|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The SdKfz 2, better known as the Kleines Kettenkraftrad HK 101 or Kettenkrad for short (Ketten = chain/tracks, krad = military abbreviation of the German word Kraftrad, the administrative German term for motorcycle), started its life as a light tractor for airborne troops. The vehicle was designed to be delivered by Junkers Ju 52 aircraft, though not by parachute. The vehicle had the advantage of being the only gun tractor small enough to fit inside the hold of the Ju 52, and was the lightest mass-produced German military vehicle to use the complex Schachtellaufwerk overlapped and interleaved road wheels used on almost all German military half-track vehicles of World War II.
Steering the Kettenkrad was accomplished by turning the handlebars: Up to a certain point only the front wheel would steer the vehicle. A motion of the handlebars beyond that point would engage the track brakes to help make turns sharper. It was also possible to run the vehicle without the front wheel installed and this was recommended in extreme off-road conditions where speed would be kept low.
The SdKfz 2 was designed and built by the NSU Werke AG at Neckarsulm, Germany. First designed and patented in June 1939, it was first used in the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Later in the war Stoewer from Stettin also produced Kettenkrads under license, accounting for about 10% of the total production.
Most Kettenkrads saw service on the Eastern Front, where they were used to lay communication cables, pull heavy loads and carry soldiers through the deep Russian mud. Later in the war, Kettenkrads were used as runway tugs for aircraft, especially for the Me 262 jet fighters. In order to save aviation fuel, the aircraft would be towed to the runway, rather than taxiing under their own power.
The vehicle was also used in the North African theater and on the Western Front.
The Kettenkrad came with a special trailer (Sd.Anh.1) that could be attached to it to improve its cargo capacity.
Being a tracked vehicle the Kettenkrad could climb up to 24° in sand and even more on hard ground, as long as the driver had the courage for it.
Only two significant sub-variations of the Kettenkrad were constructed, and production of the vehicle was stopped in 1944, at which time 8,345 had been built. After the war the production at NSU went on for agricultural use. Around 550 Kettenkrads were built postwar until 1948 (some sources say 1949).
A kit that has been a favorite in all scales because it is not difficult to build, looks neat and makes for a nice addition to any diorama is the Kettenkrad. This is not the first release by Dragon, but has upgraded parts that will enable modelers to create an Early-Production Sd.Kfz.2. Totally new parts include an updated sprocket wheel design, as well as the inclusion of miniature yet easy-to-assemble DS tracks.
This kit also includes the small Sd.Anh.1 trailer that was often seen being towed behind the vehicle. Often these were used to haul shells from the storage area to the various guns when used by artillery units. They could also be used to deliver all sorts of other things and to carry a couple of extra passengers in the rear facing seat.
In addition to the new bits, you get a driver figure, but not the young lady shown on the box art, which I'm sure will be a bit of a disappointment to some. The kit does come with a full engine and transmission, some of which is hidden by the engine cover. Photo etch is used for engine cooling screens as well as straps to hold the pioneer tools.
Instructions are well done with the usual Gunze paint references. A generic decal sheet is provided with blank plate faces and a selection of numbers. You can pretty well paint this one any way that would be appropriate. The painting guide shows one in Panzer Grey, which is how all the early models would have been painted at the factory. One is also shown with a winter white wash.
A nice kit from Dragon that won't take up a ton of space on the display shelf. The inclusion of the cart is a nice bonus and should make this a popular release.
Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com
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