Tanks StuG G (model) Review – TANKS04

by | Jun 20, 2016 | Review

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We at Spotting Round are excited about Tanks from Gale Force Nine.  While we love our WWII wargaming, the time commitment to putting together a Flames of War army can sometimes be daunting.  Here is a new game that requires only a handful of models to play.  The best part is that as it is 15 mm/1:100 scale, all the models we have for FoW on the shelf can now, or will soon, be usable for this skirmish game.  The question that we’re going to look at today is how good one of the models that come with the GF9 game.

The Gale Force Nine Tanks StuG G

The Tanks StuG G box from Gale Force Nine contains everything needed to expand one's Tanks force by one assault gun.

The Tanks StuG G box from Gale Force Nine contains everything needed to expand one’s Tanks force by one assault gun.

The Tanks game is a WW2 tank skirmish game.  Games can be played with as little as one vehicle per side.  Gale Force Nine sells a starter set with two Shermans and one Panther, and expansions with one of a variety of different models.  The Tanks rules are available for free here.  Spotting Round LOVES it when companies do this.

Spotting Round has done extensive reviews on StuG III Gs, so that is the model we will investigate first.  Gale Force Nine is a wholly owned subsidiary of Battlefront, makers of Flames of War.  It is therefore no surprise that the sprue is stamped with Battlefront’s copyright (2014), and part number, BM034.  We at Spotting Round tend to believe that Battlefront makes quality models but have been proven wrong enough times to keep our skeptical eyes peeled.

The StuG G expansion for Tanks contains one StuG III plastic sprue, an assembly guide (thank you!), a tank card and five upgrade cards.  The StuG sprue has enough parts to enable the builder to create one of several variants.  The two upper hull pieces enable one to pick an early or late build vehicle (and we found a photograph of an upgraded StuG III B in the rubble of Berlin, so an early build is appropriate through the end of the war).  There are long 75 mm cannon and shorter 105 mm cannon, each available with the early, boxy, mantlet or the saukopt smooth mantlet.  Early and late roof mounted MGs are also available.  In short, there are enough options to configure your late-war StuG III G (or StuH 42) how you want.  Nice.  Even nicer: the sprue is labeled with “early” and “late” to guide you to the configuration you want.

Some sacrifice has been made to historical accuracy.  For instance, instead of trying to model accurate mountings for the shurzen Battlefront has merely sculpted some posts that stick out of their sides to standoff from the road wheels.  We are not only fine with this we appreciate it.  1:100 scale vehicles can be made to look pretty darn good with paint alone and we prefer ease of assembly over 100% accuracy, up to a point.  One factor that we very much appreciate is the single piece road wheel/track assembly.  By casting the entire wheel system as one piece a lot of fiddly assembly is bypassed, which our big, fat, man-fingers are thankful for.  No fingers glued together here!

The model sprue in the Tanks StuG G box is Battlefront's BM034 plastic StuG model.

The model sprue in the Tanks StuG G box is Battlefront’s BM034 plastic StuG model.

Generally speaking the parts clip out easily with sheers and require no more cleanup than plastic kits usually need.  We had to look very hard to find something even worth mentioning.  Due to the manufacturing process there are circles impressed into the side of the boxy mantlet.  They are really quite minor and can be filled in a second with some soft putty (like Testor’s grey tube), or filed smooth with a few strokes of an emery board.  We only mention it because drybrushing would probably pick the detail out.

Assembly is straightforward with parts fitting well and mostly easy to align. Mating parts generally have slots and posts that make alignment easy, except where it is so obvious how parts fit together that they’re not needed.  The track assemblies are keyed differently although it is still possible to confuse them.  One side has two keys and one side has three.  However, since the two-key aligns with two of the posts of the three-key it is possible to mount it on the wrong side.  Just mount the three-key side first and then you’ll have no problems.  The shurzen are a snap to get into place.  Really well done.

We at Spotting Round began out wargaming careers when figures were still cast in lead and we do miss the heft of those heavy figures.  In order to add weight, dare I say gravitas, to our WW2 vehicle models we like to pack the hull with BBs.  We fill the lower hull, dry fit the hull top to insure we’ve got as many as we can without having too many, and then glue the mess in with a liberal dose of hobby glue.  We recommend you do as well to keep your tanks from moving about on the tabletop whenever a stiff breeze blows.

The final assembled model does have a few gaps in it.  Where the upper and lower hulls meet in the front of the tank and at the rear had fairly substantial gaps.  Nothing a bit of fill can’t fix though.

There are two things that bother us about this model.  First is that while there is an open hatch available on the sprue there are no commander figures.  That is moot for Tanks, but if one wants to use this model for other games it may make a difference.  We would expect a $10 model to have the option.  The second thing that bothers us is that there are extra pieces on the sprue that would enhance the look of the tank but no guide as to where they go.  Spare road wheels, tracks, and other bits and bobs.  Without a better guide one could just guess where they might go.

Size of the GF9 StuG G

Spotting Round has spent almost all of its time to date on Flames of War, which was originally billed as 15 mm and is now billed as 1:100.  As 15 mm is 1:107, generally speaking anything listed as either size can work together on the tabletop.  Not always though, which is why we bother to measure these things.

 1:1001:107Battlefront Plastic
(Gale Force Nine)
Length68.5 mm64.0 mm69.4 mm
Width29.5 mm27.6 mm30.2 mm
Height21.6 mm20.2 mm24.4 mm
The Gale Force Nine StuG G is a heavyweight, being over large in all dimensions for 1:100 scale.

The Gale Force Nine StuG G is a heavyweight, being over large in all dimensions for 1:100 scale.

The Gale Force Nine StuG G is over-large for WW2 wargaming in 15 mm.  It is too large in all three dimensions for 1:100, which could end up dwarfing anything that is at the short end of 15 mm.  However, remember that having a fixed forward gun the length of the barrel is included in the overall length (unlike turreted vehicles where only the hull is considered).  So it may look reasonable with models at the small end of the scale.  You’ll just have to eyeball it.

 

Final Thoughts on the Gale Force Nine StuG G

The completed Gale Force Nine StuG G is a handsome model, and once painted will serve well on the WW2 wargaming battlefield.

The completed Gale Force Nine StuG G is a handsome model, and once painted will serve well on the WW2 wargaming battlefield.

The StuG G box from Gale Force Nine is a nice model but not without flaws.  Given the price we would expect a commander figure, even if such is not reflected in any way in the Tanks rules.  Additionally, without any indication in the assembly guide as to where the extra bits on the sprue are to be mounted a modelling novice will be left guessing how to employ them.  At $10 it is at the expensive end of the scale, but certainly not the most expensive as Battlefront’s own premium resin and metal offerings are more expensive.

One does of course get get the cards necessary to play the vehicle in the box in Tanks.  With The Plastic Soldier Company StuG III Boxed set running about $30 for five, or $6 an assault gun, that leaves $4 for five cards – pretty expensive!  Zvezda’s StuG is much even cheaper, but does not have nearly the detail and needs to be modded to be a late war StuG (although one of the GF9 kits will give you plenty of barrels to do that.  Just sayin’…).  There are more options – just search this site for StuG III and you’ll get a bunch.

This is a nice model.  Easy to assemble, sturdy enough to hold up to gaming and transportation.  Good detail, but disappointing lack of help in using the extra bits and no commander.  Spotting Round has no problem endorsing this model as you could do much worse.  We probably wouldn’t buy this model if we weren’t for the Tanks cards which we need to try that game.

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