Sturmgeschütz III Ausf. F/8

Kit # 280

Preview by Dimitry Kontos - kontosdimitris1960(at)gmail(dot)com
Edited by Rob Haelterman

UniModels (UM) of Ukraine produces several versions of the Sturmgeschütz III (i.e. Ausf. E, F, F/8, G – early and late – StuIG 33 and Flamethrower). These kits are sharing four out of the five sprues, while the fifth one bears the parts necessary for the specific version. That means that the modeler will end with a lot of spare parts, as well as that most of the following comments are applicable to all Sturmgeschütz III kits produced by UM.

Before we start, some notes:

  • I am not an expert in German armor, so I compared this kit mainly with Revell’s StuG 40 (kit nr.03132). Other sources that I have used are mentioned at the end of this preview.
  • UM kits are modular, so the Sturmgeschütz shares many parts with their Pz.Kpfw. III offerings. This means that this review is necessarily quite similar in many points, with the review I did for their Pz.Kpfw. III Ausf. H.
  • I have to apologize for the quality of the photographs (here in Greece, I am considered the champion of bad photographers). The pictures used here come from Henk of Holland’s site, used with permission.

What is in the box?
The flip-top box has the artwork of a Dunkelgrau painted vehicle on top, while on its back there are drawings of one (generic) vehicle also in Dunkelgrau. A hard carton inside the box, secures its structural integrity. The kit consists of five sprues with a total of 214 parts and a small photo-etched fret. Out this lot, 175 parts will be used for an Ausf. F/8, while the rest belong to those other versions of Sturmgeschütz III the company produces. All five sprues are packed in a cellophane bag. In a zip lock bag there is the photo-etched fret and the decal sheet. Sprues “A” (there are two of them) and “B” are the same ones provided with all Pz.Kpfw. III based vehicles the company produces. I suppose that this is the reason that there is (in my sample at least), some excess plastic in places (but nothing serious). Sprue “C” is the standard sprue for all UM’s Sturmgeschütze, while sprue “D” is unique in this kit and contains the parts that differentiate the Ausf. F/8, from other StuG versions. This arrangement means that you will end with a lot of spare parts.
Compared with the above mentioned Revell kit, the UM offering is on par with it. If there is any size difference this is not noticeable with the bare eye, so I assume that this kit is rather correct in scale. George Bradford’s Book has not any entry for the Ausf. F/8, so I compared it with the Ausf. G and it is spot on (the kit is around 0,6 mm narrower compared with the plans).

Lower hull and suspension
The lower hull is well made and with enough detail on the bottom. The wheels are also well made and in scale. There are two problems, though, that will embarrass the builder: First, the wheels do not have the usual (and rational) arrangement of “peg and hole”, but there are holes in both the inner and outer ones. The pegs in the sides of the hull are shorter than they had to be to accommodate both wheels. This makes the alignment of the wheels fairly difficult and affects the stability of the construction. The return rollers have a “peg and peg” arrangement, but unlike the road wheels, this is a minor issue. Second, the lower hull does not have any guides to be glued with the hull’s sides, rendering the alignment and stability dubious as well. As of detail, the shock absorbers are provided separately and are well made. The first of the return rollers is provided with a separate base, to correspond with the torsion bar suspension. The idlers are beautifully done and correct in size. With the sprocket there is a problem. Correct in shape and size, they are attached to the sprue in four points, while the sprue itself runs on the sprocket. This means that it is almost impossible to get the sprockets out of the sprue, without damaging them. In the rear of the lower hull, there are the exhausts (using a saw is highly recommended here). Holes have to be drilled in order to attach them to the rear plate. The exhausts themselves are well done. Not surprisingly, they are not drilled at their end, but unlike the Revell StuG, their relevant thickness allows easy drilling. The intake mesh is provided in photo etch and is superb. Four pieces are provided for the rear towing shackles. Two pieces are provided for the side protectors of the exhaust and one more for the deflector (the latter is rather on the thick side, thus it will need some serious sanding to come in scale). Under the back plate, the smoke candles are provided (a detail that most companies omitted).

Upper hull and superstructure
There is a lot of well defined detail in this part. The brake access doors are provided separately and they are correct for the type. The bolted appliqué armor (many vehicles had welded pieces here, so some research is necessary), is provided in two pieces with nice detail. The (separate) fenders have no anti-slip surface. There are two pieces to be attached in the lower hull’s corners to provide the hull’s drilled extensions. The rear convoy light, the horn, the Notek light and the headlights are provided separately too. There is a catch though: Again there is no “peg and hole” arrangement, thus it is fairly easy to lose these parts during the construction. At the engine’s deck, there are five rectangular openings, to accommodate the engine’s armored covers. The air intake meshes, are provided in photo etched and are superb. The final end of the upper hull is provided as a separate piece and includes the starter crank’s hole cover. Two guns are provided: a Stuk 40 (75mm, L/48) and a Stuh 42 (105mm howitzer, L/28), the latter as option for one of the earliest Sturmhaubitze, that were based on the Ausf. F/8 chassis (no decals for such a vehicle are provided though). I didn’t like both these guns and I think that is better to if they are replaced by aftermarket barrels. The arrangement chosen by the company for assembling the gun’s cradle (that includes also the gunner’s sight), although very detailed (despite almost nothing will be visible in the finished model), requires a lot of effort for the proper alignment of this specific sub-assembly. The (well detailed) superstructure piece has all hatches closed. The fan’s cover is provided in photo etch. The side visor for the driver is also provided as a separate piece, but there is no mark to indicate its exact position. All tools are separate parts and are well made.

These are from polystyrene of the link and length type. Their overall detail is good. Compared with the Revell ones, though, the links are slightly bigger. Five to six links will remain as spares and these, along with a small length provided, can be used to represent the spare tracks for the front armor. Three more track lengths are provided for extra armor.

As already stated, a small photo-etched fret is provided. This contains the side and rear air intake grills, the fan’s cover, five lifting hooks, the aiming wheel for the gun. Also included is a part to make a (non standard) rear frame to secure stowage and/or spare tracks. All parts are superb, although because of the lack of volume of the lifting hooks, I think it is better to be replaced by thin copper wire.

The four page instruction sheet is of the blown diagram type with 22 sub-assembly steps. On the front page there is a brief history and data section, as well as a diagram of the contents. The fourth page has three view diagrams, as well as decaling and painting instructions for ten vehicles. Humbrol codes are suggested for painting.

The well registered sheet contains decals for ten vehicles. Four of them for Dunkelgrau painted vehicles and the rest in Desert Yellow. While only one option suggests for a vehicle operated in North Africa (serving under 10th Panzer Division in Tunisia), several StuGs that initially were destined for Africa, were re-directed to the Eastern Front, thus I think that UM’s suggestion is correct.

As the earlier rear plate, the front towing shackles, and optional pieces for the earlier front lower hull are provided, it will be fairly easy to make an Ausf. F from this kit, although UM offers this version too (kit Nr. #279). You will only need the earlier headlights and perhaps a L/43 gun (as several Ausf. Fs were armed with the L/48 gun). Also there are the later type (all metal) return rollers, so Revell’s main error can be corrected.

This is a rather over engineered kit and thus it is not recommended for beginners. On the other hand, it is dimensionally correct, has a lot of detail and provides a host of spare parts. A modeler with average experience will have no problem to create a beautiful and correct presentation model. Furthermore, as far as I know, this is the only F/8, available in plastic.

The sample model was bought be myself.

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• Waffen-Arsenal #176, by Wolfgang Fleischer

UM kits can be purchased from Tracks & Troops

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Article Last Updated: 16 December 2020