Tamiya 1/35 Sturmgeschütz III Ausf.B Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||March 2007||Manufacturer||Tamiya|
|Subject||Sturmgeschütz III Ausf.B||Scale||1/35|
|Kit Number||35281||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Popular German subject||Cons||Nice interior detail may be hard to view through small roof hatches|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$44.99|
In 1936, a proposal was made for a Sturmgeschütz (assault gun) to be used as an armored infantry support vehicle. Such a vehicle would be an essential part of Germany’s new Blitzkrieg “Lightning War” strategy, which emphasized mobility, speed and striking deep into enemy lines. Daimler-Benz AG began development in 1936, and based the chassis design on the Panzerkampfwagen III tank, while Krupp was in charge of building the gun and turret.
The first prototype 0 series, completed in 1938, was praised for its fixed monoblock turret which reduced overall height, improving defensive ability. The Stug III Ausf.A first production model was based on the Panzer III Ausf.F chassis with a short-barreled Stuk37 75mm L/24 gun mounted in a superstructure. Although a rotating turret was not necessary, the 75mm gun did have limited 30 degree horizontal and vertical traverse.
Armor measured from 50mm on the front and 30mm on the sides, thicker than most tanks at the time. Thirty Stug III Ausf.A assault guns were completed by May, 1940 and quickly were sent to France. The first truly mass-produced model was the Ausf.B (subject of this kit). It featured the improved Maybach HL120TRM engine and ZF SSG77 transmission for a top speed of 40Km/h. Further improvements were made to the tracks and wheels during the production cycle, with 250 Ausf.B’s completed between June 1940 and May 1941. Seeing action in the Balkan campaign and Operation Barbarosa, the Ausf.B was widely respected, both for the reliable direct fire support it provided and for the ability to face such formidable Soviet tanks as the T-34 and KV-1.
The kit comes in a tray and lid type box. The box art shows a Stug. III Ausf.B in the markings of the 2nd Kompanie, 228th Stug.Abt., Poland 1941, with a commander standing in the roof hatch opening (one of the marking options offered on the kit’s decal sheet). A side panel shows a 3-view of a Stug. III Ausf.B of the 2nd Kompanie, 191st Stug.Abt., Greece, April 1941 (also on the decal sheet).
The kit contains the hull bottom tub piece (raised lettering inside it give the copyright date of 2005) and access panels molded on the bottom of this part are excellent.
There are 7 parts trees molded in olive drab, 4 stell rods with loops on each end (to use for torsion bars), 4 black vinyl poly-caps, black vinyl rubber band type treads, a turned- steel gun barrel with spiral rifling inside it, a fret of brass PE, the decal sheet, instructions and a separate 4 page marking and painting illustrations folder with 5 different markings shown. The brass PE fret and the gun barrel are sealed in clear film in a triangular cardboard shelf in one corner of the box.
Markings are given for five schemes:
- Stug. III Ausf.B of the 1st Kompanie, 243rd Stug.Abt., Battle of Umam, August 1941 (two side-views)
- Stug. III Ausf.B of the 1st Kompanie, 243rd Stug.Abt., Battle of Kiev, September 1941 (a four-view)
- Stug. III Ausf.B of the 2nd Kompanie, 226th Stug.Abt., Poland, June 1941 (a five - View and subject of the box art)
- Stug. III Ausf.B of the 2nd Kompanie, 191st Stug.Abt., Greece, April 1941 (a five - view, also on the box lid side panel)
- Stug. III Ausf.B, vehicle number 3, 1st Kompanie, 192nd Stug.Abt., Poland, June 1941 (a five -view)
All schemes are in overall panzer gray.
There are no part tree drawings on the instructions. The bottom of page 10 has an “After-market service card” to mail to Tamiya about any problems or parts missing in the kit.
There are two identical letter A parts trees. These are co-joined to the letter E trees. Letter A trees hold: the shock absorbers, return rollers, road wheels and their axles, idler wheels, drive sprockets, fender braces, forward hatch doors, small lamps, lift rings and tow shackles (53 parts per tree). Step 19 of the instructions says that 25 of these parts, per tree, are not needed to complete the kit and are excess.
The co-joined letter E tree holds: more road wheel axles, alternate style idler wheels, armored headlight covers, a hatch cover, grab handles etc. (19 parts per tree). Three of these parts are indicated as being excess too.
Letter B and C parts trees are also co-joined. B holds the upper hull and fenders piece, interior wall strengthener parts, rear hull panel, tow cable, engine deck hatches, mufflers, engine air intake grills, rear interior wall plate, fighting compartment front plate and two MP40 machine pistols etc. (18 parts).
Letter C tree holds the fighting compartment roof and hatches, radio and ammo storage boxes etc. (10 parts).
Tree letter D holds: tools, notek lamp, tow point parts, interior details, gun breech, commander figure etc. (71 parts). This kit has very nice fighting compartment interior detail. It is a great beginning and super-detailers will probably want to embellish on it further. However, I wonder how much of it can be seen through open roof hatches?
There are four black vinyl poly-caps provided. The two larger of these are to go inside the final transfer covers to hold the drive sprockets in place. The two smaller ones are used as retainers in the main gun trunion.
Two runs of black vinyl tracks are of the glueable type. Liquid cement, like Tenax 7R, will weld them. Detail is good inside and out on these. Some of us will probably opt to buy an aftermarket set of Pz.Kpfw.III individual links however.
The brass PE set holds engine air intake screens, armored headlight covers etc. (6 parts).
There is a short turned-steel barrel. Tamiya says it has been treated with an anti-rust preparation and should be thoroughly washed before you use it. It is also threaded inside with the rifling. Kudos to Tamiya for that.
The final item in the kit is the decal sheet.
Although the kit has some neat interior detail, a side panel of the box shows a finished model with the roof removed to show this off. I fear that may be the best way to display the inside of this kit to show it all.
I recommend this kit to all German WWII armor modelers.