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Dragon Sd.Kfz.167 StuG.IV Early (7235)

by Frank De Sisto

1/72nd-scale injection-molded styrene kit containing 175 plastic parts, two lengths of DS100 tracks, one photo-etched brass fret with 46 parts, seven decal/markings options and four pages of instructions in six steps.

Recently, DML has chosen to devote considerable resources to the smaller scales, including 1/72nd. So, they are producing “families” of widely used vehicles such as the T-34 and Pz.Kpfw. IV.

This kit is modular in design and will allow the modeler to produce the early version of the StuG. IV. This version included the MG34 behind the folding shield, cast Topfblende (“Pot Mantlet”) without co-axial MG aperture, standard exhaust muffler, four return rollers and lower hull with the standard tow shackle points. There are also a couple of detail options. The cupola hatch comes in two versions: standard and another with the small hatch for the commander’s scissors periscopes folded back, so they can be shown extended with the hatch closed. The loader’s hatch also comes as a single part for the closed position, or two parts to be shown open.

There is some innovation in this kit as well. All road wheels are two parts, but not broken down in the conventional manner. The wheels themselves have the two tire portions molded as one part, using slide-mold technology. The hubs are separate, which means the tires can be easily painted in the “rubber” color of choice, and the separately painted hubs can then be added. This saves a considerable amount of very tedious work! But, BE CAREFUL!! Do NOT trim the road wheels flush either while removing them from the sprue or afterwards. You must ensure that you retain the integrity of the tiny pin on the wheels’ rear faces, so that you can attach them to the suspension spring units. Slide-molds have also been used to deliver a pre-drilled gun tube and one-piece exhaust pipes with opened orifices. The one-piece track lengths are presented in DS-100 soft styrene, which can be fixed using standard plastic cements. They depict an appropriate later style with the tiny ice cleats on each shoe’s face.

The area where DML has made a major improvement is in the Schuerzen side skirts: they have included them! Not only that, but in two versions. One gives the plates and hangers as complete plastic assemblies, while the other uses the plastic hanging frames with etched brass plates. The latter is recommended over the former since the plastic plates are improperly overlapped. The forward-most plate should be on top of the next plate behind, and so on. The plastic parts are done in the opposite manner. The Germans deliberately mounted the plates with the overlapping parts in the “trailing” configuration so that loss of the plates would be less likely. Of course, we know that THAT did not work!

A test fit of the main components showed no major problems, despite the kit’s modular approach. Detail everywhere is well done, including a very nicely detailed hull pan. Many (but, unfortunately not all) of the tools are separate parts. The new muffler is molded with slide technology so the pipe is opened. There is a new two-piece spare road-wheel storage tray, with the wheels molded on. This may or may not please the modeler since the effect is less desirable than a separate tray with separate wheels (which is still provided, so nothing’s lost).

The instructions are of the photographic type but are clearly presented; some still worry about this method. The decal options consist of seven assault guns with quite a variety of paint schemes. Two include Tac numbers, while the remainder are plainly marked with only Balkankreuz national markings.

Overall, this is a fine “new generation” 172nd-scale kit and a great improvement over the original “Late” version kit from this manufacturer. If you’ve been sitting on the fence regarding this particular assault gun, now’s the time to jump off and get one.

Highly recommended.

Reviewer’s note: Since May of 2005, I have been working on books for Concord Publications, a sister company to DML. The reader may wish to take this into consideration. For my part, I will attempt to maintain an objective viewpoint when writing these reviews.

DML kits are available from retail and mail order shops. For details see their web site at: www.dragonmodelsltd.com.