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

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale =9139-=9145 Series Kit No.
6713; s.IG.33 auf Fgst.Pz.Kpfw. III(Sfl); 898 parts (602 in grey
styrene, 216 =93Magic Track=94 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=92s compartment or ammunition
stowage
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all fans of German =93Stupa=94 fire support weapons
The German s.IG.33 15 cm howitzer was a handy weapon, providing a big
=93bang=94 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 =96 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 =96 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
=93Brummbaer=94 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 =93Smart Kit=94 technology. It comes
with a =93slide molded=94 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=92s 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 =93Smart Kit=94 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=92s 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 =93A=94 wheel sprue still consists of seven sub-sprues.
The kit comes with a high level of interior parts, including the gun,
commander=92s 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 =96 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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AMPSOne
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