by: Todd Michalak [ ]
In late 1943 the introduction of the newly modified version of the Sturmgeschutz IV or StuG IV, how it is most commonly referred to, made its way to the battlefield after its approval from the high command. By using the StuG III casemate on the available Pz.IV chassis production would be a fast and suitable replacement for the loss of the StuG III production line from Alkett which was bombed and all but halting production. The manufacturer, Krupp, would step in providing 1,108 StuG IV’s along with another 31 converted models from December 1943 and may of 1945.
A lighter version of the original StuG IV produced and abandoned in February of 1943, the StuG IV had the StuG III casemate modified by a step like box structure added over the driver’s compartment mounted on the Pz.IV No. 7 chassis housing a 7.5 cm StuK 40 L/48. The StuG IV was effective for close infantry support and seeing service in all theaters of combat for the German war machine.
25 - Grey Styrene Sprue
1 – Clear Styrene Sprue
4 – Sheets of Photo Etch
1 – Lower Hull section
1 – Metal Tow Cable
2 - Packages of Magic Tracks – 108 each right and left handed
1 - Instruction booklet
1 – Instruction Correction Sheet
1 – Sheet of Decals
Finally we see another StuG IV variant from Dragon to fill the gap between the recent StuG IV Early and Late Productions being sold. In typical fashion, the Sd.Kfz.167 StuG.IV Mid-Production kit is packed full of parts. As a standard, the parts are crisply molded and free from flash, sink holes and minimal pin marks, most of them hidden from sight after construction. The kit is anchored by the lower hull, suspension and running gear from the reliable Pz.IV Ausf. G kit previously released. So if you are familiar with the Pz.IV kits the lower end on this kit should be nothing new to you.
First thing out of the box for me usually is the standard exploded isometric instruction foldout. There are 15 steps called out in the instructions …actually 16 steps if you count the fact that a critical part of running gear installation step was off of the print. Dragon has provided a one piece instruction correction sheet. The lower hull installation is outlined in steps 1 thru 6 including the supplied correction sheet being part of step 4. There are two options for the idler wheels, one using the photo etch parts for detail. This sheet also shows the correct fuel caps that should be installed into the hull.
Step seven covers the construction of the engine deck parts. The engine doors can be installed in the open or closed position. Supplied on the photo etch sheet is the inside detailed louvers for the engine deck access doors.
Steps 8 to 9 cover the installation of the fenders, engine deck section as well as the tracks. The fenders come with a tread pattern molded on the top and bottom sides. Because Dragon so generously places an entire sprue from another kit to fill the order for one part, there are plenty of options for add-on tools on the fenders. There are two types of front fender flaps supplied in this kit. Step 9 shows the installation of the fighting compartment floor. This part has nicely molded tread texture.
Step 10 covers the construction of the 7.5cm StuK40 L/48 gun. The breech is nicely detailed, some care will be needed in construction if the builder intends to show the interior details as there will a seam in the two piece construction. The mantlet, which is newly tooled and showing nice casting details, is joined with the barrel in this step as well.
Step 11 covers the construction of the radios and spare road wheel box which is fairly straight forward.
Step 12 cover the installation of the spare road wheel box on the exterior of the casemate, the radio and various interior parts into the fighting compartment side of the casement sides.
Step 13 covers the construction and installation of the R/C MG34 into the roof of the casemate as well as the construction of the commander hatch.
Step 14 cover the installation of the main gun barrel and mantlet and then to the breech. Also, this step shows the connecting of the casemate to the lower hull section.
The final step, 15, shows the installation of the Schürzen or side skirt armor. There is a 1:1 drawing of the Schürzen and placement of the brackets to aid in the installation. These plates can be installed as a set, individually or not at all to cater to the builders’ needs. There is a small section of aluminum rectangular plates included with this kit. These plates can be added to the upper part of the Schürzen to depict the change in thickness on some of these armor plates.
The two remaining pages of the instruction fold out are 5 different painting configurations with corresponding decal placements.
Similar to the earlier StuG.IV Early and Late kits with slight modifications, the Mid-Production variant is a nicely detailed kit with slight differences from its predecessors topping Dragon’s consistent Pz. IV Chassis. This is a must have for StuG. and SPG enthusiasts that enjoy construction and displaying assorted variants of the mighty assault gun. The kit has the usual little quirks we have become complacent with in reference to Dragon’s instructions. If you take your time and follow the instructions carefully I am confident you will be pleased with the results of the Sd.Kfz.167 StuG.IV Mid-Production from Dragon Models.