Short Gun Sturmgeschütz III kits in 1/72

Part 3 of 3, the StuG III Ausf. E
Attack Hobby StuG III Ausf E kit no. 72816,
StuG III Ausf. E kit no.7258
Uni Model
StuG III Ausf. E kit no. 278
by Stephen 'Tank Whisperer' Brezinski
Edited by Rob Haelterman

If you have read other kit reviews by me you'll know I like to go over the box art. I think we can tell a lot about the vehicle and the model kit: What is supposed to be in the box, what it is supposed to look like when assembled, and what the paint colors and markings should be.

The box art for Attack Hobby Kits StuG III Ausf. E kit 72816 features a less sophisticated painting of their Sturmgeschütz, but still reasonably accurate. From this angle and the side views below we see the direct vision sight opening is gone like on the C/D variant. New to the Ausf. E are the rectangular box panniers on both sides. This is a good view of the armored headlight covers with small slits for the headlights. There is no appliqué armor as on later versions of the Sturmgeschütz, or spare track links on the bow.

This is a rather old model kit, over 10 years old, so it may be unavailable in stores but we may still find them at model show venders and in old collections (like mine).

Painting a pre-1943 Sturmgeschütz should be easy: typically all panzer gray and maybe a whitewash during the winter. The markings Attack offers include one for a StuG captured by the Soviets, and one for a German Army StuG. This side view shows the proper placement for the front return roller, moved forward with the StuG Ausf. B. In this side view I see something not right with the engine deck, but more on that later.

The Trumpeter Sturmgeschütz Ausf. E kit 7258 box art displays a good view of the new box panniers of this variant and the later Ausf. F. There is still no rooftop vent that was installed in the later long gun StuG Ausf. F. On the rear port-side fender we see a spare roadwheel. The U-shape lift ring needs to be added to the side in front of the box shaped pannier. The sprocket wheel features no hubcap so we can see the bolt heads. Compare this with the Attack and UM StuG Ausf. E kits which have sprockets with hub caps. The tracks appear to be unpainted black plastic.

The gun muzzle is molded open. I don't see tow cables coiled on the engine deck as shown in my reference. Be aware that on the armored headlight covers there appears to be round holes? There should be fine horizontal slits not holes in the headlight covers, I think these holes on this model are sink holes in the plastic. The vehicle appears to be finished in a monotone panzer gray color with brown dust.

The UM Sturmgeschütz III Ausf. E kit no. 278 pictured above shows another panzer gray painted vehicle. The vehicle has two antenna troughs over the engine deck perhaps indicating a command vehicle with an extra radio. Over the driver's side visor is a U-shape lifting ring, there is one lifting ring on each side.

In front of the commander we see the periscope gun sight coming up through a crescent shape hole in the roof, and with a bullet deflector ridge along the left side. Beginning with the StuG Ausf. C this hole for the periscope gunsight replaced the small hatches on the roof of the Ausf. A and B. With no hatches this opening must have been a weak point for the weather, and hazards getting into the crew compartment. With the long gunned Ausf. F this rooftop hole sometimes had a wire screen mounted over it.
Like with the recent Dragon and Attack StuG kits, the back of the UM boxes show side and top views for a paint and marking guide.


Kit Instructions

The Attack Hobby Kits StuG III Ausf. E, kit 72816 is the oldest kit of a short gun StuG III in this review, and I am pretty sure the only one available in plastic when released back in the late 1990's. The exploded view instructions below clearly show the assembly. Without the contemporary ability of some companies to slide mold your styrene model parts, Attack and Uni Models had the lower hull produced out of four parts where Trumpeter and Dragon slide molded as one large part.

All the kits I've reviewed here have the crew roof hatches molded shut. If you want to portray your StuG with open crew hatch, it looks like this Attack kit is the easiest to open up by cutting apart the superstructure roof (Part-24).

Beginning in Step 1, we see that the Attack lower hull (like the Uni Models hull) assembles with four parts while Trumpeter and Dragon does this as one part. Step 3 shows assembling of the hard track pieces.

I see something wrong with the hull portrayed in these Attack Hobby StuG III Ausf. E instructions. Visible in assembly Step-4, the engine deck appears to be that of the StuG III Ausführung F. I've checked my references hoping that maybe some of this variant got modified with extra engine ventilation for North Africa, but references state only the StuG III Ausf. C/D went to Africa.

The Trumpeter Sturmgeschütz Ausf. E kit 7258 instructions above are clear. Comparing these instructions is an informative way to look at the differences between these short gun Sturmgeschütz models. Trumpeter's instructions I find clear and simple. In Step-3 we see the installation of the band tracks typical of most Trumpeter small scale kits. In Step-6 I see installation of the spare roadwheels (parts-A8 & A2) on the rear fenders which are not included in Trumpeter’s StuG Ausf. B and Ausf. C/D model kits.

The small water slide decal sheet at upper right is the same as for their 1/72 StuG III Ausf. C/D model kit.

The UM Sturmgeschütz III Ausf. E kit no. 278
You may have read before that 1/72 UM armor models are what I and others call modular, which to me means that we can build multiple versions of an AFV from the same basic kit just by switching the parts. I found this with the UM Sherman kit and the same goes with this Sturmgeschütz kit. The exploded-view directions show this much more complicated assembly and many more parts than the current Dragon StuG models. Not having built any of the UM StuG models, I cannot comment on clarity and ease of assembly. From past experience with their Sherman kits, the UM models are not as smooth as Revell, Dragon, or Trumpeter 1/72 kits; they require more sanding, putty and finagling.

In step-16 we see UM's nice gunsight protruding through the roof opening. The Trumpeter, Attack and Dragon kits reviewed here do not have this good feature. Kudos to UM for including this.

At lower right is the water slide decal sheet for this Uni Models kit. UM offers markings for eight vehicles, all for the eastern front in 1941 and 1942. This is great.

The Kit Parts
The Attack Hobby Kits StuG III Ausf. E, kit 72816 supplies us with 54 off-white color, injection molded, styrene plastic vehicle parts and nine track length parts on eight sprue. There are also four additional, unused parts, sprocket and idler wheel parts for the StuG Ausf. A or B. Molding quality is not that of Dragon or UM kit but can be built into a fine model. I like to also consider its age, and that when it was released the Attack Hobby kits were the only short gun StuGs available in 1/72 plastic.

The Trumpeter Sturmgeschütz Ausf. E kit 7258 gives us about 71 light gray, injection molded styrene plastic parts, and two soft black plastic band tracks. The box states 80 parts; maybe Trumpeter is including the 11 individual decal markings?

The Uni Models Sturmgeschütz III Ausf. E kit no. 278 has about 110 injection molded styrene plastic parts for the vehicle plus an additional 54 link & length hard styrene track parts, and 20 etched brass parts, the only small scale StuG III kit here offering etched brass parts.

The Trumpeter and Attack StuG III Ausf. E models contain no etched brass or resin parts or crew figures.

In this scan above we compare the StuG III Ausf. E superstructures and upper hulls. On the port and starboard sides we have the box shaped panniers characteristic of the Ausf. E and Ausf. F, but there is no raised ventilation fan dome on the superstructure roof as we see on the StuG III F. Starting at the far left above, The UM superstructure (part 17E) has separate panniers (parts 9C and 34C ) so with the right parts it could be built as an Ausf. C/D, or Ausf. E variant. From here the UM and the Trumpeter parts look comparable in size, quality and detail.

Next over is the upper hull for the Trumpeter kit (part-C3) which looks comparable in detail and quality to the UM upper hull part-10E. The UM upper hull right of the Attack hull has separate fenders, brake access hatches (parts-22E and 23E) and separate tools to mount on the fenders. The engraved lines denoting the engine hatches appears too wide and deep; I feel Trumpeter got it better.

In the center between the two sprues is the old Attack Hobby upper hull (part-A27). The Attack model has some accuracy issues with the incorrectly shaped gunsight opening on the roof, and the raised engine vent covers on the engine deck. The gunsight hole can be enlarged easily enough. Shaving off these engine vents will be more difficult.

At far right is UM's Sprue-E with a lot of small parts to judge the kit quality and molding. I am used to UM kits being molded in a dark styrene like their Sherman models; I find this pale gray color a nice change.

In this next scan we have above two of the parts of the lower hull for the Attack StuG III and Panzer III models. Compared to Trumpeter's lower hull bottom and UM's lower hull bottom (part 10E), the Attack Hobby kit hull bottom (part B1) is missing some notable features.

The Trumpeter and the UM hull bottoms are pretty comparable in details. The UM kit, like the Attack kit, uses four parts to make the bottom hull while Trumpeter and Dragon do this with one large part. Looking closely at UM's sprue B at far right I find the detail very good and improved over UM's kits released years ago. For example, I appreciate how UM has molded their engine mufflers as a separate piece (parts 1B and 2B) while both Trumpeter and Dragon mold their engine mufflers on the rear armor plate with resulting loss of detail.

Above left are Trumpeters wheels on Sprue A which should be common to their StuG III and Panzer III model kits. A nice extra is that we have a choice of a 40-cm track sprocket wheel with a hubcap (part A9) or a set with exposed bolt heads (part A5). The idler wheel parts (A3 and A4) look delicate and accurate.

The Uni Models wheels on sprue-A at far right look comparable in quality to the Trumpeter parts. The UM link & length track parts look particularly good but this model track type may be very tedious to remove from the sprue and fussy to work with and assemble straight.

Here we have a gander at Attack's white plastic wheel parts at left which I think look respectable, not great but respectable. A plus is the extra, unused idler and sprocket wheel parts at the bottom that are used with the StuG III Ausf. A and some Ausf. B models. These sprocket wheels have an interesting history. They were first designed for an initial narrower 38-cm track, then were given spacers so they could be used with the 40-cm wide track.

At upper right are the Uni Models StuG III and Panzer III roadwheel parts 6A and 7A which look comparable in quality here to Attack's roadwheels (parts C7 and C8).

Trumpeter's roadwheels (parts A7 and A8) at lower right appear to me to be the most accurate and with the sharpest detail of the three manufacturers here.

Comparing the tracks, at far left we have Attack Hobby Kit's hard styrene plastic track lengths, no individual links. These tracks are meant to be carefully bent around the sprockets and idler wheels. Outer surface detail is okay but there are no track teeth on the inside surface, just little nubs. A general consensus among modelers is that these appear to be copy of ESCI's old hard plastic track parts.

At right are the light gray hard styrene link & length plastic tracks in the UM kit. I think these tracks look great. The track teeth are done well and accurate though are solid and many German tracks have hollow track teeth. These StuG tracks should be the same as used on the Pz III, Pz IV variants.

At the bottom is the long soft plastic band track from the Trumpeter StuG model. The detail is good. My past experience with these Trumpeter tracks is that they don't take Cyanoacrylate Super Glue well, so the track ends don’t stick together well and they do not adhere well to the roadwheels.

I've not used these UM tracks before so cannot testify about how they fit together. My experience with link & length hard plastic track is that it is challenging to cut off all the little individual links (Parts A17) from the sprue and get them straight around the idler and sprocket wheels.


My brief assessment is that the Dragon and Trumpeter StuG III models have the sharpest molding and often have problem-free fit of the parts. The UM StuG looks really attractive and I appreciate all the extra parts. I look forward to building this UM StuG III model. The Attack model is the oldest and at the time I bought it, was the only version of this StuG available, and I was happy to have it. Attack has since upgraded their detail and quality and their recent 1/72 AFV models are considerably superior to this model.

As I mention before, I am disappointed that Dragon has regressed in their kit design. The first 1/72 scale StuG III Ausf. G kits released 10 years ago were supreme with twice to thrice the parts, etched brass parts, separate engine deck vent covers, and well detailed band track. These new short gun StuG's from Dragon are just nice looking wargaming kits; this is not necessarily a bad thing; but if you are a display modeler you might be disappointed if you are used to their older releases. Ten years ago the Trumpeter 1/72 StuG Ausf. G models were not the quality of the contemporary Dragon StuG StuG III Ausf. G models. Presently I assess the old Trumpeter 1/72 short gun StuG models to be superior to the newly released Dragon short gun StuG models.


  • Sturmgeschütz & Its Variants, by Walter J. Spielberger, Schiffer Publishing Ltd., (1993). I consider this my bible of the StuG III, also including information on the StuG IV and the StuIG III, StuG Battery organization and production and support vehicles. A hard cover book of 253 pages it includes many high quality black & white photos and vehicle plans by Hillary S Doyle. I understand there are better books available, but I do not have them, yet.
  • STUG III Assault Gun 1940-1942, Hilary Doyle & Tom Jentz, Peter Sarson. Osprey Military New Vanguard 19 (1996). Good inexpensive reference book with photos, color plates, and small line diagrams.
  • Modeling The Sturmgeschütz III, by Gary Edmundson, Osprey Modeling 22, Osprey Publications (2006). A good softcover book covering the progressive assembly and painting of four StuG III variants. I like this book but if it were printed with larger pages and photos I would really like it. If printed in an 8” x 11” format the book would be more helpful as a modeling reference.
  • PANZER TRACTS No. 8 Sturmgeschuetz, by Thomas Jentz and scale prints by Hillary L Doyle. A good inexpensive softcover book of sixty pages, good black & white photos and Doyle’s excellent scale drawings. This book covers all the StuG variants and the Sturmhaubitze 43 and the Sturmmörser as well.
  • “Sturmgeschütze vor!” website. A Website with lots of Sturmgeschütz information and photos.
  • Sturmgeschütz section of the TANK ENCYCLOPEDIA website.

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Article Last Updated: 27 May 2018 Back to Home Page