This offering from Zvezda of a 1/35th Stug IV arrives in a flip top cardboard box, with the plastic parts in 2 plastic bags with the decals and clear parts in a Ziploc bag - an aspect that I do not approve of due to the risk of damage. An examination of the mouldings reveals no moulding issues and reasonable sized gates between the sprue and the part that are not excessive in number in most cases.
This release from Zvezda is listed as all new moulds this year, so what does that provide? The lower hull has been moulded as a tub, with reinforced corners to help avoid deformation. The rear is a separate part as is the detailed portion at the front. For reasons that I do not understand, a very large square hole is in the bottom of the lower hull, with an additional part to fill that void. I can only think that this has been done to aid the moulding process. Surface detail provided on the lower hull looks good to me, and I believe that the construction process provided will assist modellers who wish to apply a Zimmerit coat to the model. I believe that this would also be suitable for the use of most after market Zimmerit sheets.
The suspension units do not have any workable attributes to them and so the kit is designed to sit on an even surface for display. Anyone who has tackled one of the many Stugs from MiniArt will know that there are a lot of fine alterations in the detail to signify specific variants. The drive, road and idlers wheels cause me no concerns with regards to detail. Moving on to the tracks, these are provided as link and length and these have been well moulded and are a good compromise between those that detest rubber band tracks and those who detest individual track links. You could, of course, go to after market tracks should you desire.
Moving on to the upper area of the model, the track guards are provided as single pieces which I have always had issues with them sitting accurately on the kit, due to the outer edge not being supported. Zvezda have been quite clever here, as there is a shaped cross member that provides stability to the track guards, and at the same time provides a mounting surface for the main gun support mechanism. The underside of the track guards do have some ejector pin marks that will ideally be remedied.
The engine deck is provided by a number of separate panels, including access hatches which provide a good level of detail, but I do feel that this kit will benefit from a dedicated after market set - to lift the detail. The fighting compartment looks well replicated to me, with the Commander’s cupola is provided with clear periscopes and the gunner’s position having the twin doors and the option of a raised or lowered gun shield for mounting a machine gun that is not provided in this release. A small amount of detail is provided for the breech of the gun, but it is very basic. A single piece barrel is included, which I like and there are 5 options for the muzzle break which I also approve of. Shurzen is provided as a single piece moulding, with the mounting bracketry being separate. Tools and spares that were typically present are included here, with the detail being acceptable due to moulded on clamps.
Zvezda has covered 2 finishing options for this release, the first of which I question due to only having 2 numbers and no unit designation.
Stug IV, Easter Prussia, September 1944
Stug IV, Eastern Front, Summer 1944.
I quite like the new armoured kits that have come from Zvezda, due to their level of detail, affordability and overall ease of construction. This release does in my opinion require that after market photo etch would be a great improvement. The link and length tracks I quite like - my complaints are limited to packing the decals with the clear sprue. The lack of texture on the gun mantlet as this part always seems to be textured. The finishing options are questionable, but other wise the kit is good for the price.