Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale '39-'45 Series Kit No. 6647; S d.Kfz. 167 StuG. IV Last Production - Smart Kit; 709 parts (635 in grey sty rene, 50 etched brass, 12 clear styrene, 10 etched nickel, 2 DS Plastic tra ck runs); pre-order price US$59.95
Advantages: uses "Smart Kit" Pzkw. IV and StuG III components
Disadvantages: return to DS Plastic tracks may disappoint some
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all German and "Stug" fans
As I noted when I reviewed the first three DML StuG IV kits, it would seem a step backwards to create a self-propelled 7.5 cm gun using the Pzkw. IV chassis; after all, this same gun was already available in an all-around tr averse turret on the same chassis and would seemingly be a better idea. But the Germans had a great number of doctrinal uses for self-propelled guns, and as the Alkett factory had been basically put out of business by Allied bombing (hence the end of StuG III production due to a lack of chassis) tes ts were made in late 1943 to fit the StuG III casemate to the Pzkw. IV chas sis. The result was a success, and between December 1943 and March 1945 mor e than 800 of these vehicles were built. The chassis mirrored the Pzkw. IV chassis so they began using Ausf. H chassis and ended up with late model Au sf. J chassis, which is the subject of this kit.
The last model StuG IV mirrored the final Panzer IV versions with three ne w design return rollers, simplified parts all around, and the same new exha usts and remote control mount for the MG34 or MG42 machine gun.
As with the three previous kits this one comes with a partial interior an d all of the predetermined optional position hatches and viewers to permit an interior to be fitted to the rest of the hull. As with other recent DML kits with "schuertzen" armor shields, it provides the hangers and fittings in styrene and the plates themselves in etched nickel. Note that this versi on has simplified shields - only five per side.
Unfortunately also as before, DML does not have the best directions and in the case of this vehicle - where a large number of parts are replaced with those from either new sprues or other kits - you will have to pay very clo se attention to find the correct parts and make any modifications (such as drilling out holes, etched brass versus styrene options, etc.)
The kit follows its forebearers. Drivers now consist of only four parts; t he separate bolts are gone. Bogies are now nine piece affairs without separ ate tires. New details are provided for the tow hook at the rear of the hul l as well.
The upper hull again consists of a rear deck and framework with applique s ides, front and rear engine intake components and fenders. The muffler has a central tube section and six add-on parts to complete it along with a "sl ide molded" exhaust pipe.
All ports and hatches are separate parts so they can be posed open. While no interior components for the front lower rear hull or engine compartment are yet present, the hull still provides a rudimentary firewall for the eng ine compartment, and the various vents and louvers are also poseable either open or closed. Note that all ports have clear styrene inserts as well.
Using the StuG III parts 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. A loader's ma chine gun is provided for the kit, but this kit adds the narrow shield and remote control assembly as well as a new casemate roof with the mounting fo r the weapon.
This kit reverts the last revision (!) and goes back to the DS Plastic sin gle piece runs. Modelers seem to either love them or hate them, but they ar e less tedious than the single link "Magic Track" tracks.
Technical assistance on this kit was provided by Notger Schlegtendal, Thom as Anderson, Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.
Two finishing options are provided with this kit: Unidentified Unit, Easte rn Front 1944 (tricolor, black crosses); Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front 1944 (tricolor upper hull, no shields, black crosses). A tiny sheet of Carto graf decals accompanies the kit.
Overall this the fourth and probably final "complete the record" kit on th e StuG IV.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.