History and Performance
The 15cm sIG33 infantry gun was first installed on converted Pz.Kpfw. I chassis and used in the early campaigns of May-June 1940. This combination resulted in a high profile vehicle that offered little protection to the crew. Afterwards, plans were developed to mount this weapon on a more suitable chassis. A prototype was mounted on a Pz.Kpfw. II chassis, but it was quickly realized that more room was required for the gun and crew. The chassis was widened and lengthened. Only twelve vehicles were built, and all were eventually shipped to Africa. All were destroyed in combat on that front.
Instructions – The instructions are in the typical fold-out Dragon standard. There are 21 steps to the build, with a sprue layout identifying what parts are not to be used. There are painting and marking guides for seven vehicles.
Sprues and packaging – There are 30 grey plastic sprues included.
Clear Parts – Clear parts are provided for the side vision ports and the gun sight. There are two gun sights included: extended and travel mode.
Photo Etch – Two photo etch frets are included.
Running Gear and Tracks – There are two bags of Magic Tracks.
Decals/Markings – There are decals for seven vehicles: two panzer grey vehicles, and five DAK vehicles either in all Grunbraun or a two-tone Grunbraun/Dunkle Grau combination.
Figures – There are no figures included in this kit.
Miscellaneous – A metal gun barrel is also included.
Running Gear and Tracks – I discovered that the suspension arms were numbered incorrectly in step 1. There are two side views of the hull showing the swing arm numbers and location. The parts for the right side are actually for the left side, and vice-versa. The mounting of the suspension arms uses two mounting pegs per arm and is self-aligning. I thought that was an excellent feature.
The assembly and installation of the Magic Tracks was done after the model was completed and painted. There are 110 links per side, but I believe I used a few more than noted. I had perhaps two or three spare links left over. The tracks were a bit challenging to assembly. Some snapped together perfectly, while others required a bit of convincing to fit. A few of the tracks has some surplus plastic on the horns, but that caused no difficulty.
Lower Hull – The assembly of the lower hull is probably the least complex part of this model. Everything fit quite nicely without problems. This was a good start to what later turned out to be an intense and somewhat complicated build. When fitting the upper hull and fenders to the lower hull, some care is required to align the major components properly. The two rear fenders shown being installed in step 8 should be deferred until when the upper hull components are fitted to the lower hull to allow for proper alignment.
Upper Hull – The upper hull becomes a rather busy place with all the tools and accessories mounted on the sides of the engine compartment and side crew shields. Test-fitting of the side shields for the crew compartment (see step 9) is recommended with the rear section in place.
Armament – The construction of the field gun is addressed in steps 15 through 20. The fastening of the turn handles to the gear boxes will be quite weak as offered in the kit. I drilled out the mounting locations on the hand wheels and gear boxes and installed a short length of stainless steel wire and fixed everything in place with super glue. This resulted in a much stronger installation.
The fit of the assembly below the gun barrel is quite challenging. The main components form a long rectangular box that will require some attention and effort for correct alignment and fit of parts.
The fit of the two gun shields will also require care and patience to fit properly to the gun carriage. The gun sight is comprised of two parts with the sight offered in raised or lowered versions.
Step 21 brings together all the major subassemblies, but in my opinion would create some real challenges to the painting process. I fitted the lower hull with the fender and front crew compartment, along with the rear ammunition storage and engine compartment, in order to paint the exterior. When it came time to fit the field gun assembly in place, I found the rear end of the gun carriage conflicted with part M21 installed earlier in step 4. A bit of surgery was required to allow the gun to fit, with the cut portions being concealed within the rear compartment.
Painting and Finishing
The painting of the model will require some thought and planning. I left the top hull parts off the bottom hull for the initial application of primer. The hull interior was painted first to allow the painting of the fore and aft areas of the lower hull that would have been partially concealed by the installation of the fenders and front of the upper hull. I fitted the lower hull to the rear upper hull and painted that assembly. The gun and shield were also painted separately.
The decals went on without any issues whatsoever. In fact, I merely rubbed the locations to receive the decals with a small piece of old tee shirt, and applied the decals without a glossy finish. There is very little carrier film to be concerned with. The model was sealed with Model Master Acryl flat.
This model is highly recommended for the experienced modeler, only because of the complexity of the work and the many small parts involved in the many sub-assemblies. Each step of the work much be reviewed thoroughly before solvent is applied to the parts. The images on the box top and bottom are a great help in clarifying the exploded views of the instructions. The small parts are often challenging to clean up, and many of the parts do not have positive mounting locators. Several are merely butt joints.
The field gun makes up into a real gem in itself, but the gun shields do create a bit of a delicate subassembly that requires care to avoid breakage. The end of the work results in a unique vehicle that will be proudly added to any model collection.
I wish to thank Dragon Models USA, Inc. and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to build and review this kit. I enjoyed the build.