takom stug iii dn models masks for scale models 2020

Takom StuG III? Biggest news for armor in 2020

Takom StuG III

release was somewhat logical announcement. Although still not official news neither as scale nor as release date, Takom dropped the bomb with a single picture posted on their Facebook page. For armor modeling world, this is probably the biggest and most likely the greatest announcement of 2020. It is most definitely more interesting and important for armor modelers than corona virus is nowadays.

StuG III is the most produced vehicle of the German side of the Second World War. Not only that, but it has tons of fans around the World, modeling-wise. Interestingly, those who once take the StuG road, tend to stay on it, with few extreme examples. Latter one are builders that build either mostly or only StuG IIIs in 35th scale.

Here comes the question: “What scale will be Takom’s StuG III?”. It might seem like an easy answer, but it is not yet announced officially, which might mean that it can be 1/16th, just like their FT-17 tank. And why not, considering that Trumpeter are releasing StuG in 16th scale sometimes in the next 12 to 24 months. It is definitely a possibility.

Most likely though,

the 35th scale kit will emerge on the already flourishing armor market. And that means a lot. It means that this is just the beginning. Because Takom are not like Bronco, and they will expand their line and probably give the rights to others to re-pack. In the meantime, the most interesting object for modeling of the WWII will  probably be explored by others too. It is highly unlikely this speculation to be false as well. And if you wonder why, think about it:

MiniArt just announced Panzer IV and they already did some pre-production Panzer and StuG IIIs. Border model also entered the game with their Panzer IV, as well as the brilliant Rye Field Model representation of the same thing. It will be insane decision not to take a swing at the StuG III, considering that it is far more popular than Panzer III and IVs.

But let’s give time

to Takom and see what exactly they will offer us. And if expectations of everybody are correct, this will be 35th scale new tooling of a StuG III. Probably with interior. That will set the beginning of a new line of StuG IIIs and will put a huge pressure on Dragon, dethroning them as a StuG dominant on the market. Reasons for that are many, but none more important that this: Takom know how to make contemporary models and are highly competitive, while DML seems to have forgotten how to. One thing is certain: Takom StuG III is happening!

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StuG III 0-series Miniart 35210 Unboxing Review DN Models Masks for Scale Models Boxart

StuG III 0-Series Unboxing – MiniArt #35210

Intro:

StuG III is the most produced German Fighting Armored vehicle of the Second World War. It is not surprising, that this is one of the most looked for and built scale models too. Especially in 35th scale. Most of the StuGs available on the market today are good representations and cover most of the popular versions. If not covered, those versions are doable with a little aftermarket help. Mostly Dragon Models and Tamiya dominate that market, although recently, Bronco entered that game too.

MiniArt are about to say something on that subject too. Being a company that focuses on interesting and rare options of famous vehicles, the Ukrainian model maker surprised us with a pre-production series of StuG III: 0-series. Only five of these were vehicles ever produced, if the sources I’ve read are correct. They were used primarily for training, but some of them were eventually sent to the front at some point.

The main difference between those and the first production StuGs are the suspension and the wheels, which are 8 per side, instead of 6, standard for the StuG IIIs of the production series. The other thing that is tempting here is that MiniArt already have several Panzer III versions with that suspension and the kits are very well accepted, which promises a good StuG option. The pre-production Panzers available from the Ukrainian manufacturer are beautiful although demanding kits, and we have nothing short of that to expect with this StuG here too.

StuG III 0-series Miniart 35210 Unboxing Review DN Models Masks for Scale Models sprues contents

Box & Boxart:

The box, compared to the size of the T-54 series from MiniArt seems little thin and skinny. That shouldn’t fool you though. StuG is little smaller as a vehicle and the lack of long barrel and huge wheels somehow adds to the size chosen from the Ukrainian model maker.

The boxart is beautiful, showing a stationary StuG III in a forest, hinting that this vehicle wasn’t used that much in its service history. You’ve seen other manufacturers boxes I presume. All that you can see on them is action. Not here. The colors are rather dark, but even with that the StuG’s grey silhouette is depicted to draw attention. It looks big, although in reality this isn’t the case. It bears specific presence and is one of the nicest MiniArt boxarts out there in my opinion.

StuG III 0-series Miniart 35210 Unboxing Review DN Models Masks for Scale Models instrucitons

Instructions:

Are sharp and clearly depicted. A special attention is devoted to the suspension of the StuG. As with initial series Panzer III from MiniArt, that is the main difference between pre-production and standard-production vehicles. A decent number of parts is included here, plus the fact that the tracks are separate links, pretty much like Modelkasten set, without the price tag of course.

There are some interior elements but it isn’t full interior set. However, the sheets demand your full attention and I trust that this sheet, however clearly presented will be still a challenge for novice modeler.

Sprues:

Decent amount of space in the box is taken from the sprues that holds the tracks and their pins. They are beautifully executed, eliminating the need of aftermarket tracks which does two things. First is – saves a lot of money, considering Friul and Modelcasten prices, and second – extend the time to be spend building this kit. They can be great add-on but it comes at a price and that is time and patience from the builder’s perspective.

Rest of the sprues are standard for MiniArt as quality and a little less as quantity. Latter one is very good, since tracks won’t be a hassle as they are with the T-series of MiniArt. There, you have so much to build on the vehicle itself, that the tracks are your last concern and they might come a bit too much for some.

StuG III 0-series Miniart 35210 Unboxing Review DN Models Masks for Scale Models sprues

Detail is at a great level, better than any StuG currently on the market. Fine parts, small and intricate elements are what define the sprues, except for the hull elements. Suspension was given a fair amount of attention, including sufficient number of parts too.

Most importantly, the material that the sprue are made of is high-quality plastic, flexible and allowing for easy work. Problems with cracking and breaking parts is avoided, making the small and numerous parts acceptable burden and even a pleasant experience for many.

StuG III 0-series Miniart 35210 Unboxing Review DN Models Masks for Scale Models sprues

Decals & Photo-etch:

Decal sheet is small and practically features 3 letters, two crosses and two symbols. Understandably, considering the limited run of the 0-Series StuG III and the fact that Germans were not that into huge markings of their military vehicles.

StuG III 0-series Miniart 35210 Unboxing Review DN Models Masks for Scale Models decals

The Photo-etch on the other hand speaks serious business. There are not many big items from PE on the Miniart’s StuG, but there are plenty small ones. Brackets, handles and light covers, all of which made from very thin and flexible material, specific for MiniArt.

Those who hasn’t dealt with MiniArt’s photo-etch should be aware, that sanding should be done with care. The PE sheet is so thin, that damages are easily done. That is the price of perfection of course.

StuG III 0-series Miniart 35210 Unboxing Review DN Models Masks for Scale Models PE

Paint Options:

Dark grey can summarize it all. But not so fast. There are three versions, equally looking, but different in terms of decals. They are from different periods from 1939 till 1941. All from Juterbog, Germany. One of them is with German cross on the side, and other two feature letters.

StuG III 0-series Miniart 35210 Unboxing Review DN Models Masks for Scale Models color schemes

I don’t want to put too much attention here, because single-tone camouflages are not about the markings, but about the way they can be weathered. That goes in 100% with this vehicle, especially with those dark colors which allow for serious modulation and weathering techniques.

In my opinion, the cross will be sufficient and the rest will be painting techniques.

StuG III 0-series Miniart 35210 Unboxing Review DN Models Masks for Scale Models color II

Conclusion:

This kits is accurate, according to various sources and StuG experts. It is also challenging and not suitable for beginners, which makes it even more attractive. The fact that the hull is divided into separate parts changes a lot, especially when comparing that to Tamiya or DML. The level of detailing is superb as with almost every MiniArt kit and the set by itself is absolutely self-sufficient.

The elimination of the need of any aftermarket is vital here, which added to the price makes this StuG III irresistible offer. MiniArt continue to surprise with gorgeous kits that are below the medium prices on the market and in the same time above the average quality.

This StuG III is hopefully a start of a new line of StuGs which, if released by MiniArt will mark a whole new era in StuG modeling. MiniArt’s approach towards suspension, interior and photo-etch quality is one of a kind and if they release the later version of the StuG it is certain that they will eliminate all competition on that particular scene.

Highly recommended, borderline to mandatory!

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Dragon 6851 Sturmgeschutz III Ausf. C/D 1/35

Dragon 6851 Sturmgeschutz III Ausf. C/D is the first STUG for 2017 that Hong Kong company releases. It is a continuation of their partially re-tooled short-barreled StuGs, first of these being StuG III Ausf.E DML #6688. Dragon boosted their new releases recently, combining new toolings and partially re-tooled subjects /like one in this article/, trying to keep up with the competition. After the release of Bronco Sturmgeschutz kits lately /Ausf. C/D/E versions/, Dragon is risking loosing their crown as being the best StuG III manufacturer in 35th scale. Many companies are hungry for that particular object, being the most produced vehicle of the WWII and one of the most popular kit amongst modelers. Not only that, but the scale - 1/35 - is also in "the most" category. So that being said, Dragon 6851, alongside Dragon 6688 are an attempt from DML to keep their place on top when it comes down to German Armor of the Second World War. The Box Dragon 6851 Sturmgeschutz III comes in a nice and big box, with some minor changes compared to DML 6688. The top of the box is done in the new Dragon way, similar to the one of the Sd.Kfz.252 half-track. There is a yellow diagonal stripe where "Smart Kit"logo is placed, the rest being the boxart and in my case - bonus stickers.
picture courtesy of DML
I was in a hurry to among the first who order the kit, to make sure mine will come with Magic Tracks. As with Dragon 6688, not all of the kits comes with that. On the box of my Dragon 6851 Sturmgeschutz III, I got two additional stickers: "Magic Tracks included" and "Bonus External Air Filters". Probably, if you wait long enough, yours won't feature these. They look like the part of the boxart but they aren't. On the back of the box we have typical Dragon description of highlights included in 6851. However, not much is new inside of the box. Now to make this more clear, let's focus on The Sprues Dragon 6851 Sturmgeschutz III comes with stashed box, full with plastic bags. Each of those contains one or more sprues inside, made from typical Dragon material. There is no need to describe every and each one of those, just because of one simple reason: there are almost no new-tooled sprues inside of DML6851. We have sprues from StuG Ausf.F/8, Ausf.G, Panzer III, Panzer IV and some used in most of the Dragon kits, like sprues with tools on them. The one that worth mentioning is the sprue with the fenders, which is supposedly completely new tooled one. With that said, I must add that the overall quality is superb. I am only mentioning this to those who expect mostly newly-tooled sprues inside, combined with some old ones. Here we can barely find something new, but that does not mean that Dragon 6851 Sturmgeschutz III is not a great kit. Just the contrary. The Sprues feature superb texture, fine details, tiny and delicate elements all over. There will be a lot of spare parts for your stash after you finish the build, so having older sprues isn't exactly a problem. The kit feature partial interior just like 6688. It is not much but is more than most of what other kits have. The radios are great, floor of the vehicle - superb. The 75mm Kanone is with rifling and alongside the fact that there are not many aftermarket 7.5cm Kanones available, I must admit - Dragon did good here. The Decals Are a high point of this kit. They are made by Cartograf, the best in the business. DML decals weren't the best out there /nor the worst in that matter/ but the decision to use Cartograf really improves things here. We have two small sheets. One for the Bonus Version which is DAK - Desert Afrika Korps and three for other three versions. Standard dark gray StuG IIIs from the Eastern front, 1941. Those three differ only by the decal options which are modest - only names with a logo on the side of the vehicle: Seydlitz, Prinz Eugen and Derfflinger. The DAK version feature some palm trees of course. Overall good job with the decals. Although I prefer masks for armor, and of course I always use DN Models German Crosses mask set, I must add that for those who are in a hurry with their build, those decals are a good addition to 6851. The Add-Ons With the bonus mentioned above, Dragon 6851 Sturmgeschutz III kit becomes very decent investment. We have DS tracks and DS jackets and boots included. The DS tracks are not particularly famous among modelers, but the other DS goodies are beautiful. Alongside with those we get small but nice photo-etch sheet. It features most of the stuff needed, but I would've add a tad more, just to make it closer to perfection. The material is thin and flexible though and present us with absolutely nothing to complain about. Bonus sprues with external air filters featured within Desert Afrika Korps version are for those who would like to get their STUG III ausf. C/D from Dragon instead of Bronco. Bronco's StuG DAK is completely new tooling but will gain trust slowly. To add to that, Dragon added a bonus DAK version and that made Bronco's life even harder. And last but not least - the Magic Tracks. There will be an useless blabber if I start pointing out the highlights of those. You are well familiar with them I trust. What I want to mention is that we have them here and this is extremely nice. Probably most of the kits will be out on the market without Magic Tracks, but if you are aware of that fact, you can always request your seller to find you a kit with them. Otherwise - buy it from somewhere else! Without them this kit isn't worth the price, as any other Smart kit from Dragon featured only with DS tracks. Aftermarket tracks are expensive and alongside with Dragon high prices it will make it even harder on the wallet. Conclusion Dragon 6851 Sturmgeschutz III is not a new kit. It has new sprues and Cartograf decals. It features 4 versions, including Desert Afrika Korps. It is fitted with nice rifled 7.5cm Kanone, antennas and Magic Tracks. The kit comes at a price, no doubt about it but with all that included you will get even. Alongside DML6688 and the upcoming Wittmann early STUG, this Ausf.C/D is a great addition to any collection. It is hard to find new and decent Dragon sets. Especially when it says "Smart Kit" but is fitted with DS only. Not so smart after all... This is definitely one of those rare birds that are just like Dragon old-school. In my opinion it beats Bronco all the way and for an early StuG III I would always go either this or 6688. Highly recommended. You can get this kit here: Dragon 6851 Sturmgeschutz III Ausf.C/D
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Dragon Sd.Kfz.252 Review DN Models sd.ah.32

Dragon Sd.Kfz.252 with Sd.Ah.32/1 Trailer 1/35

Dragon Sd.Kfz.252 is a German Halftrack based on Sd.Kfz.250 and used as an ammunition carrier. It was built by Demag AG and Wegmann during 1940 and then by Deutsche Werke in 1941. A little over 400 vehicles were built and they saw action at the first stages of the war. The ammo carrier was used to support StuG III carrying 75mm shells, as for that purpose a trailer was designed. It was Sonder-Anhänger (Sd. Ah.) für Munition (7,5 cm) (Sd. Ah. 32/1), and the combination between it and Sd.Kfz.252 is now easily recognized by every StuG III fan, especially those who love the initial versions of the Sturmgeschutz. This kit was missing from the modeling scene for many years, with only 1/72 and resin /1:35/ options available. Dragon released early versions of STUG III recently andquickly realized the need of such an add on to their line. So, several months after their STUG III ausf.E , DML came up with the long awaited new tooling of the small ammo carrier. What we have is a good looking box, not very small, probably because of the Full Interior featured in the Sd.Kfz.252. In 1/35, the vehicle is quite small though. The boxart is very neat, featuring a Sd.Kfz.252 with Sd.Ah 32/1 trailer, re-supplying a Stug III on the background. The fields behind it imply that this is Ukraine, but I am not sure that the vehicles of that kind were sent there. For European theater I am certain though. The back of the box also shows some renders of the model kit, showing some of its highlights. Among those are some PE parts, magic tracks, 7.5cm shells. Full interior is also mentioned, although with the overall size of the Sd.Kfz.252 in 35th scale this is close to a nightmare. It is interesting, because in order to show the interior, the openings of the vehicle are quite limiting. So you either have to do some cutaways, or make a lot of pictures and close it forever. The instruction sheet: At first glance we have typical Dragon Smart Kit sheet. Once opened, the pictures seen show the well known arrangements of the build, which is completed in 26 steps. Once thing I notice is that there are simplified here and there. Usually, we have most of the details of the kit represented and on the mid- and final steps here we have that too. In the beginning though, for whatever reason, Dragon made the vehicle quite simple, track lengths without texture, just two outlines from each side. One can only guess the reason for that.
Check out how simple is everything to the left, compared to the right
One step of the instruction sheet took my attention immediately: this is Step 9, the engine build. There we have different colors and even a short one, it is depicted clearly and differs a lot from the initial ones. Not yet certain are there any mistakes, but I guess there will be. If you continue to read you will find out why I think that. The sprues: We don't have an overcrowded box with the Dragon Sd.Kfz.252, like we are used to with other DML kits. Everything is sealed in separate envelopes and luckily, since the box of my half-track arrived severely damaged. Now, the fact that everything was sealed and that the box contents are rather sparse saved the day! In this particular case it was a good thing. It will ring a bell though, with 410+ parts, full interior and a DML kit, to have such small sprue number. Not necessarily a bad thing though. It might turn out really good once built. What I note is that the quality if the plastic is somehow doubtful. Yes, there are sprues with the well known Dragon plastic. But some of them appears to be different to my eye. Some of the details are perfect, some - a bit chunky. I have no idea is it my immagination here or Dragon changed something with this Sd.Kfz.252. The seats are beautiful, with the springs on the back, the gauges on the dashboard, texture on the seats. But still something is strange. I won't comment anymore here, I will leave you with the pictures so you be the one to judge. The additional parts: In an envelope we have the decals and three add-ons. Those are two photo-etch sheets and a metal tow cable. The smaller PE is 2 x 1cm /!!!/  and represents the bottom of the cartridges which goes in the Sd.Ah 32/1 trailer of the Dragon Sd.Kfz.252. They are optionable, since the trailer doors might be closed when you build the kit. The other PE sheet is bigger: 2,3 x 5cm and holds the grills on the engine hood, some belts and other tiny parts. Both photo-etch sheets very thin and delicate, some of the best that came out from Dragon so far. One of the high points of the Dragon Sd.Kfz.252 set for sure! In the envelope we also find a metal tow cable, described to be 270mm, however mine is 170mm. I am no saying fraud! here, I assume instructions were messed up. Like always with Dragon kits. Sd.Kfz.252 is a rather small vehicle as I mentioned numerous times here and 170mm cable is more than enough. The tracks: Magic tracks with Dragon Sd.Kfz.252!!! Wonderful news, besides the size. As you can see on the pictures shown, we are talking few millimeters here and two parts per track link. Many many track links too. They appears to be workable, although with that size it might be a challenge to keep the pins unglued. I have a certain experience with the Sd.Kfz.251 and Sd.Kfz. 7/2. Tracks are time consuming! Is one thing I can promise you. They are not for the faint hearted or nervous modelers. Nor for a novice. So keep that in mind when scouting for Dragon Sd.Kfz.252 or any other German half-track from Dragon. The decals: We have 4,5 x 6cm sheet here, which as everything else resembles a different scale, not 1/35. On it, we have WH- license plate letters, followed by 1-9 and 0 numbers, total in three sizes. Pretty much every vehicle number you can think of is available, just if you have that information. I doubt that many will find it though, since the vehicle is rare for its time, not to mention the lack of nice pictures with the license plates visible. We have also white outlines for the fenders and the from plate. They are where the mentioned license numbers sits on. The German cross of course, and few emblems, on of which is visible on the boxart. Those decals are NOT replaceable by whatever mask set, so DN Models won't be able to help here. If you wonder why...Way too tiny. Besides, if you don't trust Dragon decals, an aftermarket sets are available for Sd.Kfz.252, if, for whatever reason you want to use some. In my personal opinion, everything is good enough to go just with the crosses and eventually add an emblem or two. The other insignia or numbers can be covered in mud or winter wash. Overall - a good small sheet of decals here. Paint & Markings: We have 4 options. For what I know about the Sd.Kfz.252, it was used in Europe and I am not sure about Eastern front. However, the first glimpse that I had on the boxart reminded me of Ukraine, with that wheat field in the background. For those of you who haven't heard about it, Ukraine is famous for wheat fields and that was one of the reasons Hitler wanted that area and probably it has something to do with the nowadays troubles there. Anyway - proving my point of the boxart, Dragon added options for one unidentified unit in 1943 and three for the Eastern Front. Maybe my boxart impression was correct after all! We have three dark grey vehicles, typical for the era of course. 2/StuG.Abt.243, Eastern Front 1942 Infantry Division Großdeutschland - Eastern Front 1942 StuG.Abt.226, Eastern Front 1942 and an unidentified Unit from 1943 mentioned above, which differ from the rest with its two tone camouflage. I haven't seen any picture of two tone camouflaged Sd.Kfz.252 but I have seen several with Winter Wash, so I assume you can go ahead and proceed with your imagination for all four of those. Not a bad choice for camouflages here and hopefully they are correct ones! Conclusion: DML6718 is one very anticipated add-on to every collection, especially for STUG fans. Among half-track lovers this is also a precious kit, especially the full interior considered. Even small, the vehicle have its own identity, which is without substitute. The plastic quality here is with some unanswered questions, as will be the plastic tires for some modelers. This is mostly because it is a mixed bag of Sd.Kfz.250, Sd.Kfz.251 and new Dragon Sd.Kfz.252. However, the overall appearance and the fact that we have Magic Tracks in the set makes this kit an interesting one. With over 410 parts in the set, the only probable let-down of that Sd.Kfz.252 might be the price. I got mine for $65 delivered, but you can expect that to go around $55 very soon. I might add that the kit is not suitable for a start-up modelers, since it is very little overall. The tracks might cause a lot of fuss - again due to the size. Also painting the ammo. But if you add this Sd.Kfz.252 with its Sd.Ah.32/1 trailer next to Dragon early STUGs, you will have a beautiful set comparable with a painting! If you are a fan of the early days of the WWII, you probably gonna love it!  
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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!
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Smaller scales /48 /72 – The Barkas Build kit options Part 5

The article picture is...48th scale StuG III. Can you believe that!?!? Two words - Michael Rinaldi... ...talking about different /smaller/ scales we have few options when it comes down to armor. It was once considered that 1/100 is an option for that, but nowadays no company which consider themselves a serious game player does not make those for armor. So except for 35th which is pretty much the standard, we have two more. 48th and 72nd. Now, as I promised I will mention only kits worth buying and those suitable for The Barkas Build, but I really do hope that these articles will help other modelers /not participating/ as well. So here, again /!!!/ we have two main players. Tamiya and Dragon. But there is one difference. They do not compete because they offer kits in different scales this time. In other words - each of them is king in its class. Let's start with 48th scale following the path down from 35th. 48th scale is very popular in Japan, especially due to the fact that it is well suited for diorama mix in between aircraft and armor vehicles. Tamiya  have small in numbers but with amazing quality series of vehicles in that scale, sometimes even better than the ones in 35th released from other companies. But for The Barkas Build we are talking Panzer III and StuG III in particular so we will focus onto those. And yes, Tamiya have them. And they are extremely nice and worth the money - and by money I mean not much! Japanese manufacturer have two Panzer IIIs - Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf. L - Sd.Kfz. 141/1 #32524 issued in 2006 and Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf. N - Sd.Kfz. 141/2 #32543 released the following year - 2007. Interesting to mention with those two is the die-cast lower part of the superstructure, made for balance and adequate position while resting at the bench. They are light because they are small, in case you wonder why. Both kits represents a bit different vehicle variant, but are based on the same thing Panzer III. Once build they are cute, do not take too much space and they are very accurate and competitive with 35th scale as well. Yes, the details are a bit chunky compared to the larger ones, but this is scale modeling not a engineering contest after all. Both of those kits are very highly recommended. Nothing bad to say about them honestly! After those two, in 48th Tamiya hits hard with their StuGs. This time we have three options. First one is Tamiya 32507 Sturmgeschütz III Ausf. B (Sd.Kfz. 142) released in 2004. This is the best of the StuGs in 48th if you ask me. It has a large decal sheet and all the accurateness of the vehicle possible in that scale. Shake-and-Bake kit, suitable for every modeler, Tamiya does not disappoints with it. Lower part - again die-casted and for the same reasons as the above. Then in 2006, Tamiya released two more, both Ausf.G - and both of them state of the art of scale modeling. The first option is Sturmgeschütz III Ausf. G Sd. Kfz. 142/1 #32525 and it is a winter camouflaged option of the famous vehicle. I believe that winter camo is always nice to be applied because of the endless weathering options aftterwards. But it works with all the kits available anyhow, its not only because of the boxart. On the other hand,  if you decide that you want something slightly different /Early version/ you might want to try and go with the other one: Sturmgeschütz III Ausf. G #32540 Here it might come down to which one you would like more or even which boxart catches your eye. But whichever you decide to go with, you will be spot on. They does not seem promising when you see the size of the box, but they are, trust me! And since Tamiya pull it off here, I might add - this is it guys, 48th scale is done. If you want 48th scale Panzer III or StuG III for The Barkas Build, this is what you will go for. Period. Now let's shrink things even more. Go to good ol' fashioned 72nd scale. Again, suitable for dioramas, and even crowded ones this time. I never believed that a tank might worth something in that scale, but Dragon proved me wrong with their Armor Pro series. No real competition here, so I will just list the options: Dragon 7385 - Panzer III ausf.L Dragon 7290 - Panzer III Ausf.M w/Wadding Muffler Dragon 7407 - Panzer III Ausf.N with Side Skirts Dragon 7372 - Panzer III Ausf.J Dragon 7323 - Panzer III Ausf.M with Schurzen Same goes for StuGs. Cheap, accurate /according to the scale of course/ with good fit and not a great need of any aftermarket. We have only three options here which is a bit worse compared to the bigger diversity we get with standard Pz.Kpwf.III in 72nd, but I believe they are just enough. Actually the options are two in terms of versions, because Ausf.G appears twice but one of them have schurzen, the other doesn't. And the third of course is StuH. Dragon 7283 - StuG III Ausf.G Early Production Dragon 7284 - 10.5cm Sturmhaubitze Ausf.G Dragon 7354 - Stug III Ausf. G Early w/schurzen Concluding everything, in 48th scale the player is Tamiya, in 72nd is Dragon. And I am mentioning all those because they are all worth it. So in case you are wondering which, go for the boxart or for the type that fit your preferences best. Also, I deliberately missed to mention Revell in 72nd scale, which makes some options. But honestly, I haven't had one before and what I found was somewhat controversial as quality description. So I decided to sick to the well known and most used brands, because for those I can pretty much guarantee that the quality is nice. In other words, if you are entering The Barkas Build with smaller scale vehicle - 48th or 72nd, and you are still wondering what to get, take another look on the written above. They are all there! Proving my words of quality is the art that Michael Rinaldi does in plastic. Check out his 48th and 72nd built kits here:  
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StuG III – The Barkas Build kit options Part 1

The Barkas Build is coming soon, and unlike other Group Builds it requires some serious research before action starts. The reason for that is that the market is flooded with all kinds of Panzer IIIs and STUG IIIs which are more or less based on the same tooling – Dragon kit – with minor exceptions – Tamiya. Basically, there are all good, but if you insist on being exact and punctual, you gotta stick to a few in order to be certain that the kit will be accurate in dimensions and historically. In couple of articles I will try to cut off most of the kits and give you the few options that are popular and available and on decent prices. Also, I will try to spare you the hassle in case you are looking for “the right” Panzer III or STUG III. Of course, that won’t include special versions like FLAKs, Flam’s and other kinds of derivatives of Panzer III chassis, but I might at some later stage add a few options kit-wise in a separate article to spice up things a little bit. I will include the pre-production versions of it though, because on the market we have quite a few and high quality ones. As you already might’ve read, The Barkas Build is dedicated to our friend and famous modeler Hanibal Barkas, who’s favorite tank is Panzer III. The Group Build will include Panzer III and STUG IIIs, and all the versions of this chassis. Most of the kits hopefully will be based on Panzer III standard tanks and pre-production version /Panzer III Ausf.A I believe is one of the favorites of Hamilkar Barkas/ but I am pretty sure that there will be some heresy /like the Su-76i conversion/ with some other versions and odd conversions. This is the first article that I will post and will include short and summarized description of the STUG III /my favorite panzer III based vehicle/ kits in 35th scale. There are many of these, mostly Dragon kits, but I will polish the results to minimum to show only the very few best and most available. The most interesting and simultaneously one of the most accurate and popular STUG IIIs is the DML StuG.III Ausf.G with Zimmerit Late Production kit #6633 It has Magic Tracks, it has built-in zimmerit, it is accurate enough and includes few very nice options. If you ask me, this is one of my Top 3 to get. However, the price of it is high. I am not sure is it due to its accuracy, fame or lack of stock supplies, but it is pricey son of a bitch. There is an option to get one without Zimmerit or Magic Tracks but in order to make it perfect you have to invest. Similar is the case with this one: it is DML 1/35 StuG.III Ausf.F/8 Late Production with Winter Tracks which is again All-in-One package featuring Magic Winter tracks and high accuracy. The problem with this one is that if you check the link here you can find it at a good price in US, however rest of the World will rip you off for it. In eBay it starts from $78 and goes well above $110-120 with delivery included. Of course, not everybody would like to pay that much, and I made a little research about it, finding out that it is basically the same as StuG. III F/8 Early Production Italy 1943 DML 6620 : but without the winter tracks. Well yeah, they are the highlight of the kit, but you can get substitute for them with some aftermarket solutions. They will raise up the total price of course, but with Aftermarket winter tracks will be far better than with just the Magic Tracks from Dragon. They add some weight to the model, but in the same time they add the perfect possible accuracy and you cannot go further than that in terms of improving your kit suspension. Many modelers consider them "a must" so instead of having troubles finding DML 6644, I think it is a better option to go with DML 6620 and get tracks for it. There are options there too: Spade Ace, Friul, Kaizen or Easy Metal Links. Whatever you can find affordable and you'll have fun working with! So these are the Dragon kits that I recommend: 66446633 and 6620. There is one more that I would like to add, Cyber Hobby 6454 - StuH 42 10,5cm Sturmhaubitze 42 Ausf. G w/Zimmerit which is great kit, but it's not exactly a STUG but a StuH and it is hard to find and the price is high. However, if you go with any one of those mentioned above you will be on the right track. Now, the market is not only Dragon/Cyber Hobby. There are others. Zvezda and Revell are not worth mentioning because they are either repacks of old kits or won't worth for the price difference compared to those ones above. What makes sense mentioning are the kits from Tamiya. They offer StuG III from the first version and the one from the later one. They also have great 48th scale kits but this will go in another article. From modeling stand point, Tamiya is much more pleasurable to build than DML and even though the detail is not that refined, minor add-ons can make them pretty much equal in quality to the Dragon kits. The most popular Tamiya kit, which is also the best early version of the StuG III on the market is Sturmgeschütz III Ausf.B (Sd.Kfz.142) 35281 It is cheap, accurate and available almost everywhere. It will require tracks to be really cool once built, but otherwise it presents shake-and-bake kit suitable even for 12 year old modelers. Tamiya are usually like that. There is a substitute for that in the face of old Dragon 6008 or its repack - Sturmgeschutz III Ausf B StuG - Zvezda 3548 which are also nice kits, and compared to Tamiya they hold pretty well, especially Dragon. Zvezda on the other hand are usually different plastic, cheap and boxed in rather ugly boxes, but they still come at a price twice lower than the competition so it is worth thinking about it. Tamiya and Zvezda also have later versions of StuGs, but Zvezda is not worth mentioning here, and Tamiya's kit is great but old. So it's newer version is the only one that I will note here as a last option of "the best StuGs out there": Finnish Army StuG.III Ausf.G is a rather specific option of that Panzer III derivative but it is still a StuG and that's why I am putting it into my list. The price is great, the fit is superb and it holds the same qualities as Tamiya's B version. The only thing here is that Ausf.G is popular -as you've seen above- with Dragon and they are probably a bit better. Here you will need tracks and some spice-ups like scratch or photo-etch upgrades which are available at a price. On the other hand, Finnish version looks a bit different, markings are different and it presents opportunity to those who seek a path different than the one known. So, I cannot miss that kit and it is also among the kits which are very nice and suitable for The Barkas Build. Pretty much that summarize the availability out there. Not in total, but only the best available. There are many options and many of them holds great qualities, each one with his own merits. But in my opinion and according to my research these are the ones you should consider before getting your StuG. The Stug III is the single most produced German armored vehicle of the Second World War. That makes the options there countless. Around 9000 were build, and this does not included Panzer III and its variants. Only StuGs and StuHs. It was one of the most successful designs of the war and changed the warfare forever. I think that for The Barkas Build this is one of the vehicles that will fit best, after of course the Panzer III itself. I really do hope that this article would help you choose your particular StuG not only for this Group Build but in the foreseeable future, until the point when some of the companies surprises us with a new and better tooling of the Sturmgeschütz III. If you are interested in changing the decals for masks for greater realism, you can check here: DN Models Mask set for German Vehicles - Crosses and Numbers in 35th scale A thorough Walkaround can be found here:  
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Barkas Group Build – for Panzer III lovers

Hamilkar Barkas is one of the first YouTube modelers and currently - one of the biggest and most popular channels for scale models. He caught my attention few years back, when I found a video build of a Stalingrad Station Diorama in few parts. I was pretty 'green' in armor modeling back then, and this video answered a lot of my questions and gave me additional boost of motivation. Apparently, that happened with many out there, through his videos of building various subjects of armor and showing the process in very nice and positive manner. So now, few years later, with our growing and diverse YouTube modeler community, TacticalJackalope /another fellow youtuber/ decided to make a Group Build dedicated to Hamilkar Barkas, called Barkas Group Build, featuring Hamilkar's favorite vehicle - Panzerkampfwagen III. The Barkas Group Build is dedicated to Hamilkar Barkas efforts to promote the hobby, share his experience and the ultimate goal that he achieved doing that - get back many modelers to the hobby and kickstart some others. His inspiration is huge, and I can tell you that from my own personal perspective, being constantly motivated from watching his videos, his techniques and learning from his approach to armor modeling.
Stalingrad Station Diorama by Hamilkar Barkas
Hamilkar was a myth when I fist saw his Stalingrad Station videos, and now, few years later I am proud to call him a friend! He is truly wonderful human being, very knowledgeable, kind, friendly and helpful! I must tell you, his videos were the reason I know him, /and the Sunday Google+ meetings that TacticalJackalope is hosting/ and I understand perfectly the reasons why Barkas Group Build is happening. Hamilkar, maybe unwillingly managed to gather us into a new small/growing/, but friendly and helpful society, called YouTube Modeler's Community. Modelers who share their hobby not through forums, but making more efforts than the rest of the guys and elevating the hobby into another wonderful thing - videomaking. He did inspired a lot and as I've said, that wasn't left unnoticed. We know him as a person, not only a YouTube celebrity, as a friend and as a modeler. From there, the idea obviously emerged, making his favorite tank into one big Barkas Group Build, where all of us participating will be able to show our personal touch of that famous WWII tank. Paying respect to Hamilkar Barkas and his efforts, making his channel even more popular and acknowledging his achievements in turning YouTube into another modeling platform, seems to be behind that Group Build. For me personally, Panzer III is a subject that I long to build, especially since I saw Ausf.N built and winning gold at Scale World Competition in Istanbul, 2015 The Pz.Kpfw.III tank is something that I discussed more than once with Hamilkar Barkas and I will participate in Barkas Group Build, showing my progress in my YouTube channel and sharing my experience with the other guys doing the same. Last year due to other engagements I missed the STUG Life GB held by Adam Mann /if I am not mistaking/, but this time I am in! Barkas Group Build will feature all kinds of Panzer III tanks, in any scale and any variant including STUGs. It will start late April or early May and will continue throughout 2016, up until its end. It will feature only one model per participant, due to the fact that usually many go in, few get through and get out with build kits in those Group Builds. Also, TacticalJackalope mentioned that he might have Hamilkar pick the top three kits built in Barkas Group Build once it end, but this is not yet confirmed.
The Master Modeler and a good friend: Hamilkar Barkas
So, if you have a YouTube channel and want to share your modeling, and you love Panzer IIIs, this is the right time to get on board! I am still wondering in between Tamiya or DML Ausf.N or Dragon Ausf.J in 35th scale. I also considered Tamiya's 1/48th scale Ausf.L, but it will all depend on what time I can set aside for building. My personal preference for the moment /not only for Barkas Group Build/ is Ausf.N with winter tracks, but the final one I will announce in my Barkas Group Build announcement video. We have about one month to go! You can visit our YouTube channels and get into action with us: Hamilkar Barkas Myself - DN Models TacticalJackalope DN Models will make 50% off of Panzer III mask sets for participants in the Barkas Group Build. They are designed to work best with Pz.Kpfw.III from MiniArt but can be used with other Pz.IIIs as well. To get 50% discount, all you have to do is send me a link to your entry video, which have to feature Panzer III vehicle for Barkas GB. Panzer III Ausf.B mask set Panzer III Ausf.C mask set Panzer III Ausf.D mask set
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Short trip to the museum

T-55 Russian Tank
I made a long time postponed visit to the Military Museum in Sofia, Bulgaria. It wasn't thorough, and the weather wasn't so nice, but still  I got the idea of the stuff exhibited there. I made couple of pictures just of the vehicles outside, since I wasn't well prepared for the trip, and as I mentioned just before - the weather wasn't promising. However, there is a lot more to be seen that I didn't photographed.
That trench-digger grabbed my attention
For some the exhibition would not be of such great interest, especially if before visited Yad La-Shiryon at Latrun or US Army Ordnance museum in USA, but still it have some nice things in it. The items are not so well maintained and some are painted in wrong colors /mostly russian green/, or, as you can see on the picture above, the windows are covered and painted.
Anyway, the expo has its highlights. Especially Nazi STUGs, which were in Bulgarian service. If you don't bother the fact that tracks on some of them are attached the wrong way you will like them a lot.
That should be the color they used on it while in service in Bulgarian Armed Forces
There are a lot of Cold war articles, as well as some old stuff. Few aircraft, in extremely bad shape. Especially coloring and markings are 100% "no comment" section. There were some repair works during winter 2013/2014 and maybe then some of the tanks were refurbished, but I cannot tell for sure.
One of my favorites out there
The museum is not so big, but you will find things to see and do, and easily can waste half a day for your time. Since some of the vehicles are rare items, and tanks in general are not to be seen often on the streets, I think it will be time well spent out there. To wrap it up - if you visit Sofia for whatever reason, it is located in the central area of the city, and since Taxi services are not so expensive and the museum ticket itself is cheap too, I recommend you to visit it.
I guess anybody can find something interesting there!
Old Skoda tank
Some military vehicles based on russian tank chassis /I believe T-55/
P.S. The most interesting pieces of Bulgarian history in terms of tracked vehicles was found near Bulgarian-Turkish border just couple of years ago. There were Nazi tanks buried in the ground to serve as bunkers and some of them are rare and valuable items. However for whatever reasons, they are not restored and exposed in the museum. Hopefully sometime in the future they will complete the exhibition.
Jagdpanzer IV in great condition
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