|KIT:||Tamiya 1/48 Stug III ausf B|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
In 1935, a proposal for developing an assault gun (Sturmgeschutz - Stug) for infantry support was put forth for the German Army. This would be equipped with a 75mm gun on a tracked chassis. This would provide striking power and mobility not available with a standard howitzer. While it did not have a rotating turret, the gun could be moved through 30 degrees of vertical and horizontal traverse. Daimler-Benz began development in 1936 and based it on a Panzer III chassis. The forst model featured a short barreled 75mm L/24 gun. The superstructure had 50mm of armor protection on the front and 30mm on the sides. 30 Ausf A guns were completed by May 1940 and were sent into combat against the French, where they did rather well. The Ausf B was the first mass-produced version with a Maybach engine which allowed 40 KPH top speeds. 250 ausf B guns with improved tracks and wheels were made between June 1940 and May 1941. Many of these saw action in both the Balkan and Russian campaign where it was able to provide support against Soviet T-34 and KV-1 tanks.
Much ballyhoo has been made about Tamiya's foray into 1/48 armor. Many supposed that their 300 + 1/35 scale kits had reached the end of what could be done, so it was natural that the upcoming smaller scales would be the most appropriate way to expand the line. What makes this kit so different is that the hull is cast metal. Why this was done, I'm not sure as it requires the builder to use super glue to attach a number of chassis components, including the road and idler wheels. One thing for sure, it will take some effort to break these metal road wheel axles!
The chassis is packaged in its own little compartment to keep it from crashing around in the box and damaging the other four sprues. These sprues are superbly molded, as one would expect from Tamiya. Many of the upper hull hatches are separate so that those who wish to add detail can do so. Otherwise, one needs to keep these closed as there is no interior at all. The track links are in sections and the upper ones have some sag molded into them, a really nice touch. The gun barrel simply slides atop a stub sticking out of the front of the tank so I doubt if it is able to me moved once attached. The kit comes with a bunch of the usual 'stuff' that one finds on armor.
Inspection of the kit shows no flash, no sink marks and no embarrassing ejector pin marks. In other words, about as perfectly molded a kit as you can find. It is what makes Tamiya the Gold Standard amongst kit makers.
Instructions are very well done and continue Tamiya's most irritating trait of only listing Tamiya paint numbers. Fortunately, only four colors, mostly greys, are required for this one as German armor of the time was basically overall Panzer Grey. A nicely printed decal sheet provides markings for three pieces; The on on the box art from the Eastern Front in 1941, another from Crimea in 1942 and the last one, festooned with three options of death's heads, also from the Eastern Front in 1941.
If this is anything like the Citroen I built several weeks back, it should be a pleasant, hassle-free experience. As such, it is a great way for the uninitiated to get into doing armor without taking up a ton of shelf space. Having it in scale with many aircraft models and O scale trains will only increase their appeal.
The kit instructions.
Review kit purchased by me for you.
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