Friday, August 19

Construction Review: Sturmgeschütz III Ausf E (Sd. Kfz 142)

Recently Paul got to grips with the new Bronco Models kit of the Sturmgeschütz III Ausf E (Sd. Kfz 142) in 35th scale. He gave us his first impressions in an inbox review, but the best review is a build – so today he put the kit together before he paints it in the next episode. Let’s see how it all went together in Part II…

Construction Review: Name: Sturmgeschütz III Ausf E (Sd. Kfz 142)
Manufacturer: Bronco Models
Scale: 1:35
Type: Multimedia kit
So it looks good out of the box, but how does it build up? Having built a few Bronco kits before, I was fully aware that their kits can tend towards the complex side, however, the instructions and slightly lower parts count of this kit suggested that this may be a bit different compared to my previous experiences.
Predictably, construction starts with the wheels and attaching them to the lower hull, and the first three steps cover this. As mentioned in the in-box review, the wheels and return rollers feature the name “CONTINENTEAU” moulded onto them, although it is probably a little heavy on the return rollers since they're smaller. A simple swipe with a Stanley knife fixes the deliberate spelling mistake but they will still be hard to see. The idler wheels come with two photo etch rings that are attached to each wheel and is a nice touch. I chose to leave off the mufflers and mount them at the end of the build.
I had some feedback from a reader who commented on the shape of the drive sprockets, and looking at a picture of the Stug IIIe, it does look like the holes of the drive sprocket are more triangular/ trapezoidal in shape, whereas the ones in the kit look more kidney bean shaped, so thank you Roland.
Steps 4 and 5 involve putting together the minimal interior supplied in this kit which consists of the gun breech and a seat for the gunner. The locating tabs on piece B31 and B32 are reversed when you try to insert them into the back of the mantlet, but it is a simple task removing the tabs and taking care with alignment so it's not a big deal. Apart from that, construction is simple and goes together easily. I also painted the interior during this stage before I would have to close it all up.
Steps 6, 7, and 8 involves attacking the assorted hatches and details to the rear and the forward portion of the upper hull. All hatches fit absolutely perfectly, and the box tells you that they can be posed open, but the instructions do not mention this. However, with almost no interior detail, why would you?  
The rear deck features some nice PE for the tow cable holders but take note that if you actually want to put the tow cables on, which are mentioned at the very end of construction, do not attach PE parts PB8 in this step as they are supposed to go over the cable and are held in place by some absolutely stunning plastic wing nuts.
Steps 9 involves putting the hatches and panniers particular to the Ausf E. Once again, the box tells you that the hatches can be posed open, but the instructions do not mention this. I chose to leave my ones open as I will be putting some figures inside. Piece A14 is the back of the superstructure and is sloped. Some locating tabs would have made fitting this part easier, and this is also the only area of the kit where I needed to use putty.
Step 10 is the main armament, as well as some small details on the superstructure. Piece B15 is a loop which looked a little chunky to me so I replaced it with a bit of wire. The main armament gives you the option of gun barrel and sleeve in plastic or metal. Comparing the shapes of the two, the metal barrel definitely has a much more tapered profile than the plastic one. With the plastic barrel coming in one piece, I decided to use it instead of the metal option.
Step 11 is two steps and the first step involves putting together the commander’s periscope, and also the front armour plate on the superstructure. The second step is attaching the superstructure to the hull although I chose not to attach them to make it easier to mask the open hatches. You can see that the breech supplied in the kit fills the superstructure perfectly when looking into the hatch. This step also involves attaching the headlights and towing points to the front of the hull. The headlights give you the option of plastic or clear parts, which are great because you only need to mask the front of the lens, but the headlights come inside a shroud, so if you leave the shrouds closed, you don't even need to install the headlights at all. I opened up one of the shrouds to show the headlight inside.
Step 12 is mounting the gun to the outside but I'll be doing this after I've painted it all. Step 13 goes back to the back of the hull and involves folding and attaching some PE strips to the rear. Take care to mount the right side strips above the moulded on bases for the smoke candle holders and then use them to align the strips on the left. I didn't do this and glued on the left side first which resulted in them being a bit lower so the bases for the smoke candle holders interfered with the fit. I ended up cutting the ends off and glueing them around the smoke candle holder.
Step 14 is putting together the antenna holders, rear vents as well as the tracks. The mounts for the antenna holders are provided in etch, and an etch grill is provided for the vents. The tracks are of the individual link and pin type which are fully workable with some careful glueing. I left off the tracks to make painting easier.
Steps 15 and 16 involve putting the various tools and storage boxes on the fenders and then attaching them to the hull. A nice touch is the cable for the headlights moulded separately and doesn't really need to be replaced with wire unless you really want to.
Lastly, step 17 is the previously mentioned tow cables, and attaching the ends to the copper cable supplied. It would have been better for this step to appear back in step 8 rather than the end.
So there is the Bronco StuG IIIE ready for paint. The kit is definitely not as complex as some other Bronco releases, and went together very well for me and only required putty at the back of the superstructure. The shape of the holes in the drive sprocket definitely look questionable but the rest of the kit seems fine to me. I'm really looking forward to painting this one up.

Paul Lee

Thanks to Bronco Models for sending this model to build and review.