German SU-76i with Cupola
What's in the Box?
- 13 grey plastic sprues
- 1 plastic lower hull
- 1 Photo etch sheet
- 2 bags of magic tracks (one left and one right)
- 1 decal sheet
- 1 set of Instructions
The SU76I was based on the German Panzer III and Stug III chassis. It was armed with a 76.2 mm gun. Approximately 200 of these captured vehicles were converted by the Russians. A new superstructure enclosing the 76.2 mm gun was added to the tank. The tank was issued to self-propelled gun units starting in autumn 1943, but it was withdrawn from the front in early 1944. Some SU-76i were recaptured by the Germans who added a Panzer III commander’s copula fixed on the roof. I found this to be very interesting in that the original vehicles had been re-purposed twice.
Step 1 – 6
Building began with return rollers, sprockets, idlers, and track tensions parts for the lower hull. I did not follow the instructions because of the way I planned on assembling the magic tracks. I glued 4 of the road wheels together and left the rest separated without gluing. I did not glue the drive sprockets to part A3 and I did not glue the large rear return rollers to the track tension assemblies. I set them all aside for now. I built the remainder of the lower hull per the instructions, except for step 5. I only glued the inner half of the return rollers in place and left all the road wheels, sprockets and return idlers off. There were no fit issues encountered during steps 1-6; the fit is very good, in fact, and no fillers had to be used. The lower hull detail is excellent.
Step 7 & 8
These two steps deal with prepping the fenders for use. No issues were encountered, however there is a bit of filling needed. You have to fill the holes in the fenders where the German tools, which are absent, would be mounted. Care must be taken not to sand off the fender texture on the top of the fenders. You will also have to remove some items from the fender tops which is easily done with a #11 blade. It was not extremely difficult, just a bit time consuming. Again, I had no issues with parts fit whatsoever.
Step 9 & 10
Steps 9 and 10 are assembly of the engine deck and went together very easily. There are a number of small parts in step 10 which with care and careful clean-up posed no problems. These two steps went rather quickly and produced a nice engine deck ready for mounting on the chassis.
Here is where the fun begins. In step 11 huge pieces are cut out of parts A61 and A62 to make way for the SU76I conversion. I photo copied the instructions and carefully cut out the images on the photocopies and used them as templates, laying them directly on the parts as a guide. I then cut the parts using my trusty Zona razor saw. Don’t worry, the cuts do not have to be exact as I discovered the gun mantlet will cover it if it is not an exact fit. There is a small amount of room for error, but not a lot.
I stopped here and assembled the magic tracks so I did not have to worry about the fenders being in the way. I glued one side of required number of tracks together with Testors liquid glue and allowed them to dry in a long strip for 10 to 15 minutes. While they were drying, I placed the drive sprockets and rear idlers on the lower hull. I placed one of the glued pairs of road wheels on the first and last axles and the inner road wheels in place on the rest of the axles of one side of the lower hull. I positioned the lower hull on its side face up. None of these parts were glued. I then took the string of magic tracks and carefully wrapped it around the sprockets, road wheels and rear idlers into position. I adjusted for the correct number of links, added the track sag that I wanted and carefully glued the last two loose links together. I then allowed the tracks to dry overnight.
Once they were dry, I simply removed the tracks with the sprockets in place and removed the road wheels and idlers as well. Now I had a correctly shaped one piece magic track ready to paint and weather. I turned over the lower hull and repeated the process to complete the second set of tracks.
Once the tracks were done, I glued the remaining road wheels together because once painted and weathered the one-piece track assemblies could be manipulated into place over the completed road wheels by gluing the painted and weathered return idler and sprocket into the track. Once these were in place, I could slide the track onto the tank and then carefully add the road wheels.
Step 12 – 14
During steps 12 through 14, you assemble the lower and upper hulls as well as add the fenders. All parts fit nicely and square up. Construction was easy, with no issues encountered.
Step 15 - 17
Step 15 is interesting because you must remove the plastic from the area for the German cupola addition on the upper super structure part E8. Not overly difficult and Dragon has molded a depression in the underside of the super structure as a guide. Once past removal of the plastic from part E8, construction was pretty straight forward.
I ran into a fit issue with parts E 23 and E28. I did not think it looked correct the way they fit on the superstructure. It looked like the doors were too big, therefore I sanded the opening for the rear doors until I achieved a fit that I was happy with. Not a major issue, but the fit could have been better. The cupola used during step 17 is very detailed and is nice because you can build it in open or closed position.
The model started to look really sharp after this step. It was very simple to attach the upper superstructure to the lower hull in step 18. There were no major issues, just be sure to get it straight and be very neat. If there are small gaps, it’s OK as there are photoetch parts that go around the two sides and front of the super structure and lower hull gaps. These are not in the instructions but are a very prominent part on the real vehicle. It is easily determined where the photo etch parts go by their shape and the box art. One note about these parts is they must be bent to match the angle of the added super structure, which was done easily enough.
Here we added the side of the superstructure to cover the hole we cut in step 15 as well the gun mantlet and other detail parts. Take your time when gluing on part E1 to the superstructure and use the cupola to assist in getting it at the proper height and position. I had no difficulty or fit issues here and all went together very well.
Now we had a good looking vehicle with only a few details to be added to complete. You can, if you want, leave off the fuel drums subassemblies R and S. I am not positive, but I believe these were not on every SU76I built. So, without going too far out on a limb, I feel that the rear external fuel drums would be a matter of choice and a bit of artistic license depending on your preference and taste. I like them and think they add to the look of re-captured soviet tank theme.
The assemblies added are all straight forward and don’t have any fit issues. There are seams to contend with on the fuel drums, and the bolts added to the 76mm gun are small and fiddly but not impossible to complete. There are also some details to cut off parts C15 and C16, which was easy enough, and I left the spare road wheels off the model’s rear fenders until all painting and weathering was done, adding them last.
After I was satisfied with the assembly, I washed the model in detergent and let it dry overnight to remove any stray bits and debris from the sanding, filing and scotch bright pads used during assembly. I primed all the subassemblies with Krylon max grey primer and allowed all to dry a minimum of 24 hours to ensure the enamel primer had cured.
The model was then given several mist coats of Tamiya German Grey XF-63. The tires were painted with Panzer Aces Dark Rubber #306, which is not black but rather a dark grey, and in my opinion it looks a lot more like rubber than flat black. The mufflers were painted with Panzer Aces Dark Rust 302.
The model was given a few light coats of Pledge floor polish to give a nice glossy finish for the decals to adhere to and allowed to dry 24 hours and then the decals were added. After settling down the decals with Gunze Mr. Mark Softener, another coat of Pledge was sprayed over the model to seal in the decals and allowed to dry 24 hours.
The model was then given two coats of Mig Ammo chipping fluid (scratches effects) #A.Mig-2010 and allowed to dry 15 minutes. The model was then sprayed with a random misting using Tamyia Flat White XF-2 with a few drops of Buff XF-57 so the white did not look so stark. This was also allowed to dry about 15 minutes.
The model was then brushed with water containing a few drops of rubbing alcohol, working one small area at a time and brushing until the white paint began to be removed. In some stubborn areas it was necessary to use a toothpick gently to start the chipping. This was done slowly until I was satisfied with the results on the entire tank. I then let the entire model dry another 24 hours. The model was given another light coat of Pledge to protect the chipped paint and allowed to dry 24 hours.
The model was given several pin washes of Windsor Newton Van Dyke Brown as well as washes of Windsor Newton Raw Umber and Burnt Sienna until I liked the look. This was allowed to dry overnight.
The model was given a coat of Testors dull coat and allowed to dry overnight. The model was dry brushed with Mig 502 Abteilung Oils German Grey Highlight ABT-170 and allowed to dry overnight again.
The tracks were finished with Tamiya Hull Red XF-9 and given a wash with Mig Track Wash A.MIG-1002 and dusted with Mig Pigments Old Rust and Light Rust.
I really enjoyed building this model and would recommend this to anyone wanting to build a nice Su76i with German Cupola. The detail level is very good and the overall finished model is nice. I especially liked the fact that they included the winterketten magic tracks.
I would also like to thank Dragon Models and the IPMS reviewer’s corps for giving me this opportunity to build this wonderful kit. Should you choose to build one, you can obtain this kit from the Dragon website at http://www.dragonusaonline.com simply place kit number 6585 in the search box and bam, there you have it. The actual kit number is DRA-6856. Model on !!!!