ARM: Review - DML 1/35 scale s.IG. 33 auf Pzkw. III (Sfl)

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale ‘39-‘45 Series Kit No. 6713; s.IG.33 auf Fgst.Pz.Kpfw. III(Sfl); 898 parts (602 in grey
styrene, 216 “Magic Track” links, 58 etched brass, 18 clear styrene, 2 pre-bent steel wire, 1 turned aluminum, 1 twisted steel wire); pre- order price US$49.95 via Dragon USA Online
Advantages: first kit of this vehicle in this scale in injection molded styrene; includes an interior for the fighting compartment
Disadvantages: no interior for the driver’s compartment or ammunition stowage
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all fans of German “Stupa” fire support weapons
    The German s.IG.33 15 cm howitzer was a handy weapon, providing a big “bang” for a relatively small size and weight. As a result, the Germans spent a good portion of their armor conversion work on trying to find a good way to get it forward under fire where it could do the best work. After trying Pzkw. I and Pzkw. II and later Pzkw. 38(t) chassis with mixed results - either too heavy a load on the chassis or too light armor protection for the gun crew – they hit on using the more spacious Pzkw. III chassis with more weight bearing capacity for ammunition and armor protection.
    Their final effort was a quick conversion – basically little more than a Stug III Ausf. E or F/8 chassis with a new rectangular superstructure and the 15 cm mounted slightly to the right of the center of the casemate. While it solved the armor protection problems, it turned out to be clumsy in its own right; the Germans were only finally happy when they switched to the Pzkw. IV chassis and the “Brummbaer” or Sturmpanzer IV. As a result, only 24 of these conversions were made by Alkett between December 1941 and October 1942. All apparently served in Russia as close-support weapons for panzer regiments.
    Over the years this has been one of the more enduring conversions for Pzkw. III kits as it is easy and very distinctive, and now DML offers a kit of the vehicle with its current “Smart Kit” technology. It comes with a “slide molded” casemate and uses bits from their Pzkw. III Ausf. J Early Production, StuG III Ausf. F/8 and later, and s.IG.33 kits with some 123 new styrene parts. The fighting compartment is provided with the gun, radio sets (from the StuG III), and other details; however, there are driver’s compartment nor any engine compartment components provided in the kit. In the case of the former there are three reasonably large hatches on the top and rear which are optional and the viewers and hatches at the front, but for the most part the gun blocks out a view of the compartment area.
    The 15 cm howitzer comes with a new B modification sprue of parts to adapt it to the Sfl mounting, and the entire thing is designed to fit in the StuG III compartment (as did the actual gun with a few modifications). No ammunition is provided nor ammo stowage; whether the information was not available or DML simply ignored it is an unknown factor.
    Construction follows the “Smart Kit” Pzkw. III/StuG III kits. The kit comes with individual torsion bars and road wheel arms as well as all of the external details on the lower hull such as shocks and bump stops. Each idler wheel consists of five parts with twin brass inserts between the plastic castings. All wheels are detailed to the point of having the rubber tire manufacturer’s data readable.
    The brass is provided only for those bits where plastic cannot do the job, such as the aforementioned wheel rims and the air intake and exhaust grilles on the engine radiator air exhaust vents.
    All fender details are separate and go on in subassemblies. In point of fact, most of this model consists of subassemblies, which is how it gets its tremendous level of details. This also shows in the sprues, as for example the “A” wheel sprue still consists of seven sub-sprues.
    The kit comes with a high level of interior parts, including the gun, commander’s cupola assembly, floor, and the radios and stowage racks for various bits on each side of the casemate. Likewise the engine deck consists of several subassemblies combined to form the deck. Note that every hatch on this vehicle can be opened for display of the interior, but there is no engine or transmission provided.
    Final assembly again has a number of different modules combined into one final assembly – lower hull, fenders, engine deck, interior, gun, casemate, and tracks. Oddly enough, while the radios and antenna bases are supplied, there is still no comment made about antennas for them!
    Input on this kit was provided by Minoru Igarashi, Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.
    Three finishing options are provided which cover the two companies which used these vehicles: StuG.Abt.177, Stalingrad 1942 (grey with black and white crosses); Pz.Rgt. 201, 23rd Panzer Division, Eastern Front 1943 (either tricolor small patches over sand - red G4, or tricolor large patches over sand - red G2). A small targeted sheet of Cartograf decals is provided.
    Overall, this finally gives modelers a unitary kit of this popular conversion.
    Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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