Dragon Armor Pro Kit No. 7283 StuG.III Ausf.
Media and Contents:
126 light grey plastic parts on
three sprues with three parts separately packed, 5 PE parts on one fret,
2 sand coloured DS 100 soft plastic one-piece tracks, decals for 5
vehicles plus a 3 page double sided fold out instruction sheet with
parts plan, 7 build drawings and 2 pages of paint/decal full colour
art-work. No history is given.
retail price estimated at US $13.98
Dragon's first Panzer III based vehicle;
highly detailed exterior; detail on under-side of guards; separate
dampers and all hatches open or closed. PE intake screens.
No interior detail; individual road wheels
instead of twinned with separate faces as in Panzer IV based kits. No
right side profile and no spare tracks.
The StuG.III was initially designed as an infantry support
self-propelled gun based on the Panzer III chassis. However, it was
soon found to be an effective anti-tank weapon when fitted with a
Pak 40 anti-tank gun. The Ausf. G was the last production model and
this is the early version of that vehicle.
Dragon is now the undisputed leader in Braille Scale Armour and is
unlikely to be challenged by any other model company in the near
future. Although their first kits in this scale were some-what
flawed, they have improved to a level of accuracy and detail never
seen before in this scale. They have brought forth so many
innovative ideas that their opposition must be wondering how on
earth they can possibly make up the difference. Take their DS 100
tracks for instance, they don't work in every case (T34/76-85) but
they are the next best thing to Link&Length, beautifully detailed,
can be glued with ordinary plastic glue and will take any type of
model paint. Apart from the fact that some came out initially
distorted and others were too short, they seem to work whether you
paint them before mounting or after. If the above was not enough,
Dragon have shown themselves to be prepared to fix mistakes and
The only early StuG.III Ausf. G we've had up till now is the old
Esci kit recently re-released by Italeri. Now it was not a bad kit,
had some shape problems and some of the detail was a bit soft but
over-all quite good. Then Revell did a late Ausf. G and it was so
good it over-shadowed the Esci kit in both accuracy and detail.
However, it was a late one and the Esci was still the only good
early offering. Now this Dragon early Ausf. G is, in my opinion, as
good if not better than the Revell offering. The Revell kit has
schurzen rails and mounts plus link and length tracks while the
Dragon has all hatches open, separate dampers and PE grilles plus
the DS 100 tracks are almost as good as Revell's link and length.
The mould quality in both cases is excellent as is the level of
detail. I don't know if there is any value in the detail on the
under-side of the Dragon guards as it probably won't be seen after
construction but at least it shows Dragon is committed to produce as
much detail as possible.
This then, is the first in a new
line of Panzer III based vehicles and judging by those that have
come before, those based on the Panzer IV, Sd Kfz 251, Shermans,
T-34s etc, there are quite a few still to come.
thumbnails below to view larger images:
With the lower hull, fighting
compartment box and engine deck as separately bagged parts, sprue
“A” has guards, front armour plates, rear armour, tow cables, tools,
separate dampers, exhausts and many other small parts. Of all the
tools, only the axe, shovel and “S” shaped towing hooks are moulded
on other parts.
“B” carries the gun and all the parts to go in or on the fighting
compartment. This includes mantlet, loader's hatch (open or closed),
cupola and hatches (one or two piece), periscopes, smoke bomb tubes,
aerial mounts and close support MG and shield. On the side of the
box it states that the gun site is in clear plastic. This is wrong.
It's on the “B” sprue in light grey plastic.
There is no “C” sprue and “D” has all the wheels, drive sprockets,
return and support rollers. Here is what I consider the only
backward step in this kit although it is not large. In the Panzer IV
based kits, the pairs of road wheels were twinned together to form
one part with a separate face. This meant the wheels could be
painted the tyre colour and very squarely mounted with the face
painted in camouflage being added later. However, it meant there was
no detail on the inside of the inner wheel. In this StuG III kit,
the road wheels are separate with the faces moulded on so it will be
a little harder to paint them and extra care will be required when
mounting them on the axles. The smaller support rollers are still
paired as in the earlier Panzer IV based kits.
One area where both Dragon and Revell have got it right is the road
wheel alignment. Because all the swing-arms on the Panzer III
pointed aft, and were on individual full width torsion bars, the
road wheels on the right hand side are further forward than those on
the left. Tigers and Panthers have swing-arms on one side pointing
aft while those on the other side point forward and this allows the
road wheels on both sides to be aligned. Esci got this wrong and of
course Italeri have just reproduced the Esci moulds as is.
On all of these plastic parts, there are no sink marks, ejector pin
marks or flash and the finest, cleanest moulding I have ever seen in
any model by any company in any scale.
The PE consists of only five parts. There are three screens and two
guard supports. Looking at the guard supports, I don't think I would
bother with them. They're just too small. If you are not into PE at
all, there are two alternative intakes with the screens moulded on.
It's up to the builder.
The small decal sheet is printed by Cartograf and the quality is as
good as you would expect. There are decals and art-work for 5
vehicles in various colours. The first two are overall Dark Yellow
with Olive Green wavy lines on the upper hull from “Das Reich” and
“Grossdeutschland” respectively, Russia 1943. Next is an overall
Dark Yellow StuG with no second colour from “RFSS”, Italy 1944. Then
there are two with Dark Yellow lower hull and winter White Wash on
the upper. One is from “Totenkopf”, Ukraine 1944 and the other is a
StuG captured by the Red Army with some Red Russian script on either
side of the fighting compartment also in the Ukraine in 1944. Gunze
Sanoyo/Mr Hobby and Model Master colours are called out through-out
the instructions and art-work and although the left profile of each
vehicle is shown there is no right side so the modeller will have to
fake the camouflage patten on that side.
The only criticism of this kit other than the wheels, which I don't
consider serious, is the lack of any provision for spare tracks.
Esci has them across the front of the vehicle and on either side of
the fighting compartment while Revell put them across the rear of
the fighting compartment. They don't have to be used of course but I
believe most StuGs carried them and it would have been nice if
Dragon had supplied them.
The above minor criticisms
notwithstanding, this is a superb little kit, highly detailed and
beautifully moulded and it will be interesting to see how far Dragon
goes with this Panzer III series.