Kit Review: AFV Club 1/35 Scale Kit No. 35078; German Sd.Kfz. 251/1 Ausf. C with Special Parts (First Edition Only); 313 parts (309 in olive drab styrene,2 turned brass, 2 black vinyl); estimated retail price $39.98
Advantages: nice, clean kit of a popular vehicle; single piece tracks more popular with some modelers; relative lack of ejector pin marks will well received
Disadvantages: another kit competing in a limited market (see text), choice of base plastic odd
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all halftrack and WWII German fans
F I R S T L O O K
It never rains but what it pours, as the old saw goes. From being stuck with only two German halftrack kits for over 20 years (the ancient Nitto Ausf. B and the awful Tamiya Ausf. C) there has been first a trickle via Tamiya's D models and then a rush from DML and AFV Club to fill the void.
This kit is the AFV Club C model, following on the heels of their D model and also their excellent series of Sd.Kfz. 11 3 ton cargo and artillery halftracks. Essentially what AFV Club has done here is to combine bits of earlier kits (102 parts from the Sd.Kfz. 11 kit and136 from the Sd.Kfz. 251/1 Ausf. D kit) with two sprues of weapons and 46 totally new hull parts. The "special parts" are two turned brass fender marker poles that seem to have been added as an afterthought; still, they are a nice and durable accessory.
Compared with the DML kits, the parts breakdown and layout of the AFV Club kit is totally different. It has the hull come in three basic parts (sides with road wheel mounts and top) and a stock set of base parts for the center of the hull (belly and floor) rather than the separate lower chassis favored by DML. Details are pretty similar, other than how they are formed from smaller pieces. The hinges for the dismount compartment doors are somewhat thicker than the DML ones, but as these work and the others do not it was more a case of "overengineering" for durability.
There are a few optional parts. The armored radiator air exhaust louvers are provided in two styles and the builder has the option of which one to use. Like the DML kit, all of the hatches may be posed opened or closed; also like the DML kit, no engine is provided for the engine compartment.
Many modelers will like the fact that the AFV Club kit comes with one-piece black vinyl tracks, which make assembly much easier and faster. These do need care, as they are "handed" with one side one link longer than the other to cover the torsion bar layout difference in length of the track sets. However, they are unfortunately old-fashioned ones and require assembly with ACC cement, not standard tube cement; the pins are too small to use a "hot screwdriver" on for sealing either. AFV Club makes four different styles of single-link track for the 3 ton halftrack family, and these can be selected after-market for the model: early model (AF 35044), late model (AF 35069), late model steel (AF35070) or final model rubber type (AF 35081).
Markings are provided for four different vehicles: "Grossdeutschland" Division, Russia 1943; 3rd Panzer Division, Operation "Zitadelle", Kursk 1943;16th Panzer Division, Russia 1943-1944; and 14th Panzer Division, Ukraine 1942. However, only two sets of license plates are provided, and only one is shown correctly matching a vehicle on the directions!
For some odd reason, AFV Club has stopped using their light tan styrene and is now making their kits in a olive drab plastic. This will make it nearly obligatory to prime them first before painting them in light colors.
Overall, this is a very nice kit, delicate and in some cases giving the impression it is underscale; it is not, but that is the type of molding for which AFV Club has become known.
However, it bothers me a bit that AFV Club tends to wind up duking it out with other major companies for a slice of the modeling pie with identical kits to their competitors. While competition is not a bad thing ? especially if your competition produces a dog, as Tamiya has done way too often ? it makes the slice of the pie that much smaller for both companies.
Particularly frustrating is the fact that the Germans only built around 15,250 of all of their 251 halftracks (of all four variants - A, B, C, and D) and a handful of OT-810 clones in the CSSR after the war. The Americans produced over55,800 halftracks of four basic types (M2, M3, M5 and M9) which served in all theaters and with most of the Allies, plus postwar service with many other countries (such as the Israeli army up into the mid 1970s).
I keep hoping one of the manufacturers will figure out the fact that there are only three lousy kits from Tamiya of all of the US models, and go after that market rather than slice up the smaller piece of the German pie, but so far no such luck.
Thanks to Miin Herng Tsueng of AFV Club for the review sample.