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StuG III Ausf.G Feb 1943 Alkett Prod. (72101) 1:72


Mike

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StuG III Ausf.G Feb 1943 Alkett Prod. (72101)

1:72 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd

 

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The StuG is a popular German WWII AFV, and the more you learn about it, the more obvious it becomes why.  The SturmGeschütz III was based upon the chassis of the Panzer III, but removed the turret and front deck, replacing it with an armoured casemate with a lower profile 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, but it soon found other uses as an ambush predator, and was employed as a tank destroyer, lurking in wait for Allied forces to stumble haplessly into its path, where it could be deadly.  With the advances in sloped armour employed by the Soviets, the original low velocity 75mm StuK 37 L/24 cannon was replaced by a higher velocity unit that was also used in the Panzer IV for tank-on-tank combat, extending the type’s viable career to the end of WWII.

 

The earliest prototypes were made of mild steel and based on Panzer III Ausf.B chassis, and whilst they were equipped with guns, they were unsuitable for combat due to the relative softness of the steel that would have led to a swift demise on the battlefield, being withdrawn in '41-42.  By this time the StuG III had progressed to the Ausf.G, which was based on the later Panzer III Ausf.M, with a widened upper hull and improvements in armour to increase survivability prospects for the crew.  Many of the complicated aspects of the earlier models that made them time-consuming and expensive to produce were removed and simplified by that time, which led to several specific differences in some of the external fitments around the gun, such as the Saukopf mantlet protector.  The Ausf.G was the last and most numerous version, and was used until the end of the war with additional armour plates often welded or bolted to the surface to give it enhanced protection from Allied tanks and artillery.

 

 

The Kit

This is a new tooling from MiniArt in their nascent 1:72 armour line, which is bringing high levels of detail to this smaller scale, with MiniArt’s engineers and tool designers applying their skills to a scale that has been neglected to an extent for many years.  The kit arrives in a small top-opening box, and inside are nine sprues of various sizes in grey styrene, a small clear sprue with decals in a Ziploc bag, a Photo-Etch (PE) brass fret in a card envelope, and the instruction booklet in full colour in portrait A5 format.  Detail is excellent, including weld-lines and tread-plate moulded into the exterior of the hull, with plenty of options for personalisation, and link-and-length tracks to provide good detail without making the building of the tracks too time consuming.

 

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Construction begins with the lower hull, which is put together with five parts creating the ‘tub’, then adding the three-part glacis plate at the front, and the exhaust assembly at the rear, accompanied by duct-work and overhanging vents with a PE mesh panel underneath.  One decal option has a few holes drilled into the rear overhang before installation for use later, then various suspension parts are applied to the sides that have the swing arms and axles already moulded-in.  Six paired return rollers are made up, along with twelve pairs of road wheels, plus two-part idler wheels and drive sprockets, which have an alternative front sprocket face for you to choose from.  Once all the wheels are installed on their axles, the tracks can be built, utilising the long lengths on the top and bottom, adding shorter lengths to the diagonal risers, and individual links around the sharper curved sections toward the ends of the runs.  There are eight individual links at the rear, and six at the front, plus another between the lower and its diagonal, each link having three sprue gates in sensibly placed locations.

 

The gun shroud is built from four parts and mounted on a carrier between a pair of trunnions, which is then fitted to a pivot plate and set aside while the casemate front is made from two sections.  First however, the fenders are glued to the sides of the hull, locating on three lugs moulded into the sides.  The gun shroud is slotted into the casemate, with a mantlet slid over the front, after which the lower heavily armoured and bolted lower casemate front has a vision slot and armour cover applied before it is glued to the bottom of the casemate, along with the sides and rear bulkhead, attaching it to the lower hull while the glue cures to ensure everything lines up.  A convoy light is glued into the centre of the glacis, then the engine deck is made, fitting two-part sides, and a single rear panel that is aligned when the deck is installed on the rear of the hull.  Two PE grilles are glued over the outer cooling intakes, and a length of spare track is fitted over the rear bulkhead of the casemate, adding armoured covers over the five vents on the engine deck, with a choice of cast or bolted vents on those at the rear of the deck.  A choice of three styles of cupola can be made, each one made from a differing set of parts, based around the commander’s vision blocks and central hatch, adding wire grab handles from your own stock where indicated, then inserting the completed assembly in the cut-out on the roof, adding a periscope forward of the cupola from within the roof.  The barrel is moulded as a single tubular section with a hollow muzzle glued to the business end, and sleeve moulded into the front of the saukopf, which is an inverted trapezoid with an optional stowage box on top for one option, and an alternative site on the engine deck for the other decal options.  PE brackets are added around the vehicle, with pioneer tools built up and fitted where there is space as the build progresses.  The gunner’s hatch can be posed closed, or replaced by two separate parts in the open position, adding another scratch-built grab handle from wire, then fitting a drum magazine to the supplied MG34, sliding it through the frontal bullet shield with PE support and another DIY grab handle before putting it in place in front of the gunner’s hatch.

 

Towing eyes are supplied for the tow cable, but you must provide the braided thread or wire to make the cable itself, attaching one to each fender, fixing fire extinguisher, jack block, jack, barrel cleaning rods etc. to various places, and for one decal variant, two stacks of wheels are mounted on long pins on the rear bulkhead, making the pins from more of your own wire.  Option four also has a PE railing around the engine deck, which has a basket to hold two jerry cans, each one made from three parts, and slotted into position at the rear of the deck.  Two scrap diagrams show how the forward ends of the railings attach to the back of the casemate, and the other four decal options can have stacks of road wheels stowed on the back of the engine deck on the aft vents, again on pins made from your own wire stocks.  Two aerials of 30mm each are also needed to complete the model.

 

 

Markings

There are five decal options on the small sheet, with various schemes ranging from pure panzer grey to dunkelgeb, with camouflage or distemper over the top.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 189, Eastern Front, Spring 1943
  • 21 Luftwaffen-Feld-Division ‘Adler Division’, Staraya Russa Region, Eastern Front, Spring 1943
  • 21 Luftwaffen-Feld-Division ‘Adler Division’, Staraya Russa Region, Eastern Front, Spring 1943
  • Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung ‘Grossdeutschland’ Okhtryka, Ukraine, Eastern Front, Spring 1943
  • Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 210, Eastern Front, 1943

 

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Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas.

 

 

Conclusion

MiniArt bring their talents to bear on 1:72 scale, releasing a subject they have already researched for their 1:35 scale range, resulting in a highly detailed model with plenty of options for personalisation.

 

Highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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