Assembling the Plastic Soldier Company StuG III
The Plastic Soldier Company StuG III box set is an excellent way to field a platoon of 15 mm assault guns at a small cost. The figures are in general easy to assemble and look good as well. There are sufficient parts to have changeable barrels and field either a late StuG III G or a StuH 42. These make great Flames of War figures.
What’s in the Plastic Soldier Company StuG III Box?
For those who have not read my review of the Plastic Soldier Company StuG III box, the contents are pictured to the left. Five sprues of one vehicle each and a page of instructions. There are four different variants of the StuG III possible with this set, including the StuH 42. So from this one box you can build five 15 mm assault guns in any combination of four variants. Not bad at all.
The back side of the instruction sheet has a color coded picture to help you select the parts you need to construct the vehicle of your choice. the instructions are adequate, though there is a part where it helps to have a reference photo. Luckily I provide one below.
Assembling the StuG III Tracks
This model gets built up in stages. First the tracks are assembled, then they are attached to the hull bottom, and then the rest of the parts are built up on this chassis.
The tracks are very simple to assemble, consisting of just five parts per side, as pictured to the right. Given the lack of parts a bit of detail is sacrificed, but at tabletop distances nobody will ever notice. There is a front and back end to the tracks, so dry fit the parts before gluing them in. As you can see in the photo to the right, the tracks also have an alignment tab where they round the drive and return sprockets, so they are easy to center properly.
Once the track assemblies are complete, simply glue them to the lower hull section and you are ready to move on. When you glue the tracks on, be sure to put the assembly down on a flat surface to insure that both tracks are well in contact with the ground. Vehicles look silly when one side is locked in a perpetual wheelie.
Making the Model Feel More Substantial
One of the problems with plastic miniatures in my book is their lack of weight. They just don”t sit on the table as well as weightier pieces which can allow them to move around on their own. I solve this with a layer of BBs glued into the hull.
Any metal or heavy material will accomplish this. You can use BBs as I do, washers, nails, pennies (which are probably cheaper than any of the other items listed), rocks or even a big blob of modelling clay. In any event this is an entirely optional step. Interestingly though, it is the one time that I personally add weight to my hobby gear, as I am usually desperately trying to keep it as light as possible.
Finishing the StuG III is Easy From Here
Actually this model has been pretty easy already. The only part that gave me trouble is the plate that goes on the back of the lower hull. What exactly the detail is supposed to be is unclear, but it appears to have some exhaust components.
The instructions tell you that the plate goes at the back of the hull, but do not indicate which side is up. I finally found a photo of a near wreck at Aberdeen that helped me figure out the proper orientation. Use the photo at the right to properly orient this part.
I haven”t included any additional photos from here on out because the parts are easy to assemble given the instruction sheet included in the model.
Picking The StuG III G or StuH 42 Barrel
Due to the way this model is built, you don”t actually have to commit to a particular gun. There are sufficient parts to assemble both the long 75mm gun for a (late) StuG III G and the shorter 105mm gun of the StuH 42. If you want to be 100% accurate on a StuG III F/8 or an early StuG III G, then you will not have interchangeable barrels. In fact, the only reason I concern myself with it at all is that I field platoons with both StuG III Gs and a StuH, and I need to be able to tell them apart reliably.
To Schurzen or to not Schurzen
I am a big believer in fielding the appropriate model with the appropriate gear (within reason). As the marks of StuG III that I field with my Flames of War late-war German Grenadiers have schurzen, I hate to field the tanks without them. In fact, The German Grenadier list from Grey Wolf lists schurzen on the entry for both the StuG III G and the StuH, so regardless of what the Plastic Soldier Company StuG III instructions say, they ought to be on the StuH as well.
In order to achieve the look I wanted with the model, however, I delayed assembling the schurzen until after I had painted it. If you choose to do this, go ahead and paint the schurzen at the same time as the StuG III, assemble it, then touch up any place that needs touching up. The schurzen mounting brackets can get a simple base coat only because they are mostly concealed. Just remember, camo is NOT necessary on the inside of the schurzen!
Go Take the Field with Your Plastic Soldier Company StuG IIIs
It is fully possible to assembly and get a base coat of paint on these StuG IIIs in an evening. They may not be pretty at that point, but they”ll be battlefield ready. Five 15 mm Stug III or StuH 42 models for about $26. This box is a steal. So go get yourself a box and get to work! You will not find a better bargain in Flames of War figures.
The Wikipedia entry on StuG IIIs has some great background information on all the marks. Check it out if you are interested.
Other Spotting Round pages you may enjoy:
Spotting Round Product Reviews Page – Tons of reviews on all sorts of 15 mm figures and models