Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale =9139-=9145 Series Kit No.6460; Sd.Kfz. 166 Stu.Pz. IV =93Brummbaer=94 Mid Production 2-in-1 - Smart Kit; 624 parts (551 in grey stryene, 59 etched brass, 10 etched nickel, 3 clear styrene, 1 length of twisted steel wire); estimated price US$50.50
Advantages: massive reworking of previous smart kits to match features found on Brummbaer; complete main gun assembly and partial interior; choice of options and assembly
Disadvantages: no zimmerit surfaces
Recommendation: for all German heavy armor and Panzer IV series fans
One of the primary functions of a tank is close support to infantry, but there are time when the only solution to thorny defensive problems is =93get a bigger hammer.=94 The German Sturmpanzer IV, also called =93Brummbaer=94 (grizzly bear), was one such solution. Mounting a 15 cm StuH 43 L/12 howitzer and carrying at least 38 rounds of ammunition this was the type of weapon that personified city fighting and clearing enemy firing points. 60 were converted and built from April to May 1943, with production versions continuing later in November1943. A total of 306 were built by the end of the war.
There were three basic versions of the weapon. The =93early=94 model used a Tiger I type vision slit and viewer; the =93mid=94 production version used a new design which gave the driver more room and a protected vision block on top of the casemate for his controls. The =93late=94 production variant added a ball mount for a machine gun to the left of the main gun for close-in protection and a proper cupola for the commander. The Soviets called this vehicle the =93T-4 with 150mm mortar=94 which is probably closer to the truth as the very short barrel of the howitzer (less than six feet long) is more like a mortar.
Monogram released a 1/32 scale kit of this vehicle nearly 38 years ago and did provide a bit of zimmerit on the hull; Tamiya released their 1/35 scale kit years later but sans zimmerit and DML some years after that. This year there are at least two new kits of the Sturmpanzer IV scheduled for release, and the DML one appears to be the first to market.
First the good news =96 DML has done a nice job of creating the Brummbaer, and even with the nicely done Pzkw. IV Ausf. F/F1/F2 and G versions they have pulled 207 styrene parts from those kits and replaced them with 247 new ones. These cover the casemate and the StuH43 gun, a partial interior, the new fenders, modifications to the engine deck. The kit also claims it has a different type of track included, but the only obvious feature without a jeweler=92s loupe is the increase of 22 more links per side in the package.
There is another four-page =93brag book=94 included with the kit which highlights the changes made to the model from previous kit releases. Most have to do with the specific parts for the Sturmpanzer IV and can be seen on examining the sprues and parts.
However, from what records I have and photos I have examined all of the =93mid=94 production Sturmpanzer IV vehicles had zimmerit paste on them and this kit has not one whit. One problem for DML is that once you have demonstrated that you can do a great job on replicating zimmerit paste finishes, and go through the trouble of changing this many parts in a model to achieve a new kit, why leave off the zimmerit finish? Even the lovely box art by Ron Volstad shows a vehicle sporting a coat of zimmerit.
The listed technical advisors for this kit are Notger Schlegtendal, Steven van Beveren, Tom Cockle, and Gary Edmundson. Somehow I doubt these gentlemen with their past record of great models and accurate research would have missed this =93minor=94 point, so the question here is =96 what was DML thinking? It=92s one thing to brag about the reproduction of weld beads and have a demonstrably great product, but if they were going to be covered up perhaps that should have been first on the list of items to include.
The =932-in-1" referenced is simply an optional command =93crow=92s foot=94=
antenna and mount to go on the stock vehicle.
The one really impressive touch with this vehicle is the inclusion of etched nickel side shields for the =93full-up=94 vehicle. These are nicely done but will need care as the mounting brackets are all plastic; modelers may wish to =93etch=94 the surface a bit with a chemical blackener so the adhesive of choice (either cyanoacryalte glue or epoxy) can =93bite=94 and hold it in place.
There are three suggested finishing options, all for Stu.Pz.Abt. 216 in Italy, 1944: 1 (commander), 2 and 3. All are in a red brown over sand mottle. A tiny sheet of Cartograf decals is included.
Overall this is a lovely kit but DML appears to have flubbed the zimmerit finish, which is a shame.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review example.