Thursday, July 16, 2015

Splendid StuGs! Part I.

Hey All!

While on Summer va-ca, I dived into my second plastic project, the Battlefront StuG IIIG Platoon (GBX83) boxed set. This is another excellent product that builds up, right out of the box, into a great-looking mini. Other than some minor sink hole issues, most of my modifications are more to do with correcting some detail simplifications that were made to produce a more durable gaming piece.

The fit on these minis is very good except for one issue with the rear hull plate - it is a wee bit too wide.  Corrected on my first mini above when I followed the online guide here: Guide...I recommend gluing the top and bottom hull together first, then the rear hull plate then the tracks.  This allows a perfect fit for the front and back hull seams. This will create a small gap underneath the model on the right track that is hidden when it is right-side-up.  If you follow the Battlefront assembly guide, you will not be able to fit the rear hull plate without some shaving and it will also create a poor fit when adding the top hull.  
The Schurzen skirts and the hangers are of a late-war variety and the hangers are cast as solid pieces. They are quite durable and well thought out for gaming; with cast on supports under the plates to aid in them not breaking loose when ham-fisted gamers squeeze your babies just a little too hard! I hollowed them out for a more realistic appearance. Some rear ones were left as is and had helmets and other gear hung on to cover them. The plates themselves were cut apart and reinforced for gaming by adding additional supports underneath. I modified them to hang less uniform for a more realistic look.

The plastic MG34 included is a bit overly simplified and looks odd, more like a new-age pulse rifle with the over-sized holes cast in.

As well, it will not stand up to gaming. I replaced with metal MG42s from the spares box, dressed up with new flash suppressors, ammo and cocking handles.

There were a few sinkholes on the mini One minor one appearing on the rear of the cast-on rails...
...the other on the side of the side of the gun mantlet.

Mine were far worse than these. Although the mantlet is partially hidden when installed, I had to fill in the deep holes to correct the look. Otherwise, all detail is crisp, and flash and mold lines are minimal. I added four bolts to the front of the mantlet and drilled out the end of the barrel.

I've added a wealth of scratch-built items to these minis. Starting with the crew of the above vehicle. They were taken from the Panzer III boxed set with a few arms added and bodies reworked to fit into the crew hatches. This leads me up to one small issue with the hatches on the loaders side - you have to open it up yourself if you want to model a second crew member as it is cast closed.

I made up some bedrolls, screened the air intakes and added some tow cables.
I tried a few different gauge wires and methods but I was really unhappy with the finished look. I finally have settled on a method that I am happy with (above) They are easy to build, strong, and really look the part! I will be replacing the ones done already with these.
A few pails and starting handles were added as well.
When it comes to the MG gunshield, the normal position is flat with the hull. (above). When the gunners hatch was open, the forward hatch was used to support the shield and braced it with a special catch.  Without the hatch open, the shield was folded forward and the MG was stored.  I find that this looks a bit boring and figured that it would be conceivable that the MG could brace the shield too and could be placed to the right of the hatch in a somewhat ready to fire position. I have yet to see evidence of this in wartime photos though...the gunshield in the kit is robust and will have no problem surviving gamers. I used them as they were except the folded one above. I thinned and angled the sides and added some detail.

The spare rear road wheels were turned on my dremel to add the split missing between the rubber tires. This is a bit of a pain to get right and wish they were cast as two pieces. Plastic Soldier Company does a 2-piece wheel that is very good.
The StuH42 above and below had the skirts support rails removed entirely. This is a fair bit of work but does add some variation to your minis.
Stowage and rails were added to the rear deck. Crew helmets were made with a heated sprue mold I made with epoxy putty. Cutting off helmets from spare figures was getting too expensive!

Total time spent was about five sessions of about 4 hours each but they could be built in about 30 minutes each if not modified.

Stay tuned,