by: Scott Espin [ ]
IntroductionThe StuG III series of combat vehicles was based on the lower hull of the Pz.Kpfw. III and featured a fixed upper superstructure. The design of the StuG allowed it to be quickly upgraded with the 7.5cm L/43 and shortly thereafter the excellent 7.5cm StuK40 L/48 which turned it into one of the best tank killers of the war. Since the roll of the StuG had quickly changed the infantry were left without direct fire support. To fill this gap it was decided to mount a modified version of the 10.5cm le F.H. 18 howitzer in the StuG III Ausf. G. This version was designated 10.5cm Sturmhaubitze 42 Ausf. G or StuH 42 Ausf. G for short. The StuG and the StuH are virtually identical with the exception of the gun, gun sleeve and ammunition storage. The StuH 42 provided much needed fire support for the infantry yet it still retained some anti-tank capability through the use of hollow charged 105mm shells.
The KitFollowing up on the success of their 1/35 King Tiger Henschel with zimmerit (released during Dragon Expo ’07 at the IPMS 2007 Nationals) Dragon/Cyber-Hobby have just released their 10.5cm Sturmhaubitze 42 Ausf. G with zimmerit. This is an excellent kit as it is based on their previous StuG III Ausf. G Smart kit #6320 and features very realistic pre-molded waffle zimmerit. These pre-zimmed kits will have a lot of appeal to those who don’t have the time or don’t want to deal with the hassle of having to sculpt their own zimmerit. The waffle pattern is not an easy pattern to replicate even with a waffle pattern stamping tool.
As can be expected, this kit has a lot in common with their StuG III Ausf. G Early Production Smart Kit #6320 and nothing in common with their previous StuH 42 Ausf. G. There are 10 sprues that come directly from the StuG III Ausf. G kit: D, E, G, C, B, A(2), J, F and WC. The right and left handed magic tracks, the photo etch fret and tow cables are also from the StuG kit. Sprue H comes from the Heuschrecke IVb kit and provides the necessary parts for the 10.5 cm gun assembly.
There are 3 new sprues which provide the appropriate replacement parts with pre-molded waffle zimmerit . Sprue P includes the bolt on armor pieces, hatches, intakes and engine vent covers. As you can see from the photos, the realism of the waffle pattern is excellent. It is uneven in spots, thicker in some places than in others and includes some chipping and damage. Sprue Q features the brand new hull superstructure parts for the fighting compartment and engine deck. As mentioned above the zimmerit is beautifully replicated and looks very realistic when compared to my reference photos. Sprue X has the brand new lower hull with perfect “imperfect” waffle zimmerit molded into the sides. I can’t say enough about the waffle zimmerit, it has such a natural, uneven appearance and certainly looks like the real thing in miniature form. The attention to detail is very good as they made sure it was molded as it would have appeared if it had been hand applied. They even left the area of the lower hull behind the shock absorber zimmerit free.
Instructions: The instructions are done in the typical black, white and blue print style that most of you should be familiar with. A parts diagram for all the sprues is included on the cover page with the parts not being used shaded over in blue. Since many of the exterior parts are replaced with zimmed parts, a lot of them are not used. A painting and marking guide is included on the back page. The entire kit is designed to be built in sub assemblies to be joined together during the final stages.
Lower Hull and Suspension: Assembly begins with the drive sprockets, idlers, road wheels and return rollers. The idler wheels are comprised of 5 parts, with another 3 for the idler mount and adjustment mechanism. The detail on the wheels looks absolutely amazing. You can clearly see the raised lettering on the road wheels spelling out “Continentau” and the welds between the steel wheel and rim are perfect! Torsion bars are provided to which the suspension arms are attached. The molding and detail is amongst the best I’ve seen.
The rear of the hull is very well detailed. The exhaust and muffler are comprised of two parts and is more detailed and looks more accurate than the Tamiya offering. The instructions would have you attach the road wheels, sprockets and idlers at this point, but I would recommend leaving them off for now until after the camouflage and rubber wheels have been sprayed. Based on my build style, I find it much easier to paint these items separately and then add them later.
Fenders/Tools: The fenders look great and the tread pattern is exquisitely molded into both the upper and underside surfaces, unlike the Tamiya kit which only includes the fender pattern on the upper surfaces and has many ejector pin marks on the underside. The tools are excellently molded and include the brackets, which due to the slide mold technology, look very realistic. As always, it is a good idea to study the directions a few times to determine the sequence of assembly as you will probably want to wait to add the tools until after they’ve been painted and the camouflage has been sprayed.
Unfortunately, here is where we must address one of the complaints of this kit, the fender supports are not correct for this vehicle. There are several different styles of fender support brackets which varied from manufacturer to manufacturer of the StuG and StuH. The StuH 42 with and without waffle zimmerit was produced by Alkett, however the fender supports in the kit are those that would have been found on vehicles produced by MIAG. The MIAG supports would be accurate if you’re building a StuG III Ausf. G, but certainly not for a StuH 42. Either they missed this small detail when doing their research or they decided to use the fender supports from the previous kit anyway to reduce engineering and manufacturing costs. We had a discussion in the Armorama forums to get to the bottom of this controversy and I’d like to thank all of you who helped me get clarification on this issue. I have included a close-up photo of the incorrect MIAG fender support attachments of the Dragon kit as well as a photo of the correct Alkett fender supports from the Tamiya kit. The attachment points should be one long strip of metal on each side of the tube and instead of the four tabs on each side.
Fighting Compartment: The level of detail is once again very good and is more comprehensive than the Tamiya kit. The commanders cupola consists of 18 parts which include clear plastic pieces for the vision ports, 5 parts for the hatch and 3 for the periscope. There are lots of other individual parts for the loader and gunners vision ports, the radio transmitter and receiver assembly for the interior, and various other parts for the hatches. The detail on the radio is fantastic and I’ve included a close up shot of a couple of the parts. The external machine gun mount with shield used by the loader is also provided which can be installed either stowed or deployed. The bolt on armor plates with pre-molded waffle zimmerit look the part.
Upper Hull: The engine deck is well engineered and provides two parts for each engine vent cover which are then attached to the separate engine covers which are in turn attached to the engine deck. Engine intake screens are provided which look outstanding and really dress up the engine deck nicely. Other manufacturers would be well advised to follow Dragon’s example and include grill screens in their kits standard. The hatches include separate handles which add much to the realism if you wish to model the hatches open. The gun cleaning rods are among the best I’ve seen, however the instructions would have you paint the rods steel when in fact they are made of wood.
Gun Assembly/Interior: There are 50 parts provided for the gun assembly and the rest of the interior (including the radio and receiver). The plastic barrel of the 10.5cm howitzer is comprised of a single piece that is perfectly straight with no blemishes. The muzzle break is beautifully molded and really enhances the look of the gun. Seats are included for the gunner and commander and the pattern molded on the fighting compartment floor is simply stunning. All this detail provides an excellent foundation for those who wish to model a StuH 42 with a complete interior.
Magic Tracks: Individual track links are provided in the kit and are bagged separately as they are either left or right handed. The M links are for the right side and the K links for the left. One nice touch is the K links are molded in slightly darker gray plastic to help you identify them and keep them from getting mixed up. The tracks are finely molded with excellent detail and shouldn’t be too difficult to assemble, even it is your first time with Magic Tracks.
Final Assembly: Since the kit was engineered to be built in sub-assemblies the final steps bring them all together. The engine deck, fender, fighting compartment, gun and upper hull sub-assemblies all come together at this point, including the tracks. Finally the completed upper hull assembly is attached to the completed lower hull assembly.
Unfortunately, there is a problem with the weld seam detail. The welds between the engine deck and the hull sides should be interlocking. After looking at my reference photos and comparing the weld seams, the kit is incorrect. Even with the waffle zimmerit I can clearly see the interlocking welds in my reference photos. Take a close look at the parts photo of the rear engine deck, notice the straight seam between the upper engine deck and the hull side? Now take a look at the reference photo I provided. Notice how you can clearly see the interlocking welds even with the waffle zimmerit. That won’t be an easy thing to correct so it’s up to you to decide if you can live with it.
Painting and Markings: The markings aren’t the most glamorous but then again these vehicles were workhorses providing direct fire support for the infantry. Schemes are provided for 3 vehicles:
• Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front 1944 – Solid dark yellow scheme with the only makings being a balkenkreuz on each side and one on the rear.
• 202nd Sturmgeschütz Brigade, Kurland 1945 – Dark yellow scheme covered with by a winter white wash with the number 202 on the gun sleeve and nothing else.
• 904th Sturmgeschütz Brigade, East Prussia, 1945 – Dark yellow scheme covered by a winter white wash with the number 304 along with a balkenkreuz on each side and one on the rear.
ConclusionThis is an excellent kit which I highly recommend. If you don’t want the hassle of making your own zimmerit then this is a great alternative for those wishing to model a StuH 42 Ausf. G. The fact that much of the interior is included gives you a great starting point for really tweaking out the interior, if you so desire. The zimmerit is well done and the details are nearly perfect. If it weren’t for the two obvious mistakes of the fender supports and engine deck weld seams I would be able to give this kit an almost perfect score, it really is that good.