|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Late Production with Winterketten. Smart Kit|
Overall, Sturmgeschütz series assault guns proved very successful and served on all fronts as assault guns and tank destroyers. Although Tigers and Panthers have earned a greater notoriety, assault guns collectively destroyed more tanks. Because of their low silhouette, StuG IIIs were easy to camouflage and a difficult target. Sturmgeschütz crews were considered to be the elite of the artillery units. Sturmgeschütz units held a very impressive record of tank kills – some 20,000 enemy tanks by the spring of 1944. As of April 10, 1945, there were 1,053 StuG IIIs and 277 StuH 42s in service. Approximately 9,500 StuG IIIs of various types were produced until March 1945 by Alkett and a small number by MIAG.
In terms of the resources expended in their construction, the StuG assault guns were extremely cost-effective compared to the heavier German tanks, though in the anti-tank role, it was best used defensively, as the lack of a turret would be a severe disadvantage out in the open. As the German military situation deteriorated later in the war, more and more StuG guns were constructed in comparison to tanks, in an effort to replace losses and bolster defences against the encroaching Allied forces.
In 1944, the Finnish Army received 59 StuG III Ausf. Gs from Germany (30 Stu 40 Ausf.G and 29 StuG III Ausf. G) and used them against the Soviet Union. These destroyed at least 87 enemy tanks for a loss of only 8 StuGs (some of these were destroyed by their crews to avoid capture). After the war, they were the main combat vehicles of the Finnish Army until the early 1960s. These StuGs gained the nickname "Sturmi" which can be found in some plastic kit models.
100 StuG III Ausf. G were delivered to Romania in the autumn of 1943. They were officially known as TAs (or TAs T3 to avoid confusion with TAs T4) in the army inventory. By February 1945, 13 units were still in use with the 2nd Armoured Regiment. None of this initial batch survived the end of the war. 31 TAs were on the army inventory in November 1947. Most of them were probably StuG III G and a small number of Panzer IV/70 (V), known as TAs T4. These TAs were supplied by the Red Army or were damaged units repaired by the Romanian Army. All German equipment was scrapped in 1954 because the Army's decision to use Soviet armour.
StuG IIIs were also exported to other nations like Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy and Spain.
Many German Sturmgeschütz IIIs were captured by Yugoslav Partisans. After the war, they were used by the Yugoslav Peoples Army until the 1950s.
After the Second World War, the Soviet Union donated some of their captured German vehicles to Syria, which continued to use them at least until the Six Days War (1967).
Today, examples have been kept in running condition, including one seen in the movie Mr. Bean's Holiday.
StuG III Ausf. F/8 and subject of this kit: (Sd.Kfz 142/1; September-December 1942, 250 produced) Introduction of an improved hull design similar to that used for the Panzer III Ausf. J / L with increased rear armor. This was 8th version of Panzer III hulls, thus the designation "F/8." This hull has towing hook holes extending from side walls. From October 1942, 30mm additional armor was bolted on to speed up the production line. From F/8, 7.5 cm StuK 40 L/48 gun becomes standard until the very last of the Ausf. G. Due to lack of double baffle muzzle brakes, few L48 guns mounted on F/8 were fitted with single baffle ball type muzzle brake found in Panzer IV Ausf. F2.
Dragon is always improving its kits and this one is no exception with several parts that are new to this kit. Thanks to their slide-mold technology, these are superbly done. With 800 parts, this isn't a weekend edition, with nearly 300 of these pieces being part of the Magic Track individual track link system. While some prefer the DS tracks, there is nothing that looks as good as separate track links. Photo etch is kept to the essentials like grilles over engine intakes and includes one part that has been pre-molded for a better fit. There are a number of other features and I'll let the Dragon PR release list those for you.
Markings are provided for three vehicles, all in winter garb as is appropriate for the wider winter tracks. The box art tank is in a base color of panzer yellow and is from StuG Brigade 901 at Kharkov in 1943. Next is another tank from that unit, but in a base color of panzer grey. The third is from 14.Luftwaffen Felddivision in Norway during 1943. This has in interesting speckled winter camo over Panzer Grey.
Instructions are superbly drawn with lots of information crammed into the 16 construction steps so one does need to move methodically through them.
Another superb addition to Dragon's growing catalogue of German armored vehicles and one which is bound to produce an outstanding replica.
My thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours today at your local shop or on-line retailer.If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.
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