Stug. III O-Series
According to both David Doyle's Sturmgeschutz, Vol. 1 and Spielberger's Sturmgeschutz and Its Variants, only five O-Series StuG III were manufactured in 1937 for use in training only, and never saw combat. The vehicles were based on the Pz.Kpfw III Ausf. B chassis and had a mild steel superstructure mounting the 75mm main gun. All five vehicles were assigned to the Artillerie-Lehr Regiment at Juterborg, Germany through at least 1941. Major differences from later production series StuGs were the running gear, which used eight road wheels mounted in pairs on a double-swing arm, pivoting on the free end of a suspension arm, as opposed to the later series which had six road wheels mounted on torsion bars. Another distinguishing characteristic were the two round access hatches on the lower front plate of the hull, which were discontinued on later production models.
What's in the box?
There are 49 light grey sprues in the box, but several of them are quite small, and 18 are for the individual track links. I noticed a few parts with a bit of flash and some of the track pins were broken; otherwise, the parts look good and in scale. Let's take a look at the instructions.
I'm not used to color photos in kit instructions, so this is a nice touch, even if the vehicle is going to be painted in German Dark Grey! Page 2 shows a built, but unpainted, model with the PE parts really standing out - that may prove helpful with some of the steps, since some steps are a little, hmm, how to say it, crowded.
Page 3 provides the obligatory safety message in six languages, and instruction icons with explanation in eight languages, followed by line drawings of nine sprue frames, PE parts sheet, decal sheet, and a paint colors chart for Vallejo, Mr. Color, Life Color, Tamiya, Testors, AK, Humbrol, and Revell, with small color chips. Again, very nice!
Page 4 shows line drawings of the last six sprue frames and the jig (marked J, natch) for building the tracks (that's going to be real handy, Kamerad!).
Page 5, Step 1 is building the lower hull by adding the two hull sides and front lower plate to the hull bottom, and adding four bump stops per side, as well as two small parts inside the hull bottom. Their function is a mystery, since there is no interior, so hopefully all will become clear. Note that there are also four angular protrusions pre-molded, which are at risk of breakage, so handle carefully.
Steps 2 and 3 are mirror image builds (four each) of the left and right side axles, to include inserting, without glue, a small plastic part (non-rubber polycap?) into the arm.
Step 4 is attaching to the right hull side two Step 2 axles to the front, and two Step 3 axles to the rear, of a double-swing arm, along with a bolted plate and attachments. NOTE: in the drawing, the hull is upside down, so it appears these suspension parts are being added to the left side - nope!
Step 5 is building two sprocket wheel sets. It looks as though you glue the two wheel halves together, but DO NOT glue the wheel assembly to the final drive and very short axle. If the build has different results, I'll edit this review. You'll also add a round PE part and two very, very, very small PE bolts/nuts. I mean, these are ridiculously small. There is an inset showing the proper placement of the PE. Step 6 is building up the two idler wheels with hub. Step 7 is adding a starter crank and exhaust supports to the rear hull plate.
Page 6, Step 8 is a repeat of Step 4, except its for the left side, and the Step 2 axles are on the rear and the Step 3 axles are on the front of the double-swing arm. Steps 9 and 10 are building up the two exhausts, which will be attached later on. Step 11 is adding to the right side (protective?) plates to those four protrusions mentioned above, as well as shock absorbers and protective covers for the suspension arms.
Page 7, Step 12 is repeating the steps in Step 11, except for the left side. Step 13 and Step 14 are attaching roadwheel halves together with a plastic (not rubber) polycap without glue, and attaching same to the double-swing arm, also without glue. I'm guessing this is so the suspension can articulate, so it will be interesting to see how this works out. NOTE: Even though there are two different part numbers for the double-swing arms, the directions don't specify they're to be attached to a certain side or front/rear location, so we'll see what happens in the build.
Step 15 is gluing the final drives with sprockets to the hull, along with attaching without gluing the idler wheels through the idler wheel plate, which does get glued to the hull. Also, attach a mounting bracket cover in the middle of both hull sides, and attach the towing pintle mount to the hull rear plate.
Page 8, Step 16 is building up and attaching the six return rollers, and attaching the eight double-swing arm sets, four per side. There is an inset which shows the double-swing arm assembly NOT being glued in to the axle (remember those little parts from Steps 2 and 3?)
Step 17 has an inset showing how to build eight track links at a time by using seven outer and seven inner pins to hold the tracks together. Although I've never done this before, it looks like the tracks are laid on the jig without glue; the pins are cut from their sprue in groups of seven, inserted into both sides, cut from the sprue, and then a very small drop of glue is used to hold the track section together. Looks interesting, although I'm not looking forward to snipping 960 attachment points off the 192 track links to be used (96 per side), followed by inserting and gluing 384 track pins. Also visible in Step 17 is a gap inside the front and middle of the hull side where part of the suspension is visible. If anyone wants to add an interior, those will have to be covered up.
Step 18 is super-gluing PE strips into the underside of the rear engine deck grill. Step 19 is super-gluing PE strips into the underside of two rear engine deck hatch covers. Step 20 is attaching the muffler assemblies, engine hatch covers, and PE tow cable brackets and lifting hooks to the rear engine deck. Step 21 is drilling six holes in the front hull plate: two for headlight mounting posts, and four for the protective covers, as well as attaching the front transmission hatch covers. If desired to show the hatches in the open position, PE handles are to be attached. NOTE: No interior transmission, engine, brakes, or driver position are provided in the kit.
Page 9, Step 22 has three insets for the right-hand fender: first shows drilling locations for 8 holes for tools; second shows optional build of the front mudguard, up or down, and the parts needed; and third inset shows build of the rear mudguard. Step 23 has the same insets for the left-hand fender, only there are 16 holes to drill. Step 24 is attaching the two fenders (NOTE: both are labeled as Step 23, but only the left-hand one is); inner firewall; loader's seat; rear engine deck; and front glacis plate. Step 25 is attaching the two machine-pistols to the firewall, and commander's seat with adjustable post.
Page 10, Step 26 is building the gun breech, recoil guard, and inner mantlet. Step 27 is adding the outer face to the mantlet, along with some detail parts.Step 28 is building the gun platform and support legs. Step 29 is building the gunner's seat. Step 30 is adding the gunner's controls to the left trunnion, along with the gunner's sight IF the sight hatch is open. Step 31 is adding the left and right trunnions, along with the gun breech assembly, to the gun platform assembly. Step 32 is attaching the gunner's seat to the gun platform assembly. Step 33 is attaching the gun platform assembly into the hull interior. Step 34 is building up the two storage boxes for the rear fenders.
Page 11, Step 35 is attaching the front driver's plate, with the option of one with the two holes for sight, or without; two superstructure sides, and superstructure roof, which is one solid piece except for the loader and commander hatches. NOTE: During the build, I may leave this part unglued, until I see how it is attaching the main gun assembly to the gun breech assembly through the superstructure front aperture.
Step 36 is attaching PE strips to the two air intakes. Step 37 is building the Notek light. Step 38 has several sub-steps shown in inset diagrams: building up the gun assembly and recuperators, attaching that assembly to the breech assembly; inserting the one piece radio set into the left side superstructure; attach the driver's visor and armored cover; attach fire extinguisher, shovel and axe with PE straps, fender supports, left rear tail light, antenna support. Step 39 is building up the front headlights and their armored covers, front tow hooks, siren, Notek light, front left side superstructure, gun cleaning rods, radio antenna (apparently only in a down position), and the left rear stowage box.
Page 12, Step 40 is attaching two fender supports, jack block, tool box, a second fire extinguisher, rear storage box to the right fender. Step 41 is building up one of two jack versions, depending on which StuG version is being built. Step 42 is attaching the left side air intake, tow cable loops, and the top part of the PE cable straps and holders.
Page 13 has a diagram of how the towing cable should be attached, with a note that the towing cable has to be scratch built. Step 43 is attaching the right superstructure, along with hand holds and lifting hooks. Step 44 is attaching the jack and right side air intake, and the commander and loader hatches, either open or closed. If open, there are PE latches to add.
Page 14 is a color rendition of StuG "A" front, rear, both sides, and top view. The only marking is a white "A" on the right front superstructure. This version does not have the two holes over the driver's visor.
Page 15 is a color rendition of StuG "B" front, rear, both sides, and top view. In addition to a red "B"on the right front superstructure, this version has white Balkenkruz on the sides and white and red wreath insignia next to the driver's visor. This version has the two holes over the driver visor.
Page 16 is a color rendition of StuG "C" front, rear, both sides, and top view. This version does not have Balkankreuz. It does have a yellow "C" on the front right superstructure, along with a white and yellow wreath next to the driver's visor, and like "B", has the two holes over the driver's visor. No information is provided on StuGs four and five ("D" and "E"?)
Now, let's take a look at the sprues:
Sprue A x 4 - bump stops, shock absorber, small connection parts
Sprue Ad x 4 - axles, double swing arms, road wheels, return rollers, hub caps, plastic polycaps
Sprue Ag x 4 - more suspension parts
Sprue Af x 2 - sprockets, final drive, hatches, more suspension parts
Sprue Bg x 2 - sprocket, idler wheels, suspension parts
Top - Sprue Ja x 1 - gun cradle, breech, mantle parts. Note the protective foam around part of the gun mount
Bottom - Sprue Jb x 1 - engine deck, front transmission cover, hull sides
Sprue Hb x 1 - light lenses, gunner sights
Sprue C x 1 - on vehicle tools, superstructure details
Photo etch parts
Sprue D x 1 - hull bottom, sides, fenders, engine hatches
Sprue Ga x 1 - hull roof, drivers front plate, fenders (extra set?), superstructure sides
Sprue L x 4 - plastic inner and outer pins; note that several are bent at the attachment points - hopefully they'll still work.
Sprue K x 18 - 12 track links per sprue, each with 5 attachment points to clean up. No knockout holes to fill
One of the 18 track sprues
Jig for building a run of 8 track links
Sprue He x 2 - another (extra?) sprocket wheel, air intake and hatches
Sprue Hf x 2 - hatches, superstructure parts
This looks like a nicely rendered kit with lots of detail. Oddly enough, although there is a nicely detailed gun assembly, along with seats for the commander, gunner, and loader, there is no other interior detail like floors, ammunition bins, driver position, drive shaft cover, etc. There is also the matter of the holes in the sides, through which a portion of tracks and wheels are visible. So, if it's built with closed hatches, no problem, but if you want to show the hatches open, then it will be necessary to source an interior set from an aftermarket company, or scratch build some of the interior. None of my StuG reference materials had photos or drawings of the Series O interior, and It's possible that there are no photos or drawings that survived the war; perhaps MiniArt will release an interior later.
As a side note, and a recruiting ad for joining the Review Crew, since volunteering to review kits, books, aftermarket sets, etc, I've had several firsts as a model builder that have hopefully improved my skills. If you enjoy a challenge and trying new things, consider volunteering for the Review Crew!
Time to start building the newest challenge - maybe I should try scratch building an interior? Hmmm ...
Thanks goes out to MiniArt for this review kit. Recommended for Intermediate-Advanced builders, especially those (you know who you are!) who would enjoy building an interior using after-market kits, or scratch-building or kit-bashing.
Reviewed by Joseph "Mac" McDaniel
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