In February 1942, the German Army (Heer) started building forty Sturmpanzer (Assault Tank) on Panzer IV chassis in readiness for the Battle of Kursk. The vehicle carried a 15cm howitzer in a boxed fighting compartment. Another eighty were produced in late 1943. Finally, another 162 were built between May 1944 and March 1945. These were the late production models built on the Panzer IV Ausf. J chassis and this newly tooled kit represents this model.
The hull is a holdover from their Panzer IV Ausf. J kit #35181 from 1994, a few other smaller sprues are from recent Panzer IV based kits, but the rest are brand new tooling with a 2017 date stamp. This kit shares no parts with the older Tamiya Brummbar #35077 from 1976. There are 325 parts on sprues that are individually plastic wrapped. There is a small decal sheet of six decals for only two vehicles – one with zimmerits and one without. Also included is a four-paged fold-out sheet with very nicely colored paint/decals schemes, a zimmerit guide if you want to add them, photos of a whitewashed, museum Brummbar and history of this vehicle. The instructions are in a booklet form that has 12 pages composing of 26 steps. There are very well laid out with just a few tasks per step. A typical construction sequence of the lower hull, suspension then upper hull is followed with the two figures last. There are no photo-etched or clear parts with this kit, but a length of string is enclosed for the tow cables.
I am using Tamiya’s Zimmerit coating sheet #12673 with this build for a separate review.
Starting with the lower hull and rear plate, I did run into a problem on the rear plate. There will be a gap when installing the rear idler holders. It is barely noticeable after installing the idlers, but can be seen between the spokes. The suspension is fixed in place and cannot be articulated. Two types are roadwheels are included, rubber rimmed and steel rimmed. They are installed in different sequence for the two different vehicles the decals sheet represents.
The upper hull seemed about 1/16 of an inch short in front. I had to apply pressure to the front plate while gluing to seal this gap. I also had to put upper ward pressure to the front plate while gluing the casement on to seal a gap there. No big deal, but something to watch for. The 15cm gun barrel is molded in seven pieces with four pieces comprising the rifling and the other three sliding over the top to create the barrel. There are no seams and it is easy to construct. I really like the way Tamiya handed this. The gun is on a swiveling base so it can rotate freely, with the gun sight also rotating with gun.
The antenna is just a little nub on its mount. I cut if off and used a three-inch piece of .020 music wire as a replacement. The side skirts (Schurzen) mounting brackets are a little tricky to get lined up property. I installed the side brackets on the hull, waited a few minutes, then installed the long skirt mount and used that to adjust the side mounting brackets will the glue was still wet. The five skirts have locator numbers (L1, L2, R2, R2 etc.) molded into the inside of them to help you know what order they go on. I left these off until the end, since the is no way to get the tracks installed with them on. They fit very tightly, so I filed the mounts down a little, but I still scratched the paint off the mounting brackets, so I had to touch this up.
The front machine gun mounting ball moves freely in it mount. I did not install the machine gun barrel until the end, so this ball will roll down. I had to roll it back so the mounting hole for the gun was present, then glued it in place. This barrel needs to be drill out, too. There are two new figures included. I did deepen some of the details, like their collars and should tabs, with a knife since they seemed kind of soft to me. The tracks are a single piece and only need a few little molding nubs cut off. They took paint well and fit great.
This kit was a pleasure to build with no major problems. It follows the high-quality kits that Tamiya has been releasing lately. I am sure there will be plenty of aftermarket detail kits released soon to add more details to the wonderful kit. Eduard has already announced three photo-etched sheets for release in a few months.
I would like to thank Tamiya USA and IPMS for allowing me the pleasure of building and reviewing this great new release.