Tamiya released their 1:48 StuG IIIB (kit #32507) back in December 2004 but this new 1:35 kit can trace its lineage more to their previous Panzer III Ausf.L (kit #35212) than to the 1:48 offering with the lower hull tub (modified), track and Sprue A taken directly for the Pz.III kit and as a result you get a few Pz.III parts not applicable to the StuG IIIB.
The kit represents a late StuG III Ausf.B fitted with the later cast drive sprocket while still retaining the early idler wheel and the first return roller is correctly positioned further forward for the 40cm track vehicle and there is also the armoured cover over the rear smoke candles.
The kit consists of 281 parts in dark grey plastic plus a set of vinyl 40cm tracks, a few poly caps for the wheels, a small etched fret and metal barrel plus four steel ‘springs’ for the new suspension. There is also the decal sheet, instruction sheet and a full colour painting guide included.
Standard of moulding is typical Tamiya with crisp clean mouldings although there are some fairly prominent mould seams on a few of the parts which will take time to remove and there are some small pin marks on the inside of the hatches to be removed if these are shown open.
As mentioned the lower hull tub comes from the Pz.III Ausf.L kit but has been modified to accept new axles that can be made movable but the original fixed axles are still included if you don’t want to be bothered with the movable suspension.
The new axles are a little more chunky and don’t have as well defined details as the originals which may be another reason to go with these.
The new axles fit though the locating holes in the hull side and are held
in place by an inner bar allowing them to move, quite simple really.
Included are four pins of spring steel that act as “springs” to allow the axles to depress and return to the neutral position but these are only fitted to the first and sixth axle while the inner four axles are free swinging apart from a small pin that stops them going below the neutral position. This makes articulating the axles quite easy but care is needed with the thin ‘springs’ to ensure the correct ride height is maintained.
Before fitting the springs make sure you attach the shock absorbers (A15, A16) and bump stops (A19) on the first and sixth stations to limit the movement of the axles because if you depress the springs past the designed stop position you will bend them out of shape and they will lose all their “spring” meaning the axles won’t return to the neutral position effecting the ride height. The whole thing seems a little gimmicky and fragile and unless you specifically want to articulate the suspension using the better detailed fixed axles would seem the way to go.
After attaching the movable axles it then seems strange to say the least that you only get the vinyl track which all but negates the advantages of the movable suspension, but there are a number of workable aftermarket track sets available.
Detail is very good on the hull tub with well defined axle and suspension
mountings and all the lower hull torsion bar brackets and inspection plate
detail in included.
The drive sprockets, road wheels and return rollers are also straight from the Panzer III L kit with very nice details on the road wheels that include the small weld beads and the lightening holes with the drive sprockets also having the contours of the cast sprocket captured well. Included are two new early stamped idler wheels with again very good detail included with a separate hub cap for good definition. The late idlers from the Pz.III kit are still included if you wanted to build a very late StuG.B but most photos show the early idlers.
The final drive housings and idler mounts are also separate parts for good definition and at the back is the lower intake grill and the early style tow hooks at the front.
On the inside is a basic floor and rear bulkhead with lower gun mounting to fill this out after the hull top is attached but there is no driver’s station or forward details which probably wouldn’t be seen that easily through the top hatches.
These as mentioned are full length vinyl 40cm tracks from the Panzer III L kit and have quite nice details on both sides for the medium although they somewhat negate the working suspension included. These tracks can be glued with normal plastic cement making joining easy but watch the direction when you fit the tracks.
The side engine intakes are separate which have etched intake screens provided for a better appearance while other items added to the hull top are the early front head light housings with separate etched front flap, the small position keeping and NOTEK light plus siren on the front fenders and all the tools which have moulded on clips. The jack is in four parts with separate plastic clips and at the back are the armoured smoke candle rack, mud flaps and tail lights. The distinctive wire rope bundle on the rear deck is also included with the attachment clips included in the moulding.
This is a single moulding with separate top hatches and rear plate and has well done weld beads, flush screws and panel detail as well as the bullet splash ribs inside the sight opening. The front driver’s plate is separate with the driver’s vision port having a separate outer flap that can be positioned open of closed. The fit of all the hatches is very good but the hatch above the main sight will have to be cut in two to show open.
There are minor pin marks on the inside of the hatches to be removed if you show these open but should be easy to deal with. On the inside are side fighting compartment panels with radio and other basic details that again provide the basics well.
Other details added to the superstructure exterior are separate lifting hooks and grab handles and the left side vision port as well as the rear mounted antenna base.
The 7.5cm Gun:
The 7.5cm L/24 gun includes the outer gun shield with two part recoil housing which includes some nice welds and bolt head details with a separate front gun collar section. There is a choice of plastic or turned aluminium 7.5cm barrel which includes rifling in the metal barrel although this is a little over scale should look the part when painted. One thing with the rifling is that it is at an angle to the barrel which is different from most rifling in aftermarket barrels which is engraved parallel to the barrel length.
On the inside is a basic breech with separate breech block as well as the
side gun shields and lower spent shell basket with this assembly fitting
into the two upper gun mountings which have additional main sight, traverse
wheel and crew seats added.
The upper gun assembly is attached to the lower mount using a poly cap allowing for the limited traverse of the original.
There is a small error in step 15 of the instructions which shows the additional binocular sights fitted through the forward left side hatch when they should be positioned in the rear hatch opening. This would become apparent as the sight mounting (D12) only allows the sight to protrude out the correct hatch but the error may confuse with all subsequent drawings in Step 16 onwards show the sight in the correct hatch. Tamiya have added a correct instruction sheet to their website should you want to download the updated instructions but it is only a minor slip up that shouldn’t be a real problem.
The gun mounting and lower hull details will fill the interior well and provides the main structures allowing any amount of extra details to be added to really make the interior a standout.
The superstructure just slips over the gun onto the lower hull and can be left unglued if you want to remove this at any stage to show off the interior and the fit is good enough not to worry about gluing if you didn’t want too.
A basic Commander figure is included but this lacks any real uniform detail and is really not up to the current standard of kit figures but with careful painting should be made to look okay standing in the open top hatch.
A large decal sheet of typical Tamiya quality, i.e. well printed markings with thickish carrier film and includes markings for eight StuG IIIBs with a double sided full colour painting and decal placement guide included which has five view illustrations of three of the options.
The markings include vehicle numbers, unit insignia and divisional markings with different style balkenkreuz with all vehicles finished in overall Panzer Grey.
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A quick check of the kit dimensions shows a few discrepancies from available plans but as I have mentioned previously you have to be sure the particular plans being used for the measurements are in fact correct themselves as there are a number of factors that can effect printed plans in books/magazines.
I have two sets of StuG IIIB plans, one in the Achtung Panzer book and the other in the Jan 2006 issue of Ground Power magazine with both sets showing the same dimensions within acceptable tolerances, so let’s see how the kit compares.
The road wheels, drive sprockets, idlers, return rollers and track width match both plans perfectly with the kit lower hull width matching the GP plans but being about 0.5mm narrower than the AP plans. The kit upper hull is 1.5mm wider overall than both plans with the length a little under 1mm shorter than both plans. The fender width is about 0.5mm too narrow (each side) with the actual kit hull width (without fenders) being 2mm wider at the front and 1mm wider at the rear than the plans. The kit engine hatches match both plans but the hinges on the kit front inspection hatches are approx 1mm wider (0.5mm each side) than the plans indicate.
Width of the kit superstructure lower edge is about 0.5mm wider (each side) with the driver’s plate about 1mm wider overall than the plans and the gun dimensions match the plans exactly with most of the smaller detail items being within acceptable tolerances.
Turning to the actual measurements the overall width as stated in the Osprey New Vanguard 19 StuG III book is 2920mm which equals 83.429mm in 1:35 scale. The plans both show a width of 83.5mm while the kit hull width is 85.0mm (outside fender measurement) which equals the 1.5mm discrepancy shown in the plan/kit comparison.
Given the above observations the major discrepancy is the 1.5mm overall hull width and inner hull width of 2mm which makes things a little confusing and in the scheme of things will probably not be that noticeable on the finished kit. Some of course will want to correct the errors indicated as is their prerogative but would be quite a job for the hull widths.
Overall a sound kit with typical Tamiya details, finesse and fit of parts although the working suspension is a bit gimmicky it does provide something different and the simple lines of the original is captured well. Tamiya have included the etched fret and metal barrel in line with contemporary kits and it will be interesting to see how long before the next 1:35 kit appears.
This kit has all the basics for additional detailing and should appeal to early war fans along with the plethora of early Panzer IVs currently descending on us.
See a full comparison of this kit and the Dragon Stug III Ausf.B kit.References:
|Achtung Panzer Vol.5 - Stug III, Stug IV
|"Stug III" Monograph
Osprey New Vanguard 19
ISBN 1 85532 537 3
|Sturmgeschütz III in action
Squadron Signal Publications
|Ground Power Magazine #140 1/2006
GALILEO Publishing Co.,Ltd
|Ground Power Magazine #49 6/1998.
GALILEO Publishing Co.,Ltd
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Page created December 29, 2005
Updated December 31, 2005