ARM: Review - DML 1/35 scale StuG IV Mid Production

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale ?39-?45 Series Kit No. 658 2; Sd.Kfz. 167 StuG. IV Mid Production - Smart Kit; 964 parts (669 parts in
grey styrene, 216 ?Magic Track? links, 50 etched brass, 16 etched nick el, 12 clear styrene, 1 twisted steel wire); pre-order price US$57.95 via D ragon USA Online
Advantages: uses ?Smart Kit? Pzkw. IV and StuG III components
Disadvantages: return to Magic Track links 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 mid model StuG IV had a number of changes made to it and added some ne w items to the design, but basically was quite similar to the early model. It did in some cases apparently add the remote control mount for the MG34 o r MG42 machine gun.
    This kit is virtually the previous Late Production kit minus the Panzer IV /70 sprue of late production return rollers and Ausf. J exhausts and the cl ose-in defense weapon with new decals and finishing options. Some comments have been made on the Internet as to whether or not it has the proper featu res (e.g. Alkett versus MIAG components) but I do not have sufficient refer ences to sort that out.
    As with the previous kits this one comes with a partial interior and all of the predetermined optional position hatches and viewers to permit an int erior to be fitted to the rest of the hull. As with other recent DML kits w ith ?schuertzen? 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 p anels (MD1 parts) as well as extra bolt heads on the M sprue for each set o f shields.
    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 wi th those from either new sprues or other kits ? 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.) A supple mental flyleaf is included for the suspension as an example.
    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 ? slide 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 a nd stowage racks for various bits on each side of the casemate. A loader? s 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 mountin g for the weapon.
    This kit reverts to the ?Magic Track? single link tracks, which are ei ther loved or hated based on the personal preferences of the modeler.
    Technical assistance on this kit was provided by Notger Schlegtendal, Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.
    Five finishing options are provided with this kit: Unidentified Unit, East Prussia 1944 (tricolor, schuerzen, crosses, black 23); 10th SS Panzer Divi sion ?Frundsberg?, Tarnopol, Eastern Front 1944 (sand with brown squigg les, schuerzen, division F on front fender); 17th SS Panzergrenadier Divisi on ?Goetz von Berlichingen?, Normandy 1944 (sand with brown squiggles, crosses, brackets only, ?Bruno?); Panzer Lehr Division, Normandy 1944 ( tricolor, brackets only, black crosses); 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division ?Goetz von Berlichingen?, Normandy 1944 (sand, brackets only, black cro sses, tactical symbol). A very small sheet of Cartograf decals accompanies the kit.
    Overall this should ?complete the record? on the StuG IV.
    Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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