As you would expect the kit contains many parts from earlier Panzer III and StuG III G kit plus an extra sprue (K) with additional parts for this version, there is also included a large etched metal fret and smaller fret with the engine intake grills plus an aluminium barrel.
As with many Dragon kits this also comes with its own spares box as many of parts included are not used with this kit plus there is the bonus of all the etched parts (apart from the intake grills) also being provided in plastic so you have a choice of using either medium and consigning the left over parts to the spares box.
The box contains 354 parts in the usual Dragon light grey plastic but of these
140 can be consigned to the spares box as they aren’t used plus there
is another 120 individual track links.
Added to this are approx 72 etched parts and the short 10.5cm aluminium barrel plus the decal and instruction sheets.
The lower hull tub, sprues b, D, F, i and H are from previous Panzer III kits (notably the Ausf.L and M/N) with the upper hull and sprues A, B, E and I from the StuG Ausf G kit with the new sprue K with parts for this kit. (Note the use of upper and lower case to call out the sprues where they come from different kits eg: b, B)
The fact many parts are “re-cycled” doesn’t alter the fact the quality of the mouldings and detail included on the parts is excellent and up to the normal Dragon standard with the upper hull and superstructure including some very nicely done weld seams and other small details.
The kit includes a number of alternate parts to allow almost any combination
of the fittings seen on different StuG Gs, at the front there is the 30mm bolted
add on armour plates for the upper and lower glacis and for the front of the
fighting compartment as well additional plates to add for the later 80mm front
plates. The later barrel travel lock on the front glacis is also provided as
well as a choice of drive sprockets with or without the central stamped steel
centre hub cap.
There is a choice of original rubber tyred return rollers or the all steel return rollers with the second pattern of six lightening holes and no ribs although the instructions show to use the steel return rollers only.
The suspension is well detailed with fixed axles but separate shock absorbers for the front and rear road wheel as well as nicely detailed road wheels, idler wheels and the alternate drive sprockets as mentioned above.
The gun and mantlet probably offers the most choices with either the original
welded block mantlet or the later cast Topfblende (pot mantlet) (also known
as the Saukopf [Pig’s Head] mantlet) provided, these are both the later
type with machine gun port included. For the 10.5cm gun you can choose between
the plastic or aluminium barrel but the plastic barrel is moulded in one piece
and doesn’t suffer from the usual join seam problem. Added to this are
the circular or oval type muzzle brakes used on the 10.5cm, both of which are
moulded in one piece for what is a nice piece of moulding to incorporate all
the contours and cutouts in the one part, the only cleanup is the usual small
mould seam down the middle of the parts.
Another choice is the inclusion of the canvas cover for the gap between the mantlet and hull top if you wish while on the inside is what you could only call a “basic” rendering of the gun breech.
At the rear of the hull you can include the early or late hull plate which has a different number of bolt heads but you have to make a choice as only one part is included with you removing some of the bolt heads for the later version and on the lower plate there is the later horizontal tow bar with the part for the earlier domed fan belt inspection hatch not included in the kit so you don’t have a choice here.
On the top of the superstructure there is the later remote controlled MG34
mounting provided as well as the late loader’s hatch arrangement with
the hinges at the sides while along the hull are the Schürzen hull and
side skirt brackets.
Care will be needed when choosing what details to include for while there is the early to mid production bolted armour for the glacis you only get the later mantlets with MG port, the later remote controlled MG mount and hatches on the roof and the later tow bar at the rear while there are the early-mid production spare road wheel mountings on the engine deck which were moved to the sides of the rear engine deck racks on later vehicles.
The alternate muzzle brakes (or none at all) allow for any time period to be represented and its best to check your references to see what features where on the vehicle you wish to model?
The etched parts are for the Schürzen side skirt hull brackets as well
as the full length frame with triangular brackets but the actual Schürzen skirts are not included.
The large rear frame around the engine deck is provided as well as the shields for the remote control MG and engine intake grill covers, as mentioned all these parts except the intake grill covers are also included as plastic parts.
The tracks are all individual links designed to be glued together and are not workable but this will allow you to incorporate the appropriate track sage when fitting the tracks.
The instructions are the usual exploded view line drawings which I find clearer than the photographic type but there are still some errors on the sheet, such as parts A33, K15 (front hull add on armour) having the numbers transposed but overall they are easy to follow.
The small decal sheet provides markings for two vehicles, one from the Ardennes, 1944 and the other from Germany, 1945. No unit markings are provided nor are the units identified on the instruction sheet.
Overall this is a nice kit with plenty of options allowing virtually any of the combinations seen on StuG III Gs to be modelled. The inclusion of the etched/metal parts and plastic equivalents also allows you to use the medium that best suits you while still getting a good result.
About the only option not included is the 90mm smoke candles sometimes seen on StuG III Gs, these are available in the recent Calibre35 set StuG III 90mm Smoke Grenades (Kit #35024) if you want to include these?
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Page created 1 April 2004