The StuH.42 (Sturmhaubitze 42, Sd.Kfz 142/2), was used to support armor and infantry. They were fitted with a 10.5cmStuH.42 L/28 howitzer offering greater destructive firepower than the StuG III that had a 7.5cm StuK 40 L/43 cannon. The 10.5cm StuH was modified to be electrically fired and fitted with a muzzle brake. The StuH 42 used the chassis from the StuG.III Ausf.E/F. Alkett, a major manufacturer of armored vehicles for the German war machine, produced 1,299 StuH 42 from 1943 to 1945. Additionally, the vehicle weighed over 26 tons.
Dragon’s version of the StuH 42 was first announced on March 15, 2016 and arrived on the shelves June 23, 2016. Dragon’s product website states that “The latest offering from Dragon represents a stunning 1/35 scale kit of an StuH.42 self-propelled howitzer based on a StuG.III Ausf.F chassis. This kit is cleverly based on Dragon’s highly sought-after StuG.III kits, but it incorporates completely new elements such as a retooled superstructure roof and fighting compartment. The front fenders are also brand new, and they are made from photo-etched metal to give maximum realism. Dragon’s StuG.III family in 1/35 scale was already impressive enough, but the line-up has just gained even more firepower with this fine rendering of a StuH.42 Ausf.F with larger-caliber gun!”.
This kit by Dragon is designated as being a “Smart Kit” which according to Dragon is easier to build straight out of the box. Also by using extensive slide molding techniques finely detailed parts are able to be reproduced without the need for photo etch. In my past experience with “Smart Kits” this has been true, so we will see during the construction process.
The box is a normal size 15” long x 9.6” wide x 3.1” tall containing 18 gray sprues, one cellophane baggie containing the lower hull, one baggie containing a small decal sheet and photo etch, and one baggie containing the DS (Dragon Styrene 100) tracks denoted on the instruction sheet L & R. The box, in typical fashion, contains on the top an illustration of a vehicle painted Field Gray with the box bottom showing enhanced detail of various subassemblies. Also included is an eight-page instruction sheet with parts not used highlighted in blue. These unused parts number approximately 318 which can be added to your stash. The instruction sheet also has a one page decal and color scheme for three vehicles.
There are a plethora of sprues numbering eighteen with most coming from past kits such as Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.f and the Heuschrecke IVb. Most are from the StuG.III Ausf past kits. Dragon is known for getting the most out of their kits. This kit is no exception.
Upon opening any model kit, what I like to look for is the amount of work, such as mold relief tapers, flashing, ejector pin release points (recessed or elevated marks), mold shift points, sprue attachment points and mold seams that need to be addressed during construction. The parts have crisp detail with little to no flash. A few pin release points were seen which will have to be sanded or filled. A note of caution: There are four sprues designated Sprue A’s. So, during the building process look carefully to see which sprue to use.
Instruction Manual, Paint/Markings Guide, Decal Sheet
The instruction manual is printed in black, white and blue measuring approximately 7-1/2” x 13-1/2” in a portrait fanfold orientation. It contains eighteen steps on eight pages of clear uncluttered diagrams. The images for the steps also contain the paint color references for Gunze and Model Master paints. There is plenty of room for notations prior to or during the building stage on the sheet. As I use Vallejo acrylics I will have to do a little paint conversions prior to the painting process. Dragon provides in the instruction manual three different versions of the StuH with three different paint patterns and decals. Decals are printed by Cartograf of Italy, which in my past experience have laid down quite nicely using Solvaset or Microsol. The three different build versions are:
- StuG.Abt. 185, Eastern Front, October 1942 in Field Gray.
- Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front 1942 in Dark Yellow.
- Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front 1943 in a winter wash Flat White.
Even though there are quite a few aftermarket items which could be purchased and used, this kit straight out of the box looks to be a fine representation. With that said, I look forward to the building this StuH. Additionally, as modelers we do not always follow the instructions step by step, however in this review I will describe any irregularities or problems I encountered in the build step by step. Now for the fun process.
- Step 1 consists of constructing the road wheels, idlers, sprockets and return rollers. There were no real issues here other than the pesky seam line down the center of each road wheel which had to be removed. It’s amazing what a Dremel does for saving time removing this seam. Photo etch is provided for use on the idler wheels for enhanced detail. Dragon has done an excellent job of molding detail on the wheels. Dragon in step has provided photo etch to add to the idler wheels. Each wheel receives six pieces of photo etch which must be removed from brass sheet, filed and using Gator’s Grip, glued to the wheel. Whether this was included in Dragon’s plans or an afterthought, I don’t see the purpose. Surely this could have been added during molding process. However, I had no problem attaching them. See the box art picture for correct placement.
- Steps 2 and 3 consist of adding the suspension system to the lower hull along with other small parts. Observe the directions closely before attaching Parts B5 and B6 (suspension arms) as these only go on one side of the hull to be correct. I didn’t, so I had to remove and replace these on the correct side. Also, this step entails the addition of the torsion bar suspension. As noted earlier the torsion bars can be made to articulate with a little reworking. I decided however, to glue them into place since I was using the provided DS tracks. Other than getting the right part to the right place, I did not notice any other issues to be addressed. My compliments to Dragon in this step goes to their molding of the suspension arms and placements. As primarily an armor modeler I always am amazed if the suspension arms are located true and level when glued into place. This makes it much easier to ensure the road wheels do not float. By using a straight edge metal ruler, I insured the suspension arms were aligned.
- Step 4 consists of building the rear lower hull. There are three sub-assemblies involved here with a great level of detail. The towing pintle is comprised of four parts adding to the detail. Care should be taken in this step to ensure correct placement is obtained. I had to refer to Walk Around reference material to complete this step. Additionally, the photo etch heat shield is glued on in this step. As noted in an earlier review on the web, the reviewer noted that the heat shield was not large enough to place correctly. I did not notice a problem here. Dragon must have read the review and changed the dimensions of the heat shield. With a little CA glue, it went down nicely.
- Steps 5 consists of attaching the return rollers, road wheels, idlers and sprockets. This step will be completed at a later stage after painting the lower hull. At that time, I will be using a combination of A. Mig Dark Rubber, Vallejo Neutral Grey 70.992 and Vallejo Panzer Aces 306 Dark Rubber to complement the dark paint of the wheels themselves. As this combination, will differentiate between the rubber and the steel. In previous builds, I have found waiting till later to attach these parts made the building process a lot easier especially since the rubber on the road wheels and return rollers have to be painted by brush.
- Step 6 consists of attaching the three rear hull sub-assemblies constructed in Step 4. Fit was excellent with no seam lines.
- Steps 7, 8 and 9: Consist of building the fenders with the tools attached. Dragon in this step gives you the option of using the attached tool mounts or cutting the mounts off and using the provided photo etch mounts. I decided to use the attached mounts as these are well detailed. A test fit of the casement is in order before attaching the tools since correct placement of the tools affects the ability to paint them. I originally attached the wire cutters in the wrong position and with the casement test fitted I could see that these would not be able to be painted. Photo etch is provided for the fenders. Also, this step consists of building part of the casement. Parts Q2 and Q3 are incorrectly identified in the instructions. However, they are only attached one way which was not a problem. Also, the two machine guns are attached inside the casement with photo etch. The periscope is built which allows either lowered or raised. I decided to build it lowered.
- Step 10: Consists of building the two radio stations. Please note in this section Part R13 is incorrectly identified as Part R3. The radios are detailed which if the hatches are left open will show. Detailing these would most certainly improve the look. Possibly some photo etch would be nice if supplied by Dragon. As I was going to show the model with the hatches closed I did not detail the radios. Also in this step the directions have you to add the two antennas and mounts. I added the mount, but left the actual antennas till painting was complete as these would be in the way during the painting process.
- Steps 11 and 12: Consist of installing the turret hatches on the casement. Two different hatches are provided if you want the model to be shown with hatches in the open or closed positions. Individual hinges are provided for open hatches. Detailing on the inside of the hatches looks good.
- Step 13: Consists of attaching the attaching photo etch for the air intakes which adds detail. The screening is remarkably detailed. Also, the hatches are installed with individual hinges to the rear upper hull. This step also gives you the option of installing the cable or not. I decided to install the cable later on after it is painted and weathered.
- Steps 14 and 15: Consist of constructing the main gun breech and fighting compartment consisting of thirty parts. Please note that the gun must be built due to the 105mm gun barrel attaching to it. The main gun is well detailed with sprue attachment points on the side of the barrel. There is a slight seam running down the center, but was easily removed. The gun breech and fighting compartment is well detailed, however there aren’t parts for placement of shells in the casement. With a little scratch building or aftermarket parts this area could be highly detailed. Please note that parts E32 and E13 are incorrectly identified as parts not used which is highlighted in blue upon the sprue layout page. If you are like me I tend to cut off the sprues of the parts which are not used. Wrong…..Shouldn’t have done it this time. I had to go through a baggie with 318 unused parts to find the correct parts. Lesson learned! Since Dragon highlights in blue the parts not used I usually remove them before the build. However, in this case I shouldn’t have since parts E32 and E13 were needed. These were blued out. Here, I painted the inside of the casement and gun using Vallejo Foundation White 70.919 and with Vallejo Natural Steel 70.864.
- Steps 16 and 17: These are the final steps having everything closed up and sub-assemblies attached. Dry fit everything before final gluing to ensure everything fits perfectly. With a little sanding I was able to complete this step although a little cussing was in order. The tracks used on the StuH are the Panzer III/IV which Dragon has excellently detailed. They were first painted with A. Mig 035 Dark Tracks which fairly represents the metal tracks of the StuH. Here I used CA glue as I have read some reviews where the use of Tamiya Thin glue caused cracking. I had no problems.
- Step 18: Consists of adding the antenna racks using photo etch for mounts. Instead of placing the antennas in the upright position I laid them into these racks. Note: photo etch parts MA(15&16) are switched for MA(13&14) on the instruction sheet. However, the correct numbers can readily be identified. The photo etch is detailed with bolt heads which look quite good.
- Decals: The decals laid down nicely after a clear gloss acrylic coat was applied and allowed to dry for 24 hours. As I usually use Microsol as my setting solution, I found no problem with the supplied decals. After the decals were allowed to dry for 48 hours, I sprayed on another gloss clear acrylic coat to protect them during the weathering process.
- Painting: Model was first primed with Vallejo Acrylic German Panzer Grey Primer 70.603 RAL 7021. Then various shades of grey were added using AK Interactive’s German Panzer Grey Modulation Acrylic Paints. The inside of the casement and hull were painted with Vallejo Foundation White 70.919 and hand painting details with Vallejo Natural Steel 70.864. A filter was applied using Vallejo’s Model Wash Black to blend the tones created with the Panzer Grey Modulation. Chipping was accomplished using Vallejo German Camo Black Brown 70.822 and a sponge. Then I sprayed on a thin coat of AK’s Earth. After this coat I added a coat of flat clear acrylic.
After completing each kit, I ask myself, “would I build this kit again?” In regards to this kit, my answer is “most certainly yes”. This definitely was an enjoyable build. The kit does have some issues, but I believe it is a good representation of a StuH. The kit has workable torsion bar suspension, but with the included DS tracks this cannot be accomplished unless individual track links are used and the suspension is reworked. There are several aftermarket manufacturers that supply metal and individual track links which could be added to use the workable torsion bar suspension. In reviewing several references during the build, I could not see a lot of sag in the tracks. But, if you want to display some sag with the DS tracks, I would suggest the “old school” method of pinning the tracks to achieve this desired sag. As with any Dragon kit reviewing the instructions is a must before the build begins. Above all, this kit is a great addition to any German aficionado’s model collection. I highly recommend this kit.
Thanks to IPMS/USA and Dragon Models USA for allowing me to review this kit.