|KIT:||Dragon 1/72 Sd.Kfz.251/7 ausf D w 2.8cm SpzB 41 gun|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||includes photo etch fret|
The Sonderkraftfahrzeug 251 (SdKfz 251) half-track was an armored fighting vehicle designed and first built by Germany's Hanomag company during World War II. They were produced throughout the war.
The early production models of this vehicle were issued to the 1st Panzer Division in 1939. There were four main models (A - D), with many variants. The initial idea was for a vehicle that could be used to transport a squad of infantry to the battlefield protected from enemy small arms fire, and with some protection from artillery fire. The open top meant that the crew was still vulnerable, especially to high explosive rounds and shell fragments.
The first two models were produced in small numbers. The C variant had a larger production run, but was a quite complex vehicle to build, involving many angled plates that gave reasonable protection from small arms fire. The D version utilized a much simpler design, and can be easily recognised by its single piece sloping rear (with flat doors).
Although designed for cross country work, it had some limitations as the front wheels were not powered.
The standard personnel carrier version was equipped with a 7.92 mm MG34 or MG42 machine gun mounted at the front of the open compartment, above and behind the driver. A second machine gun was usually mounted at the rear on an anti-aircraft mount.
Variants were produced for specialized purposes, including with anti-aircraft guns, anti-tank rockets (triple Panzerschrecks fitted on either side of the vehicle) as well as a version with an infra-red search light used to spot potential targets for associated Panther tanks equipped with infrared detectors.
Sdkfz 251/7-I - Pionierpanzerwagen is the subject of this kit. It is an assault engineer vehicle with fittings to carry assault bridge ramps on the sides. They could also be somewhat heavily armed if required.
I've bought a few Dragon small scale armor kits in the past and have generally been pleased with them. This one is no exception and continues Dragon's concentration on providing a quality kit that rivals the large scales of just a few years ago. Dragon seems to not want to put more than two sprues in a polybag, which is just fine with me. In this case the multiple bagged items are identical sprues, as it is better to do one of an item and do two sprues full of these singular items. There are nine plastic sprues plus one for the flexible tracks and two small etched frets, mostly for the 2.8cm anti-tank gun's shields.
Since this is an open topped vehicle, you get a full crew compartment that includes driver's seats, instrument panel, steering wheel and other accoutrement that you'd expect from what is basically a ACV. As it is an engineer's vehicle, you also get stream and ditch fording rails and the inclusion of the anti-tank gun incase they run into more than the usual threats.
A very nice touch is that the vast majority of the road wheels are ganged together, taking away much of the chore of construction in this area, but none of the painting. Only the very outer three wheels on each side are separate. All of the attaching thingies are hidden behind them. The tracks are a specialty of Dragon that are not only easily glued with super glue but are of such a material that they can be painted without having to worry about the paint flaking off.
Instructions are superb and provide not only a parts breakdown, but color info in Gunze, Model Master and generic specs. Two painting options are provided, one is the box art vehicle from Italy in 1944 in sand with brown and green 'tiger stripes'. the other is a Normandy 1944 overall panzer sand color. The decal sheets are quite nicely done and provide more than enough markings to do just about any vehicle for which you can find a photo.
Overall, this is an exceptional kit of this vehicle in 1/72 scale, a scale many are finding to be a lot more fun to build than the often very complex larger scales. I know I like them as they don't overwhelm the display case! I think you'll find this to be very nice build and make into a superb replica.
My thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the review kit. You can find this kit either at the hyperlink or your favorite hobby shop.
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