by: Richard Craig [ ]
The Stug III began its life as an infantry support vehicle . It went through quite a few changes during its production run .It began its carreer in the Battle of France and was used right up to the last days of the war. After the invasion of the Soviet Union the Germans got a real surprise when they met the KV I's and T 34's for the first time . A quick solution was needed and the Stug received the new longer guns (L43 and later L48's) to help stop these new tanks. The Stug G began production in December of 1942 and was used more and more as an anti tank weapon . The saukopf mantlet began to appear in November of 1943,but never completely replaced the welded mantlet which was seen till the end of the conflict just because of the production requirements. The real name for this new mantlet was Topfblende,but was commonly know as the saukopf by the crews .
The Saukopf Mantlets come in a good sturdy box and you get three mantlets in a plastic bag well protected for the long trip .Nothing was broken . The resin is a cream color and looks easy to work with . Each mantlet had an air bubble or two and one was missing just a bit of resin ,but this was easily filled with a little dab of putty. Removing the parts from the casting blocks was quite easy but be careful . I did add a bit of putty to smooth out where I removed the plug. Each Mantlet is a bit different ,the first one is the plain saukopf , the second one is the same as the first one but with a casting mark down the center where the molds would have been separated on the real thing, lastly we get the saukopf with the coaxial machine gun . All three resin mantlets are very smooth and I would have liked at least one of them to have the heavier cast effect molded on . A strange thing I noticed is that only one of the three had a serial number cast in , I started looking through my books and I finally found a late mantlet with the serial number and mg ,so I'm not sure why these are not present on all the manlets. The Tamiya parts fit perfectly into these new mantlets but when looking at real pictures the hole in the back should be larger and not fit tight around the Tamiya part. Also missing from the casting are the small attachement hooks for the foul weather tarp . Lastly I found the hole for the Mg to be kind of small and not well defined .
I was hoping that Tamiya was going to bring us a later Stug kit but it has been a long time and I'm starting to give up hope ...To add this mantlet to the Tamiya kit there are a few other details that need to be changed. Some of the important ones are the removal of the added on armor on the Tamiya kit and replacing it with an 80mm scale thickness on the front armor plate, and some different weld patterns on the rear plate and most often you see these mantlets with vehicles with steel return rollers but this is not always so. I suppose you could build it as is and say the mantlet has been changed because of damage but I have never seen a picture of such a vehicle.
Final Thoughts All in all a very welcomed conversion ,I think I just might build one of these one day now that I have these parts.
The reference pictures were taken from
Achtung Panzer #5 as well as from Sturmgeschutz by Ryton pulications . I also used the New Vanguard #37 Sturmgeschutz III & IV 1942-45 and Panzer Tracts No.8 Sturmgeschuetz –s.Pak to Sturmmoerser.
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