Friday, 2 June 2023

Sturmgeschütz III Ausf.B Sd.Kfz.142 [WIP - Assembly & Dry-Fitting of the Fighting Compartment]

 Work on the Upper Hull was set aside for the moment as focus shifted to assembling and dry-fitting of the Sturmgeschütz III Ausf.B Sd.Kfz.142 Fighting Compartment. This step of the assembly process is interesting in that it allows the scale modeler to easily customize the build by varying the number of open hatches on top of the compartment. So for hobbyists who aren't willing to physically alter the kit or put in extra work to customize their build, then this should be right up their alley.

1/35 scale Sturmgeschütz III Ausf.B work-in-progress: Fighting Compartment and Open Hatches

Fighting Compartment dry-fitted onto Upper Hull (closeup isometric view, from left side at the front)

Fighting Compartment dry-fitted onto Upper Hull (closeup isometric view, from right side at the back)

 With my choice being a compromise between maximizing interior visibility and making the color modulating process easier by having uninterrupted surfaces to paint on, I went with the standard configuration (see Step 15 below). Technically this meant one-and-a-half hatches are fully open, while the rest remained closed. As you can see in the photos above and below, this ensures some visibility into the interior while still retaining large surface areas for the color modulation process.

Steps 15 and 16 of the Tamiya Sturmgeschütz III Ausf.B Sd.Kfz.142 assembly process

 If my analysis of the Fighting Compartment is accurate, then painting it in conjunction with the interior is going to be difficult. At best it will involve lots of tricky masking of the compartment's interior from its exterior and vice versa. Even the Fighting Compartment by itself has two different color schemes i.e. Panzer Grey on the outward facing armor panels versus Off-White for the interior.

 Although the roof of the compartment interior will be hidden from view, you can just about make out sections of the side and back interior walls through the open hatches. Of course if I'm able to dry-fit (not glue) the compartment onto the hull, and still have the Sturmgeschütz looking seamless, then I can always remove the compartment for an unobstructed view of the interior anytime I want.

Hatches to be painted separately before being glued back onto the Fighting Compartment

From this angle you can just make out the periscope sticking out from a open hatch at the rear while ...

... the side view offers greater visibility of the periscope as well as the submachine gun at the back wall.

Apart from affording a good view into the interior, the opening from which the periscope is protruding ...

... will also allow the commander figure (not shown here) to position part of himself outside the vehicle

 One key reason why I chose the Sturmgeschütz III Ausf.B Sd.Kfz.142 as an AFV project to work on was due to the gently sloping armor plates found on the vehicle's low profiled Fighting Compartment. My main goal was to try out a color modulation technique called zenithal lighting on AFVs. After some research I found the Sturmgeschütz to be an ideal candidate. Its large square armor plates with gently sloping angles made the vehicle ideal for noobs like me to practice color modulation. To put it simply, the Sturmgeschütz had a basic cuboid-like shape that makes it easier for beginners to the technique to spot where the highlights and shadows should be. I'll have a hard enough time with the technique itself so having any guesswork taken out of the highlights/shadows positioning makes the task easier.

While I chose to glue on the top hatch at the Fighting Compartment's rear right section ...

... you could just as easily glue the hatches in an open position to increase visibility into the interior ...

... however I chose to glue them onto the compartment in the closed position as you see here ...

... mainly because I wanted to make my job of painting the exterior armor plates that little bit easier.

 Granted it would've been way easier to apply the color modulation technique if all hatches were closed up, but doing so would've kept the interior completely hidden from view. In other words, there wouldn't be any point to painting the interior. So having some hatches open would allow us a chance to peek into the vehicle's interior. As I alluded to earlier, an alternative way of allowing the interior to be visible is to not glue the Fighting Compartment onto the Upper Hull. Instead, I could just dry-fit the compartment onto the hull without gluing it. Whether this is feasible remains to be seen. Only after everything has been painted will I be able to assess the tightness of such a dry-fitting.

Sturmgeschütz Fighting Compartment upturned to show its roof; note a pair of what looks like submachine guns that were glued onto the back of the interior during assembly

Upturned view of the Sturmgeschütz Fighting Compartment now shows the front facing side; note the large hole/gap through which the 75mm short-barreled main gun will protrude

 For a while I considered not painting the Fighting Compartment's interior, especially the roof section (see above). But in the end science won out. Confused? Let me explain. While nearly all of the roof's interior will be hidden from view, painting it white would allow it to better reflect any light that happens to fall on it. For example, light that enters through the open hatches should hit and reflect off of the interior's side/back walls. In turn, some of this reflected light should bounce off a white roof back onto the rest of the interior. A black or unpainted roof would be less able to reflect light that falls onto it. Well, that's my thinking anyway. Does that make sense, or is it just wishful thinking on my part?

Fighting Compartment dry-fitted onto Upper Hull (zoomed out isometric view, from left side of the front)

Fighting Compartment dry-fitted onto Upper Hull (zoomed out isometric view, from right side of the back)

 With the Fighting Compartment now put together aside from a few yet-to-be-attached hatches, there is only one other thing left to do, and that is assembly of the rest of the vehicle's Upper Hull as well as a figurine of the Commander. So the countdown to finally painting the Sturmgeschütz is set to begin soon after an absence of AFV projects since the last one I completed almost four years ago! But I'm getting ahead of myself. I have to finish the assembly first, with the final steps to be uploaded in the coming weeks. For now, I bid you au revoir. Until we meet again, be well and be happy.


  1. Nice progress. Can't wait to see finished one!

    1. Still some more assembly to do. Then it's on to the hard part ... the painting and weathering.

  2. Step by step your progress here is fantastic. I enjoy the way you approach the project and how you plan to face the challenges. Fantastic

    1. Thank you for your kind words Suber. It's partly due to my OCD-like behaviour when it comes to tackling a hobb project. I need to let go of things more if I want my projects to move faster.


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