StuG III Ausf. G Revell vs Dragon  by Stephen 'StuG Whisperer' Brezinski
sbrez(at)suscom-maine.net
Edited by Rob Haelterman

Sturmgeschütz III Ausf. G Sd.Kfz. 142/1
A Compare & Contrast Building Review
vs

 

I. Introduction To The Models
(The goal of this review is to compare and contrast the two Sturmgeschütz Ausf. G kits for accuracy and ease of assembly.)

These two 1/72 scale models are, at this time in 2008-2009, the most current and up-to-date releases of Germany’s World War 2 Sturmgeschütz assault gun. Soon we will have Trumpeter’s interpretation of the Sturmgeschütz III G but that will have to be the subject of a future review. Both represent the Ausführung (Ausf.) G, the final version of the assault gun, which in 1944 was much more used in the role of tank destroyer (Jagdpanzer). In its evolution it had started with a short, low velocity 75-mm gun designed for infantry support. By 1942 it had been modified several times and upgraded with a long 75-mm L/43 (43 calibers long) Sturmkanone 40 gun, then soon after a 48-caliber (L/48) long gun similar to that in the Panzer IV.

a) Revell Sturmgeschütz III late G

The first thing you may notice here is that Revell refers to their kit as a StuG 40 Ausf. G, rather than a StuG III Ausf. G. What I have read is that StuG 40 was the initial reference for the long gunned Sturmgeschütz based on the use of the Sturmkanone 40 (StuK40) main armament; StuG III was used later to differentiate the StuG III from the StuG IV that also used the StuK 40 gun.
This is a very late version of the StuG III with most of the features of the final production batch. The gun mantlet (mantle) is the cast Topfblende (a.k.a. Saukopfblende or pig’s head mantlet) introduced in November 1943. In the mantlet we can see a small hole for the coaxial machinegun introduced after October 1944. The bow armor is the 80-mm plate without bolted or welded-on supplemental armor; there is still bolted-on armor around the driver’s visor. On the bow we see a travel support for the gun barrel next to the Notek light. We see no large MG34 gun shield on the rooftop, but a Rundumfeuer 360-degree rotatable machine gun mount controlled from within the vehicle. What we cannot see is the Nahverteidigungswaffe (close quarters defense weapon) on the rooftop; that appeared in May of 1944 and projected smoke grenades or anti-personnel explosive grenades.
In the box-art we see the Schürzen side-skirt mounts but no Schürzen skirts are actually included in the kit. The Schürzen were initially introduced in June 1943 and were intended to help defeat Soviet 14.5-mm anti-tank rifles and against high-explosive rounds.

According to Spielberger and other researchers the skirts were not intended for or tested against HEAT (shaped charges) like from the Bazooka or PIAT. (When modeling keep in mind that these shields were 5–mm thick steel plate and not easily bent and twisted sheetmetal as is sometimes portrayed by modelers. )
There is no Zimmerit coating, which was discontinued in September of 1944 and there is a steel shot-deflector in front of the commander’s cupola introduced in October 1943 and mounted on all StuG’s by February 1944. For those who are sticklers for detail, Revell made one significant error by giving us six rubber-tired return rollers rather than the late war all-steel return rollers.

Based on these features in the kit, the Revell model depicts a StuG manufactured no earlier than November 1944. So it cannot be depicted in Normandy 1944, at Kursk 1943, nor in service with the Finnish, Romanian or Bulgarian armies; at least not without some modifications to backdate the model.

b) The Dragon Sturmgeschütz III early G

Here is Dragon’s nice box art of an SS Das Reich Division (note the white Division marking on the bow) early StuG at the Kursk battle of 1943, that well represents what is given in the box. Below the painting is a partial view of Dragon’s parts plans. In the painting we can note the six roadwheels and the three rubber-tired return rollers. Also visible are the periscopes ringing the cupola, the tow cables moved to the fenders and an antenna mounted just behind the commander (German antennas were made from a copper tube so did not readily bend like a whip antenna). There is no Zimmerit coating so this vehicle was produced prior to the September 1943 introduction of Zimmerit anti-magnetic coating.
Characteristic of the early StuG III Ausf. G of 1943 is the 30-mm thick bolted-on supplemental bow armor we see in the box art, the bolted on armor left and right of the gun, and the welded box mantlet. There is a lack of the steel deflection armor in front of the cupola. There is a machine gun shield introduced in December 1942 for the MG34. Some of these features could also be seen in late production Ausf. G’s and were discussed with the Revell model above. Two smoke-grenade launchers, of three tubes each, were mounted on the forward sides from February to May of 1943; this vehicle art is depicted as not having the smoke launchers though Dragon does offer them in the kit.
Based on the features of the kit, this vehicle can be potentially modeled anytime from late 1942 through to the war’s end and in use by the Germans, Finns, Bulgaria, Spain, Hungary, or Italy. It could also be given a Topfblende cast mantlet taken from a Revell or Trumpeter kit, to create a vehicle upgraded with a newer mantlet.

 

II. The Model Kits
Both kits are 1/72 scale injection molded styrene plastic, though Dragon’s model comes with a small etched brass fret for the engine air intake screens and soft band tracks. I counted 152 styrene parts with Revell’s model of which 48 are styrene link & length track pieces. No resin or etched brass parts are included in the Revell model. Many of Revell’s parts are the track links and sections so comparing the total number is a bit misleading. While Revell has only released one StuG kit, the late Ausf. G, Dragon has so far (November 2008) released this early StuG Ausf. G and a 105-mm howitzer armed Sturmhaubitze 42 (StuH 42) kit. Both Dragon kits share most parts. Dragon’s StuG III has 124 styrene parts with a small fret of etched-brass parts.
The Dragon kit will be completed as a December 1942 production Sturmgeschütz belonging to the Grossdeutschland Division.

The Revell kit will be completed as a March 1945 production vehicle serving at the Battle of the Seelow Heights (Schlacht um die "Seelower Höhen") Germany, in April of 1945.

a) Revell Kit 3132


This scan shows the assembly of Revell’s tracks and superstructure. Revell gives us very well detailed styrene link & length tracks, which some kit builders love and swear by and others swear at. The tracks consist of 48 parts out of the total number of parts. When assembling them it may be hard to get them straight, but they can be made to look good, although a tad thick; more on this later. The engine deck ventilation covers (Parts 30, 106 & 107) are separate and look much better than ESCI/Italeri’s old StuG III. The Dragon (and Trumpeter) StuG III kits also share this design with the separate vent covers. At the upper right of the scan are Revell’s simple water-slide decals for two late war vehicles, one on the western front and one on the eastern front.
The kit is crisply molded with essentially no flash or sinkholes, which is typical for Revell's high quality. Though the Schürzen brackets are a bit thick and can be improved with etched brass parts, the horizontal bar with the triangular attachment points are actually better rendered than the PART etched brass. During assembly I had a difficult time mating Revell’s roadwheel halves (parts 4 & 5) together straight despite locating pins on one side. Revell gives us open-air intake vents (parts 34 & 35) on the side but no etched brass screen over the opening. This screen will have to be scratchbuilt or taken from an etched brass fret.

b) Dragon Kit 7283


Dragon gives us 124 gray injection-molded styrene parts, five etched brass parts and two long band tracks. This scan is of Dragon’s typical two-color exploded-view assembly instructions. Dragon gives us many more parts than are found in the Revell, ESCI (Italeri), Fujimi or the Airfix StuG G’s, and the corresponding detail is also better in my opinion. Dragon is interesting in giving us nice detail even in places we should not normally see when the model is finished. For example, take the spare roadwheel holder (parts A3); this part is rendered well enough to model the roadwheel missing. Another example of the great detail is the suspension, final drive (part D8), and the hull bottom which are detailed enough that this is your kit of choice if you wish to model the vehicle with the bottom visible. The underside of the track guards (parts A1 & A2) even has a textured tread pattern like the topside. If you should want to leave part D8 off, such as with a vehicle under repair, there are bolt holes showing underneath.
The side engine vents can be modeled with either molded in screens (parts A37 & A38) or open with separate etched-brass screens (parts A39 & A40 with brass parts MA1). If you use molded-in screens for the Dragon kit you can use Dragon’s etched brass screens parts MA1, on the Revell kit.
Where many other model companies mold the vehicle tools onto the track guards, many of Dragon's tools are molded as seperate parts.

c) Part P72-117

This is one page of Part’s Instructions for the etched brass set P72-117 for the Revell StuG 40 G late. Many parts of course can be used with the Dragon and the ESCI StuG kits. The hand tools such as the hammer [part AA], the wire clippers [part AC] and the engine crank [Part Z] are too flat and are better done with styrene & wire, or you can just use the kit parts. Use of the cupola parts [assembly part S] on the Revell StuG will require us to add supports to hold the ring above the periscopes.


d) Comparison

Here is a top-view of the Sturmgeschütz G superstructures: Revell at far left, ESCI in the center for comparison and Dragon at far right in gray. Revell and ESCI’s superstructure are molded in one piece with some tools (the axe and S-hooks) molded into the track guards. The side engine vents are open and can use some mesh screen, such as from fine lace or etched brass. Revell’s roof has the five Pilze mounts for a two-ton jib, which is characteristic of a post-September 1944 vehicle.
The Dragon superstructure is broken down into eight parts (A1, A2, B31, 44, A21, A33, A39, A40) that fortunately fit very well despite the complexity. I can guess that the kit is broken down into so many steps in order to provide the detail. Being an early Sturmgeschütz Dragon’s has no Pilze mounts on the roof.

A comparison of the gun mantlets (from top to bottom):
- ESCI in dark green;
-
Dragon’s mantlet (parts B24 & B30) in gray with the L/48 gun barrel (part B25);
- a partially scratchbuilt mantlet using the spare front piece from Trumpeter;
- Trumpeter’s box mantlet in light gray;
- Revell’s cast Topfblende mantlet with coaxial machinegun and StuK 40 gun barrel (parts 102 & 103).
While we cannot contrast Revell’s and Dragon’s different mantlets, I feel that their gun barrels are of comparable quality with the slidemolded Dragon muzzle brake having the end already open. Though this is not a review of the Trumpeter StuG, I will mention that it’s mantlet is molded as one piece and has no weld seams or joints.


III. The Kits Under Construction


A Comparison of three StuG G chassis: Revell at top in amber plastic, ESCI (for comparison) in the center in amber, and Dragon at the bottom in light gray. (These particular ESCI parts are actually from the Pz III M kit used in a StuG kitbash.) Revell’s return rollers (parts 6 & 7) should be cast steel with no rubber tire, and the sprockets (parts 11) are more likely to have exposed bolts (no hubcap) like that offered in Trumpeter’s StuG kits. The six sprocket holes are too small and should look more like Dragon’s and ESCI’s and the sprocket teeth are also too small. (Please excuse the little gouge in the edge of the sprocket caused by a careless slip of the knife!) Revell’s link & length tracks fit well with work and patience and look good, though a bit thick.

Dragon’s chassis (part J) came as one slide-molded piece similar to Trumpeter’s StuG chassis. This is the only one here that offers four separate shock absorbers (parts A28 thru A31). Of these three, Dragon offers sprocket and idler wheels that are closest to the real thing. Dragon would have even more parts if the six return rollers (D5) were not slide-molded in one piece.

a) Revell Kit 3132


Fit of the Revell Sturmgeschütz is good and tight. In this photo we see the stern with Part’s etched brass exhaust deflector and brass tow coupling on Revell’s chassis. Revell’s chassis is made of three parts (parts 1,2 & 3) that assembles similar to the ESCI and the Airfix StuG’s. This tow coupling was present on late-1944 Sturmgeschütz for use with rigid tow bars. It’s hard to see in the photo but the exhaust pipes have been replaced by thick soldering wire drilled out on the ends. Revell’s exhaust pipes are too thin and hard to hollow out. Since this vehicle will use a brass ring over the cupola periscopes rather than the kit part, styrene supports needed to be glued around the cupola ring. Note also the shot-deflector in front of the cupola, characteristic of a post-September 1943 vehicle.

At this stage the superstructure has been joined with the chassis and bunches of fine details added afterwards. The Part etched brass storage rack (part 56) was too flimsy, so I strengthened it with some plastic strip. It is unfortunate that the super glue did not cure quickly enough and the strip shifted from the brass frame when I was not paying attention to it.
The Part brass brackets (parts 59 thru 63) for the Schürzen were mated with the Revell brackets (parts 124 & 125) to create a more accurate Schürzen bracket. The brass brackets were hard to assemble with glue so I recommend soldering them together. Schürzen plates were fashioned with clear styrene sheet that I find stiffer than the white styrene sheet. The Schürzen were produced from 5-mm thick steel plate so not prone to being bent and twisted like thin sheet metal. The Schürzen brackets (parts 124 & 125) in the Revell kit are the late improved type of brackets and plate hangers, different from that used on the early to mid-war ESCI (Italeri) Sturmgeschütz.

A view of the right side with one shield remaining, the others having fallen off and the brackets bent in places during travel and combat. The Rundumfeuer shield was replaced by thinner brass etched parts (parts 28 & 29) and an ammunition drum added from a Dragon Sd.Kfz 251 kit. On the engine deck the kit’s toolbox (part 108) has been replaced by a Part etched brass part (part 34-37) and modeled open, a nice advantage of etched brass in this case.

I found no period photos of this particular German StuG so I had to rely on Revell’s description. The camouflage pattern was completely done with all acrylic paints by Model Master or Poly S. A point-wash of water-based dark brown and black from The Detailer, Black It Out was applied in corners and recesses and then the excess wiped away with a damp paintbrush.
As the vehicle already has the Schürzen brackets, I thought that it would make sense to add at least some Schürzen plates. Applying the plates however caused the vehicle markings on the superstructure to be invisible. To rectify this problem some markings will be applied to the plates as well. These Schürzen represent 5-mm thick armor plate and overlap several centimeters. The water-slide decal markings are the decals included within Revell’s kit. They applied easily to a gloss coat of acrylic floor wax.
Barely visible on the left side view is a scratchbuilt tow cable replicated with tea-bag string and glued down to the left track guard. The string was coated with white glue (a.k.a. Elmer’s Glue) to keep down the fuzziness of the cotton string, then painted medium gray.

b) Dragon Kit 7283


Oh, didn’t I already mention that the Dragon kit would be built as a conversion to an initial December 1942 version? This requires some modifications. Note that the front armor plates of the panniers has been cut back to a much steeper slope; this has necessitated plugging a rectangular hole in the track guard. This break in the track guard can be masked by replacing the entire fenders with the Part etched brass set, or in my case by mounting spare roadwheels here. On this photo we can see the guard for the rooftop gunsight aperture has been cut out; also note the crew-compartment exhaust fan (part B4) on the roof.

The initial Ausf. G fan sat considerably lower than that on the earlier Ausf. F and F8; later Ausf. G’s will see the ventilation fan moved to the back wall of the crew compartment like on the Revell model.


Copyright Hillary L. Doyle 1990

Here is part of one of Doyle’s five-view scale plans showing the high quality present in his books with Walter Spielberger and with Tom Jentz. This initial version of the StuG Ausf. G was produced in December 1942, replacing the Ausf. F8 but keeping the F8 chassis and with a new superstructure. Spielberger states that 120 StuG G’s were produced in December 1942 (page 180), so up to 120 of these initial December-1942 version Sturmgeschütz III G’s could have been made. These being characterized by the more steeply sloping pannier front visible in the above drawing, a vision port (or later a pistol port) on the side of the driver’s area, a roof top crew-compartment exhaust ventilator, and an open rooftop gunner’s periscope sight opening. Some of the tool stowage is different from the later Ausf. G’s. There is no shot deflector in front of the cupola, no Zimmerit coating, and no cast mantlet.

In this photo you can see the bracket and additional tracks added to the bow, which are track lengths borrowed from a Revell Pz IV kit. Also note the spare-roadwheel holders that were common the Grossdeutschland Division vehicles, driver’s visor taken from a Trumpeter model, and the fine chassis detail. Additional track-guard braces have been added from the Parts etched-brass fret. On the bow is the very nice one-piece bolted-on armor (part A42). To better match the initial-production StuG G, the front superstructure armor (parts B16 & B17) were replaced with like parts from a Trumpeter kit that represented the early driver’s visor with the two periscope sight holes. It is just as well that I switched from the Dragon driver's visor to an extra Trumpeter visor as Dragon's visor (part B17) is molded closed, something rarely seen in period photos and an unusual thing for Dragon to have done.


In this stage the rear storage rack has been fashioned with styrene strip and the cupola hatch and the commander’s periscope added.

The loader’s hatches were sanded down a bit thinner first. Dragon’s plastic tow cables in their kit (parts A15 & A22) are a bit thick so they were replaced by coarse sewing thread. Looking at them here I think the thread is too thin and I should have used something thicker.
The suspension and lower area of the chassis were painted in an earth tone before the tracks were installed. Oddly, the tracks (parts E) were too tight and had to be stretched over the wheels so that no natural sag in the tracks was possible. An extra several millimeters in length would be appreciated from Dragon in the future. The tracks are painted in acrylic paints; take note that enamel oil & solvent based paints can cause the Dragon’s DS (Dragon Styrene) soft plastic tracks to degrade. (See this website page http://www.dragonmodelsltd.com/html/models-q&a.htm#tracks for further information on DS tracks.) The tracks were glued down to the wheels with super glue to better distribute the stress due to them being too tight.

From the rear we get another view of the storage rack common to Grossdeutschland Division StuG’s in late 1942 and 1943. Over the air intake vents on the engine decks we see the etched brass screens (parts MA1) included within the Dragon kit.


In this view of the vehicle rear the base coat of Model Master acrylic panzer gray is applied, acrylic gloss under the areas for the decals, and complementary colors for the hand tools. An acrylic dull-coat will later be added to blend the shiny decal area into the rest of the vehicle. These are the water-slide decals that come in the Dragon kit; they applied well and were adequately opaque and in-register.


Being modeled as a newly delivered vehicle in December of 1942 the appropriate color would be dark gray. A coat of white winter camouflage would likely be applied before going into combat. A point wash of water-based black was applied in corners and recesses to add shadow. A light dry brushing with light gray acrylic was also done. The high wear areas on the tracks and the idler and sprocket wheels were highlighted with steel-colored paint and a graphite pencil.

The Sturmgeschütz had a ring of seven periscopes around the commander’s cupola. To represent the periscope glass, a narrow strip of exposed camera film was cut up into pieces several millimeters long and glued in with white glue. They remain dark, shiny have sharp edges and are easy to produce. For a better view of the finished periscopes, see the next paragraph.

 

IV. THE CONCLUSION


I find this photo and the ones below interesting in that it compares, side-by-side, an initial December 1942 Sturmgeschütz G with a late war last-of-the-series Sturmgeschütz of March or April 1945. In this top view of the two models there are a few small items in the finish to touch up before they are contest-ready, such as some glossy areas on the engine deck. More stowage will also be added to the engine deck. German panzer crew figures have been added from several sources. The area behind Revell’s gun mantlet has been detailed whereas this area on Dragon’s kit is well detailed as is. This overhead view shows the evolution of the various tools and fittings such as the locations of the fire extinguishers on the left rear track guard, the tow cables, change to the gunner’s sight opening, the Rundumfeuer 360-degree rotatable machine gun and cast mantlet with coaxial machine gun on the late StuG III.


 


A view of the two completed models side by side. Some of the differences between the early and late models we can see here are
-
the location of the crew compartment vent
- placement of the late model’s starter-crank on the rear
- the Schürzen.
The placement of the spare roadwheels and the frame for storage were modifications by the Grossdeutschland Division. I have read that the storage frame on the rear of the late-model StuG was factory installed. A board has been added to the rear of the early panzer-gray color Sturmgeschütz to assist in holding stowage, similar to those seen in historical photos of Grossdeutschland Division vehicles.


Both vehicles built into accurate Sturmgeschütz vehicles and represent the present state of the art in small-scale models. The Dragon kit is several years newer and this is reflected in its assembly, such as using the new slide-mold technology. Using slide molding the Dragon kit’s lower hull is molded as one large but well detailed piece whereas Revell’s lower hull has four major parts. Still, Dragon offers more overall parts. Being a few years older, the Revell kit has etched brass detail sets for it from Eduard and from Part and NH Details, and resin conversions from BP Resin, Modelltrans, which are designed for it. Both kits exhibited wonderful fit of the parts with no flash or sinkholes to deal with. I highly recommend both models.


In this final view of the tank's stern (or derrière end) we can review a few of the other earlier differences between the initial StuG III G (Dragon model at theleft) and the late version (Revell model at theright). Revell displays the tow bar beneath the exhaust deflector, the starter crank mounted on the rear plate, and the crew compartment exhaust fan on the rear superstructure wall. Neither vehicle has Zimmerit coating.

 

Happy modeling !
Stephen ‘Tank Whisperer’ Brezinski (January 2009)

 

V. References
[1] Sturmgeschütz & Its Variants, by Walter J. Spielberger, Schiffer Publishing Ltd., (1993). I consider this one of the finest reference books on the StuG III, also including information on the StuG IV and the StuIG III, StuG Battery organization and production and support vehicles. A hard cover book of 253 pages, it includes many high quality black & white photos and vehicle plans by Hillary S. Doyle.

[2] Modeling The Sturmgeschütz III, by Gary Edmundson, Osprey Modeling 22, Osprey Publications (2006). A good softcover book covering the progressive assembly and painting of four StuG III variants. I like this book, but if it were printed with larger pages and photos I would really like it. Printed in an 8” x 11” format the book would be more helpful as a modeling reference.

[3] PANZER TRACTS No. 8 Sturmgeschuetz, by Thomas Jentz and scale prints by Hillary L Doyle. A good inexpensive softcover book of sixty pages, good black & white photos and Doyle’s excellent scale drawings. This book covers all the StuG variants and the Sturmhaubitze 42 and the Sturmmörser as well.

[4] http://www.panzerworld.net/facts Panzerworld Website with a section covering myths of WW2 including Schürzen.

[5] http://www.stugiii.com/Schürzen.html “Sturmgeschütze vor!” website. A website with lots of Sturmgeschütz information and photos.

[6] http://www.historynet.com/battle-of-the-seelow-heights.htm Website with information on Battle of the Seelow Heights where the Revell StuG is modeled to have served.

[7] http://www.onthewaymodels.com/reviews/Dragon/StuGIIIG_early_preview.htm A preview of the Dragon Sturmgeschütz kit 7283 by Rob Haelterman and with photos of the parts and a partially assembled model by Joaquín García Gázquez.

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Article Received: 05 March 2009
Article Last Updated: 31 March 2009