STUG III Ausf. E – DML #6688 Smart Kit

This STUG III kit came just like an early Christmas gift to me. Not so long ago, I was deeply inspired by a video I found on YouTube about Stug III. It featured specifically STUG III Ausf. C and Ausf. D and showed many vehicles with a lot of stowage, roaming around Soviet union during WWII. That gave me an idea to begin a project, especially featuring early STUG III with short gun barrel and dark gray scheme. There was only two decent choices then: Tamiya Ausf. B and old Dragon tooling of Ausf.C/D – #6009. Both are not bad at all, but they are not exactly up to today’s standards. So I was almost ready to hit Tamiya’s gun, when information appeared about Bronco’s Ausf. E being in its final stages before hitting the stores.

DML Stug III ausf. E #6688 box back

That was great news, especially when they announced that desert version of the Ausf. D will be available too. So, while I was discussing that with a friend of mine, he mentioned about upcoming Dragon 6688 – STUG III Ausf. E. He mentioned, that it isn’t exactly a re-boxed version, but rather new tooling parts, incorporated with fewer old-toolings enclosed in a new box, but with Magic tracks, Photo-etch and so on.

Not long after that, the postman rung the bell and delivered that long awaited kit to me. Meantime, Dragon STUG III Ausf. C/D /DML #6851/ and STUH 42 /DML #6834/were announced, which, of course were not unexpected, just the contrary. But today we will take a closer look at the Ausf. E from Dragon.

Bronco’s upcoming Sturmgeschutz III Ausf. D North Africa version.

There are several things needs to be mentioned before we start to dig in the box. First is that this is a Smart Kit, and this time, most of the features of the Smart Kits are present. We have Photo-etch sheet, we have several different camo schemes and most importantly – Magic Tracks. About them, I have to add, that it is extremely annoying, when reading the Dragon reviews I see comments like: “people will be disappointed by the lack of DS tracks” or “people will not like the Magic Tracks included”. Seems like there is no solution to that, because the modelers are just too damn picky! Well, Dragon STUG III #6688 features both types. Yes, that’s right – we have DS and Magic tracks inside. Now, go complain!

The goodies doesn’t stop there. The kit features also Interior. That includes complete fighting compartment with the main gun and the sights, gun mount and ammo storage bins and a radio set. The last one is with new housing and from what I can tell – with better texture compared to the old one. The rifling inside of the gun barrel is there and the gun itself is a 7,5cm StuK37 L/24. There are front fenders and mudflaps made from photo-etch parts, cooling intakes covered with PE grills, antenna trough made from a mix of PE and plastic and a newly tooled gun cleaning rods. All of them – top quality!

The kit is made from the typical Dragon plastic – gray – and is very nicely detailed. It is the best out there. I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed. Compared to Takom, MiniArt and even Tamiya, this Dragon STUG III just looks better. The feel that the parts gives you, the feel that built model creates in you – that is the Dragon magic.

Camo schemes are interesting, because they are not only dark grey this time. Of those we have two. One from Klin, Russia,Stug.Abt.191 – November 1941 and one from Crimea, Leutenant Johann Spielmann, Stug.Abt.197 – 1942.

The others are dunkelgelb, first one is single color – 3./StuG.Abt.190, Crimean Peninsula, Russia 1942 #373. Second one is two-tone camo dunkelgelb and khaki green – StuG.Abt.197, Kerch, Ukraine from March 1942 and the last one, probably the most interesting from modeling stand point:

Div. “Ferdinand von Schill” /Wehrmacht XXII Korps of the 12.Armee/, south-west area of Berlin, April 1945. It is Dunkelgelb with khaki green and red brown. The colors are shown in a way that suggest that they were done with a brush and paint streaks are visible, so that will mean a lot of painting techniques are about to be involved. Not only that, but this is very late in the war, which means that this vehicle eventually suffered throughout different climates for couple of years and the weathering possibilities here are enormous!

Instructions of the Dragon Stug III are the typical Dragon instruction leaflet, which I think is about time to be changed a bit. They probably feature errors, but I can only guess here. There is a need for improvement there, that is certain. Although nicely depicted, the repetitive use of same sprues usually creates confusion and you gotta know what you are doing when dealing with DML. Besides Dragon STUG III is one of the longest running vehicles from that company, which additionally complicates the project if there are errors present.

The rest, as I’ve said before is the Dragon magic. Everything is perfectly done, clean, crispjoy for the modeler. What he have here, is a kit suitable for both beginer modelers and advanced ones, probably even for the masters out there and this is OOTB. This cannot be seen often. MiniArt are great for advanced and masters, but they are nearly impossible builds for newbies. Tamiya are great for newbies and even advanced but are unbearable OOTB for the masters. Here, we have best of both worlds.

Magic tracks are some sort of a bonus for the first production run of this kit, or at least is what I am told. But since this is only couple of weeks since it was made available on the market, I doubt that this will be an issue. In other words, you will get your magic tracks most likely. It won’t hurt to check though. The thing that’s missing is the cardboard that usually holds the PE, metal cables and magic tracks, but Dragon eventually spared some dollars from the production costs removing that. Let’s not blame them. Just imagine – a major airline in US saved several million dollars for 12 months after removing the olives from the menu, and there was most likely an olive per meal. So, this is the modern world that we live in.

I can say mostly nice things about the kit. The rear of the box is one of the best out there – with drawings and what not. The boxart is crazy cool, and the goodies just enough for everybody. The price is quite right, and of course that’s not all. You get an interior! On the other hand, instructions doesn’t look any better than before, the box might be a bit sturdier and the missing cardboard sheet makes the kit looks cheaper, which is actually an illusion. But hey, we all know Dragon are struggling to survive with all that competition around.

So, final words: 5 camo schemes, 350 parts, interior and magic tracks. “Smart Kit all the way” I would say! Dragon quality, reasonable price, all around pleasure 35th scale vehicle. I can only highly recommend!

I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do, not because STUGs are one of my favorites, but because this kits really deserves a praise! Kudos Dragon! Keep up the good work!

You can get this kit here: Stug III Ausf. E with Interior DML6688

Please enjoy the video that inspired me, special Thanx to Panzer Picture and don’t forget to visit their channel in Youtube :

P.S. What I’ve noted is that repeating numbers on DML kits, especially in pairs, like 6688, 6600, 7700 or what not, are usually their best kits. Scout for those, you will see that I not fool you around!