Germany began building assault guns, Sturmgeschutz, prior to World War II. In late 1943 they began a stopgap measure to convert a PzKpfw IV Ausf H & G chassis into an assault gun by adding the superstructure of the StuG III to the chassis of the Pz IV. The resulting vehicle was known variously as an Sdkfz 163 or 167. My sources show both numbers being used.
The Academy kit TA968 or 1332 continues this dichotomy by labeling the kit as a Sdkfz 167 on the box and as a Sdkfz 163 20mm on the instruction sheet. I can’t imagine what they meant by “20mm” since this vehicle obviously had a larger gun than 20mm.
From what I can discover this kit is from the period when Academy was making knockoffs of Tamiya kits. The instruction sheet is dated 1987, as are the sprues. The box gives the copyright date of 1994, in print so small that I at first missed it. The box itself, at least my example, is so new I can’t believe it’s been sitting on any shelf for ten years. I believe the kit has been recently remade, with no changes made to it at all.
Before buying the kit I read the review of the similar Pz IV by Caanbash on Armorama so I knew pretty much what to expect of the kit. In other words I didn’t expect much. I just wanted a “blast from the past” since a 1/72 scale kit of this vehicle was one of the earliest models I can remember making as a kid.
The kit is molded in a light tan plastic. Interestingly, the rubber like inserts for the wheels are also molded in the same color, unlike the standard black used by Tamiya. One sprue, number B, is labeled as being for a Mobelwagen, Brummbar, Sturmgeschutz IV, or Lang. I didn’t find the excess flash that was mentioned in the Pz IV review. The details are at least up to Tamiya standards. There is a texture on the upper hull that I suppose is to represent some kind of anti-skid footing. The kit has the standard, for the time, “rubber band” tracks, that need to be connected by melting the ends together.
The box top mentions a “Saukopf Mantlet.” This mantlet is s concrete cover that was put onto the gun for added protection. Academy’s idea of “highly detailed” seems to be putting a number of little marks into the mantle to indicated it being made of a different material than the armor elsewhere. I personally don’t think it looks very realistic and I intend to leave it off.
There are two glaring areas where this kit really falls down. The instruction sheet is, in a word, terrible. It consists of six black and white pages but one of them is a picture of the completed model, along with the name of the kit. Another is an advertisement for several other Academy kits. A third is what passes for a painting guide for the kit. It shows several views of the finished model, showing a camouflage of desert yellow and olive green. On this page is the notation “Refer to box top for additional paint and decal information.” The referenced pictures on the box show what I believe is called an “ambush” camouflage pattern. This consists of panzer yellow, green, and red brown, along with spots of a light gray. As the review of the Pz IV mentions this hardly gives the novice builder enough information to go on to paint the kit properly. The rest of the instruction sheets shows several sub assemblies and indicates which parts are to be glued, or not glued. One has to study the drawings pretty carefully to be sure of proper assembly.
The other area where Academy skimps, compared to Tamiya, is in decals. The decals on this kit consist of three German crosses, a tactical mark, and a division symbol, with no indication of what division it is supposed to represent. I’ve never seen any other kit with so few decals.
Another similarity with the Pz IV review is that the photos on the box, obviously professionally painted, show items that are not included in the kit. Although the box says “various accessories” and shows at least one helmet and “jerry can”, these are not included in the box. The box also shows a bit of track sag that I highly doubt the “rubber band” kit tracks will be able to duplicate without advanced modeling skills.
Over all the kit is very toy like, even having molded in battery locations. This is what I expected, based on it’s age, and is similar to Tamiya kits from the same era. For the money, $18 USD, I think I got my moneys worth. It was about $5 less than the Tamiya version, and half what a DML StuG III was going for. I spent the money I saved on a couple of paints and felt it was a good trade off. If somebody is looking for an inexpensive alternative to Tamiya, or just wants to spread their money to another company, this one isn’t a bad choice. Just don’t expect too much.
Over all the kit is very toy like, even having molded in battery locations. This is what I expected, based on it’s age, and is similar to Tamiya kits from the same era.
About Rodger Cole (Halfyank) FROM: COLORADO, UNITED STATES
American Father, English Mother. Mum was in some British auxiliary, I'm not sure which, and Dad was a truck driver who ended up on a half track towing a 57mm, in the Big Red One. I was a modeler in the early 70s but got out of it. I'm just getting back into modeling after about 25 years. I'm planni...