Stug III 75mm Assault Gun
The recent re-release of Airfix's catalogue of 1/76 AFVs has generated a bit of a buzz among Airfix fans, many of whom grew up building these little gems as lads. Now, as adults, these kits bring back memories of the simpler times with the re-boxing of these little beauties. I never had much of an opportunity to build Airfix kits in my youth, I don't remember them, or their many American boxings being available in my local hobby shop. However, coming back into the hobby as an adult, I've really taken a liken to many of Airfix's recent offerings, as well as a few of their golden oldies.
These "Vintage Classic" releases from Airfix, fit both categories. They're old molds repackaged into the new box with newly printed decals, and most important of all, new tracks. The kits come packaged in the now familiar side-opening red box, but feature the artwork on the original packaging. In the case of the Stug III, the artwork is more of a fiction piece, showing a Stug III and infantry charging down a sand dune as U.S. troops assault the beaches from landing crafts.
Inside the box, are 2 small sprues of tan plastic, some rubber tracks, a lower and upper hull piece, and a small sheet of decals. The instructions are laid out on one sheet in 7 simple steps, and include a brief history of the Sturmgeschutz III. The plastic feels vintage and is relatively flash free, which is not bad since this kit was first issued with these molds in the early ‘60s. How do I know this? Because the copy right date of 1962 is stamped on the lower hull piece. The tracks are molded in a nice thin rubber, that is years ahead of whatever material Airfix tracks were originally made with. These ones are flexible, and fairly well detailed. Normally, when you build one of these "vintage" kits, the tracks have hardened to a consistency of petrified wood, and would rather crumble in your hands, that bend around a drive wheel.
The build steps are pretty straight forward, and the kit goes together very quickly. The gun mount to the hull, was really the only problem area for me. There are a considerable number of large openings left over after attaching everything. I used a bit of plastic card to cover the openings from inside the hull, so it wouldn't be a see-through model. Other than that, the kit fit together really well.
Although, not specified, I believe the kit is meant to depict a Stug III, Ausf G (late) model, due to the "Pig's head" gun mantlet. As such, there are a few inaccuracies, like the commander's cupola, the oversized radio antennae, and more than likely the recommended paint scheme. However, exact accuracy isn't what these kits were really intended to have. They're meant to be fun, quick builds of interesting subjects, and that's exactly what Airfix has with this re-release.
Painting and decal instructions are provided on the back of the box, and as usual with Airfix kits, the color call outs are in Humbrol. For those of us without easy access to Humbrol paints, or a strong knowledge of their color numbering system, you paint the whole tank dark tan. The decals provided work great, but I ended up leaving the numbers and Balkenkreuz off the sides, since they would just be covered over by the spare tracks.
Overall, the kit was fun to build. Does it lack some details found on a Stug III? Yes, but the end product looks like a Stug, and it goes together easily and quickly. I wish I had more access to these kits as a kid, because I think I would have built the whole line of them. I recommend this kit for any modeler of any age, or experience. At less than $8 list price, these kits would make great starters for any new modelers or anyone with vast experience looking to scratch-build a lot of extra details.
My thanks to Hornby USA and IPMS/USA for this review kit.