|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Sd.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 the1943 production version of this vehicle and if you have seen the movie 'The Dirty Dozen', I do believe this is the vehicle in which the survivors made their escape. This is a prime mover version and so has seats for up to 12 soldiers and all their equipment. In the scheme of Dragon kits and parts count, this is a medium-weight kit with a mere 480 pieces, many of those used for the individual track links. I really like the DS tires as those combine the look of rubber with the ease of painting of injected plastic.
Unique features found on this kit are brand new hull sides, plus a new rear plate with reduced dimensions that also eliminated the door for the spare-wheel compartment. Beginning in March 1943, certain features such as turn signals, sidelights and brake lights were all deleted. Also new are the fenders/track guards, and a preheater for the engine coolant that was installed in the footstep on the front-right side of the halftrack.
As you would expect, the chassis is superbly detailed and this is no curbside, being equipped with a full engine, and exhaust system. The beefy transfer case is also part of the kit. In the back are a lot of stowage racks and the doors to the equipment compartments in the rear can be posed open so you can load those areas up if you so wish. There is a small etched fret and you get a section of steel multi-segment wire as well for a tow cable.
As usual, the Dragon instructions are quite complete and provide Gunze and Model Master paint references. 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. Though there are two markings options, one overall panzer yellow and one with splotches of green and brown, there is no identifying unit markings. THe decal sheet consists of generic licenses with a variety of numbers to make your own.
A superb kit, especially for those who like half tracks or soft skin vehicles. This is at least Dragon's fourth boxing having done at initial production, late production and one with a FlaK cannon on it from what I can recall. 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.
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