Starting December 1943 the Stug IV replaced the StuG III in the production lines. The new vehicle was a combination of the StuG III’s casemate, and Pz IV’s chassis and main gun. About 1100 StuG IVs were assembled or converted. Depending on their features these vehicles are classified as “early” and “late” production.
As noted in the In-box Review
, Dragon’s Smart kit 6612 contains the parts for building a late type vehicle, including the proper hatches, remote machine gun weapons station on top of the casemate, thicker frontal armor for the superstructure, the Flammentoter “vertical” exhausts replacing the boiler-like muffler, etc.
Of over 1200 parts in the kit about 600 are referenced in the instructions, which show a total of 14 construction steps.
Steps 1 and 2
will have you assemble the rear plate of the hull tub with a number of details, including the idler support, the track tension mechanisms and the exhausts. As I wanted to paint the latter separately I did assemble them, but left them off for later.
The drive sprockets have an alignment pin on the inside – make sure you fit the halves the proper way. I chose the late style “tubular” idlers.
Remove the halves for the return rollers from the sprue carefully, as their outer edges are very thin and can be easily damaged.
The roadwheels all had a pretty obvious mold parting line down the middle of their tires. I glued the halves of each roadwheel together, mounted the ready assembly on a drill bit chucked in a motor tool, and treated them to a 400 and then 800-grit sandpaper to get rid of the seam.
If using this method keep the RPM relatively low to avoid melting the wheels!
Plan a bit of extra time to align the hub caps (which are separate – part A1) of the roadwheels.
– a rather quick one with adding a few plates to the front, as well as the rear hull wall assembly to complete the tub. No surprises here, everything fits pretty well. Just keep in mind the parts for the front towing attachments are handed – they should “look” towards the center line of the vehicle.
– adding the final drive covers and part of the suspension details to the hull. Parts A10 – the dampers in the bogey bump stops – all have a vertical mold parting line on the outside that requires cleanup. The fit of the bogey housings (parts A38 and A39) is trouble free. If you’re doing a damaged machine that lost a bogey or two – the detail on the hull is rather adequate.
– bogeys, wheels, spare track links and braking drum covers are mounted. I would recommend assembling parts A48 and A21/A55 before adding them to the respective housings. The fit between the mounting pins of the housings (A38 and A39) and the holes in suspension arms (A21/55) allows for posing each bogie at a different (albeit limited) angle. If you want your roadwheels straight and level – use a slow setting glue and a flat surface to align them properly. The circular covers (parts A42 and A43) were all click-fit on my example.
Depending on how much slack you want on your machine – you can adjust the position of the idler mount.
Mounting the braking drum covers (both parts are labeled A4) was the only challenge in the kit. Their hinges interfere with the proper fit, so I used a PE saw from Hauler to remove the hinge halves from the upper glacis (part B6). The covers were then glued, and the sawn-off hinge halves glued back to the glacis with thick glue. During the surgery the glacis plate suffered some damage, so this was one of the three spots I used filler.
I left off the spare tracks and all the wheels until after the painting stage.
– engine deck. No problems here, as all the parts fit as designed. A number of grooves ensure you won’t be able to swap left and right intake assemblies. The engine access doors are a drop fit. Don’t forget parts MA7 and MA8 – these prevent the void in the engine bay from being seen.
– the fenders. They are a bit of a complicated affair, as first you need to cut off a section of each, then glue back another section on each side, and add the whole complement of tools afterwards.
The instructions will also have you cut off two of the shield supports on the outer fender edge – DO NOT do that. What must be removed are two L-shaped supports next to where the two wrenches are supposed to be on the left front fender (part K3).
In subassembly H of this step (the left-hand fender) Dragon has mislabeled a part – the retaining spring of the front mud flap is A29 (identical to the one on the right side), NOT A49 as per instructions.
I elected to leave the tools and the photo-etched engine intake covers for later on. The many parts at this point would not only complicate painting. They’d also act as stiffeners for the fenders, and you’d need them as elastic as possible to mount them to the hull.
– mounting the fenders, tracks and the engine deck. The instruction suggests that you add the tracks at this time, but I myself left them off until it was time for the weathering stage. (You can adjust the slack by combining the effect of the idler mount’s position and the number of links – I used 98 links each side.)
As discussed I’ve left the fenders “bare” so they remain as elastic as possible while I was adding them to the hull tub. I started at the rear end of the tub, maneuvering around the towing hooks on each end. Once you negotiate the hook the whole fender simply clicks in place. All you need to do now is run a bit of thin modeling glue to fix it.
The engine deck is a drop fit. After you’ve cemented it in place you can easily align the PE intake covers properly on the fenders, and add all the OVM tools, lights, etc. after.
– assembling the main gun is a pretty straightforward affair. The gun sight was painted in steel metalizer, the lens was masked, then the sight was sprayed Tamiya X-1 Black.
My recommendation on the gun: test-fit and pre-assemble the recoil guard (parts F19, F21 and F22). Add it to the gun assembly it after you attach the gun mount and the casemate to the chassis. The gun is a VERY tight fit when inserting into the casemate and you may have the shield bend or break off on you.
– radios and spare roadwheels. Cutting off the shaded areas of parts C11 and C-16 would leave a big gap between them and the fenders – check your references! Other than that – trouble-free.
Again – the spare wheels were left off for after painting the camo.
– casemate assembly. Joins together what you’ve done in step 10, the driver’s “doghouse” and the add-on armor. Very important:
refer to the supplement instruction sheet for the front armor and:
• use part “Blue A2” instead of parts C13 and C18 for a late vehicle;
• glue parts G23 and G24 instead of K39 and K40.
There is a rain guard (part K5) that is to be mounted behind the driver’s hatch. It has two tiny alignment pins you are supposed to open the accepting holes for. There are marks on the inside of the casemate structure (part D1) – use 0,4mm or smaller drill bit to avoid filling.
– casemate roof, commander’s hatch and machine gun station. Part K36 is a late pattern additional ballistic protection for the commander’s cupola. It’s not mentioned in the instructions, but you will need to remove a bolt head on the edge of the roof in order to fit the part (as was the case on the actual vehicle).
Parts P5 and P6 represent the loader’s hatch – considering the lack of detail inside the casemate this is closed on my model.
Although the cupola appears a rather complicated affair, it’s actually pretty straightforward to build. I masked off the “glass” areas of the periscopes and coated them in metallic paint to simulate the mirrors inside. After that the periscopes were inserted and the rest of the pieces assembled. I found part MA31 is too thin for its job – it would ripple, wouldn’t fit properly and leave gaps. It’s better off replaced with a piece of scrap plastic.
The vehicle commander can use a stereoscopic artillery sight, and his hatch has a hinged section for it to fit when the hatch is closed. You can pose both the way you like. I left the hatch off when assembling the cupola, pending a figure.
Part TG1 simulates the close-quarter infantry defense mortar. You can actually assemble the weapon “in action” as the parts are present in the sprue – it’s your call.
On the MG station – add all the parts (P13, P17, P18) to the station base (P12) before gluing the shield (part P15). I replaced the buttstock of the MG-34 with the stub spring cover (part P17) as per instructions. Regrettably there is no ammunition supplied – neither ammo belts, nor the characteristic drum – which is a pity.
– assembling the main components.
If you’ve read the opus this far you remember I did work in subassemblies:
• hull tub with suspension (sans wheels), final drive covers, upper glacis plate, rear plate, fenders and engine deck installed;
• gun mount, including recoil guard, barrel and mask installed;
• casemate (sans roof);
• superstructure roof and commander’s cupola;
• MG mount;
I painted the gun assembly (yellow on the visible exterior and white on the interior portion) before maneuvering it into the upper casemate. Then these two were glued to the hull with slow-setting glue. I got two gaps, obvious enough to require the use of some Vallejo putty:
• between the upper glacis and the driver’s “dog house”;
• the line where the fender and the right sidewall of the casemate meet, due to the latter being slightly concave inward.
The superstructure roof was installed next, then part C12 was cemented in place. The complete vehicle hull was now camouflaged using Vallejo Dunkelgelb, Gunze H405 and 406 for the Dark Yellow, Dark Green and Chocolate Brown, respectively. To tone down the contrast I sprayed thinned Dunkelgelb and White all over the hull.
All the wheels received the base color before mounting them. The rubber tires were simulated using Tamiya X-1 Black (Revell 78 for the spares – gives them a bit of dusty, faded appearance). I then used acrylic gel mixed with dark brown paints to create “the mud” on the hull and wheels.
Each track was assembled as a single run of 98 links, primed, and sprayed Model Master Gun Metal. I treated the ridges to a drybrush with Tamiya X-11 Chrome, and mounted the tracks as I would a regular DS run (they were surprisingly flexible) before adding the DIY mud to them, too.
Tools and Exhausts:
I didn’t quite like the molded-on clasps on the tools, as separating the colors of the camo and the tools themselves is a rather tedious job (for me anyway).
The exhaust stacks are nicely molded, with interior detail. I replaced their molded-on weld seams with stretched sprue and basecoated them with Revell Rust (83). They were next treated with chalk pastels and flatcoated. The edges are sprayed Alclad II Engine Manifold to simulate smoke and residue – that stuff smells horrible (always wear breathing protection regardless of where you work!), but the effect is worth it!
Step 14 - I am clueless as to what material these are made of, but it seems to not work really well with CA even after degreasing. The shields are apparently stamped/cut rather than photoetched. I used pieces of the “fret” to space the second layer out on the three shields on either side of the casemate. The bolt heads on the edges of sprue M were glued over the holes in the shields.
My recommendation for the Schurzen support frame is as follows: “dry fit, dry fit, dry fit!” Despite the “hanger” supports being fitted to the slots in the instruction and over the markings of the hull I still had to move some of the supports (see image 14) to get the proper look of the entire Schurzen suite. Some of the tools and the basket for the spare roadwheels interfere with the on-shield supports on my model – I’ve cut off the offending bits.
In summary – this IS a great kit. It is very detailed, appears to reproduce the original well enough, and provides a great deal of optional and poseable parts, which given the already post-apocalyptic lines of the vehicle makes the kit even more attractive. The basic construction is very accessible, and can be complete in about 8-10 hours, with almost no sanding and hardly any filling to be done. The three spots are mentioned are the only places I used any putty – I’ve assembled 1/72 kits that needed more on the “filling-sanding” routine. There are lots of attractive schemes, field modifications and diorama opportunities just begging to be realized using this kit.
Then there are the problem areas:
• loads of sprue gates – some small parts, poles, antennae and bars are simply unusable. Cleanup is VERY time consuming, but I guess this is the price of detailing.
• parts for each step on 3 or 4 sprues, many parts looking alike, multiple sprues labeled with the same letter – all rather confusing.
• instructions, although seemingly logical, are not always helpful.
Overall an enjoyable build despite the issues above – these can be easily offset with some careful planning.