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DRAGON MODELS LIMITED
6612, Sd.Kfz.167 StuG.IV Late Production Smart Kit. 1/35th-scale styrene/multimedia kit containing 787 styrene parts (including 12 clear), two bags of Magic Track, one piece of braided metal wire, four photo-etched frets, two water-slide decal markings schemes and eight pages of instructions in 14 steps.
The expedient assault gun fielded by the Germans, based on components of both the StuG.III Ausf.G and the Pzkpfw.IV Ausf.H/J, known as the Sturmgeschütz IV, evolved during its production run, as did all German AFVs. In this case, improvements and modifications seen on both the Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.J hull and the StuG.III Ausf.G superstructure were incorporated in the StuG.IV.
Notably, this so-called Late Production version featured Flammtöter exhaust pipes and a modified superstructure roof configuration. The latter incorporated an MG34 in the 360-degree Rundumfeuer mount, a Nahverteidigunswaffe anti-personnel grenade and smoke projector, loaders hatch lids that opened to either side and other small detail changes. The drivers hatch lid was modified in shape and the idler wheel mounts were simplified. The main gun also received an external travel lock, mounted on the plate that filed in the area between the StuG.III superstructure and the Pz.Kpfw.IV hull.
The 40cm tracks included in this release feature an open guide horn and tiny angled ice grips on the faces of the links. They are properly rendered as left- and right-handed items and come in two separate bags; one set is molded in lighter-colored styrene than the other, so dont open up both bags at once or mix them up. There is no clean-up involved, if the modeler can overlook the tiny and very subtle ejector pin marks on the inner faces of each link. They fit together easily, but will not stay that way unless cement is applied.
The road-wheels have separate hub-caps of the type initially introduced during production of the Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H. The wheels themselves are the widened type first introduced on the Ausf.F, which along with the 40cm tracks were able to handle the increased ground pressure resulting from the weight of the thickened armor compared to previous models of the standard gun tank. Each wheel/tire assembly is conventionally-molded in one piece per side and includes manufacturers logo and tire size information on the rubber rim. A total of 20 complete road-wheels are given, which leaves four extras for spare stowage. The suspension bogies do not articulate, and are therefore far less complicated to assemble compared to the previous Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.B, C, D and E kits from this manufacturer. The bogies themselves are in multiple parts, including separate ends for the leaf springs, and a separate hub, which in turn attaches to a separate mount.
The final drive housings are single-piece moldings; these are the reinforced type first introduced on the Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H. The drive sprockets themselves, also introduced with the new final drive housings, are presented in a conventional manner with inner and outer halves. There are four styles of all-steel return rollers provided, three of which are for use. One type has a reinforcing rib in two places, a second has none, while a third has a different hub. The fourth type, not for use, is rimless.
Separate, two-part bump stops are fitted to five stations on either of the hull sides, as are multi-part idler wheel axle adjustment housings. There are three choices for the latter, but only one is for use. The brace for the idler wheel housings is also new for this kit; it depicts a simplified type unique to this version of the StuG.IV. Dont glue the separate idler wheel axle in place until after the tracks have been fitted; this will prevent the dreaded one-too-few or one-too-many links phobia. There are two idler wheel types provided: welded-tube design and cast design. The former are provided as inner and outer halves with the hub molded in place; the latter are similar, but also have etched brass rings for their inner faces to properly represent the type. These assemblies feature excellent weld bead details or cast texture as appropriate, and, as mentioned above, can be adjusted on their axles in order to depict proper track sag.
The hulls belly plate has the fairings between the bogie units molded in place, again for simplified assembly. A multi-part slide-mold was used to render this part, so details have not been compromised. Rivets, bolts, panels, hatches and weld beads are all crisply-rendered, while there are separate fuel filler caps for the side wall. The final items are the parts for the hull side-wall seen behind the final drive housings. By making these separate, DML will be able to switch the parts to provide for the final style of tow hooks, which were merely holes drilled into extended hull side walls. Two styles of track pin retainer plates are provided, but neither are to be used.
Modelers should note that there are three thick injection stubs on each rim of the hull side walls. These must be removed or the fenders will not fit. This is not mentioned in the instructions. What is mentioned, though, is the need to remove part of one of the internal stiffening ribs, on both sides. This is so the fuel tank top plate can be fitted later on. A separate internal bulkhead is fitted between the fighting compartment and engine compartment. It has no detail and apparently only serves a structural purpose.
On the bow, a separate plate is provided to which the front tow points are attached, along with their separate pins and bars to hold spare track links. The brackets for mounting spare track links on the glacis plate are also given as styrene or etched brass parts. On the stern, the hull rear plate is composed of several parts and through the use of a slide-mold, has properly rendered bolt heads where the upper and lower sections were joined together. Two different types of Flammtöter exhaust pipes are given, one slightly longer than the other. The original cylindrical exhaust muffler, first introduced with the Ausf.F, is included, but is not for use. The muffler for the superfluous turret traverse motor was eliminated; the rear plate has the round plug molded in place. There are the two trailer hitch variations, only one of which is for use, while the final items back there are the separate tow hooks for each hull side wall.
Track-Guards and OVM.
The track-guards are superbly detailed on both sides and havent a single knock-out pin mark on any surface. They include the L-shaped mounting brackets for the optional Schürzen plates already molded in place. A new front section is provided to be grafted on to the original parts; the instructions clearly show what needs to be removed. The front and rear mud flaps are separate items and can be positioned up or down. They come from a slide mold so details visible on their sides are in place; separate springs are seen at the rear. However, if folded up, each mud-flap has several prominent ejector pin marks that will have to be filled, since those will be readily visible.
OVM items mounted on the starboard-side track-guard include a multi-part slide-molded jack, pry-bar, starter crank, track tension adjustment wrench and C-shaped tow hooks. The last were previously stowed on the filler plate that ran from the casemate to the hull. The port-side track-guard mounts a multi-part Tarnscheinwerfer-Bosch head-lamp, wrenches (with optional etched brass brackets), fire extinguisher, wire cutters, jack block (with etched brass retaining chain), pry-bar and three choices of distance-keeping tail lamp. The flaps that covered the engine air cooling intake louvers can be made from styrene or etched brass parts and they include separate tiny fasteners.
A complete set of Schürzen plates and their hangers are included in the box. These begin with styrene mounting brackets and slide-molded hanging rails, which are crowned with etched aluminum plates; the latter also have styrene parts attached for the mounting points. There is a second set of shorter plates that can be mounted in conjunction with the normal set. To ease the process, etched lines are seen on the inner faces of the plates where these are to be fitted. In addition, each plate is sequentially-numbered for accurate placement. The use of this media combination provides a balance between durability, ease of assembly and scale representation of this feature.
The glacis plate has separate brake access hatch lids, which include the brake air cooling intake cowls as separate parts; if left open some work will need to be done to open the hole on the back of the lid that provided cooling air from the cowls. The spare track links and brackets are also provided to fit over the transmission access hatch lid; these include etched brass or styrene mounting points. A fender support bracket is provided as a styrene or etched brass assembly, but it is not for use. Photos and drawings confirm this, so I think the mount for it, present on the glacis plate, part B-6, should probably be removed; the instructions do not mention this. A plate, molded with the casemate, bridges the area from it to the glacis plate. While the C-shaped tow hooks have been moved, there is now a multi-part gun tube travel lock for the StuK40 main gun.
A separate engine deck module is supplied, which features separate engine access hatch lids, each with an etched brass or styrene part for the internal baffles. The small box seen over the radiator filler cap is a separate part and comes in two versions; use the one with vertical sides, as per the instructions. The side vents on the engine compartment are provided as multi-part styrene moldings in two versions; the flaps for these vents are provided as styrene or etched brass items. Various lift handles are separate parts. Gun cleaning staffs and bore swab for the StuK40 are fitted on the port-side, while a shovel is fitted on the starboard-side.
The rear engine deck plate features crisp details with molded-on fan clutch access cap and separate spare track links, and brackets, for stowage. The tow cables are made up of braided metal wire and styrene end-loops with holes already in place due to the use of slide molds; these attach to the upper rear plate using separate L-shaped hooks.
The casemate includes the extended lower section that allowed it to fit the Pz.Kpfw.IV chassis, but give sufficient clearance to mount the gun above the fuel tanks. It comes from a slide-mold and features excellent weld and panel details, mounting strips and bolt heads, all molded in place. Separate parts are provided for the side lift rings, rear antennae mounts with flexible rubber bases, and cover for the exhaust fan. A rod antenna is included in the box, but marked as not for use; use it! A new armored hood for the driver is provided. It is from a slide mold, has excellent weld and plate details and features a separate hatch lid. The latter is now completely rectangular as befits this production variation. Separate periscope covers with clear styrene scope heads along with styrene and etched brass detail parts completes the assembly. Opposite the drivers hood, a two-part armored plate, base 50mm, plus bolted-on 30mm plate is given. Photos and drawings indicate that this should be the later unitary 80mm plate, which is nowhere to be seen in the box.
A beautifully-rendered spare wheel tray, made from a slide-mold is fitted with two spare road-wheels. This mounts onto the port side of the casemate. On the opposite side is mounted a rack for spare track links, which can be depicted filled or empty.
The new roof plate is separate and now has raised hex-head bolt details around its edges, as well as hinge, weld and panel details, all molded on. Pilze mounts for the 2-ton jib crane are molded in five locations, while the loaders hatch lids now open to either side instead of fore-to-aft. New for this kit is a multi-part Rundumfeuer 360-degree machine gun mount and shields, complete with an excellent slide-molded, multi-part Gen2 MG34. The MG34 can be configured with or without the butt-stock. There should be a periscope sight protruding from its base, but it is not provided and neither is an ammunition drum. The shields appear to be improperly sized, according to drawings in the cited references. A Nahverteidigunswaffe anti-personnel grenade and smoke projector is now provided. It can be depicted opened or closed; in the former position, a slide-molded launch tube, with breech detail is provided.
The commanders cupola is a multi-part affair with clear periscope heads and clear scissors telescope. The latter is mounted on a separate post and also includes separate eye-cups. The separate hatch lid for it is a multi-part affair that includes separate locking latches, separate hinged front section for the binocular periscope and separate rubber bump stop; internally a strip of etched brass covers the circumference. Two different shot deflectors are provided to fit in front of the cupola, although only one is for use.
The gun mantle is the cast type and while nicely textured, there are no foundry casting number details. The gun tube is a single part with a slight seam that will need to be cleaned up; for this I recommend the classic Flex-I-File. The slide-molded muzzle brake is a three-part affair and includes the internal lug and external locking nut; it comes with several variations, two of which are called-out for use .
Internally, the 7.5cm StuK40 main gun is complimented by an almost totally complete mount. This includes cradle, recoil cylinders, mount, traverse and elevation hand-wheels, gunners seat, multi-part breech block, sight mounts and clear Sfl.Z.F.1a gun sight. This entire item mounts over the fuel tank top plate, which is also provided as a multi-part assembly. As mentioned previously, a bulkhead/engine firewall unit encloses the compartment at the rear. Above that is the inner works of the exhaust fan, which includes a separate fan blade unit. There is also a commanders seat. Separate inner sponson units are detailed with various radio sets along with some of their ancillary accessories. To these are fitted separate mounting racks. Enough equipment is given to create a command vehicle, but if that is done, the modeler must source a second rod antenna as only one is provided in the box.
Molding, Fit and Engineering.
Molding overall is excellent, while fit for such a relatively complex kit is rated as outstanding. There are a few ejector pin marks that may need attention (not counting the tracks, of course) and the turret interior has several pins that will need to be cut off. Flash is non-existent, while mold part seams are subtle and easily dealt with. Weld bead and recessed screw head detail is especially noteworthy, as is the use of slide-molds for enhanced detail or ease of construction.
As far as accuracy is concerned, the kit matches drawings in reference number 4 to well within acceptable limits. It should be mentioned here that certain details seen on the kit are not shown in the cited drawings, but are seen in contemporary photos. I have already mentioned the issues noted regarding the Rundumfeuer mount and the starboard-side armor plate on the casemate.
The instructions are well-drawn but as always for DML, they are very busy; proceed with caution!
Decals and Markings Information.
Water-slide decals for two different vehicles are provided by Cartograf of Italy. They are in perfect register, have crisp edges and excellent color saturation. They depict the following:
10.SS-Panzer-Division, Tarnopol, Ostfront, 1944.
Unidentified unit, Yugoslavia, 1945.
Both are finished with a base color of Dunkelgelb, with both Rotbraun and/or Olivgrün used for the disruptive camouflage pattern. Within the cited references, I could not confirm the accuracy of any of the provided schemes.
This is a worthy addition to DMLs Pz.Kpfw.IV range, despite a couple of minor glitches. It will go together quite well and has loads of options along with many, many useful left-over parts. If the modeler is willing to do some minor corrections, then this kit should prove to be satisfactory. Better to light a candle than curse the darkness!
Frank V. De Sisto
References consulted for this review included (but were not limited to) the following books:
1. Encyclopedia of German Tanks of WW2, Revised Edition; Arms and Armour Press, by P. Chamberlain, H. Doyle & T. Jentz.
2. Panzerkampfwagen IV, Grosstraktor to Panzerbefehlswagen IV; Panzer Tracts No.4, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
3. Sturmgeschuetz, s.PaK to Sturmmoerser; Panzer Tracts No.8, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
4. Sturmgeschütz & its Variants; Spielberger Series Vol. IV, Schiffer, by W.J. Spielberger.
5. Panzer IV & its Variants; Spielberger Series Vol. IV, Schiffer, by W.J. Spielberger.
6. German Sturmartillerie at War Vol.1; Concord 7029, by F. De Sisto & L. Lecocq.
7. German Sturmartillerie at War Vol.2; Concord 7030, by F. De Sisto & L. Lecocq.
Note: Since May of 2005, I have been working on books for Concord Publications, a sister company to DML. The reader may wish to take this into consideration. For my part, I will attempt to maintain an objective viewpoint when writing these reports.
DML kits are available from retail and mail order shops. For details see their web site at: www.dragon-models.com.