Plastic Soldier StuG III Ausf. G Assault Gun Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

Over the last few years there have been several 1/72 scale armor kits released which are specifically aimed at the wargame community.  Plastic Soldier, Armorfast, and Italeri have all issued kits, usually multiple vehicles in the same boxing.  The kits are designed to be easy and quick to assemble, sacrificing detail for speed and durability.  I became curious to see just what these kits were all about and whether they could be spruced up into presentable display models.
This is a sprue shot of the Plastic Soldier StuG III, you get three of these sprues in each box.  Obviously a low parts count!  The parts are robust compared to most display model kits, being designed to resist handling.  Details such as pioneer tools are molded on.  The running gear is simplified to speed assembly and prevent breakage.  PS has provided some options – there are three different barrel assemblies allowing for the Saukopf mantle, the standard 7.5 cm StuK 40 gun, and the 105 mm gun of the StuH 42.  The loader’s and commander’s hatches are separate pieces and there is a half-figure commander.  Both types of MG shields are provided, and a set of rather thick Schürzen are also included for those modelers needing protection from Soviet anti-tank rifles.
The instructions underscore the simplicity of the kits and ease of construction.  No mention is made here of the additional parts included or the various vehicle configuration options they provide, so the modeler will need to consult references to get the most out of these kits.
As a control I will build a display model alongside the Plastic Soldier kits, in this case the Trumpeter Sturmgeschütz III Ausf. G.  This will allow for direct comparison with the PS parts.
Being optimized for detail the Trumpeter kit has many more parts.  For 1/72 scale armor kit this is still not a high parts count, even though Trumpeter has also provided for several options.  There are three different fighting compartment roof pieces, two rear hull pieces, two styles of return rollers, and several choices of guns.  All hatches are molded closed and there are no crew figures.  The kit has no Schürzen included, but the attachment fittings are molded into the mudguards.
I completed the lower hull assemblies and filled them with BBs fixed in casting resin.  It is a bit of nonsense I know, but I like the heft of extra weight.  This picture does illustrate what I believe is the major liability of the Plastic Soldier kit as a display model – the running gear and tracks are over simplified and look it.  Rather than trying to make improvements here I will take the easy way out and use Schürzen to hide most of this from casual view.
Not so easy to conceal are the spare road wheels which were carried rather prominently on the engine deck.  On the left is a Trumpeter road wheel and at the center of the photograph is the stock Plastic Soldier version.  I slotted the wheel with a razor saw, trimmed off the excess rim, and drilled out the limber holes to improve the appearance.  Not perfect but definitely better.
A comparison of both kits from directly above shows several differences in the ways details are represented.  It is also apparent that the Plastic Soldier kit is a little larger than the Trumpeter.  Compared to the George Bradford drawings, the Plastic Soldier kit is slightly oversized and the Trumpeter kit is slightly undersized.