Dragon Models has been gradually re-tooling many of its marquee Wehrmacht tanks to include Zimmerit, that distinctive anti-magnetic coating applied (usually at the factory) from December 1943 through October 1944. Zimmerit was applied to most of Germany's tanks and tank-killers during that span, including the Pz. III & IV, both Tiger variants, the StuG III & IV and Jagdpanzer IV, Jagdpanther, Jagdtiger (Porsche), Brummbär and even the Sd.Kfz. 251. Its purpose was to prevent hand-carried magnetic mines from being attached to tank hulls, though in fact, few magnetic mines were used once shaped-charge anti-tank devices like bazookas came into wide usage. It was discontinued when the Wehrmacht concluded (incorrectly) that Zimmerit could catch fire.
While it was a "solution in search of a problem," some of the most-distinctive Zimmerit was the "waffle" pattern seen almost exclusively on Sturmgeschütze
produced at the Alkett factory (9,400 were manufactured overall by Daimler-Benz, Alkett and MIAG, who used the "tile" pattern). Dragon has recently released a StuG. III Ausf. G (Late Production) with molded-on Zimmerit in the waffle pattern as perhaps a corrective to the December 1943 version
that should have come with Zimmerit.
Inside the usual Dragon box are:
18 sprues of light-gray styrene
1 sprue of clear styrene periscopes
3 sheets of metal Schürzen
2 frets of PE
L & R Magic Tracks
340mm of wire for making your the tow cables
8-page "gatefold" instruction sheet
1 small sheet of Cartograf decals
I know, I know, REAL modelers make their own Zimmerit. Or failing that, use After Market Zimmerit from Cavalier or Atak. But the former is one great PITA, and the latter can add as much as $35 to the cost of a kit. And the AM Zim isn't perfect, either. Cavalier Zim, for example, is generally cheaper, yet leaves off the sponson areas that are usually covered by Schürzen
. Given that I often will leave off a panel or two of the side skirts, this is not a good thing in my opinion.
Fortunately for the rest of us, Dragon has been releasing vehicles with molded-on Zimmerit. The first few tries were a bit thick and clunky, but the company has grappled successfully with the problem, and the kits are now quite pleasurable to build and accurate to scale. This is no more apparent than the delicately-molded "waffle" pattern Zimmerit so typical of Alkett StuG IIIs. While it's harder to model damaged Zim with molded-on, it's a helluva lot easier to get a consistent look.
The StuG. III Ausf. G was the most extensively-produced variant, and went through several versions from its first production in December of 1942, so modelers should welcome another kit option. Changes included adding more armor, the later StuK, 40 L/48 gun with a different muzzle brake, and the distinctive Topfblende
("pot mantlet" or alternatively, Saukopf
or "sow's head") gun mantlet. The original mantlet had been a boxy, welded configuration that absorbed hits; the new, cast mantlet had a more-rounded shape that helped deflect shells.
The Stug. III was produced right through to the end of the war, though by then Alkett's factory had been extensively bombed and the StuG. III upper shell was adapted to the Pz. IV chassis, resulting in the StuG IV, but that's another story
Dragon has now released a wide array of StuG kits, and can call on their sprues when assembling a new kit. This cuts costs, though in some cases, means that mistakes are passed down without correction. I'm glad to report that many of the sprues are new since the base Ausf. G kit. Naturally there is a new glacis plate for the Zimmerit, a new fighting compartment top shell, as well as a new hull tub with Zimmerit on the sides. There are some changes, too, including the discarding of the original fenders, replaced with new styrene.
Other good features of this kit are a slide-molded 7.5cm StuK 40 L/48 gun (though I would have preferred the option of a turned aluminum barrel), metal return rollers, and new drive sprockets. The build will be a little more-challenging than the early Pz. III models; for example, the tow cables must be assembled from wire and "eye" hooks and laid along the fenders (no molded styrene option), and the Schürzen
are a whitish metal, again with no styrene alternative. But these metal skirts are much more to-scale, and can be dented, perforated or left off as the builder sees fit.
The instructions are the usual busy, crowded Dragon exploded-view diagrams. While the number of unused parts is not high, it might make sense to remove them to the spares box prior to construction.
decals & painting guide
Four variants are listed, though Dragon's laziness persists in that just one is identified:
Unidentified unit, Western Front 1944 in tri-color camo with no Schürzen
Unidentified unit, Western Front 1944 in tri-color camo with distinctively-painted Schürzen
Unidentified unit, Western Front 1944 in Dunkelgelb
904th Sturmgeschütz Brigade, East Prussia 1945 in whitewash over Dunkelgelb
The tiny sheet of decals for the minimal markings are by Cartograf, so they're excellent of course.
This kit is a real improvement over Dragon's initial Ausf. G (#6320) for those who want a vehicle with Zimmerit. After-market Zim runs anywhere from $15-$35 more, so that can double the cost of the kit right off the bat. The late production variant also means alternative features like metal track rollers, the automatic MG ('rum-d'rum
, and late 7.5cm StuK 40 L/48 gun.
Thanks to Dragon USA for providing this review sample. Be sure to mention you saw it reviewed on Armorama when ordering.