ARM: DML 1/35 Scale Sd.Kfz 251/2 Wurfrahmen 40 3-in-1

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale '39-'45 Series Kit No.
6284; Sd.Kfz. 251/2 Ausf. C mit Wurfrahmen 40 - 3-in-1 kit; 866 parts
(771 in grey styrene, 68 etched brass, 16 clear styrene, 6 DS plastic,
2 turned brass, 2 foil stickers, 1 turned aluminum); price estimated at
US $34-38
Advantages: another triple option kit from DML (actually only two), new
moldings for the wheel assemblies and other detail parts
Disadvantages: lack of solid information on the systems tends to hurt
the modeler in building the kit; many small detail parts
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all German and rocket launcher fans
F I R S T L O O K
The Germans were not the first army in the world to use rockets in a
tactical situation, but they were the first during WWII to use heavy
rocket launchers in a close support role.
The first two rockets fielded came out in 1940. They were the
Wurfkoerper Spreng, a high-explosive rocket with a 28 cm warhead
weighing 55 kilograms, and the Wurfkoerper M FL 50, a napalm-type
incendiary mixture fired in a 32 cm warhead weighing a bit less but
carrying 40 liters of filler. Both rockets used the same solid-fuel
rocket motor, but were ballistically awful and underpowered, providing
only a very short range with high levels of dispersion. Maximum range
for the HE one was 1925 meters, with a CEP of more than 80 meters; for
the incendiary, it was 2200 meters with a CEP of over 100 meters. (CEP
is circular area probable, which means only half of the shots would get
within 40-50 meters of their intended target; result - you have to
shoot more than one round to ensure you might hit it.)
Rockets could be fired from a number of different mountings with a
device giving an interval of 2 seconds between shots (that was to let
the mount settle down in order to minimize dispersion by the rest of
the rockets.) Early mounts - Wurfgeraet 40 and 41 - were four-shot
fixed frames with only elevation adjustment, firing from the ground.
Later, a bigger mount, the 28/32 cm Nebelwerfer 41, was created with
racks for six rockets of either type or a mixture of both. Finally, due
to the short range and vulnerable situation it put the crew into when
firing, someone came up with the bright idea of mounting six launchers
(actually the open packing crate/launcher frame the rockets were
shipped in) on a saddle mount fitted to an Sd.Kfz. 251 series
halftrack. The idea worked, and was officially dubbed Schweres
Wurfrahmen 40 or SWR 40; unofficially it was nicknamed "Stuka zum
Fuss" or "Stuka for the infantry."
Due to the fact that they were fragile and added nearly three feet to
the width of the vehicle, the rockets were not mounted until just prior
to going into action. The frames would be preset for a specific range
and the carrier would move in to range of the target (minimum range was
300-400 meters, which was just possible from the mountings but not
recommended). The driver and commander would line up on the target, and
since they had armor protection could fire the rockets from within the
vehicle. For bombardment the crew had a remote firing device and could
launch them from up to 10 meters away from the vehicle. They were
heavily used in Russia, as the frames could be quickly fitted to nearly
all standard hull 251 series halftracks of any model (e.g. Ausf. B, C,
or D.) Normal mixture was five 28 cm HE and one 32 cm incendiary per
load.
This is a popular model as it "dresses" up any 251 halftrack and
makes it more interesting, and this is the third version in this scale.
Nitto came out with a B model fitted with a very crude set of 32 cm
rockets back in the early 1970s (each consisted of only two parts, four
part packing crates, and a very sketchy set of "saddles" for the
vehicle, but they were no worse detailed than that kit.) Tamiya came
out with one about 15 years ago on its D model 251 chassis.
Now DML offers the model as a "3-in-1" kit, but since the only
difference between two "versions" is the use of the 28 cm or the 32
cm rockets, and in real life a mixture was preferred, it is somewhat of
a grey area.
Also something not quite spot on is the fact that DML identifies this
as a "Sd.Kfz. 251/2" variant, which was an 8 cm mortar carrier. While
that is possible the vehicle is configured as a /1 with the normal
infantry interior. Be that as it may, it is a correct version of the
vehicle, and the rockets and their launcher frames are quite detailed.
DML provides a total of six 28 cm and six 32 cm rockets for the kit,
and with their launcher frames and the "saddle" mount they account
for some 220 parts, a big change from the Nitto kit!
Even though DML used its "slide molding" technique on the rocket
crate/frame assemblies, there are still some six to eight parts (with
or without optional etched brass parts) per assembly, and the rocket
each have four parts including a separate fuse assembly. The options
for the diorama fan are going to be wide, as this permits showing
loading and arming the rockets, fitting them to the frames, etc. For
the more prosaic, the launcher frames are complete and may be shown
either open, loaded or unloaded and prepared for travel.
The model may aslo be built as an Sd.Kfz. 251/10 platoon leader's
vehicle with the 3.7 cm Pak 36 mounted over the front of the crew
compartment. The complete upper part of DML's 37mm antitank gun and a
new upper deck for it are provided along with a turned aluminum barrel
and one-piece pre-bent brass gun shield for the halftrack mounting.
Ammo racks are included to complete the conversion.
The rest of the kit is the welded C model 251 from DML with newly
reworked wheel sprues with more detail on the parts. While they now
show the detail on the sidewalls of the road wheel tires, oddly enough
there are none on the front wheels! It comes with a dedicated brass
sheet including seat back spring details, and better regular tracks.
A total of four different vehicles and marking options are provided in
the kit: a grey SWR 40 from Warsaw 1944; a grey SWR 40, 11th Panzer
Division, Eastern Front 1942; a white camouflaged SWR 40 on the Eastern
Front, 1945; and a platoon leader's vehicle from the Eastern Front,
1942.
Overall this is a nice kit, and minor squabbles aside, is a very great
improvement on the previous two attempts at this close support weapons
system.
Thanks to Freddie Leung of DML for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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AMPSOne
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