer III Ausf.B chassis, and while equipped with guns were unsuitable for combat due to the relative softness of the steel that would have led to a swift demise on the battlefield.  They were however used in training up new crews, with one such site being the Training Grounds at Jüterbog in Germany until withdrawal in '41-42.

 

 

The Kit

A brand new tooling from MiniArt, who have really pulled out all the stop recently and are becoming a major player in the 1:35 armour genre.  This is doubtless the first of many editions of the StuG III from them, and it seems appropriate to begin at the beginning with a training vehicle.  It is important to note that non-combatant status of these early vehicles, as this will affect how you portray them as a finished model if you are looking for realism.  Battle damage and evidence of long-standing occupation by a single crew wouldn't be realistic, and Panzer Grey will be the order of the day.  There's no doubt that as a training vehicle they would have been used and abused by the trainees however, so the finished model won't necessarily be parade clean either.

 

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Note the foam protection to part 2 of sprue Ja to prevent crush damage in transit.

 

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There are 29 sprues and 18 more of track links in grey styrene, a sprue of clear parts, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, and a small styrene jig to ease building of the tracks.  The package is completed by a small decal sheet and the glossy covered instruction booklet that has colour profiles in the rear for the decal options.  Construction begins with fabrication of the lower hull from individual panels, with suspension units and complex damping system added to the sides over a number of steps.  Finally, eight sets of paired wheels are made up and installed along with drive sprockets and idler wheels on both sides.

 

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The tracks are built fairly early in the build, and as they're individual links the jig will come in handy.  Each side uses 96 links, which you can build up in 8-link lengths on the jig, adding the small track-pins in sets of eight, whilst still attached to their sprues thanks to careful spacing of the parts.  The links have five sprue gates each set into the curved edges of the part, with no sink marks of ejector pins to deal with, so clean-up before construction should be fairly quick by comparison.  The pins fit into holes in the sides of the links like the real ones, and are glued in place with tiny quantities of cement of your favourite type, being very sparing with the amount for fear of gluing the links AND the jig together and making a general mess of things.  Patience is most definitely a virtue in this instance.

 

The superstructure is made up of a number of modules that are fabricated into sub-assemblies and then brought together later.  The engine deck with PE louvers in the rear, various access panels and the twin exhaust mufflers is first, followed by the glacis plate with twin clamshell transmission hatches, after which the styrene fenders with tread-plate texture are detailed with their mudguards and sprung return mechanism for the inevitable "incidents" with the scenery.  A number of holes are drilled in the treadplate to locate tools and such later on, and then all these assemblies are brought together on the lower hull with an engine firewall cutting the crew compartment off, with a pair of nicely detailed MP40s on the back wall, which will be visible if you leave the top hatches open.

 

At this stage your StuG is a convertible, allowing the wind to ruffle the hair of her crew, but this doesn't last as you get a fair portion of the vehicle's interior in the shape of the main gun's breech and the framework that holds it in the chassis.  It takes up quite a number of parts and includes three seats (I guess you could call them that) for the crew, all of which can again be seen from the top hatches.  The roof of the casemate is fixed in place on two side walls, with a choice of upper glacis parts, one of which has twin holes above the driver's slit.  The radio gear is fitted into a scabbed-on box on the fender, accessible from inside and this is then joined by a full set of pioneer tools, fire extinguisher and more stowage boxes, plus the light clusters, towing eyes, horn and antenna.  The radio box is fitted with a shot-trap eliminating panel at the front and another on the opposite side, then the short 75mm gun is built up and inserted into the mantlet, with a scrap diagram showing how it mounts against the breech.  More detail is added in the shape of jack blocks, stowage boxes, another fire extinguisher, jack and towing cables, which are supplied as eyelets to which the modeller must find their own cable to lay them out as per the overhead scrap diagram.  The last part is to add the hatches to the roof of the casemate, which have PE latches added when depicted open.

 

 

Markings

The markings options are somewhat limited due to these early StuG's role and the fact that they are early war tanks, so it's Panzer Grey all the way.  Each one has white crosses on the sides of the casemate, A,B or C on the glacis, and in a rosette for two of the options.  The decal sheet is the size of a postage stamp as a consequence, and is printed in the Ukraine by DecoGraph with good register, density and sharpness.

 

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Conclusion

This marks the start of a line of great new tool StuGs, which makes me happy as I have fondness for the squat ugly-but-effective little tanks, and while the subject of this first issue might put a few off, it's actually refreshing to see something in Panzer Grey that played little part in the actual conflict, while the type went on to become an important asset of the Wehrmacht later in the war.  The model is well-detailed and should pose no problems during building, other than some mild boredom during the track building process, so it's a firm thumbs up from me.

 

Highly recommended.

Review sample courtesy of

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