Despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a good number of model companies have been able to start production again - MiniArt is one such company, and I am sure they would appreciate your support. This release is the third Stug III in 1/35th scale and my initial look over the contents gives me some very positive opinions of it. The Stug family beyond the switch from III to IV when the Panzer III hull was changed to the Panzer IV one are small changes that the modeller loves to know are correct; well I really like the Stug family and I am very pleased to see the Stug III getting attention, but I have no idea about all of the small changes that occurred over the line. A general rule is that you improve survivability, Accuracy and cheapness of production; an example well known on the Stug was the addition of concrete to get rid of a shot trap. So let’s take a dive into the contents.
The model arrives in a single plastic bag, where the decals are floating around loose in a bag facing the clear sprue and so could easily be damaged and is one area where I will pick MiniArt up. The photo etch included is also inside the bag, but is protected by a card envelope and so should not be a concern. Packing all of the parts in a single bag with MiniArt’s releases becoming slowly but surely becoming more refined means that in my opinion they need to start considering refining their packaging, but due to the war I will obviously overlook this problem. Access to the parts is good, but the finesse of some parts means that care will need to be taken during removal. You will need to be on your toes when it comes to finding the parts needed due to the large number of sprues.
The Stug III family of models from MiniArt offer a mix of with and without an interior and so a large number of parts in this offering are made to accommodate interior detail. The lower hull is a great example of this with it being made up from 11 parts; this would normally cause me concern due to the risk of a part not being spot on but is saved by the addition of the bulkhead between the crew and engine bays. This provides a positive located part to work from and with the internal suspension elements should make the task a calming aspect. There is a reasonable amount of photo etch in the kit which is however restricted to parts that are an improvement rather than just because they could.
Moving to the upper surfaces of the model where we are again provided with many well detailed panels that need to be brought together. The fighting compartment is a case in point which makes the model a lot more involved but improves the crispness of detail and extent of the moulded on detail. This detail is again both inside and out of most panels and so open hatches are still catered to too some degree. This vehicle was produced after the deletion of the shot traps either side of the main gun and which gives this vehicle its pleasing lines. Also present is the added armour plate on the most easily hit areas at the front of the vehicle, with these being added extra parts rather than moulded on parts the look will be improved in my opinion.
The main gun mount inside the vehicle looks accurate and is well detailed. The gun itself is only partially provided with the rear portion of the barrel, the shielded recuperators above the barrel and the aiming device. The rest of the parts behind this area are not included and which I would have liked to see included to help with open hatches. The roof of the fighting compartment is thankfully a single moulding and so easily added. The hatches can be added open or closed and offer exceptionally pleasing detail in all regards without being a pain to work on. The commander’s hatch offers the same high level of detail and includes clear periscopes. The machine gun has the correct barrel detail for a vehicle MG but could be improved upon I believe. The armoured extractor hatch is a nicely done part. The engine deck is a simple aspect but the detail looks spot on and I like the armoured engine deck covers. The exterior aspects of the main gun have been very well tackled giving the modeller great detail and doing away with most of the issues barrels usually provide.
The suspension on the model is very easy but is not articulated and so sits in a neutral plain. With that said the detail looks right and offers up what needs to be provided. The road wheels have good detail and even have manufacturers detail on the tyres. The return rollers, drive wheels and idlers look correct. The track provided is very nicely detailed individual links, but this is not the workable tracks seen on the Panzer IV models. A link count has been included but I have concerns about how easy or hard it will be to show the return track droop. The track guards are another very well tackled area with diamond tread pattern replicated on both upper and lower surfaces. The tools mounted on the model look nice especially the fire extinguisher. The eyes for the tow cables are provided but you are left to source your own preferred cable, I would have liked to see cable of some type included for the modellers who do not have a house full of junk that they call their spare parts.
MiniArt has provided five finishing options for this release which are as follows:
Stug III Ausf G, 201Stg.Abt., Greece, Summer, 1943
Stug III Ausf G, 322Stg.Abt, Eastern Front, Summer 1943
Stug III Ausf G, 1st Company Bz. Abt. (Rhodos), Rhodos, Autumn 1943
Stug III Ausf G, Bulgarian 1st Assault Gun Battalion, Autumn 1943
Stug III Ausf G, 10th SS Panzer Division (Frundsberg) Pomerania, March 1945
Another great Stug III model from MiniArt in 1/35th scale. I like that they have not gone overboard with the photo etch parts in this release as it keeps it within the ability of all modellers within reason. I am satisfied with the provided detail even if I am unwilling to say it is perfectly detailed as we can end up criticising the smallest of details. The detail on the tracks and track guards is particularly noteworthy.