by: Darren Baker [ ]
The German assault armoured vehicles of World War 2 were used to great effect by the German army against enemy forces in both the East and. The Sturmgeschütz were a cost effective way of putting large numbers of mobile anti-tank guns in the field in an effective way when it came to time and materials. The Panzer III and to a lesser extent the Panzer IV were obsolete quite early in the war and the hull tops were modified via the removal of the turret and a fighting compartment added, The guns fitted very little in the way of traverse, but it did allow larger calibre guns to be fitted. I do not know how effective the Sturmgeschütz were in the assault mode, but I do know that they were very effective in the defensive mode. When the German forces retreated on the Eastern Front a couple of Sturmgeschütz could hold up huge numbers of enemy vehicles; a book I read told how you would come across large numbers of destroyed Soviet Armour and a couple of destroyed Sturmgeschütz that were responsible. The Sturmgeschütz range of vehicles was also a cost effective way of putting vehicles back in the front after taking damage.
This offering of the Sturmgeschütz III Ausf C/D from Bronco Models follows fast on the heels of earlier releases. It is supplied packaged in a cardboard tray and separate card lid, the artwork on the lid is quite nice, but no poster in this offering. The contents breakdown as follows:
11 tan sprues
8 brown sprues
1 grey sprue
2 clear parts
A length of copper cable
2 photo etched frets
2 pieces of turned brass
A decal sheet
An instruction booklet
Starting this review with a look over the contents leaves me with a positive feeling. The various parts are cleanly moulded and well placed on the sprues; this makes it easier to remove the parts as required without causing damage to them. There are of course ejection marks present on some parts, but consideration looks to have been given during their placement and so will be hidden in most cases. Of course there are always exceptions and in this model it would be the underside of the track guards that will need attention.
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.
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 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.
I high point of this model is the breech and mount of the main gun. The breech of the gun is complete as far as I can see. Bronco Models has supplied the sighting for the gun, the cartridge catcher, crew seats and a nice traverse platform. The model does not have anything like a full interior, but this element takes up a lot of space and gives the impression of an interior if viewed through a hatch.
The upper hull is a great invite to the after market companies to provide further interior details and an engine, I say this because every hatch is supplied separately and can be assembled open or closed. There is no detail present on the interior of most of the hatches, but there is hinge detail present on the driver and radio operators hatches however there is also a large ejector pin mark on each hatch door that will need fixing. The four engine hatches just behind the fighting compartment appear to be incorrectly represented; my reference shows these hatches as raised and not flush as provided in the model. The engine intakes are good and photo etched grill detail has been supplied for them.
The fighting compartment is a very complex series of angles that Bronco Models appears to have been able to accurately represent in a single piece for the most part. The reference I have only allows me to eyeball the angles rather than place it on a scale drawing to verify 100% accuracy. The modeller is provided with two options where the main gun is concerned, Bronco Models has provided a turned two piece brass barrel for the 75mm L24 gun and also provided is an all plastic 75mm L48 gun barrel, both guns are accurate for the model, but the 75mm L24 gun would seem to be the more common on the Sturmgeschütz III Ausf C/D, or at least that is what my reference indicates. The two recessed areas either side of the gun were usually filled with concrete and so that is something for the modeller to consider. The tow cables provided are a mix of plastic eyes and a brass wire, I do not like the wire and will replace it, but I like that bronco has provided the cables via this method.
Bronco models have provided two complete sets of individual track links for this model of the Sturmgeschütz. Initially I thought these were left and right handed track offerings, but I was wrong. Bronco Models has supplied a three metal pad offering specifically listed for the Sturmgeschütz III Ausf C/D with 75mm L24, I have to be honest and say that I have no knowledge of this track pattern. That does not mean it is wrong as it could just be a gap in my knowledge. The other set provided has the metal cleat detail present on the ground contact surface; these are listed as specifically for the Sturmgeschütz III Ausf C/D with 75mm L48 gun, this is the detail I am more familiar with as I have seen it on most Panther tracks. Being individual track links, these tracks do offer the ability to accurately depict track sag to whatever level the modeller desires or even a broken/thrown track.
The track guards provided with this model have a number of aspects I like and one that I don’t. The moulding of the track guards has been done in a way that provides us with a realistic thickness, I cannot say it is scale thickness though. The diamond pattern on the top is present and is nicely replicated, but is not represented on the underside. On the underside of the track guards there are a number of ejector pin marks that will ideally be fixed by the modeller. The vehicle elements that are attached to the track guards have been well replicated and cause me no concerns at all. The tools offered with the kit for mounting on the track guards are nicely detailed. The tools do have moulded on clamp detail which is sometimes unpopular, but moulding quality makes this acceptable to me.
Bronco Models has provided three finishing options for this model which are:
Stug III Ausf C with 75mm L48 ‘Saukpf’ mantlet 1944/45 (No area of combat provided)
Stug III Ausf D, Stug Abt 186, Russia 1942
Sug III Ausf D, Stug Abt 192, Russia 1941
The decals provided are cleanly printed and thin, as such this should be easy to use. A check of my reference indicates that the decals are accurate if questionably placed on the model, so check your reference carefully.
The instruction booklet is a glossy paper offering and from what I have been able to see accurate in its instruction. Looking at the stages within shows clear and uncomplicated information for the most part, but location indication are a little hit and miss in a few places. For the most part I am happy with the instructions.
The Sturmgeschütz III from Bronco Models is a very nice offering in nearly every respect as far as I can see. Whenever I do a review I spend time looking for what’s wrong rather than what is right, on this model I found that quite a task only finding the engine deck access hatches questionable. On the moulding side only the ejector pin marks on the underside of the front hatches are particularly galling. All told this appears to me to be a very appealing model that should prove popular, I can already see this in a small diorama with a number of troops hitching a ride to or from the front.