Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale '39-'45 Series Kit No.6320; StuG III Ausf. G Early Production - Smart Kit; 697 parts (378 in grey styrene, 288 Magic Track links, 20 etched brass, 10 clear styrene, 1 length of twisted steel wire); price estimated at US $41-45
Advantages: Totally new ground-up kit of this very popular vehicle; nicely done interior bits will be appreciated; ready for easy(er) assembly or suitable for super-detailing
Disadvantages: "Boo birds" not in touch with the "Smart Kit" concept likely to complain about shortage of brass or multimedia parts
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: For all WWII German fans and a few diehard Finnish and Syrian modelers
Once modelers get past the big lumpy German tanks like the Tigers and Panthers, their next most popular vehicle is usually the Sturmgescheutz series of self-propelled guns, with the later models being the most popular. For a number of years, arguments and discussions have been carried out about whose kits are the best - Tamiya (old) or Tamiya (new), DML (ex-Gunze Sangyo) or DML (Dragon's own kits.) With this new (and surprise) kit, DML seems to be out to settle all bets in one go.
It's getting harder and harder to describe the kits, as DML's standard of engineering in their new "Smart Kit" series is hard to top. Each one is designed to be as accurate as DML can make it in regard to the prototype and at the same time make it much easier to assemble a highly detailed miniature of the original without resorting to a bunch of after-market detail kits. This is the latest in the series, and light years away from the Tamiya kit of 1972 (which was one of my favorites for many years as it provided so many options.)
This kit provides the "early production" - e.g. welded mantelet/recoil cover vice the later "Saukopf" mantelet - version of the Ausf. G.
The kit comes with many of the accouterments seen on kits like the DML Tiger I and Panther, starting 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 deck plus some non-slip gridding. I noted on the internet the last time the "Boo Birds" showed up to complain about the "Smart Kit" Panther Ausf. G that it didn't come with enough brass to suit them; these people apparently can't grasp the concept of a "Smart Kit" being one which does not NEED that amount of brass to look good. But I digress.
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 actually consists of seven sub-sprues, so future kits can be done by gating off or ungating other sections of the master sprue to meet the need of those kits. DML seems to be getting smarter in their old age, using this technique vice tossing in 5-10 other sprues from other kits to get one part from each one.
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 barrel, casemate, and tracks. Oddly enough, while the radios and antenna bases are supplied, no comment is made about the antennas for them!
Five different finishing options and a targeted Cartograf are provided: 2nd StuG Abt. 2nd SS Panzer Division "Das Reich", Russia1943; Pz.Gren.Div "Grossdeutschland" Eastern Front 1943; U/I unit, Eastern Front 1944; 3rd SS Panzer Division "Totenkopf",Ukraine 1944; and a token captured example, "Aleksandr Suvorov" of the 1288th SP Gun Regiment, Ukraine 1944. The latter two are in whitewash winter schemes.
Input on this kit was provided by Minoru Igarashi, Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.
Overall, this is another hit. (As a point of observation, our friends the "Boo Birds" complain that too many reviews appear to be "shilling" for the manufacturers; apparently these depraved souls haven't figured out yet that today is now the Silver Age - perhaps even Platinum, based on credits card rationale - of modeling and each manufacturer is trying to outdo the others with the quality and accuracy of their products. Unless one wants to go to moronic levels of review - e.g. "The third bolt on the transmission shows that it uses left hand threads vice right hand threads, so this kit is a disaster and should not be built by anyone with any real knowledge of an accurate model" - it's hard to give most new kits from the major manufacturers, and a good number of the smaller ones, a really bad review. But they'll try.)
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.