The sIG 33 (schwere Infanterie Geschütz
or “heavy infantry howitzer”) was first developed in 1927 by the firm of Rheinmetall, joining the army in 1933 (the explanation for the designation “33”). It became the standard infantry support gun of the German army in WW II. At 15cm, it had a larger shell than any other infantry gun, making it a formidable weapon in its own right. But in addition to its size was its versatility: the sIG 33 could fire a range of ammunition, including the bunker-busting 90kg Stielgranate
42 demolition round.
The howitzer’s powerful punch led to it being mounted on a variety of gun platforms as well, including the Pz. I
, II, and III, as well as the Czech-designed Pz. 38(t) “Grille”
CyberHobby previously released a wooden-wheel version of the sIG 33 (reviewed here
by our own Charles Reading). While that model has wheels more in keeping with Napoleon than Guderian, these wheels were not the ones on the horse-drawn version. We tend to forget that a large portion (if not the majority) of Germany's artillery was moved about by horse flesh. The horse-drawn version of the sIG 33 could not be safely drawn by motorized transport because it lacked brakes to prevent the load from overrunning its towing vehicle downhill or when stopping, as well as allowing for higher speeds than were possible with horses (though necessity sometimes meant overlooking the "rules").
But the horse-drawn version had pressed metal wheels with no rubber tires. While the CyberHobby kit was a relatively rare wooden wheel version, DML's newly-released kit is meant to recreate the more-common version with rubber-tired metal wheels. While it's supposed to recreate the motorized setup, it in fact has a chassis that has insufficient detail to render that version accurately. It's a shame, since with over 4,500 sIG 33s built by 1945, the kit could have been an important addition to the growing stash of German artillery in styrene. I don't know if Dragon decided the "Smart Kit" platform allowed it to skimp on the details, but the effect is just that.
The kit comes in the standard "Smart Kit" box with a nicely-weathered gun and crew of six on the cover. The box contains:
12 sprues of gray styrene plastic (for gun & crew)
1 small fret of PE
1 sprue of clear plastic for the gun sight
2 sprues of Dragon Styrene with the wicker mats used in muddy environments
1 turned aluminum barrel
a small sheet of decals with battery letters
6-page instruction booklet
The sIG 33 was a workhorse of the Wehrmacht, both as an artillery piece and mounted on a variety of tracked platforms, so just having this version in styrene is important. Dragon has done a good job in rendering the parts in plastic: flash is virtually absent, while seam lines are minimal (except on the figures). Knock-out holes are absent as well (Trumpeter, are you taking notes?). Some of the parts are quite small, so be careful when removing them from the sprues lest the carpet monster eat them up.
Several features of the kit are worth calling out: the breech, for example, can be built in two versions, and the brake assemblies for the wheels are exquisitely-detailed, but sadly lack all the parts for the motor-towed variant. The gun sight is handled in three parts, though it lacks the PE levers Dragon included in the sFH 18 howitzer, which uses an almost identical sight. The metal barrel included with the kit is well-done, but its opening extends only a few millimeters. While typical of DML metal barrels, it lacks the advantage of the new OrangeHobby replacement, so I have used that one instead (reviewed by me here
One feature that could use improvement is the molded-on tires, which lack detail and definition, and make putting wear on them more difficult than if they were separate pieces. A larger fret of PE that included some tool latches would also be a welcome upgrade that wouldn’t cost Dragon a lot, and would give advanced modelers more for their money, while keeping the plastic molded-on latches for those who don’t like PE.
The instructions are generally clear and easy-to-follow, though there are several problems:
A.) parts A13 & A14 are interchanged and should be swapped during assembly of the wheel modules, with A13 for the right sub-assembly and A14 for the left.
B.) The brake control rod and lever sub-assembly in stage #10 is a mess (parts A19, 20, 22, and 31) shown as going together in a line, when in fact they would then be too wide to go between the two wheel sub-assemblies.
C.) Part A21 is also unaccounted for anywhere in the instructions.
Overall I found the fit good, except the barrel sub-assembly did not fit properly when married to the carriage. I don’t know why, but the guide holes intended to allow the gun’s barrel to raise and lower were out-of-alignment. Simply clipping the guide pins off and gluing the barrel in-place worked fine.
the crew figures
The kit includes a six-man crew. While the box art shows some very interesting poses particular to this gun, these crew figures are really a re-boxing of DML6201 German Artillery Crew
, along with some additional “Gen 2”-type features and a multitude of arms. The original sprues from 6201 all seem to be present, supplemented by two sprues of improved hands in several combinations. Unfortunately, the instructions only cover one alternative pose for each figure, when actually several differing possibilities are available. The sprues seem to divide into three categories: the original hands (which look to be borrowed from an ancient Tamiya figure set), an “improved” version whose fabrics and poses are much improved, and a sprue of hands for this particular kit, which are the best yet. The “improved” version has good fabric “fall,” but the arms are a bit puffed out, more like on a mannequin than a live human. The new hands and arms allow you to come closer to the box art poses.
The detailing is generally good— not up to true Gen 2 levels, but torsos, arms and two-part leg assemblies, as well as separate heads, helmets and gear. The uniforms are Early War, so they would not be appropriate for a Dunkelgelb
-painted gun. Seam lines are quite prominent, on the torsos and legs, but can be easily cleaned-up, but are almost non-existent on the new arms & hands sprue.
Markings & Painting
There are two painting options: "Panzer" gray and Dunkelgelb
. No tactical markings are included, nor are any units even suggested. The decal sheet shows battery letters for A-F, but generally army artillery batteries were four in number until the mid-war, so only A-D would be proper for a gray paint scheme.
Given the "mix & match" character of the kit, it's not surprising that painting color guides are indicated on the illustrations, but not explained in the instructions. You can run down the colors by searching out the paint manufacturers' product guides, but it's another annoying oversight on the part of DML that shows a lack of proof-reading during development.
This is a very nice kit with excellent detailing, though I have had to mark down the final score 10 points because of the insufficiently-detailed brake assemblies. The instructions have the usual Dragon confusion, but all except a beginner modeler would likely figure out the solution of switching the two parts. The other problems, while annoying, aren’t major, and with over 4,000 of these guns serving during the war, this model is a welcome addition to any diorama or stand-alone build. The figures are not excellent, but still quite good, and should please most who everyone who buys the kit.