This offering from MiniArt arrives in a cardboard tray, with a card lid. Inside the contents are in a single plastic bags, the photo etch is protected inside a card envelope - but MiniArt continues to pack their decals in plastic along with the clear sprue, and this could of course lead to damage of the decals where this could easily be avoided. As usual the moulding quality is good, with no obvious issues regarding visual attributes. The sprue gates are of a reasonable size, but are not easily accessed for cutting in some cases. The other issue you will encounter is that MiniArt provides very many small parts that are easily damaged during removal and so great care will need to be taken.
I have lost count of the number of Stug’s that have been released in 1/35th scale by MiniArt, both with and without interiors. Due to many of the sprues being used for both interior and non interior kits, you will find some interior elements that are going to be utilised despite performing no obvious purpose. The lower tub is made up of 5 flat detailed parts, with the rear plate having 3 options with very minimal differences and no indication in the instructions as to which finish they are relevant for. Bringing these panels together could be problematic, but is saved by the inclusion of the internal fire wall, which supports and accurately locates the side walls and then in effect the front and rear walls. The photo etched elements at the rear of the vehicle and which covers the mufflers is particularly nicely done in this release.
Moving to the upper surfaces of the model, all of the access hatches for both crew and mechanical aspects of the real vehicle can be left open or closed due to the parts being shared with an interior detail kit. You again have detail on both the interior and exterior surfaces of the armoured plate, which is helpful for the modeller who is leaving the hatches open for figures as it means the interior is not featureless. The Commander’s cupola is again a nicely detailed element, with both the bunny ear sight system and clear blocks for the periscopes. An MG34 is provided for firing from the loaders position, with the barrel used being one of those that is used for machine guns that poke through the armoured plate. I believe the difference is that the barrel is not as adversely affected by the firing of the weapon over extended periods, as changing the barrel inside the vehicle is problematic.
The suspension of the model is not workable and in set in a neutral position, the wheels are of course very well detailed with marking on the rubber portion being present. The tracks for the model are non workable, individual track links with the instruction informing you that there is 94 links per side, they are also specifically numbered for use on the left or right side of the vehicle. The tools for the model are a mix of clean and moulded on clamp detail, the clamps provided in photo etch are not workable, but do add a nice touch for those capable of utilising them well. Track guards are provided in 2 forms, depending on which finishing option you have chosen and so you will need to take care when attaching them. The clamps that pull the track ends together in order to insert the track pin, are very nicely done as they have separate photo etched brackets, which I cannot having seen or noticed before. The tow cables are not included within the model, so you will need to source your own materials for the cables themselves, but separate cable ends have been included. I know that there are some very good after markets items available to replicate the cable themselves or the tow cable in full. The stumpy main gun is provided in 5 separate pieces, with the various elements mimicking metal barrels that can be purchased. Obviously there are seams lines that will need to be addressed, but I do not see a need to replace it with an after market barrel. The ariels for the vehicle have been provided, as have extra track links that perform the function of extra armour at the front, rear and top of the vehicle. Some of the finishing options use Shurzen plates on the sides and these are the reason for the optional track guards, with the plates themselves provided in photo etch. The finishing options for this release are:
Komp.II.ABT. Pz. Reg. Hermann Gorring, Italy 1943
Unidentified German Unit. Eastern Front. Autumn 1943
Pz. Gren. Div. (Totenkopf). Eastern Front, Autumn 1943
Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front, Autumn 1943
Stug-ABT. 237. Eastern Front, Elnya, Autumn 1943
StugAbt.276. Eastern Front, Autumn 1943
This is another very pleasing release of the Stug family, with the MG32 machine gun on the loaders position grabbing my attention due to the barrel. The construction has been kept as easy as possible considering that parts are used across the family of MiniArt Stugs. Details visual wise please me, particularly the Schürzen plates provided as they are very well done and vehicles with Schürzen fitted have always caught my eye. The finishing options cover a nice mix of locations and finishes, and I have been unable to find a specific fault with this release. But you will need to be comfortable with the use of small photo etched parts to get the most from this release.