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In-Box Review
135
Sturmgeschütz III (Fl)
Sturmgeschütz III (Fl) flamethrower tank
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by: Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

introduction

By now even my mother probably knows the Sturmgeschütz III family of self-propelled artillery mounted on the Pz. III chassis was the Wehrmacht's most-successful vehicle. Over 10,000 were built and they accounted for more enemy tanks destroyed than any other AFV by a 2-1 ratio. Dragon has been releasing virtually the entire line of Pz. III and Sturmgeschütz III variants, with the latest the Sturmgeschütz III ("Fl" for Flammpanzer or "flamethrower tank").

Dragon often issues oddball or specialty vehicles in limited-runs through its Cyber-Hobby arm, and the kit is a perfect example of that marketing philosophy: the Sturmgeschütz III (Fl) was a factory reconditioned Ausf. E or early F with the gun replaced by a flamethrower made by Schwade, the system used in other German flamethrower tanks like the Pz. III (Flamm).

The Wehrmacht had studied flamethrower tanks before the war, and noted their usage by the Italians during their invasion and depredation of Ethiopia. Despite much study, the Germans never quite embraced the concept, probably because of technical limitations. The seals inside the tank were imperfect, making for unhappy crews, and the flamethrower device required an awful lot of flammable liquid to get anything set on fire: 60-70 liters of flame oil to project a proper burst 80 meters. With the exception of some enterprising "volunteers" in the Condor Legion who used infantry flamethrowers mounted in the machine gun ports of Pz. Is during the Spanish Civil War, German flamethrower tanks didn't take the field until the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.

A variety of tanks were converted to flamethrowers, including the captured French Char B1 bis. But only ten StuGs were adapted to the task of snorting fire, all of them built in May-June 1943 at Hitler's direction. The completed vehicles were sent to the Panzertruppenschule (Tank Instruction School), where apparently they languished: there are no records showing they ever heard a shot fired in anger, with all ten returned to the Ordnance Bureau by January 1944 for reconversion to anti-tank guns. With the Reich on the defensive, the need for flamethrowers (meant to attack an enemy's hardened positions) had passed.

what you get

Inside the usual Cyber-Hobby white box you get:

15 srues of light-gray styrene
2 sprues of clear styrene for periscopes, lights, etc.
Length of wire cable
Instruction booklet with exploded-view diagrams
2 frets of PE
A tiny sheet of decals (remember, this baby never saw action)
Magic Tracks

the review

Just as the actual vehicle was a converted StuG III F, this kit looks to be mostly made-up of the previously released Ausf. F with Winterketten (reviewed on Armorama here). Nearly all the major sprues but one are the same with many of the same parts blued-out indicating not used.

Since this kit builds off the sprues of a previously-released kit, there isn't a lot of chance for error. The result is another well-molded Dragon kit with little or no flash, and very subtle seam lines. Knock-out holes are pretty much non-existent, or else in places that won't show. The hull tub is cast as a single, slide-molded unit, which saves "truing" the sides of multi-piece hulls (unless there's warpage), so fit should be good.

The kit has the usual "suggestion" of an interior, with more details: two extensive radios, two MP-40 machine pistols, and a "scissors" scope that can be assembled extended through the open commander's hatch or shown folded away. But there is no floor plate to hide the torsion-bar suspension, so if you plan on having the hatches open without filling them with figures, you'll need to do some scratchbuilding. There is also no engine, which means the finely-done hatches can't be positioned open unless you purchase an AM resin engine. But overall the but will either provide the basis for scratchbuilding a more complete one, or you can simple leave the hatches closed.

The "business end" of the AFV, its flamethrower, is surprisingly simple: just a tube mounted on a box-like appendage that replaces the mantlet. All in all, it's not the most impressive thing I've ever viewed, so you'll have to imagine the destructive power it wielded. FYI: Wehrmacht doctrine was to douse the target with flame oil, then send a burst of liquid flame to set it alight.

The instructions are the usual Dragon exploded-view drawings, and I expect will have the usual mistakes and errors, though usually nothing catastrophic. The painting guide is simple: Dunkelgelb with a Balkenkreuz on the sides and one in the rear. As mentioned above, these vehicles never left the training center, so they did not receive unit designations or tactical symbols.

conclusion

In a world of "paper panzers" that never made it off the drawing board, it's good to have experimental vehicles that at least went into service, albeit with the training school. While this is a highly-limited offering, it very much fits in with Cyber-Hobby's mission of releasing unusual variants and oddball items. Highly-recommended to the right consumer.

Reference:
Flammpanzer: German Flamethrowers 1941-1945 by Tom Jentz & Hilary Doyle, Osprey Publications, 1995.

Thanks to Dragon USA for this review sample. Be sure to mention you saw it reviewed here on Armorama when ordering.
SUMMARY
Highs: A really interesting variant. The usual high-quality Dragon molding.
Lows: Somewhat limited appeal for the price.
Verdict: If you love the Sturmgeschütz, then this will be one you'll have to have because it's a limited edition.
Percentage Rating
90%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 6753
  Suggested Retail: $49.95
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jun 03, 2012
  NATIONALITY: Germany
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 90.08%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 87.50%

Our Thanks to Dragon USA!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Bill Cross (bill_c)
FROM: NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES

Self-proclaimed rivet counter who gleefully builds tanks, planes and has three subs in the stash.

Copyright ©2017 text by Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of TankRat's. All rights reserved.


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Comments

Interesting variant! One I must add to my collection. Thanks for the review Bill. ~ Jeff
JUN 02, 2012 - 07:17 PM
My pleasure, Jeff.
JUN 03, 2012 - 07:44 PM
Another good and interesting review, Bill! Hooo-Kay... It's another somewhat different variant on a mainstream thing in a CH white box! For those deeply into the diversity of the StuG III, this one is actually an interesting departure from the norm - even if it never apparently saw real action. If one buys and builds all of them already out there, you'll need funds, time and space for, well, dozens of StuGs, I'm sure. For someone looking for a representative kit of the StuG III pre-G, this one won't be it. For those of us with limited budgets, shelf-space, and time, and already-overgrown stashes, this is maybe a bit frustrating! ANOTHER kinda-odd subject / kit! And I like odd things. Decisions, decisions... I'm sure that it is a pretty nice kit (far as I know, all of the later DML StuG III kits are pretty nice kits bulging with detail and even with some interior) and would build into a sharp-looking model.... and hey! It IS different from all of the gun StuGs out there. I mean, heck - it's a flamm. Hmmm. I wonder... DOES it have any of the "correct" interior such a "flammpanzer" should have? Or do you get the same old gun stuff? I'll probably get one. And, who knows... maybe even build it. One thing I think is pretty certain - there are likely to be few of these showing up on contest tables, so if being a little out of the ordinary helps...!
JUN 03, 2012 - 10:57 PM
Thanks, Bob, that means a lot to me. My suggestion for that would be the F/8 with Winterketten. It not only is pre-G, but you get nifty tracks that are quite unusual, and the option to build either a Kharkov 1942-43 model or a Luftwaffe field division model from Norway. I hear you, but the C-H business model is to publish oddities. Sometimes like the new Otto Carius Tiger that has been announced here, it will likely sell-out, then get pricy among collectors because, well, it's a freakin' Tiger, LOL. But mostly the C-H kits are meant to be oddballs - things that DML just wouldn't put out on its own because there probably isn't enough demand or interest. That's a yes, there. No gun stuff, but I don't have any photos of Schwade flamethrowers in tanks, so I can't comment on whether the interior is more than a suggestion. Frenchy, are you lurking? I have pretty much retired from contests after going O-fer at the last one I entered. I'm happy to build for myself and y'all here on Armorama (this one didn't even get a bronze).
JUN 04, 2012 - 12:59 PM
Bill; Rather more reply than I expected! But better more then none! I'd certes agree that the StuG III F/8 with winterketten would be a reasonable rep - for the long-gun pre-G StuGs, anyway! Whenever the D puts out a new-tool III ausf E, that'll be the rep for the short-gun versions, I should think! And that's a kit I think I would promise to buy! I'm all with CH doing the odds - it's their avowed "mission" or niche, after all - and so the III Fl is really fair game. Actually, I am in no way carping about that! (On the other hand, CH doing a straight-up 4x2 Opel Blitz as a white box ... that's something I carp about!) So... Interior-wise; I would expect that the Fl may have had some tank(s) inside for the fuel - and wouldn't it have had some sort of Nitrogen tank or rig somewheres as the propellent system (I'm thinking here of that Flammpanzer II-D "Flamingo" which had armored boxes on the fenders for those Nitrogen bottles)? Shows... ! That Arado is quite cool! I'm sure that it should have, in most real shows, taken a prize. But I'm sure many of us have sadly been there. Blah. Now-a-days, I go, sell stuff, look at the contest tables, sometimes toss something up on one, sometimes judge, and chat with modelers. I build to please myself - the politics and undercurrents at some shows leave me chilled and often a bit angered at my fellow hobbyists. My E-10... been burned a few times... I'm with you, friend! Now, IF I ever get around to posting something here, maybe I'll develop a flinch about the lurkers here-on, too! Or not, as the case may be! I always remind myself at the end of the day that it's a hobby and I'm having FUN! Bob
JUN 04, 2012 - 03:53 PM
My third-grade teacher wrote in my report card "Bill is a good student but talks too much in class." That WAS strange. Still don't know why, maybe their marketing folks thought with the Tamiya and Italeri kits still going strong, there wouldn't be enough demand for a regular run. The boxes on the fenders are there, but seem to be for the radios. But the point is there is nothing particularly flaming about the interior as I saw it. Thanks, I thought it deserved something, so I figure I lack the perspective necessary. That's what it's all about.
JUN 05, 2012 - 09:48 AM
Quoted Text Rather more reply than I expected! My third-grade teacher wrote in my report card "Bill is a good student but talks too much in class." Quoted Text Ah, another one of us! Why answer with a single word when you can create a paragraph?! My other half warns folks that I tend to speak in pages. Bob
JUN 05, 2012 - 05:37 PM
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