by: Keith Middleton [ ]
The StuG III was first ordered into development in June 1936. (Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War 2, Chamberlain and Doyle). The StuG III was initially developed as both a self-propelled assault gun to provide close artillery support to the infantry as well as an anti-tank weapon to be used against any tanks the infantry might encounter. (German Sturmartillerie at War, Volume I, DeSisto) The StuG III was to be equipped with a main gun of at least 7.5 cm. to be mounted in the hull. (Encyclopedia) This was intended to reduce the profile of the vehicle. The initial version of the StuG III was the Ausf. A and it would evolve through numerous versions culminating with the Ausf. G. (Encyclopedia) The Ausf. A served in the 1940 French campaign and the StuG III would serve very successfully through the remainder of the war.
The StuG IIIB was produced from June 1940 until May 1941. A total of 320 were produced. (Encyclopedia) The StuG IIIB first saw service in the Balkan Campaign and it was then used in the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. (Encyclopedia) The StuG IIIB varied little from the StuG IIIA, with the primary changes found in the drive train. (Encyclopedia)
Dragon first produced the StuG IIIB kit in 1994 as kit number 6004. Cyber-Hobby has now reissued that original kit in their Orange Box Super Value line of kits. The kit, as is standard with the Orange Box line, contains a Dragon figure set: 6105, Wehrmacht Infantry Barbarossa 1941.
Sometimes Cyber-Hobby includes newer parts, sometimes not. As near as I can determine (I do not own the original kit), this kit, with the exception of the inclusion of Magic Tracks, falls into the latter category.
The kit comes packed in a standard Cyber-Hobby/Dragon cardboard box with very appealing color box art showing a profile view of a StuG IIIB wearing markings found in the kit.
Upon opening the box, I was shocked at the vast expanse of vacant space. This is of course, an unheard of occurrence in recent Dragon kits. The box contains four sprues of parts for the StuG (A, two B sprues, and C); two small frets of photo-etch parts; a single-piece lower hull tub; and two small bags of “handed” Magic Tracks. There are also four sprues of parts for the figure set.
The hull tub is well-molded and flash free. The modeler should be aware that there are raised guidelines on both sides of the hull for the placement of the escape hatches. The instructions do not mention that these need to be removed since escape hatches did not appear on the StuG IIIB.
As can be seen from the accompanying photographs, the parts on the sprues are well-molded, provide nice detail and have no visible flash on any of the parts. This is rather surprising considering the age of the molds. Examples of the nice detail include weld seams on the hull superstructure and anti-skid texture on the fenders.
There are a small number of mold extraction indentations/raised areas on some of the parts. Examples include parts B1, B2, B26, and B27. Unfortunately, some of these appear in areas visible once the model is assembled. As always with Dragon/Cyber-Hobby kits, there are a large number of spue attachment points and nodes which means a lot of careful removal from the sprue and careful sanding once the part has been removed from the sprue.
As already mentioned, the kit includes two bags of Magic Tracks. The tracks are “handed” and color-coded. The light gray tracks are used on the right side, while the dark gray are used on the left side. The instructions do not indicate how many links are needed to complete a run of tracks. Therefore, the modeler will have to estimate the total required.
The instructions come in the standard Orange Box reduced-size color foldout on glossy paper. Despite the reduced size, the line drawing style of instructions is easy to read. The instructions indicate only a small number of the parts are not used in the construction of this vehicle. The instructions are divided into 11 steps. Assembly starts with the lower hull and works it way up the vehicle. There is no interior detail provided, not even on the hatches. From a quick check of the instructions, it appears the modeler has the option of using the provided photo-etch screens or a plastic part. However, for the antenna trough, the modeler must use the provided photo-etch parts for the legs.
As with any Dragon/Cyber-Hobby kit, the modeler is advised to proceed with caution when building this kit and to double check several steps ahead in the instructions before applying glue to any part!
The instructions also provide a color painting and marking guide for both the vehicle and the figures on the final page. The colors are keyed to Gunze’s Aqueous Hobby Color and Mr.Color lines, as well as Modelmaster’s enamel line of paints. The painting instructions for the StuG call for a single color: dark gray. Unlike many Orange Box kits, this kit gives the modeler two choices when it comes to markings. First, StuG Abt. 192 on the Eastern Front in 1941. According to the instructions, this vehicle sports colorful yellow or green skull and crossbones markings. I was puzzled when I initially looked at the decal sheet. First, the skull and crossbones decals come in two parts (upper and lower halves). This of course means the modeler will have to get the halves perfectly aligned or it will be very noticeable if he does not because the teeth will not line up with the upper skull. Second, there was no color, the skulls were clear. Finally I snapped and realized the modeler is required to paint in the appropriate color. As for me, I think when the time comes, I will borrow some color skull and crossbones markings from the Tamiya StuGIIIB kit. The second option is the ubiquitous Unidentified Unit, Ostfront 1941. The option uses minimal markings: white outline numbers and white German crosses.
The figure set included in the kit is 6105 which consists of four Wehrmacht infantry walking on a dusty Russian road in front of what appears to be a StuG IIIB. Unlike some Orange Box kits, this set appears to be a perfect match for the StuG IIIB.
The figures come with all four figures on a single sprue. In my opinion, this is a very nice set in Dragon’s 1939-45 series of figure sets. All four wear standard early war uniforms with jack boots. The heads, while not up to resin figure standards are cleanly rendered with somewhat different expressions on each head. Three of the figures are bareheaded so the modeler will have to hone their hair painting skills. The fourth figure is wearing a sidecap. Three of the figures are carrying their helmets on their cartridge belts while the fourth carries it by the strap. No photo-etch straps are provided so the modeler will have to fabricate a strap from their own materials. In addition, the helmets have no interior detail.
There are three weapon sprues. One contains an MG34. The second includes two ammunition boxes for the MG34. Finally, the third sprue includes two KAR98K rifles and an MP40 submachine gun. None of these sprues are from the Generation 2 line of kits.