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GlenP

Ordnance 3: StuG III Ausf B SBS

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Welcome to this step-by-step build, painting, and weathering of the 1/35 scale Tamiya Sturmgeschutz III Ausfurung B self-propelled gun. The German terms Sturmgeshutz (assault gun) and Ausfurung (model or variant) are normally abbreviated as StuG III Ausf B and that's what I'll use here. If you've seen Ordnance 1 and 2, you'll have an idea what's about to happen. I was priming the pump.

 

This will be a standard out-of-box build with what I call 'plus ten percent' in that there is some additional detailing that can be done with wire, sheet plastic, and a motor-tool (if you have one) or a sharp hobby knife. For the most part, this SBS is designed for those who have never built a plastic model, those who have only built a few, or those who haven't built a model in a loooong time. We'll be removing mold and construction seams, test fitting and aligning parts, a bit of putty work, etc. Nothing fancy; all basic stuff really. Much of what is done here is equally applicable to any other plastic model whether cars, ships, aircraft, or spaceships. Only the shapes and paint colors are different. Do keep in mind that the techniques described here are not the end-all-do-all of modeling. People tend to develop their own techniques and styles over time just like figure painting. Hopefully, this SBS will grease the skid...

 

Tools and Materials: The adhesives are standard plastic model liquid cement - Testor's and Ambroid Pro-Weld. These are the ones I have and use; others, like Tamiya, are just as good. The tools are standard modeling tools that are pretty much the same as what we use to assemble resin and metal figures. I use a combination of Testor's Model Master Enamels, Mr Color acrylic lacquers, Reaper MSP acrylics, colored pencils, and chalk pastels for the painting and weathering. I use an airbrush for the main painting/weathering and brushes for the washes and detail painting. For the most part, I'll be following the kit assembly sequence with a few deviations to facilitate painting. I'll be posting new installments every 2-3 days or so.

 

The Kit: Tamiya's StuG III kit was first produced in 2005 and incorporates parts from a StuG III Ausf G kit produced earlier. Both kits are part of the new breed kits which hand better detail, fit, finish, and flexible polystyrene tracks. The kit has four sprues (or trees) molded in a darkish gray plastic (emulating the paint used by the Germans up to early 1943) and includes a turned aluminum gun barrel and a small fret of photo-etch detail parts. Decals are included for five StuG IIIs; all in dark gray with one in Greece during the Balkans Campaign and four on the Eastern Front in the summer of 1941. The completed model is about six inches long and 3.25 inches wide.

 

Questions and Comments are welcome throughout the SBS. No secrets here. I'm sure there will be some tangents, but it would help if the majority of the questions are about the relevant installment, so we (mainly I) can stay on track. Oooh, look! Beer!

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Edited by GlenP
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Thanks! Hoping to provide some inspiration for the ordnance category at RC. Method to the madness and all that...

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*** Goosesteps through the Thread***

 

*** Ist Mein Panzer Schön Fertig??? ****

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Step 1

Following the instruction booklet steps here and we start with the rear hull plate and muffler. Since this is a tank, I like to add a bit of subtle texturing to the armor plate, the sand cast components, and the weld beads. For this, I use a combination of Dremel ball and dovetail cutters and liquid glue (or acetone). The ball cutters are simply run at a low speed and randomly bounced over the surface or the armor plate. I change the angle and orientation of the part so all of the little gouges don’t take on a uniform look. I’m going for small, irregular patches that are little more than a surface imperfection. Variation is the key. Most of this texturing should be done before any assembly. No Dremel tool? No problem. You can do the same thing with a straight and curved X-acto blades, but it will take longer.

Since the mufflers are sheet metal, they are easily dented. I used the large ball cutter to hollow out the back side, then pushed in an irregular dent. Don’t push too hard or, umm, you’ll be doing a quick putty repair… Finally I drilled out the exhaust pipes a bit more, then dented the lip of one of them.

The pics also show the armor texturing on the upper and lower hull plates and a weld bead on the front upper hull. Weld beads are made with the dovetail cutters. Tamiya did a good job in replicating most of them, but some are so fine that, once painted, will be hard to see. I hold the cutter at about a 45-degree angle and bounce it lightly while moving it backwards.  The idea is create a line of overlapping semi-circular cuts in the plastic. No Dremel tool? Still no problem. Run a line of liquid cement along the intended bead, let it sit and soften the plastic, the take a scriber or the back side of an X-acto blade and make a series of short strokes across the bead line. Keep the short lines as uniform as possible and work in short sections at a time. Again, this will take longer.

The sand cast components are fairly easy. All you need is liquid cement and an old, cut-down oil painting bristle brush. Coat the part with the glue, let it soften the plastic, then use a series of short stabbing motions to texture the part. Again, work in small sections at a time and re-apply the glue if needed.

All of this is basically a form of impressionism. I’d like to think if Claude Monet built models, this is how he’d do it.

 

stugIII_001a_ball+dovetail_cutters.jpg

stugIII_001b_muffler_dents+ball_cutter.jpg

stugIII_001c_tooled_rear_plate+mufflers.jpg

stugIII_001d_hull_tooling.jpg

stugIII_001e_upper_hull_tooling+weld_bead.jpg

stugIII_001f_drive_housing_texture.jpg

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­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Steps 2, 3, 4, and part of 5

Multiple steps here; all having to do with the lower hull suspension components and drive sprocket housings. By themselves, they’re not difficult, it’s just that there’s lots of axle arms, shocks, bump stops, and other bits that have to be clipped off the sprue and then have the mold seams removed (thank God for earbuds and the Moody Blues).

 

Step 2 inserts the axle arms into their respective holes. Take note the front and rear axle arms have a special spring slot where they’re inserted into the hull – not all kits have this – to allow the arms to move. The axle arms are trapped in place by a long retainer that is cemented to the floor and sidewalls. You have to be careful not to allow glue in the axle arms where they’re inserted into the hull. This is followed by the front drive pieces at the hull front (which will need some putty to fill a seam).

 

Step 3 attaches the rear hull plate, shocks, the axle arm bump stops, and the rear idler wheel adjustment mechanism.

 

Step 4 attaches the internal springs on the front and rear axle arms and the front drive housing and an internal poly cap which eventually secures the front drive sprocket. The upper track return rollers and the rear grill are left off for the time being.

 

Step 5 assembles the front drive sprocket, the roadwheels, and the rear idler wheels. All of the wheel assembly aspects are done later after on-sprue cleanup and painting. What I did do was use a Dremel tool and dovetail cutter to nick the rubber tires on the roadwheels and return rollers. The task is to have a randomness about the nicks on the sides, edges, and rolling surface in terms of size, shape, and placement.

 

stugIII_002_tooled_side_hull+suspension_arms.jpg

stugIII_003a_additional_suspension_components.jpg

stugIII_003b_rear_plate+clamps.jpg

stugIII_004a_suspension_arm_retainer+front_spring.jpg

stugIII_004b_front_drive_housing+retaining_cap.jpg

stugIII_004c_assembled_front_drive_housing.jpg

stugIII_005_gouged_wheels.jpg

Edited by GlenP
Typos due to fat hammy fingers...
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Steps 6, 7, and 8

 

Step 6 is easy; just a pair of front tow shackles to glue together. It also involves adding details to an interior rear bulkhead, but since I’m not doing the interior, it’s a free pass.

 

Step 7 adds the aforementioned bulkhead, a floor plate, and the gun mount to the interior. All part of having a means of mounting the gun. Step 7 also adds the front drive sprockets, roadwheels, and the rear idler wheel, but I’m postponing that until after painting.

 

Step 8 attaches the front transmission and rear engine access hatched to the upper hull, the engine air intakes to the rear hull sides, and the fender supports to the fenders. It takes longer to clip the apart off the sprue and clean them up than it does to attach them. The pic shows the left (bottom) side done.

 

As always questions and comments are welcome.

stugIII_007_interior_structure+retainer+spring.jpg

stugIII_008_upper_hull_hatches+fender_supports.jpg

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Steps 9, 10, and 11

 

Step 9 covers the track/tread assembly. The tracks are the same polystyrene plastic as the kit parts, but they are of a soft flexible type. They are assembled using the same adhesives and painted using the same paints as the kit parts. But… I’m going to work on these later when I start the main painting. It’ll be easy – trust me.

 

Step 10 attaches the upper hull to the lower hull and puts the tracks on the vehicle. I‘m saving the hull assembly for step 12.

 

Step 11 assembles the gun components – trunnions, breech, barrel, sights, and gunner’s controls, etc. Since none of this will visible (it merely supports the visible portions of the gun outside the hull), there was no need for extensive clean up or overall painting. Only that portion of the sight that is visible poking through the hull roof will be painted later. Clip and glue is all that’s needed. Easy.

 

stugIII_011a_gun_mount_left_front.jpg

stugIII_011b_gun_mount_right_rear.jpg

Edited by GlenP
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Step 13 assembles a small headlight and the antenna trough. Both are simple, but the antenna trough also requires two pieces of photo-etch metal to be folded and then super-glued together. This assembly forms a leg to support the rear end of the trough. It’s a bit fiddly, but the instruction sheet provides sufficient information covering the prep and assembly.

 

Step 14 attaches a variety of head, marker, and tail lights to the front and rear hulls along with a siren to the front. There are two boxy head light housings added to the front hull. These have the option of using plastic or photo-etch flaps and having them opened or close. I’m not sure why. There is little difference in the plastic vs the PE and having the flaps open reveals a headlight bucket without a lens – like a bowl without a lid. I closed them up.I added a pair of electrical leads joining the front fender mounted lights/siren to the light housings on the front of the hull.

 

The rear fenders are also supposed to be added at this stage. These were thinned down on the underside so they could be bent up a bit with bit being the operative word – I chewed on the sends until they were suitably bent and wrinkled (not all of your tools are in the drawer...). This step also adds the antenna trough to the left rear hull side. Both the antenna trough and fenders were left off for the time being.

 

At this point I also added the damaged muffler to the lower rear hull plate and the two part grill and upper rear hull plate assembled in Step 1 to upper rear hull. A smoke marker rack was then attached to this assembly. Easy.

stugIII_013_antenna_trough+pe_mount.jpg

stugIII_014a_front_hull_lights+wires+weld_beads.jpg

stugIII_014c_bent_rear_fenders.jpg

stugIII_014b_rear_hull_plate+mufflers+lights_attached.jpg

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Step 15 and 16

 

Step 15 assembles the components of the fighting compartment – basically the sides and roof that enclose the crew and gun. There are two internal structures that are added to interior sides. These may not be necessary since the hatches are closed and there’s no interior, but I added them anyway in case they’re needed for some structural rigidity.

 

The next piece added is the rear plate. It also holds a pair of crew machine guns, but these were left off since they won’t be seen. Fodder for the spares box… The front plate was also added at this time.

 

The next step is to add all of the hatches in the closed position with one exception – the small flap that covers the gunsight. This was left off until after painting and weathering. The remaining components are an assortment of lifting rings, grab handles, antenna mount, view ports, and the driver’s armored flap on the front plate. All of these required the usual cleanup before cementing them to the roof.

 

Step 16 slips the roof over the installed gun and cements it to the upper hull. I left this step alone until after painting and the initial weathering.

 

stugIII_015a_fighting_compartment_intial_assembly+hatches.jpg

stugIII_015b_fighting_compartment_right_front_components.jpg

stugIII_015c_fighting_compartment_left_rear_components.jpg

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