Sturmgeschütz 40 Ausf. G for Finnish Army
|Kit # 282||Preview by Rob Haelterman|
Recently Unimodels has started to release multiple versions of the Panzer III / StuG III family and this is reflected in the sprue lay-out of this kit as Unimodel has, understandably, followed a modular approach, allowing as many parts to be carried over to other kits as possible. At the time of writing the available kits are Panzer III Ausf. H and Ausf. G, Ausf. L, Bergepanzer III, StuG III Ausf E, Ausf.F/8 and this kit.
that is common to all the current releases is sprue A, of which two
are included. It contains half of the tracks, roadwheels (including
spares), rubber return rollers, late idler and late drive sprocket
(but still with hubcap), plus some sundry bits (like engine covers).
Detail isn't bad at all, although I would have like just a bit more
depth on the tracks.
Next is the lower hull and other miscellaneous parts (sprue B), which also is a common sprue for all the kits. It is striking that the first return roller isn't molded with the hull sides which would suggest that UM will gives us earlier versions of the Panzer III with the equally spaced return rollers in the future. (Current kits all have the first return roller in a more forward position.)
Sprue C contains various small bits, like two types of steel return rollers. (I have been waiting for years to get some acceptable steel return rollers for the StuG III to fit on my Revell StuGs, and in a span of a few weeks we now have plastic parts from UM and resin parts from JK resin and OKB Grigorov.) Other parts, like the bolted or welded nose armor, are also meant to keep the kits modular.
D is a typical sprue for the StuG III Asuf. G, with the upper hull
and StuK 40 barrel. The upper hull is the late type Ausf.G casemate
with side opening hatches for the loader.
The PE parts are mainly for the commander's hatch (which can't be opened) and engine grilles.
Decals are for 3 Finnish Sturmis in the Summer of 1944.
The instructions are typical for UM and from the parts lay-out it is clear that a lot of parts will end up in the spares box.
Strangely, the instructions tell you that the rubber return rollers are not for use and ask you to install one of the types of steel return roller in step 14. These have transformed themselves into rubber return rollers by the time we get to step 16. In step 23 they are metal again, which they stay until the painting instructions. On the boxtop they are rubber again.
Other notable points are that the big box and spare roadwheel for the hull-side, which are typical for Finnish StuGs, are included, together with an extra armor plate that goes onto the lower hull sides and to which spare tracks are attached. A different MG shield is also included.
A embryonic interior is provided in the form of a periscope and gun laying devices, but no breech or other interior is given. As the hatches are all closed, I think that the periscope alone would have done.
Using Andrea Larka's great website, and The Finnish Armoured Vehicles 1918 - 1997, by E. Muikku and J. Purhonen, we learn that the first batch of 30 Sturmis arrived in Finland between July and September 1943. These were early production types from Alkett, MIAG and MAN with
Some of these StuGs had bolted add-on armor on the nose (and straight-welded rear armor), while others had 80mm homogeneous nose-armor (and interlocking rear armor).
UM offers us the following marking options
be seen, all three vehicles are from the first batch, which means
that we know that we need to use the rubber return rollers, but...
which raises another issue. Indeed, the kit offers the late loaders
hatches, while these vehicles had the earlier type. This is what I
consider a reasonably difficult conversion to pull off neatly in my
opinion. Furthermore, the fender supports (and fender thread-plate
detail) need to be modified and for 531-8 we would need to find a
source of different transmission hatches. Schürzen are not included
Before the second batch arrived, these StuGs were modified as follows:
It is clear that the kit is based on post-modification vehicles, but that doesn't solve the issue with the loader's (and transmission) hatches.
about the second batch of Sturmis ?
As the kit contains a fair amount of spare parts (like the necessary return rollers and gun mantlet) and has the late-type loader's hatches and provision for the remote controlled MG and Nahverteidigungswaffe we get a long way towards a correct late batch Sturmi, except for the dreaded Zimmerit, shot deflector and the decals, of course.
All the vehicles were (again) modified during the summer of 1944:
Even later the following modifications were implemented
Not all of these modifications were implemented at the same time, but is clear that the kit allows for most of these modifications. It would be best to use historical pictures to know which ones to implement, but.... the modeler that dislike heavy surgery will still have to find decals for a late vehicle (perhaps by cutting up the kit decals), add Zimmerit, a shot deflector for the commander and perhaps other minor details.
As we can see, the kit has a few of the post-war features, and if decals are not an issue, it might be possible to build a second batch vehicle (without Zimmerit) if care is taken which of the parts are used, but some items (like the new stowage box and shot deflector, for instance) would still need to be scratchbuilt. It might even be possible that some vehicles of the second batch had the earlier drive sprocket (with hubcap) taken from a cannibalized first batch vehicle to reduce the workload.
it is clear that the kit cannot be built into an accurate Sturmi when
adhering to the instructions and does not have all the necessary parts
to build any of the Sturmis without resorting to scratchbuilding and/or
the spares bin.
Preview sample purchased by the author.