|NOTES:||230 parts on 5 sprues|
The Sturmgeschütz III (StuG III) assault gun was Germany's second most-produced armored fighting vehicle during World War II after the Sd.Kfz. 251 half-track. Initially intended as a mobile assault gun for direct-fire support for infantry, the StuG III was continually modified and, much like the later Jagdpanzer, was employed as a tank destroyer. The Sturmgeschütz originated from German experiences in World War I, when it was discovered that, during the offensives on the Western Front, the infantry lacked the means to effectively engage fortifications. The artillery of the time was heavy and not mobile enough to keep up with the advancing infantry to destroy bunkers, pillboxes, and other minor fortifications with direct fire. In 1935 General Erich von Manstein drafted a memorandum to the Chief of General Staff indicating that technical studies had shown the need for a self-propelled armored gun to work under infantry controal and give them support as required; he further suggested that each infantry division should contain an integral assault gun battalion consisting of three batteries each of the gun.
Charged with the responsibility for design and development were the companies of Daimler-Benz AG of Berlin-Marienfelde for chassis and superstructure and Frierich Krupp AG of Essen for the armament. In it final design, the vehicle appeared as a full-tracked, turetless, fully enclosed armored vehicle mounting a short-barreled 75-mm Kwk L/24 in limited traverse. To accommodate these features, including a four-man crew and armor protection of 10 to 50 mm, a Panzer III chassis was used.
Beginning in early 1943, the final and by far the most common of the StuG series, the Ausf. G began to be produced. Early G’s had 50-mm frontal armor, to which were added extra 30-mm plates, by bolting or welding. As production got under way, 80-mm nose plates were introduced and used for the remainder of the Ausf. G production run. The superstructure was widened over the tracks, incorporating the radio pannier space. The commander was provided with a cupola containing eight independently retractable episcopes; within the cuploa was a split hatch, and by opening the smaller frontal section it was possible for the commander to use his periscopic binoculars under cover of the closed rear section. Various minor modifications included the removal of the ventilator from the roof to the rear wall of the fighting compartment, and re-alignment of the loader’s split hatch to open fore and aft. Other changes made during production included replacing the block mantlet with a cast type, known as “Saukopf” (”Pig’s Head”), the hanging of large plates known as “schurzen” along the sides for added protection against hollow-charge ammuniton, the use of zimmerit anti-magnetic mine paste and the installation of three smoke dischargers on each side of the superstructure.
The 10.5 cm howitzer-armed Stuh 42 (Sturmhaubitze 42) Ausf G was identical to the Ausf G except for the installation of the howitzer in place of the 75-mm L/48 gun; this used the same welded block mantlet with a fatter barrel guide tube to accommodate the larger barrel of the howizer. A double-baffle muzzle brake was fitted to the howitzer, although the muzzle brake was usually left off the later vehicles, without serious problems. Some Stuh 42s received the “Saukopf” mantlet; at this time the muzzle brake was still installed. Late Stuh 42s with the block mantlet received coaxial machine guns, which fired through the front plate of the mantlet.
Upon opening the box, you’re presented with four bags, with three each containing one sprue of parts and one containing two sprues. The bag with two sprues contains the parts for the four German parachuter figures, which is the same set that was sold separately as Tamiya kit# MM-112. These sprues contain a total of 34 parts. The kit also contains a vehicle commander figure consisting of 4 parts. The parts for the vehicle and commander figure are molded in dark yekllow, while those for the parachuter figures are in dark green. Though the kit contains some flash, it is kept to a minimum. There are a number of ejector pin marks, some of which will need to be filled in or filed off. The overall detail of the parts is good, with the bolt detail being particularly well done. There is some nice weld seam detail molded on the upper hull piece. Since the kit initially was intially produced as a motorized version there are the holes in the lower hull piece which wil need to be filled in. The year “1971” is indicated on the hull bottom.
The kit includes some interiorpieces for the gun-loading section, which includes the gun breach, floor piece, an ammo rack and some 75-mm and 105-mm shells. There are barrels for a 75-mm gun and 105-mm Howitzer. Each barrel is in two halves and includes a muzzle brake. The block-type mantlet is included but not the later saukopf mantlet. The kit features skirt armor with the reinforcing metal strips that held the sections together and the brackets that the skirt armor was hung on are of the early type. The sides of the skirt armor are beveled so that the appearance will be of thinner sheet armor, a nice touch. The smoke discharger pieces for the frony hull ar hollowed out. Accessories include spare track links, a tow cable, jerry cans and buckets. The piece representing the wood block for the jack stand has some nice wood grain texture to it. The tracks are the single-length, flexible plastic type.
The instructions are well laid out and fold out into eight pages. There are a total of 14 instructions steps, with 13 being for the vehicle and 1 for the figures. A painting guide is included for the paratrooper figures, but there is not one for the commander figure. There are five pictures of a real vehicle and three pictures of a finished model. A camouflage painting guide is included, as well as a method for achieving a camouflage pattern using small pieces of cotton. There is also a history of the vehicle and a parts diagram. The decals include markings for a vehicle belonging to the following units:
The 11th Airborne Assault Gun Brigade under the direct control of the 1st Airborne Corps
The Panzer Grenadier Division “Grossdeutschland”
The 16th Panzer Division
The 2nd SS Panzer Grenadier Division “Das Reich”The 667th Independent Assault Gun Company
As with most Tamiya 1/35 armor kits from this time period, this one looks to be a fun, straightforward build. I’m looking forward to adding this one to my completed collection.
Osprey-Vanguard 12: Sturmartillerie and Panzerjager by Bryan Perrett, Osprey Publishing Ltd (1979).
Sturmgeschutz III in action—Armor No. 14, Squadron/Signal Publications; 1st edition (1976).
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