Tamiya SdKfz 251/9

KIT #

35147

PRICE:

$20

DECALS:

See Reveiw

REVIEW :

Blair Stewart

NOTES:

Tamiya 7.5 cm Pak 40  kit (35047) added.

HISTORY


During the early years of panzer development, the German Army recognized the importance of providing mobility to its infantry components. Since a fully tracked vehicle was deemed too expensive, a cross between a road vehicle and a tracked vehicle was a logical step to achieve this requirement. Thus, the birth of the ³half-track."  The vehicle that became the standard mount of the German infantry was officially called the Schützenpanzerwagen Sd.Kfz 251, "Gepanzerte Manschafts Transportwagen." Beginning with the Polish campaign in September 1939, German Panzer Divisions equipped with the new SdKfz-251 validated the concept of mobile infantry supporting tanks while being transported in their own armored vehicles.

Throughout WWII, the German Army used this vehicle extensively, and as the war wore on, more and more variants of it came into service to meet the expanding mission requirements (a great description of all of the vehicleıs variants is available on the web at Hanomag Sd.Kfz. 251). In the last stages of the war, the Germans put every available gun on any available mount to create self-propelled weapons. The result of this emphasis was the evolution of the SdKfz 251/22, mounting the 7.5 cm Pak 40 (L/46) anti-tank weapon. By the time this version of the SdKfz 251 was being produced, the Germans also produced the towed version of the Pak 40 with a trimmed shield so it could be mounted directly to the SdKfz 251. Unfortunately, the vehicleıs chassis and structure were not designed for the strain of the gunıs recoil, resulting in many mechanical breakdowns in the field.

The Pak 40 gun was mounted to the vehicle on two H-shaped beams, which were welded to the floor at roughly the halfway point of the vehicleıs fighting compartment and then run diagonally forward to the armor above the driver, where they were again welded. A platform consisting of flat triangular plates holding a piece of H-beam laterally welded to these beams carried the Pak 40ıs original undercarriage. Other modifications to the vehicle included a half moon-shaped section trimmed from the upper armor plate over the driverıs position. When mounted, the gunıs left and right traverse was limited to 18 and 19 degrees respectively, and its elevation ranged from -3 to +22 degrees. The gunner sat on a folding wooden seat installed to the left of the gun. The forward troop seats were removed, and ammunition storage boxes were mounted underneath the gun mount to accommodate up to 22 rounds of HE or AP shells. A rear mounted MG42 provided additional firepower for the crew of 4 or 5.

THE KITS

 

Unfortunately, no one produces a 1/35th scale kit of the SdKfz 251/22 (although I believe that Hasegawa recently released a 1/72nd scale version of this vehicle), so creating one in this popular armor scale requires some modifications. I am not normally one who enjoys modifying kits, but after reading an excellent article some years ago in Finescale Modeler by Curtiss Knowles and Glen Phillips on how to combine two existing kits to make this particular vehicle, I decided to give it a try. Per the article, I purchased Tamiyaıs kit of the 251/9 Ausf D (#35147). I already had the Pak 40 gun (#35047), so I was ready to start the project.

Both of these Tamiya kits are excellent models and a pleasure to build, with plenty of extra equipment and a full interior included in the SdKfz 251/9 kit. The Pak 40 has been around since the early seventies, but it still holds up well when compared to todayıs kit standards. The SdKfz kit has no engine detail as the hood is closed on the model, but it does have a fairly detailed driverıs compartment (unfortunately, this is not visible once the gun is installed in the vehicle). The vehicle kit has vinyl tracks and a well-detailed, steerable front suspension. The gun, of course, is boxed as the towed version of the Pak 40, so you get all of the chassis equipment associated with a towed gun.

CONSTRUCTION

 

The first thing I addressed was the vehicle. The FSM article suggested a new floorboard cut from photo-etched brass plate for the fighting compartment, but given my cheap nature, I opted instead to stick with the kitıs floorboard. I sawed off the interior stowage box, moved it to the left side, and glued one of the kitıs seats to the box. The FSM article provided scale drawings of all the scratchbuilt parts, so I used those drawings as templates for the driverıs vision plate, the roof plate, and the ammo bins, all of which were constructed from sheet plastic. For the gun mount H beams, I used Plastruct 1/8² I beams cut to length, then attached to these part B28, the bottom of the gun mount, from the Pak 40 kit. Additional sheet plastic was used at this time to form the remainder of the gun mount. Various scrap pieces were used to make hinges for the ammo bins.

After making these vehicle modifications, I tackled the Pak 40. The first task was to trim the bottom of the gun shield (see the FSM article for specific instructions on how to do this), which was done on the prototype to allow the gun to traverse on its mount inside the vehicle. Super detailers can go crazy adding additional parts to the already excellent Tamiya Pak 40 gun kit, but I chose to build it essentially box stock. After assembling the gun, I mounted it to the vehicle.

As an additional touch, I cut open one of the side stowage bins, boxed it in with sheet plastic, and installed a sheet plastic door in the open position. This compartment would later be filled with various pieces of crew equipment. The rear doors were also cut out and glued in the open position.

Numerous small arms and personnel equipment items were added to the open internal stowage bin and hung on the sides of the vehicle. A camouflage net was made out of gauze that had been soaked in diluted white glue, rolled up and shaped to look like it was draped on the back of the vehicle. This was then painted with olive drab paint. The kit-supplied MG42 was mounted on its pivot at the rear of the vehicle. The kitıs pickaxe and long handled axe were then mounted to the front and left fenders. A steel pail from the spares box was glued to one of the front tow hooks. As a final touch, a .010 inch guitar string was cut to length and superglued into the radio antenna base to simulate the vehicleıs radio antenna.

PAINT & FINISHING


Having constructed my share of German armored vehicles, I have grown fond of the ³ambush² scheme that appeared in the later part of the war. Unfortunately, I had never seen a picture of an SdKfz 251/22 painted in this scheme, so I was very worried about the ³model correctness police² getting on my case for creating a bogus model. After searching every available armor reference I could lay my hands on, I finally decided to consult an expert on German vehicle markings and color schemes: Bill Murphy (for those who are not familiar with the ambush scheme, you can read a good description of it in Billıs 1976 book, Panzer Colors, written with Bruce Culver and published by Squadron/Signal Publications). I contacted Bill via the question and answer forum at Armored Fighting Vehicle Newsı website (http://www.geocities.com/Baja/1654/). Bill, even in his copious research, also had never seen a specific picture depicting this scheme applied to this particular vehicle variant, but in his words, ³I have seen too many 1945 era photos of Œambushı scheme Hetzers and also a few of other types of 251s [painted in an ambush scheme] and I agree with you that it is logical to assume that some of the 251/22's sported that scheme.²  That was enough for me: time to break out the old airbrush and to heck with the purists!

I started by giving the entire vehicle a coat of Model Master dark yellow, and then I applied the standard dark green and red-brown camouflage patterns so common on German vehicles.  Using low air pressure and as small a setting as I could on my Paasche airbrush, I then freehanded the tiny splotches of yellow onto the green and red-brown areas to create the ambush scheme. Once the paint was dry, I sprayed Testorsı Gloss Coat where the decals would go. The kit decals were then applied, and the entire model was given a coat of Testorıs Dullcoat.

The MG42, the personnel equipment hanging on the vehicleıs sides, and the tools on the front fenders were then hand painted using various shades of Model Mastersı flat enamel paints.

Weathering consisted of an application of a water-based black wash and various colored chalks ground up and applied with a soft brush. I then scribed individual panel lines, seams, hatch covers and doors with a soft lead pencil to give them some depth. Finally, I gave the model that metal look by rubbing ground up pencil lead on all the seams and areas that would normally show wear on the real vehicle.

CONCLUSIONS


This was an enjoyable conversion project resulting in a unique model for my collection. Given the excellent FSM how-to article, the project took relatively little time to complete once I got started. The two Tamiya kits are good representations of the prototypes and fairly easy to construct. If youıve never tried a conversion before, this one is simple and straightforward, and is a great one to try for the first time.

REFERENCES

 

1. Knowles, C. and Phillips, D., ³SdKfZ 251/22,² Finescale Modeler Magazine, April 1997.

2. ³Hanomag SdKfz 251,² http://www.geocities.com/motorcity/pit/3515/251/index.htm, World Wide Web.

3.    Culver, B. and Murray, B., Panzer Colors, Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., 1976.

Blair Stewart

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