by: Darren Baker [ ]
Bronco Models continues their line of Sturmgeschütz offerings with the Sturmgeschütz III E now getting attention. To some extent the changes made to the previous Sturmgeschütz were to enable to vehicle to act more effectively as a command vehicle and the placement of radios inside the vehicle. Sturmgeschütz III E was also the last of the short barrelled offerings of the vehicle.
This offering from Bronco Models is packed in the usual way. You get a cardboard tray and a separate card lid. The artwork on the lid of this offering is a bit of a let-down, being a side view of the Sturmgeschütz III E on a plain white background. The packaging should do a reasonable job of protecting the contents. The contents are packed in individual plastic bags, except where duplicate sprues are concerned. The contents break down as follows:
6 tan sprues
4 brown sprues
1 clear sprue
1 grey sprue
2 photo etched frets
1 decal sheet
An instruction booklet
A promotional flyer
As always a check over the contents for potential issues comes first and as usual with Bronco Models it looks to be good news. There are no moulding faults that I can see here and I am particularly impressed with the finesse of the track guards, the thickness or should I say thinness of the mouldings clearly show how far injection moulding has come. The downside of this finesse is that the guards do have ejector pin marks on the underside, they are not major and could likely be left, but best practice says fill them. Other than this the only concern I have is that care will be needed when removing a number of the parts from the sprues due to how fine they are.
The suspension of the model appears accurate to me in layout and placement. The drive wheels and idler wheels are a good match for photographic reference, the use of photo etched elements on the idler wheels adds to the detail and will also likely make some modellers curse. Moving onto the road wheels, there is some incredible weld detail on these wheels, I only noted it under high magnification. What is the rubber portion of the road wheels has the word ‘continentau’; the U needs to be turned into an L of course to make the word ‘continental’. I am especially impressed with the detail present on the road wheels. Bronco has provided two options when it comes to the drive wheel, one has bolt detail and the other does not. My reference shows both wheel types fitted to the Sturmgeschütz III, but to help you decide which to use, the smooth wheel is the earlier design and the bolted version only seems to show up around the Sturmgeschütz III G.
The torsion bar suspension is not workable and so if the modeller wants the model depicted on an uneven surface some forward planning will be required. The tensioner for the idler wheel has been well designed, but cannot be used to adjust the track tension of the model. It also needs to be remembered that the first and last road wheel stations have a shock absorber in place and so this will also need to be altered if the model is placed on an uneven base. Lastly in this area are the return rollers, Bronco Models has again had the word continentau moulded on the rubber portion of these wheels. I do have one concern about the words on both the return rollers and road wheels, and that is that I think the scale may be off.
The tracks provided with this offering are individual track links that will each need three connection points cleaned up. I really like individual track links on German World War Two armour due to the way the tracks sit on the return rollers, yes I know these are not popular with everyone and it would be nice if rubber band tracks had also been included, however I like these and so I am happy. I am particularly pleased that the guide horns are hollowed out and so accurate
The lower hull of the model has some excellent detail moulded as part of the hull. The underside has some great detail present and while I cannot vouch for its accuracy it does look good, I also really like the very subtle texture that is present. The rear mufflers look good with the exhaust pipes being hollowed out at the ends, yes some further excavation will improve it further, but for those that don’t want to tackle it the detail is fair. Bronco Models has provided extra track for use as additional armour on the sides of the vehicle between the return rollers.
A nice addition to this offering from Bronco Models is that they have provided the gun mount. My reference for this area of the vehicle is limited, but the images I do have indicate that the area is accurate. The gunner’s seat being supplied opens some options as regards display of the model. There is no other interior detail provided and so this large element fills a good amount of space inside, but assuming the model is not going to be buttoned up some careful thought will be needed to decide what is open and how the view of the interior is going to be curtailed. The gun barrel is provided as a turned brass offering or in plastic should that option appeal more, the only benefit I can see to the plastic barrel is that CA glue will not be needed.
The upper hull only really covers the engine deck and the driver and radio operator hatch area. The front hatches are accurate and can be assembled either open or closed. The engine deck hatches can also be displayed open or closed should you be adding an engine to the model, but you need to remember that there is no detail provided for this area, not even a firewall. The lights provided with the model are not Notek lights as you might expect, but this is correct as Notek lights were only fitted on later variants or possibly after repair/upgrade works. My reference material keeps showing what I believe are vented covers on the engine deck, but I am reluctant to say the detail is wrong. The air intakes are nicely moulded and provided with photo etch mesh covers
The fighting compartment has been very well tackled by Bronco Models. The Sturmgeschütz III E has straight sides to the fighting compartment with bin on the outside, this created the needed space for the extra radio equipment and even created space for another 3 shells to be stored. The hatches can all be displayed open or closed, and at least here careful placement of figures and the gun assembly will create the right impression. When tackling the hatches please note it is the small hatches at the front and the large portion at the rear. Bronco Models has provided a spare wheel to attach forward of the left hand storage bin, this is neither right or wrong as crew positioned spare wheels in lots of different places, but more usually at the rear of the vehicle. The aerials for the rear of the fighting compartment are provided as moulded plastic parts, these are ok as is but I would likely replace them with metal wire. The wooden rails at the rear of the Sturmgeschütz are well represented in the model, I have always thought of them as a storage rack system and would like to know their purpose if I am wrong.
The track guards are as stated at the start of the review very nicely replicated. The thinness is very good but I cannot say they are scale thickness. The various tools and stowage bins look good, but the tool clamps are moulded on which will not please everyone. There are spare wheels provided for the rear of the track guards which is a common location for them. There is a Notek light fitted to the right hand track guard, this is not correct unless it is a retro fitted light and hence not an early Stug. The copper cable provided for the tow cables is an improvement over the string that Bronco Models use to use, but it can still be bettered as this is very stiff.
This is another nice offering in the Sturmgeschütz family from Bronco Models. I know the model is not perfect in some areas such as the Notek light fitting being questionable, and of course the copper cable not being ideal. With that said the issues I have raised are easily overcome and I see no reason not to buy this model from Bronco Models as it is very good in all other respects.
The finishing options supplied with this model are:
Stug Abt 190, Eastern Front, Russia 1941/42
Stug Abt Gross Deutschland, Eastern Front, Russia 1941/42
(Osprey) [Fighting Armor of WWII] - StuG III Assault Gun 1940-1942
Das Waffen Arsenal - Panzer III & Stug III
Schiffer - Military History #42 - Stug III L24 & 33