|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
TheSd.Kfz. 7 (Sonderkraftfahrzeug 7) was a half-track military vehicle used by the German Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe and Waffen-SS during the Second World War.
Development of the Sd.Kfz. 7 can be traced back to a 1934 requirement for an eight-tonne (7.87 tons) half-track. The vehicle first appeared in 1938 and was destined to be used mainly as the tractor for the 8.8 cm FlaK gun and the 15 cm sFH 18 150 mm howitzer. The Sd.Kfz. 7 also became the basis of a number of self-propelled anti-aircraft variants based on 20 mm and 37 mm flak types in use. Further because of its heavy power it often found use as a recovery vehicle.
The vehicle could carry gun crews of up to 12 men in theatre-type seats. Under the seats were storage for various tools, and the whole vehicle spacious enough to carry their kit. The rear of the vehicle housed an enclosed compartment for storage of ammunition, though a second ammunition carrier was desirable. The tractor could tow loads up to 8,000 kg (17,600 lb) in weight. Most were fitted with a winch. The windscreen was able to fold down and a canvas roof could be erected. A number were also constructed with a hard top, but this was less common in service. A later simplified type appeared with a timber frame truck-type layout, the ammunition being stored behind the driver's station and the gun crew having space on wooden benches behind.
The running gear consisted of two front wheels with hydro-pneumatic tires for steering and a track each side with 14 road wheels (7 overlapping on each side of the vehicle); a drive sprocket was located at the front of each track system. Minor variations on the track and road wheel design and manufacture took place throughout the course of service, some being combined in the field as repairs took place.
The use of half-tracked prime movers for artillery was common in the German forces but not elsewhere. Compared to wheeled vehicles, half-tracks are more difficult to maintain, they often suffer track breakages, and slower on roads. However, they may have superior off-road mobility.
The iconic Sd.Kfz.7 was used throughout the war. Sd.Kfz. 7 were seen during the 1940 Paris victory parade and the Sd.Kfz. 7 features in much German wartime propaganda footage, contributing to the myth of the mechanized Blitzkrieg. In fact while produced in large numbers there were never enough to fully equip the German forces. Typically like many other types, the artillery elements of Panzer and mechanized units (Panzer grenadier) received them, while others continued to rely on horses to draw their guns.
Some Sd.Kfz. 7 were pressed into service by the Allies during and after the Second World War. An Italian-manufactured variant was also built, and is easily recognized by its longer hood and right-hand-drive steering.
This is the later production version and is one of those kits that has been much anticipated by armor fans. As a late model, it has a flat bed rather than the rows of seats seen in earlier variants. This is a middle-weight armor kit with a mere 520 parts. A rather neat option are what appear to be either paint masks, and I like it that this kit has DS tires. For a full listing of the features of this kit, I'll once again, allow the Dragon PR folks to provide that.
- Folding tailgate can be posed open/closed
- Rear bench w/delicate design newly produced
- Tarpaulin supports newly produced w/realistic detail
- Accurate cargo deck newly reproduced
- Ammunition locker and tool stowage accurately produced
- Protective wicker cases for rounds wicker ground mats included
- Opened driver's station w/full details
- Newly tooled cold-weather starter-connection on both sides of tow hook
- Gen2 Kar 98K can be mounted in rack
- Rifle rack accurately presented
- Wooden side and tailgate newly designed w/great detail
- Sharply reproduced on-vehicle tools
- Realistically cargo deck supported by frames and V-shaped mounts
- Newly tooled side panel w/bolt detail
- Realistic engine hood formed from multiple parts w/louver detail
- Radiator cover w/accurate detail
- Intricately detailed internal mechanical components: engine, gearbox, fuel tank, compressed-air tank, suspension, exhaust and winch
- 6-cylinder engine represented by multiple parts
- Delicate engine housing
- Fully detailed steering mechanism
- Finely detailed sub-frame made by slide molds w/muffler and exhaust-pipe assembly
- Slide molds enable one-piece chassis frame w/support-brace detail
- Rear crossbeam w/roller and trailer coupling depicted like the real one
- Detailed winch spool has bolt and rib detail
- Suspension system as per the real vehicle; slide-molded suspension arms and springs w/delicate detail
- Detailed gearbox has multipart assembly
- Brake drums have detail on both sides
- Final-drive housing made from separate parts w/bolt and rib detail
- Accurately shaped front fenders made from 2-directional slide mold
- Magic Tracks for German half-track
- Track links have reinforcing structure
- Photo-etched steps w/tread pattern next to front fenders
- Includes clear lenses for headlamps
- Different road wheels rendered w/delicate detail on both sides
- Sprocket w/realistic ribbed detail
- Front wheels w/authentic tread pattern made from DS
- Photo-etched flange around centre of sprocket wheel .
As usual, the Dragon instructions are quite complete and provide Gunze and Model Master paint references. This isn't a curbside so you do have a full engine to build. There are a couple of areas where you have optional bits and in some cases, you need to cut away detail that is not part of this variant. But those with a few of these kits under their belts know all about what has to be done. The markings are all generic and there are three painting options, all unknown units in 1944/45. You can have it grey, tan or tan with green/grey mottling. Actually, any color that is appropriate.
A superb kit, especially for those who like half tracks or soft skin vehicles. It should be a real beauty when it is done. For sure it is not small!
My thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. You can get yours today at your local shop or on-line retailer. If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors. Back to the Main Page Back to the Review Index Page
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