Jump to content

StuG III Ausf.G Alkett Prod Oct 1943 Interior Kit (35352) 1:35


Mike

Recommended Posts

StuG III Ausf.G Alkett Prod Oct 1943 Interior Kit (35352)

1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd

 

boxtop.jpg

 

The StuG is a popular German WWII AFV, and the more you learn about it, the more obvious it becomes why.  The SturmGeschutz III was engineered based upon the chassis of the Panzer III, but removing the turret and front deck of its progenitor, replacing it with an armoured casemate that mounted a semi-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, hiding in wait for Allied forces to stumble haplessly 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 was also used in the Panzer IV for tank-on-tank combat, extending the type’s viable career to the bitter end of WWII.

 

The earliest prototypes were made of mild steel and based on Panzer III Ausf.B chassis, and they while 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for combat due to the relative softness of the steel that would have led to a swift demise on the battlefield, being withdrawn in '41-42.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 thicker armour to improve survivability for the crew.  Many of the complex aspects of the earlier models that made them time-consuming and expensive to produce were removed and simplified to ease production bottlenecks, 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 or lengths of track often welded or bolted to the surface to give it enhanced protection from the Allied tanks and artillery, especially the Sherman Firefly with its devastatingly effective main gun.

 

 

The Kit

This is a new boxing of MiniArt’s recently tooled StuG.III kit, this time depicting production from the Alkett factory in Germany, who were involved in the production of StuGs later in the war.  It is an interior kit, and arrives in a standard top-opening box in the usual MiniArt style, with attractive artwork on the front and profiles on the side.  Inside the box are sixty-one sprues in mid-grey styrene, one in clear, two large frets of Photo-Etch (PE) brass parts, decal sheet and glossy instruction booklet with colour profiles on the front and rear covers.  Detail is excellent throughout, which is just what we’ve come to expect from modern toolings by MiniArt, with so much detail crammed into every part of the model, which includes the complete interior and individual track links.

 

sprue1.jpg

 

sprue2.jpg

 

sprue1.jpg

 

sprue3.jpg

 

sprue4.jpg

 

sprue6.jpg

 

sprue8.jpg

 

sprue2.jpg

 

sprue1.jpg

 

sprue3.jpg

 

sprue4.jpg

 

sprue5.jpg

 

sprue6.jpg

 

sprue7.jpg

 

clear.jpg

 

pe1.jpg

 

pe2.jpg

 

Construction begins with the interior, which is built up on the floor panel, receiving the torsion suspension bars with their fittings, a pair of runners to support the engine, and a covering part that makes moving around less of a trip hazard for the crew, while carrying the support structure for the gun, which is made up from some substantial I-beams that have a traverse shoe placed on top to give the gun its limited 15° travel for fine-tuning aim.  The rear bulkhead panels are set against the engine mounts to give them the correct angle, then the firewall bulkhead is made up with small drawers and various other details added before it is fitted into the floor.  The driver’s seat is built from numerous parts on a shaped base, and controls are placed within easy reach of his feet and hands, with the option of adding a linkage for the hand controls from your own wire or rod stocks.

 

Attention shifts to the transmission that distributes the engine’s power to the drive-wheels, diverting the output 90° into the drive sprockets at either side of the front of the vehicle.  It is made up from many finely detailed parts, with gear housings and their retaining bolts on each side, moving out to the brakes and clutches, then rearwards to the drive-shaft that leads back under the gun mount then into the engine compartment.  It is set into the front of the vehicle, crowding the driver, but leaving space on the floor for two shell storage boxes that have holes for the individual shells to be inserted after painting and application of their stencil decals, as per the accompanying diagrams.  The engine is then built up from many more parts, resulting in a highly detailed replica of the Maybach power pack, including all the ancillaries and pulleys that you could wish for.  The engine bay is detailed with extra parts in preparation for the installation of the block to make it sit neatly on the mounts, with a large airbox to one side with a battery pack on top.  The sides of the hull need to be made up in order to finish the engine bay, and these two inserts are outfitted with final drive mountings, strapped-on boxes, gas-mask canisters, pipework and the outer parts of the brake housings, complete with the spring-loaded shoes straight out of a 70s Austin Maxi.  Unsurprisingly, another big box of shells is made up and placed on the wall, and in the engine compartment a large fuel tank is attached to the side, with a fire extinguisher placed next to it.  These two highly detailed assemblies are offered up to the hull along with the front bulkhead, which has been detailed beforehand with various parts, and the glacis plate with transmission inspection hatches that are given a similar treatment, including an instrument panel for the driver’s use that comes with dial decals to improve realism.  A few other parts are inserted into the front of the hull to integrate the sides with the other parts, and the glacis is laid across the front, supported on three sides, adding a bullet splash deflector near the aft edge.

 

Tank engines are under immense strain pulling the huge weight of the vehicle and its armour around, so they need an effective cooling system to be able to cope.  Two radiator baths with mesh detail engraved are built up and attached to a hosing network, with a fan housing on the top and more hosing across the top, plus take-off pulleys and belts providing motive power for the twin fans inserted into the top of the assembly, with even more hoses and other details added before the completed system is inserted into the rapidly dwindling space within the engine compartment.  On the top of the engine a pair of small canisters are attached to depressions on each side of the apex, and these appear to be air cleaners, as they resemble compact versions of the Fiefel units seen on the rear of early Tigers.  Moving forward, the transmission inspection hatches are fitted with a choice of open or closed, as is only fair for such a highly detailed model.  The rear bulkhead is detailed with towing eyes and exhaust mufflers with short pipes fixed to the outer sides.  An overhanging frame is made up at the rear and has a PE mesh part applied along with a covered port for manual starting of the engine, and this is installed mesh-side-down on the top side of the bulkhead, with a pair of thick pipes slotted into place between the mufflers and manifolds once the glue is dry.  Additional ‘tin-work’ air guides are later placed under the overhang, with an overhead diagram showing how the assembly and rear of the vehicle should look once completed.  The auxiliary towing eyes on the edges of the rear bulkhead have pins threaded through, with PE retaining chains added before the lower hull is put to one side for a while.

 

The gun is represented in full, with a complex breech, safety cage and cloth-effect brass-catching basket present, plus a large pivot fitted onto the trunnions on the sides of the assembly.  Elevation, traverse, coaxial MG34 and sighting gear are installed on the breech, with a small seat for the gunner on the left side to keep him stable while aiming at his next target.  Before the gun can be fitted, the walls of the casemate must be made up, and these are encrusted with yet more detail, including a pair of MP40 machine guns with ammo pouches, equipment and stencil decals on the rear panel with a circular extraction fan in the centre of the wall.  The detailed radio gear is bracketed to a shelf that is installed on one sidewall, with more boxes and stencils adding to the chaos of the area, plus the option of adding wiring from your own stocks to improve the detail even more, helpfully noting lengths and diameters you should use.  The other side is also decked out with boxes that require more wiring, all of which is documented in scrap diagrams where necessary to help in increasing the authenticity of your model, which is all joined into the shape of the casemate with the addition of the front wall that is detailed on both sides, and has a large cut-out to receive the gun in due course.  The front of the casemate is built out forward with a sloped frontage and some appliqué armour, then the commander’s cupola is prepared with seven clear vision blocks, lenses and PE detail parts, set to the side for later, while the casemate is dropped over the front of the lower hull and joined by the breech assembly, which is covered by a mantlet after armoured protectors to the mounting bolts have been glued over them.  A choice of bridge insert over the top of the barrel encloses the breech, then it’s time to prepare the roof with some interior details before encasing it, then making a choice of how to finish the commander’s cupola in either open or closed pose, but you just know you’re going to leave it open to show off all your hard work.  It has PE latches and a set of V-shaped binocular sighting glasses in the separate front section of the cupola that can be open or closed independently to the main hatch to allow the commander to stay (comparatively) safely within the casemate during battle whilst still able to use the glasses.  The gunner’s hatch is a simpler affair consisting of a clamshell pair of doors, with a handle added to the inside.  This hatch can also be closed, but why would you?  There is also a fold-down splinter-shield for the roof-top MG34 machine gun that can be stored away or flipped-up for action if you prefer.

 

The engine is still hanging out at the back at this stage, which is next to be corrected, building up the engine deck with short sides and armoured intake louvers on the sides, which are covered with PE meshes as the deck is glued down onto the engine bay, allowing the viewer to see plenty of engine detail through the four access hatches.  A piece of appliqué armour is added to the slope at the rear of the deck, then an armoured cover to the extraction fan is added to the back of the casemate, with short lengths of track to each side as extra armour and spares in the event of damage.  The tracks are held in place by a long bar that stretches across most of the rear of the casemate.  Under these are sited the barrel cleaning rods, lashed to the deck with PE and styrene parts, then the four hatches are made with armoured vents, and all of these can be posed open or closed as you wish.  One variant has a shallow equipment box attached between the two aft hatches, while two more have pairs of road wheels skewered to the two aft hatches by lengths of rod, swapping out a smooth hatch for one with indents to help locate the pins.

 

Currently the StuG has no wheels, so the addition of the swing-arms with stub axles are next, adding the highly detailed final drive bell-housings under the front, plus additional suspension parts that improve damping further.  The idler adjuster is covered with armoured parts, and more pioneer tools are dotted around the sides of the engine deck, after which the paired wheels are fixed to the axles, with drive-sprockets at the front and spoked idler wheels at the rear that have PE outer rings, plus a trio of twin return rollers on short axles near the top of the sides.   One decal option has a large wooden box made for it, and fitted with a PE padlock, hasp and staple.  It is fixed to the rear of the engine deck later in the build.

 

The tracks are individual links that are held together by friction, using between 92-94 links per side, and each link has three sprue gates to clean up, with zero flash to deal with.  It’s probably best to set them in position with liquid glue once they are correctly arranged on the vehicle’s wheels for safety’s sake.  Once they’re in place, the fenders are attached to the hull sides, with L-brackets, the mudguards and PE fittings added once the glue has dried.  More pioneer tools and stowage are added to these, as space was a premium on these vehicles, and every flat surface ended up with equipment on it.  This includes a convoy light and either a highly detailed PE wrapped fire extinguisher or a simplified styrene alternative if you prefer.  Shovels, pry bars, track-tools, jack block and the jack are also found on the fenders, as are the two towing cables, which have styrene eyes and you’ll need to supply the cable material yourself, with a pair of PE tie-downs holding them in place on each side.  A pair of antennae mount on the rear of the casemate, and for one other decal option there is a run of track across the lower glacis on a PE rail.  Another option has more track on the casemate sides that are again secured by PE rails.  The barrel of the gun has a bulky inverted Saukopf cast mantlet cover, which is made up from a single part that is attached to the front earlier on, into which the single-part barrel slots, tipped with a choice of two detailed three-part muzzle brake to give it the correct hollow muzzle.  It slides over the recoil tubes of the gun, closing the last unintended view of the interior.

 

Different stowage boxes are included for the decal options, plus the afore mentioned track across the bottom of the lower glacis, which is augmented in one option that includes an extra length in front of the gunner’s position.  Another option is the addition of Schürzen or side skirts that pre-detonate shaped-charge rounds to weaken their penetrating power.  These are made from four PE sheets with angled front parts to prevent digging into the ground, onto which the hanging brackets are glued, again using PE parts for scale fidelity.  An additional layer is added at the top, and they fit on pegs that are moulded into the mounting rails, which have three additional support brackets fixed to each one before installation, the schürzen panels just relying on gravity to hold them in place, which is probably why many of them were either mangled or lost altogether when travelling or fighting over rough ground.  Annealing the sheets with a flame and letting them cool naturally will soften the brass and enable easier bending of the parts if you wish to replicate this on your model.

 

 

Markings

There are four decal options on the sheet, all of which have a base coat of dark yellow (dunkelgelb), with either dirt or various camouflage shades overlaid.  From the box you can build on of the following:

 

  • SturmGeschütz-Abteilung 278, Kryvyi Rig/Nikopol District, Ukraine, December 1943
  • SturmGeschütz Brigade 281, Eastern Front, Winter 1943-44
  • Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front, Spring 1944
  • Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front, Autumn 1944

 

profiles.jpg

 

decals.jpg

 

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

A stunningly detailed model of an impressive tank destroyer that saw action the Eastern and Western fronts in relatively large numbers.  There’s enough detail for the most ardent adherent to dig into and spend many hours painting and weathering the interior and exterior.

 

Very highly recommended.

 

Currently on offer at Creative Models Ltd

bin.jpg

 

Review sample courtesy of

logo.gif

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...