Friday, 26 May 2017

StuG Life Part 2 When is a StuG not a StuG? When it's a Sturmi

So having got the kit ready I decided to get the assembly done. And it was at this point where things started to get complicated. This is NOTHING to do with the Rubicon kit - which is a thing of beauty. What I soon discovered is that the Finns were keen to upgrade their StuGs. This is probably the result of the early encounters with the Red Army when the Finns were still unsure of their new equipment, but they quickly instigated a series of modifications to better suit their needs.

Firstly the Schurtzen side skirts went. I'm not sure if this happened even before combat. I suspect so,  but whatever the reason the Finns disliked them and removed them. They then introduced a number of changes, some minor, some less so. They moved the stowage arrangements around so they were more to their liking, initially moving the spare wheels from the engine deck to the sides of the superstructure. Then they added a new armoured cover to the drivers position, and extra armour to the hull sides, plus some bullet deflectors on the sides of the main gun mount. I find this fascinating because these are clearly the result of the early combat experiences with Soviet Anti Tank Rifles, whose teams were taught to shoot such weak spots, but this is exactly the reason the Germans introduced the Schurtzen side skirts in the first place. I wonder if the Finns misunderstood the reasons for the skirts when they were first delivered? In addition, after further experience in the summer of 1944 the Finns adopted log armour on the superstructure sides, and added a thick concrete to the front of the fighting compartment, giving the Finnish StuG - or "Sturmi" as they called them, a rather distinctive look.

So I got stuck in, and pretty soon had the first stage complete - here she is looking fairly similar to what she looks like now at Parola, with side mounted spare wheels, rearranged track stowage and new scratch built starting handle.

The observant may notice the MG shield is not fitted - funny story that - I managed to fit the wrong roof - oh how I laughed when I realised!

That was also the point when I finally thought through the project and realised I was in trouble. The problem is that the "real" Bubi at Parola is presented as she was when she saw action in the summer of 1944. The problem was  the word "summer". All my other Finnish stuff is in winter camouflage, so to model Bubi in winter would mean adding all the extra bits such as concrete and logs fitted after the battles of summer 1944. On the plus side it meant I could at least swap out the fighting compartment roof.

So after another session I added concrete armour from Green Stuff, and built a new drivers visor to match the one fitted in Autumn 44, plus bullet deflectors etc. The embarrassing roof issue was resolved at that time too. The MG shield had its embrasure opened to allow the fitting of the Soviet DT LMG the Finns used rather than the original MG34, and some log armour added based on some pictures taken in the late summer of 44 I found on line.

Lastly I added the stowage frame which was late German issue but very similar to one the Finns fitted.

No hatch yet as I'm hoping to find a suitable Commander figure.

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