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STuG III 0-Series


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Mini Art STuG III 0-series

1:35 Scale Part No. 35210



with thanks to historyofwar.org

When it first appeared the Sturmgeschütz, or as it is more commonly known the StuG III, was a unique weapon – a powerful artillery gun mounted on a fully armoured, tracked, low slung chassis based on the Panzer III medium tank, and designed to provide close support for the German infantry. By the middle of the Second World War it had developed into a potent anti-tank weapon, and the StuG III Ausf.G was produced in larger numbers than any single version of any other German tank or armoured fighting vehicle of the Second World War.

The StuG went through a series of name changes during its history. On 15 December 1936 it was officially named the PaK (Sfl.), or anti-tank gun (self-propelled). In 1937 it became the Pz.Sfl.III (s.Pak), or armoured self propelled vehicle, third model (heavy anti-tank gun). On 7 February 1940, as the first vehicles were close to entering service, the name changed again to the 7.5cm Kanone (Pz.Sfl.) or 7.5cm gun (armoured, self propelled).

The familiar name appeared on 28 March 1940, when the vehicle was renamed as the Sturmgeschütz, or assault gun, abbreviated to Stu.G. Even Sturmgeschütz was an abbreviation of the full name found in official documents of gepanzerte Selbstfahrlafette für Sturmgeschütz (7.5 cm Sturmjanone 40 L/43), or armoured Self-propelled gun carriage (7.5cm assault gun 40, length 43 calibres).

This changed again in 1943 when the first StuGs based on the Panzer IV began to appear. The StuG III now officially appeared, as the Sturmgeschütz III für 7.5cm Stu.K.40 L/48 (Sd.Kfz 142/1), or Assault Gun III for 7.5cm assault cannon 40, length 48 calibres.

Short gunned StuG (Ausf A-Ausf E)

Development of the StuG began in 1936 when the first specification was issued. The new vehicle was to provide artillery support for the infantry. It had to carry a gun with a calibre of 75mm, capable of firing for 6000m and penetrating 40mm of armour at 500 meters. It was to have all-round armour, although the early version was to have an open roof. Finally the vehicle was to be no taller than a standing man.

Daimler-Benz were given the contract to produce the chassis and superstructure of the new vehicle, and unsurprisingly chose to base it on their own Panzer III. Krupp got the contract to develop the new gun. Five experimental vehicles and five experiment guns were ready by 1938. They had soft steel superstructures and a fixed gun, which made them unless for combat, but they were used to improve the design and to develop tactical doctrines for the use of the new weapon. This period also saw the open roof replaced by an armoured roof, to protect the crew against incoming small arms fire when the vehicle was on the forward facing slope of a hill.

The StuG featured the same hull and suspension as the standard Panzer III. The superstructure and turret of the tank was replaced by a rectangular fighting compartment, which contained the commander, loader and gunner, while the driver remaining in position in the front-left of the vehicle. The gun itself did not quite have the range of movement that had been desired, but only by a small margin.

Although the eventual long gunned StuG was produced in response to a crisis on the Eastern Front, the idea of fitting a longer gun on the StuG chassis predated the war. In August 1938 Krupp started working on possible guns, and a wooden model was complete by November 1939. This gun reached the prototype stage in 1940 and series production was planned, but these plans were abandoned after the Germans encountered the T-34 and the KV-1 tanks early in the invasion of the Soviet Union.

These Soviet tanks had armour that was simply too thick for the existing German tank guns to penetrate at typical combat range. The Germans reacted by developing long gun armed versions of both the Panzer IV and the StuG III. Rheinmetall received the contract to produce the StuG gun, eventually producing the 7.5cm Stu.K 40 L/43, designed to have a muzzle velocity of 770 meters per second with a 6.8kg shell. This made it capable of penetrating 80mm of armour sloped at 30 degrees at 1,000 meters.

Production of the new gun began in March 1942 and soon picked up speed. In the same month the first three StuG III Ausf.Fs, combining the chassis of the Ausf.E with the new long gun, were completed by Alkett in Berlin. They were later joined by Miag at Braunschweig and MAN at Nuernberg. Eventually 8,413 long-gunned StuG IIIs would be produced (from a total production run of 9,235). Production rose steadily from 1940, when only 15 were built per month, to 45 per month in 1941 and 66 per month in 1942, but the vast majority were built in 1943-44. 395 were built in October 1943, and even as late as December 1944 a total of 492 StuGs and StuHs (armed with a howitzer) were built.

German tests proved that the long-gunned StuG III could penetrate the front armour of the Cromwell, Churchill and 75mm M3 armed Sherman from well outside the effective range of those tanks, but that the 76mm M1A1 armed Sherman outranged the StuG. The situation was more even if side armour was involved. The frontal armour of the StuG was also vulnerable to fire from Russian 85mm and 122 mm guns, as seen in the T-34/85 and the heavy JS (or IS) series of tanks.

Combat Record – Short Gun

The short-gunned StuG was designed to operate in support of the infantry, following behind the advancing troops and providing high explosives artillery fire to help overcome any enemy strong points that were holding up the advance. This was the same role that was performed by the short-gunned versions of the Panzer IV, and could replace that vehicle when operating with tanks. It was seen as an offensive weapon, although the lack of close-defence weapons and its light side armour meant that it was not to be used in close-quarters fighting. At first the StuG was used to equip independent Sturmartillerie-Abteilung (assault gun detachments). These each contained three gun batteries, each with six StuGs divided into three platoons, giving each detachment eighteen StuGs. Later on the battery commanders were also given a StuG, bringing the theoretical total up to twenty-one. These batteries and detachments were not to be permanently attached to any particular division, but would be attached to unit for specific operations.This system took some time to put in place. At the start of the German offensive in the west in May 1940 the StuG was in use with Sturmartillerie Batteries 640, 659, 660 and 665, and only twenty four vehicles had entered service by the end of May. One of these batteries then became part of the infantry regiment “Grossdeutschland” (the predecessor of the more famous infantry division of the same name).The detachments began to take form in August 1940. By January 1942 a total of 18 Sturmgeschütz-Abteilungs had been formed (the name changed in February 1941), while three batteries had been formed as part of the SS Divisions “Das Reich”, “Totenkopf” and “Wiking”. This was the start of a process that saw the StuG spread out from the independent detachments to become an integrated part of a very large number of divisions and other units.The StuG entered combat with the battery that had been attached to the Grossdeutschland regiment, during the advance into France in May 1940. While not as spectacular as the tank divisions, the Sturmgeschütz proved to be a very useful infantry support weapon, helping to overcome French strong points that might have delayed the German breakthrough. The short-gunned StuG continued to be a valuable weapon during the early days of the fighting in Russia in the summer of 1941, and even as late as the summer of 1942 a total of 619 (of the 822 produced) were still active on the Eastern Front. However, like the Panzer IV the short-gunned StuG, with its low velocity gun and HE shells proved unable to deal with the armour of the T-34 and KV-1 tanks. However valuable the StuG was as a close support weapon, anti-tank weapons were in greater demand, and production soon switched to the long gunned StuG. By July 1943 there were only 37 short-gunned StuGs left on the Eastern Front.


Combat Record - Long Gun

The long-gunned StuG III entered service with the Sturmgeschütz-Abteilungs of the infantry division “Grossdeutschland” and the 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler in time to take part in the summer offensive of 1942.  When it entered service the long gunned StuG III was a very capable tank killer, although its merits caused great controversy within the German army. Tank commanders tended to dismiss it as a waste of resources. The StuG was certainly a less effective offensive weapon than the tank, simply because it’s relatively limited arc of fire meant that if a target appeared at an angle to the direction of the attack the StuG had to stop, turn to face the new target, fire, and then turn back onto its original course. As a result the momentum of the attack was soon dispersed. It was also not very effective as a flank guard, or in any situation where enemy vehicles could appear from several angles. The constant use of the engine to change directions could also bog down the vehicle. In a counterattack carried out by the Grossdeutschland division during the fighting around Kharkov in March 1943 each StuG claimed 1.2 victories over Soviet tanks, while each Panzer IV claimed 4.7! In contrast the StuG was a very effective defensive anti-tank weapon. Its low profile meant that it could find suitable hiding places more easily that the tanks, and was especially successful when posted just behind the current front line. In these situations it was normally clear where the enemy tanks would appear, and so the StuGs could be carefully placed to maximise their effectiveness. Between January and August 1944 the StuG brigades claimed to have destroyed 4,667 Soviet tanks at a cost of 713 write-offs. While these figures are probably overinflated, and can not take into account those Soviet tanks that were recovered and repaired after the Germans had been forced back, there is no doubt that the StuG was one of the most effective anti-tank weapons available to the Germans during the long period of their retreat on the Eastern Front. As production levels increased StuGs were issued to an ever increasing number of units. Early in 1944 companies of StuGs were attached to the tank hunting detachments of infantry, grenadier, “gebirgs” and “Jäger” division, and the existing detachments were renamed as brigades. They even served with the Panzer divisions after Guderian was appointed as Inspector-General of the Panzer forces. Nine Panzer-Grenadier divisions were each given a StuG detachment with 42 vehicles in three companies, while two Panzer-Abteilungen (III/Pz.Rgt.24 and III/Pz.Rgt.36) each got four companies – two of 22 StuGs each and two of 22 Panzer IVs each.



StuG III 0-Series a series of 5 prototypes built with a soft steel superstructure on a Pazner III Ausf B chassis with 8 road wheels per side

StuG III Ausf.A

The first version of the StuG (the Ausf.A) entered service just in time to take part in the campaign in the west in May-June 1940.

StuG III Ausf.B

The StuG III Ausf.B was very similar to the Ausf A, but with wider 40cm tracks in place of the 36cm tracks used on the earlier model.

StuG III Ausf.C

The StuG III Ausf.C saw the introduction of a periscopic gun sight in place of the direct vision sight used on earlier machines.

StuG III Ausf.D

The StuG III Ausf.D was virtually identical to the Ausf.C, with no visual differences. Internally a bell was added to help the commander get the attention of the driver. It is possible that this version of the StuG saw the introduction of face hardened armour.

StuG III Ausf.E

The StuG III Ausf.E was the final version of the machine to carry the short gun. The main change made from the Ausf.D was an increase in the size of the armoured pannier on the left of the superstructure and the addition of a new pannier on the right, increasing the storage space and making it easier to use the StuG as a command vehicle.

StuG III Ausf.F

The StuG III Ausf.F saw the introduction of the 7.5cm StuK40 L/43 gun. With its higher muzzle velocity and armour piercing ammunition this gun turned the StuG into a potent tank killer.

StuG III Ausf.F/8The StuG III Ausf.F/8 was similar to the Ausf.F, but used the improved hull developed for the Panzer III Ausf.J, in the first change to the basic hull design of the StuG since it was introduced.

StuG III Ausf G

The StuG III Ausf.G was the final production version of the StuG. With a total of 7,720 built from new between December 1942 and the end of the Second World War it was produced in larger numbers than any other version of any German tank. It featured an improved superstructure with sloped side armour, and a commander’s cupola was added to the top of the fighting compartment.

The Kit

The kit we have today is one of the 5 prototypes produced by Daimler Benz for trials of the system.

German armour is always a guaranteed seller as we have found with the multitude of Panthers released this year and historically Tigers; in fact even the paper Panzers have been out in force over the last few years .  Is it any surprise that we now go back to find one of the stalwarts of German Armour in the second world war being kitted in greater numbers? Dragon, Tamiya and others have produced mainstream Stug III’s including a rather nice Finnish  version by Tamiya. 

 This is the first of Mini Arts creations of the early panzer III kits and the first thing you think is “this isn’t a Panzer III, it has too many wheels” once you get past that and into the kit itself you then start to find a very nice kit indeed. Inside the Sturdy top opening box we find a Plastic bag containing a lot of plastic! On counting I made it 48 sprues, all but one in grey (the other being clear)! Add to this a small photo etched fret with minor details on, a track jig, a decal sheet and instruction sheet and we have quite a comprehensive package! So what’s in the box and importantly how does it build? This being the first build review we have done I will start with the box contents and instructions and then we’ll look at a step by step build of the kit.

Firstly; I am not an expert armour builder so this will be me doing a warts and all build showing any pitfalls I come across with mistakes and all. Secondly I have not built a Mini Art kit before so this could be interesting also. So without further ado here are the sprues grouped together in their multiples so you get a good idea of what’s available to you.

I usually tell people what’s on each sprue if I’m doing an Aircraft build but on this occasion I have no Idea what’s where and with 44 sprues I’m not likely to know. I can say that all of the sprues arrived undamaged and well protected with the subsets in their own bags, no flash or sink marks are evident and it looks to be moulded with the kind of finesse we have come to expect from the likes of Tamiya or Dragon but with instructions you can follow and a multitude of parts. The multitude of small parts makes a bit of a curates egg for me as I like Great detail (doesn’t everybody) , however I don’t like assembling 5 parts when one would have clearly done, Mini Art aren’t alone in this and a lot of this comes down to keeping the moulding process simple and also goes towards the ever increasing trend of suppling more and more parts.

Mini Art have been clever here in that they tend to group the sprues in sub sections so for example most of the Chassis suspension parts  are grouped on the A and B series of sprues, this means we don’t have to be trimming parts from various sprues. I personally like this approach as I’m not going to be hunting for that mystery part on sprue Z16 when the rest of the parts are on sprue A!


Construction starts with the chassis tub, this is a multi- part affair and goes to show that there was little or no slide moulding used in the tooling (this keeps costs down). The chassis tub is broken down of 5 parts; front, back, sides and floor. Nicely moulded with nice hatch, bolt and rivet detail included. Onto this there are bump stops applied. The suspension comes next and it appears that the suspension is workable with quite a few moving parts; time will tell if this is worthwhile.



Drive sprocket and idler wheels are next on the list and these have PE bolts and Hatches attached, followed by the rear glacis. At this point no colours have been called out nor will they be until step 16. My take on this depends on what sort of modeler you are, if like me you build sub-assemblies then paint then  you can probably treat all of this as one stage but I for one will be planning how this goes accordingly and working out where to put the paint and when. This comes as a consequence of not having the airbrush in the same room as the rest of my modelling bits. Through steps one to 16 there are a myriad of parts to be fitted and reading the instructions carefully a couple of times would be a great idea.


Step 17 brings me to my nemesis with armour; tracks. No matter what happens, me and tracks just don’t get on and I end up wishing wistfully for the days of Tamiya’s vinyl one piece tracks because I just can’t seem to get these right. Mini Art call these tracks workable and they are individual links held in place with tiny pins. Mini Art state in the instructions to build these in strips of 8 using the jig provided and to glue the pins in place while on the sprue. My presumption is that the sprue runs line up with the track link length and then you cut the pins off when dry?


Steps 18 to 24 deal with the front and rear top decks and the fenders that run across the top of the tracks, be careful here as there are 2 sets of fenders; one set with pilots for drilling and these are to be used and the other with no pilots and my guess is these are for a normal Panzer III. Hatches on these decks can be positioned open or closed, although I wouldn’t with the front and rear decks as there’s nothing to be seen inside these sections with no drivers seats or otherwise included. Vents on the engine deck are made from PE to keep them to a scale thickness, to add interest the front fenders can be positioned up or down.


When we get to steps 25 to 33 dealing with the interior that can be seen and here there will be a lot to see if you decide to have the hatches open (if you don’t painting will be a breeze). These steps deal with the gunner’s position and has the full gun breach, sighting and elevation mechanism along with a couple of MP40’s and a gunners’ seat.  This is a multi-part assembly that looks really complex and will really look the part if painted and weathered well, it is worth remembering that the 0-series were prototypes and only a small number were built so chances of them getting really smashed to smitherines on proving grounds were slim. Bear this in mind when weathering.



Steps 34 to 44 then deal with the upper superstructure and the gun. And in step 35 the instructions tell you to use one of two front plates depending on which version you are building so check and decide which one you are going to build at this point. A full set of tools and the very short barreled 75mm gun are installed at this point with what must be the thickest radio mast I have seen on an armoured vehicle yet this is mounted on a small PE bracket and looks fairly fragile. A full series of tools is provided as are various hatches and stowage boxes, with lots of PE used for some of the finer details. Frustratingly there is a tow cable diagram but no cable just the tow ends so you will have to source your own cable on this.




That then brings us to the colour schemes and there are 3 options all in…… wait for it…….. Grey! As with all early war German armour the call out is for German Grey all over with a white interior, my guess is that the interior will not be a pure white as called out by Mini Art but rather slightly off white or even cream, colour callouts are made throughout the instructions which are clear and concise throughout leaving you with no doubt as to where things go. These are CAD produced diagrams and as good as any I’ve seen recently. Colour call outs are well called out both using codes for: Vallejo, Mr. Colour, Life Colour, Tamiya, Testors, AK, Humbrol and Revell as well as what the colour actually is and finally there is a small decal sheet containing a total of 6 decals printed in the Ukraine I haven’t seen this manufacturer before but look forward to seeing how well they work.




Such is the interest in German armour this will be a seller as anything with a cross on it seems to sell in droves. My take is that this is a model of an important part of the STuG family as this is where it  all began and if you have an interest in German armour or assault guns this will be on your want list.

If it builds well (and there is no suggestion it won’t; watch this space) then this will be a great addition to anyone’s collection and I can bet it will cause a stir at shows with people not really sure what it is.


Well it’s a bit too early for conclusions as I’m about to start building it but from what I’ve seen so far I can only recommend this kit to all

My thanks To Mini Art for the review sample





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Great review, must have taken you awhile to assemble or the facts and build info. Have never built Miniart so it was interesting to see the quality of the mouldings. They also do some unusual subjects. Going to archive this and look into their current ranges. Thanks again.

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