Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale ?39-?45 Series Kit No. 6233; Sd.Kfz. 251 Ausf. D 3 in 1 kit; 1,008 parts (946 in grey styrene, 44 in clear styrene; 6 in grey vinyl; 6 in etched brass; 3 turned brass; 2 silver paper disks, 1 turned aluminum barrel); price $33.95
Advantages: "3-in-1" kit similar to the old American car kits of the 1960s gives the modeler three different options; two sets of tracks give options as well as provide a complete spare set; includes a figure set
Disadvantages: may find itself in tough competition with established Tamiya kits and competing AFV Club kits for market share
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all German and halftrack fans
F I R S T L O O K
When I was a kid in the 1960s, during the summer we stopped our "serious" modeling of either aircraft or armor and switched to 1/25 scale cars. AMT had the market nearly cornered with what they called their "3-in-1" kits. These were usually a popular car such as a Chevy Impala or Ford Galaxie with three different options for building, and lots of extra parts in each kit. Normally you could build it for stock, "hot rod" or custom, or racing. Some came with two complete engines, headers, interiors, skirts, Continental kits, new grilles, etc. But for the mighty sum of $1.49 retail you could have a lot of fun as well as start building up the always valuable "parts box" with the leftovers.
The idea sort of died in the late 1970s, and today when you find these kits (many now released as "collectors" or "nostalgia" pieces they may only give two options and a lot fewer parts for a lot higher price. Still, the idea was a good one and well loved by many of us back then.
DML has now rediscovered the "3-in-1" kit, but this time with one of their new armor pieces. This is the first offering of the Ausf. D model of the 251 series3-ton halftrack, and comes with an amazing amount of parts and details (relax, 480 of those parts are tracks and track links!) The kit provides the model with the options of making a straight Sd.Kfz. 251/1 infantry carrier, a late model Sd.Kfz. 251/1 with the "Falke" infrared night vision system, or the Sd.Kfz. 251/9 "Stummel" self-propelled 7.5 cm howitzer variant.
The parts breakdown includes two new sprues (A and B) with the D model body and details plus two MG 42 machine guns. The /9 version comes via the G sprue from the Sd.Kfz. 250/8 kit (#6102) and a new R/S sprue, plus a turned aluminum barrel and three turned brass 7.5 cm rounds. The "Falke" kit provides three Z sprues from the Night Fighting Panther kit. Also included for good measure are the "Night Fighting" figures from set #6089.
The modeler has an option of two sets of tracks, the stock kit set as part of the E sprue or "EZ Track" which comes in a split side bag (shoes on one side, "rubber" keepers on the other) precut and pretrimmed for the modeler. This appears to be a later style than the stock kit tracks, so the modeler has a choice of styles. However, the EZ Track has two big injector pin marks on each link so the purist may wish to stick with the originals (which do not).
There is a section of clear parts included for the driver's and commander's visors as well as the three sets of IR scopes and lights. A tiny section of mirrored paper (two are provided but only one is needed) for the rear view mirror face as well.
Brass parts cover the machine gun shield and some small interior parts.
The kit comes with two full decal sheets, which permits DML to offer a wide number of possible marking variants: 10 straight /1 versions, 2 "Falke" versions, and 2 "Stummel" versions.
A word of warning on the instructions: they are the old-style blue/white/grey ones, and DML has packed a lot of information into a very small space. They are more than a bit confusing (it took me 10 minutes to figure out where the etched brass parts other than the MG shield went!) so I advise reading through THOROUGHLY before beginning the kit!
Overall, this is a most impressive kit, and for the money is a steal. I do hope that it does well, as unlike the earlier C variants this kit goes up against two competing families of kits, one of which has been established for some time. I'd like to see the idea continue (especially with American M2 and M3 based vehicles!) so hope it doesn't turn up to be outrun.
Thanks to Freddie Leung of DML for the review sample.