Dragon 1/35 Sd.Kfz.166 Stu.Pz.IV “Brummbär” Mid Production with Zimmerit




$51.50 SRP


Four options


Blair Stewart


DS Tracks, Metal Side Skirt Armor Plates



The Sturmpanzer IV (also known as Sturmpanzer 43 or Sd.Kfz. 166) was a German armored infantry support gun based on the Panzer IV chassis. It was used at the Battles of Kursk, Anzio, and Normandy and helped to put down the Warsaw uprising.  It was known by the nickname Brummbär (the German correctly translates to "Grumbler", not "Grizzly Bear") by Allied intelligence, a name which was not used by the Germans. German soldiers nicknamed it the "Stupa,” a contraction of the term “Sturmpanzer.”

The Sturmpanzer IV was a development of the Panzer IV tank designed to provide direct infantry fire support, especially in urban areas. The result was the Sturmpanzer IV, which used a Panzer IV chassis with the upper hull and turret replaced by a new casemate-style armored superstructure housing a new gun, Skoda’s 150mm (5.9 in) Sturmhaubitze (StuH) 43 L/12. It fired the same shells as the 150mm sIG 33 heavy infantry gun. The vehicle carried up to thirty-eight rounds, along with separate propellant cartridges. It used the Sfl.Zf.1a sight. The vehicle also carried an MG34 machine gun that could be fastened to the open gunner's hatch, much like the arrangement on the StuG.IV Ausf.G. Early vehicles carried an MP40 sub-machine gun inside, which the crew could fire through firing ports in the side of the superstructure.


The driver's station projected forward from the sloped frontal armor plate and used the Tiger I's Fahrersehklappe 80 driver's sight. The fighting compartment was (badly) ventilated by natural convection, exiting out the rear of the superstructure through two armored covers. Side skirts were fitted on all vehicles.


Early vehicles were too heavy for the chassis, which lead to frequent breakdowns of the suspension and transmission. Efforts were made to ameliorate this from the second series onwards, with some success.

In October 1943 it was decided that the StuH 43 gun needed to be redesigned to reduce its weight. A new version, some 800 kilograms (1,800 lb) lighter than the StuH 43, was built as the StuH 43/1. Some of the weight was saved by reducing the armor on the gun mount itself. This gun was used from the third production series onwards. Zimmerit coating was applied to all vehicles until September 1944.


The first unit to take the Sturmpanzer IV into battle was Sturmpanzer-Abteilung 216. It was formed at the end of April 1943 and transferred in early May to Amiens to train on its new assault guns. It was organized into 3 line companies, each with 14 vehicles, and a battalion headquarters with 3 vehicles. It arrived in Central Russia on 10 June 1943 to prepare for Operation Citadel, the German attack on the Kursk Salient. For this action it was temporarily assigned as the third battalion of Schweres Panzerjäger Regiment 656 ("Heavy Anti-tank Regiment 656").


The Allied landing at Anzio on 22 January 1944 caused the battalion, fully independent once more, to be transferred there in early February with 28 vehicles to participate in the planned counterattack against the Allied beachhead. This failed in its objective, but the battalion remained in Italy for the rest of the war. The battalion still had 42 vehicles on hand when the Allies launched their Po Valley offensive in April 1945, but all were destroyed to prevent capture or lost during the retreat before the war ended in May.


Sturmpanzer-Abteilung 217 was formed on 20 April 1944 at the Grafenwöhr Training Area from cadres provided by Panzer-Kompanie 40 and Panzer-Ersatz Abteilung 18, although it did not have any armored fighting vehicles until 19 'Stupas' were delivered at the end of May. It departed 1/2 July for Normandy. Here it had to detrain in Condé sur Noireau, some 170 kilometers (110 mi) behind the front lines, because the Allies had heavily damaged the French rail network. Many of the battalion's vehicles broke down during the road march to the front lines. The first mention of Sturmpanzer IVs in combat is on 7 August near Caen. On 19 August, the battalion had 17 Sturmpanzers operational and another 14 in maintenance. Most of the battalion was not trapped in the Falaise Pocket and managed to retreat to the northeast. It had only 22 vehicles in October, which were divided between the 1st and 2nd Companies; the surplus crews were sent to Panzer-Ersatz Abteilung 18. It participated in the Battle of the Bulge, only advancing as far as St. Vith. It was continually on the retreat for the rest of the war and was captured in the Ruhr Pocket in April 1945.


Sturmpanzer-Kompanie z.b.V. 218 was raised in August 1944. It was sent to Warsaw where it was attached to Panzer Abteilung (Fkl) 302. It remained on the Eastern Front after the Warsaw Uprising was suppressed and was eventually wiped out in East Prussia in April 1945. It was supposed to have been the cadre for Sturmpanzer Abteilung 218 in January 1945, but it was never pulled out of the front lines to do so.


Sturmpanzer-Kompanie z.b.V. 2./218 was raised simultaneously with Sturmpanzer Kompanie z.b.V. 218, but was transferred to the Paris area on 20 August. Nothing is known of its service in France, but company personnel were sent to Panzer-Ersatz Abteilung 18 at the end of the year and were supposed to have been used in the formation of Sturmpanzer Abteilung 218.


Sturmpanzer-Abteilung 218 was ordered formed on 6 January 1945 with three companies with a total of 45 Stupas, but it received Sturmgeschütz III assault guns during February instead.


Sturmpanzer-Abteilung 219 was originally to be formed from Sturmgeschütz-Brigade 914, but this was changed to Sturmgeschütz-Brigade 237 in September 1944. In mid-September 1944 the brigade transferred to the Döllersheim Training Area to reorganize and re-equip. Only ten Stupas had been received when the battalion was alerted on 15 October to participate in 'Unternehmen Eisenfaust', the German coup to forestall Hungary's attempt to surrender to the Allies. All the vehicles were given to the First Company and it departed for Budapest on the following day. Bomb damage to the rails delayed its arrival until 19 October, by which time it was no longer needed as a pro-German government had been installed. It was railed to St. Martin, Slovakia for more training. The battalion was transferred to the vicinity of Stuhlweißenburg to relieve trapped German forces in Budapest. It remained in the vicinity of Budapest until forced to retreat by advancing Soviet forces.


The Germans produced 306 Brummbärs from April, 1943 to March, 1945. The vehicle had a crew of 5, carried up to 38 rounds of 150mm ammunition and 600 rounds of 7.92mm. The combat weight was 28,200 kg.




Dragon continues its trend of issuing either totally new kits or upgraded, improved versions of its older German WWII armor kits, many with Zimmerit. This new kit corrects the some flaws in Dragon’s previous kit of this vehicle (No. 6460, upon which this kit is directly based) and provides the zimmerit on the major components – the hull sides, the glacis sides, hatches and small detail bits. Other than the changed parts (a total of 33 with 9 new clear styrene ones) the kit is a repeat of the earlier one. It retains the “2-in-1" feature by again providing the optional command “crow’s foot” antenna and mount to go on the stock vehicle.


This kit features beautifully detailed, injection molded zimmerit that faithfully reproduces the radial pattern on the front of the real vehicle; a fully detailed gun and breach assembly; metal side-skirt armor plates that can be installed separately to replicate the original side plates often added by the Germans; and, best of all (at least to this modeler), the fantastic one piece “Dragon Styrene 100” (DS) tracks.   In all, the assembly of some 665 styrene, photo etched brass and nickel, and clear parts (light by the latest Dragon standards) awaits the modeler who decides to tackle this kit.


The kit includes decals and painting instructions for four options, three for Stu.Pz.Abt. 216: Italy 1944: 1 command and 1 non-command vehicle; and s.H.Pz.Jg.Regt 656, Ponryi. The fourth option is for Panzer Division “Schleisen”, Frankfurt, 1945. The decals are by Cartograf.


Since my only prior experience with modeling the Brummbär was the old Monogram 1/32 kit back in the seventies, I was anxious to see what the present day modeling companies could do with this unique vehicle, so I started the construction process.




Based on previous experience with Dragon’s complex kits, I grabbed my red pen (to mark off each completed step) and began following the step-by-step assembly sequences in the Dragon instructions. Per all Dragon kits of late, be on the alert for “versions” or options you might want to include in your particular model, as there are a boatload of optional/unused parts in each of these kits, many of which will be left over when you finish.   

As with most armor kits, I finished the lower hull, the suspension and all the running gear first (steps 1-7). I then moved to the upper hull and fighting compartment. Here I opted to display the main top hatch in the open position with the MG34 mounted in the gun shield. The MG is Dragon’s standard, well detailed rendition that they package in many of their armor kits.

Steps 11-15 are for assembly of the main gun, which is composed of about 43 parts. This “kit within a kit” is engineered such that the modeler can elevate or depress the gun when it is installed in the fighting compartment. After gluing the gun into the compartment, I glued the complete assembly to the lower hull, along with the rear engine deck and lower hull rear. At this stage, I opted for the non-command vehicle and decided to use the styrene, kit-supplied radio antenna rather than my standard practice of using a length of steel guitar wire. My initial impression is that the kit part is a little too thick, and I will probably revert to my previous practice with my next radio-equipped Dragon armor kit. In this step, one encounters several PE parts, but their use is well worth the effort as they are nicely scaled (thickness-wise) for their particular applications.

I then assembled the various tools that are mounted to the upper hull deck (for example, the 7 piece vehicle jack) and glued them on the kit.

At Step 21, one must decide on whether or not to build the kit with the optional side skirts. I opted for the side skirts, so I went to Step 22. Here there is a little bit of confusion with Parts F9/10 and E18/20/21, which are the steel support arms for the armor plates: one has to be careful how these are mounted to ensure the proper angle for parts F13/14, which are the horizontal rail hangars for the side skirts.

The side armor skirts are etched nickel, and require the attachment of 3 styrene hooks per armor plate. I used superglue for this, but I probably should have somehow etched the attachment points to improve the joining of the styrene and nickel parts (and a superglue accelerator is a must for this assembly).

I also decided to leave a few of the skirts off, as was a common scene of battle-worn vehicles, and for those I included, I took some small needle nose pliers and created dents and bends in the lower edges to simulate typical battle damage associated with these skirts.

At this stage, the model was ready for the paint shop.



I opted to use Adam Wilder’s “Color Modulation” painting technique (described in an article on missing-lynx.com).  I used  Tamiya acrylics for the initial steps, diluted 50-50 with lacquer thinner. Since all of the versions represented by the kit have the Panzer Yellow base, I opted for this paint scheme, with some minor dark green camo.

The color modulation approach requires three main levels of color - light, medium, and dark – to provide gradation in the vehicle’s color. I applied an overall coat of Tamiya XF-64 Red Brown lightened with a few drops of XF-60 Dark Yellow. Once this dried, I airbrushed a coat of XF-60, making sure to limit the amount of this paint on the darker, lower areas. I then added XF-55 Deck Tan to XF-60 to further lighten the color, and tried to again limit the spray to the upper areas of the model. The contrasts between the dark and lighter areas were now starting to become noticeable. For the final stage, I mixed X-2 White to that mixture, and then re-sprayed the upper half of the model.

The next phase involved painting all of the smaller details (e.g., hatches, covers, vents, grills) with lighter yellow and tan shades to make these details “pop.” For this stage, I used inexpensive acrylic craft paints, purchased from a local crafts store, and a relatively wide modeling brush to get smooth coats on the model.

The next phase uses oil paints on the light and dark areas to provide additional gradation and further break up the surface. I used a cardboard pallet to blend the oil paints as well as to soak up the linseed oil in the paints so they will dry with a matte finish. I mainly used the oils around the upper edges of the hull and external boxes. Once applied, I blended these with a flat brush dipped in a small amount of thinner, being cautious not to use too much thinner.

I then moved to “chipping,” which I still have not mastered. The approved approach is to lay down small areas of light tan to sharp edges on the model and areas that would receive such wear. I opted for a detail brush for this step. I then used the same brush to apply dark brown in the center of each chip area to try and replicate exposed metal. I am not sure my results are very convincing, but I will plod on in hopes that one day I get this down. I then applied stripes of Testors Dark Green in a random, typical camo pattern all over the vehicle’s upper sections.

I coated the entire model with full-strength Future Floor Polish, and then applied both dark brown and black washes to the entire vehicle, including the tracks (which I had sprayed with Testors Steel). I keep a Q-tip handy to quickly wipe away any excess wash that gets on the model.

I then applied the kit decals with Solvaset and let them dry. At this stage, I was ready to restore the model’s matte finish, so I shot the entire model with Testors Dullcote.

Once again, one of the potential drawbacks of the DS flex tracks is simulating the ever-present sag in German tracked vehicles that are not moving. But Dragon includes a few extra links in these tracks so you can superglue them to the return rollers and replicate the sag very nicely.

The final step in painting the model was to brush-paint the hull-mounted tools. Since I had already mounted them to the turret, I also opted to hand-paint the spare track links and the tow cables. I then highlighted prominent edges on the model with a silver artist’s pencil to simulate worn metal.



Another great addition to Dragon’s zimmert-coated German WWII armor. This is one of their nicer kits, in my opinion, and I highly recommend it to any and all armor nuts with a little bit of modeling experience under their belts.



1.      “Brummbär,” Wikipedia, January 2010.

2.      “Tanks of World War II,” Onwar.com, 2009.

Blair Stewart

February 2010

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