Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale =9139-=9145 Series Kit No.6612; Sd.Kfz. 167 StuG. IV Late Production - Smart Kit; 1,091 parts (782 parts in grey styrene, 216 =93Magic Track=94 links, 50 etched brass, 16 etched nickel, 12 clear styrene, 1 twisted steel wire); pre-order price US$57.95 via Dragon USA Online
Advantages: uses =93Smart Kit=94 Pzkw. IV and StuG III components
Disadvantages: return to Magic Track links may disappoint some
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all German and =93Stug=94 fans
As I noted when I reviewed the first two 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 traverse 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) tests were made in late 1943 to fit the StuG III casemate to the Pzkw. IV chassis. The result was a success, and between December 1943 and March 1945 more 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 Ausf. J chassis, which is the subject of this kit.
The late model StuG IV had a number of chassis changes from the H to the J, but the primary ones were new exhausts, new return rollers and details, and both the close-in defense weapon as well as a remote control mount for the MG34 or MG42 machine gun.
As with the two previous kits this one comes with a partial interior and 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 =93schuertzen=94 armor shields, it provides the hangers and fittings in styrene and the plates themselves in etched nickel. Note that this version has a double-thickness fitting on the upper sections of its center three panels (MD1 parts) as well as extra bolt heads on the M sprue for each set of shields.
Unfortunately also as before, DML does not have the best directions and in the case of this vehicle =96 where a large number of parts are replaced with those from either new sprues or other kits =96 you will have to pay very close 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; the separate bolts are gone. Bogies are now nine piece affairs without separate tires. New details are provided for the tow hook at the rear of the hull as well.
The upper hull again consists of a rear deck and framework with applique sides, 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 =93slide molded=94 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 engine 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=92s cupola assembly, floor, and the radios and stowage racks for various bits on each side of the casemate. A loader=92s machine 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 for the weapon.
This kit reverts to the =93Magic Track=94 single link tracks, which are either loved or hated based on the personal preferences of the modeler.
Technical assistance on this kit was provided by Steven Van Beveren, Notger Schlegtendal, Thomas Anderson, Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.
Two finishing options are provided with this kit: 10th SS Panzer Division =93Frundsberg=94, Tarnopol, Eastern Front 1944 (sand with brown squiggles, division F on front fender, skirts); Unidentified Unit, Yugoslavia 1945 (three color spray pattern, black crosses, no skirts). A very small sheet of Cartograf decals accompanies the kit.
Overall this should =93complete the record=94 on the StuG IV and prove popular.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.