Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale ?39-?45 Series Kit No. 6202; Sd.Kfz. 251/16 Ausf. C Flammpanzerwagen; 710 parts (649 in grey styrene, 17 in etched brass, 17 in tan vinyl, 16 in clear styrene, 7 stickers, 2 turned brass,1 section black nylon string, 1 section white vinyl string); price about $34.95
Advantages: first kit of this variant to reach the market; highly detailed flamethrower setup and equipment; crew included; choice of hulls should be a popular idea
Disadvantages: crew made from vinyl may not be popular
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all German WWII fans
F I R S T L O O K
DML has been on a roll with its new line of German light and medium halftracks, and now they have released a very flexible kit of the flamethrower variant.
For those who have never been around a flame weapon in action, they are the original version of "shock and awe". For several years now a Marine Corps re-enactor team has been at the annual show by the Virginia Museum of Military Vehicles ("The Allan Cors Collection") and demonstrated the WWII American backpack variant used in the Pacific. Even 150 meters away from the flame jet, which is shot parallel to the crowd of observers, an overwhelming wave of heat strikes the crowd like a sledgehammer and audible cries of surprise can be heard. And you're not even the target.
Even so, flamethrower men were vulnerable, as the gas mixture reacted badly if hit by small arms, and most Japanese were not about to let the flamethrower man get close if they could help it. The Marine Corps solution was eventually to put the flamethrowers in tanks like the M4 Sherman, which could usually get close enough to the target to ensure its total incineration.
That was the idea behind this vehicle, an armored and tracked machine capable of bringing the flamethrower to the enemy. The Germans took a standard Sd.Kfz.251/1 halftrack and rebuilt it to carry two 1.4 cm flamethrowers, stagged in "beam" positions, and 700 liters of flame mixture plus the piping and compression gear to fire the weapons. Total capacity provided for about 80 two-second bursts and ranges were around 35 meters. Early models were also provided with a 0.7 cm hand unit, which could be connected to the base vehicle by a 10 meter hose. The weapon system, know as Geraet 916, began to be issued from January 1943 onward.
DML has now taken their very modular 251 series and provided the parts necessary ? some 147 of them plus 17 more parts for the crew ? to convert the base 251 over to the "stroke 16" variant with flame weapons. The complete kit is provided, as well as a choice of two different styles of flame guns and the dismount gun with its hose.
The kit is basically the standard 251 C model with the exception that the H sprue with riveted components is also included, so you have a choice of early or late bodies. Construction of the actual "stroke 16" begins in Step 5 with the compressor and pump assembly, and things go from there. The parts for the flame weapons are small and confusing so I advise the modeler to keep them on the sprues until needed!
The kit comes with a selection of three different etched brass frets, one of which now includes the weld reinforcements for under the fender wells. It shows them being used on the riveted one; I have no idea if they are also present on the welded hull version or not. The other parts include brass shields for the flame weapons but not the machine guns. The directions aren't real clear as to whether or not the bits that go on the back of the styrene shield (part L23) go on the etched one or not, but I would suspect that they did.
The three crew figures are the new cementable vinyl, and according to Freddie Leung of DML are designed to be used with liquid cement like Testors or Tamiya Orange. He also noted that to trim them up simply "paint" mold seams with the liquid cement and the seam should vanish if not touched while the cement evaporates. The "gunners" have a choice of soft caps or asbestos hoods, a really strange thing to see. (I received a test shot of the figures some time back, and must admit it took me a while to figure out what it was and what the figures went to!)
Roughly a foot (30 cm) of black nylon string is included for the dismount flame weapon, and white nylon for an optional tow cable. The mirror mounts/fender guides are turned brass, and a bending jig is included to set the correct angle on them for use on the model.
Three marking and finish schemes are provided: two for riveted variants (one in a two-color scheme and one three-color) and one welded variant in overall Panzerbraun. Three decal sheets are included, as well as stick-on mirror faces and also stick-on instrument faces as well.
Overall this is an impressive kit with impressive options.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.