If it is World War Two German armour it will sell, or so the saying goes; so how do you make it even more attractive to the punter and separate him or her from their modelling funds? You take a model and add a German ace into the mix, on this occasion it is Michael Wittmann and a Stug III Ausf A that he is said to have operated while serving with the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler during operation Barbarossa in 1941. I know that the SS cause issues with some, but I ask that we avoid that battle here. The manufacturer that has released this offering is Dragon Models and I am going to tackle the build here in this review.
This offering from Dragon Models is typical of their recent offerings and so a mix of highs and lows in my opinion. I like the injection moulded plastic parts of the model due to how well moulded they are, and they are of course free of issues that I have seen so far. I would have liked to see a metal barrel and magic tracks included in the box instead of a plastic barrel and Dragon Styrene tracks that said the barrel is slide moulded and so acceptable. The photo etched parts have been kept to a low number and so this increases its appeal to those who struggle with this material and its often very small size, those who want to pimp their ride can go down the after market route and decide just how much they want. One big complaint I have is the duplicated sprue letters due to the mix and match approach Dragon takes with many German armour kits; it makes finding what you after a pain on some occasions. The changes I intend to make are replacement of the tracks and I also will not add the wheels until most of the painting is complete.
This build will be from the box and in the general order of the stages. I will not go into the specifics of Michael Wittmann’s Stug as I just don’t know, and there are two other finishing options to choose from anyway. Lastly there are some things I will not do for the sake of my sanity, one of those things is the adding of individual bolt detail which is called for in this kit, sorry but that is not for me and so I will point it out but not do it.
As with many armour models this one starts by tackling all of those wheels and there are quite a few to clean up, assemble and eventually paint. I am happy to report that all of the numbers indicated in the instructions are correct; yes I know a very rare thing with Dragon Models. The drive wheels are easy to remove, clean up and attach to each other; it does say to attach them to the bell housing, DON’T as the housing will not sit cleanly against the hull of the model if you do. Yes I know this would mean jumping ahead, however it is something I tend to check for issues having encountered it before. The idler wheels have two photo etched shims between them and I don’t quite understand why. The road and return wheels fit together well, but I did find the locaters on the road wheels are a tad slack and so check that the lightening holes are lined up; some may have noted that the sprue gates have not been clean up/removed, I clean up the sprue gates after attaching front and rear due to the wider surface it provides and so easier to keep a sanding stick flat against them during clean up.
It is at the point that you get to start work on the hull sides by adding part of the bracket supports for the sponsons/track guards. The locations for these are very well laid out and so make addition easy. It is at this stage where you are instructed to add four microscopic bolts in a square pattern above the second to last axle; not for me but your opinion may differ.
This brings the suspension together and provides the modeller with a decision that needs making. Dragon has provided working torsion bars in this offering (it does tell you to cut one out later, but I will look into that as I progress). To make the suspension work you need to remove a small pin locater provided for each of the twelve suspension arms. The shocks and bump stops on the first and last stations are provided as separate parts, in the case of the shocks they do not move and so may require careful planning by the modeller who goes down the articulated route. There are a number of locater lugs and bolt head details that need to be removed as well as a hole that needs drilling, but I have to say that I found these modifications painless to make. I am pleased to say that again Dragon got the instructions right as regards part numbers. There is a very small amount of filler required on the joint that extends from behind each bell housing mounting point; I used ‘Perfect Plastic Putty’ but your preferred filler will work.