ARM: Review - DML 1/35 Scale Sd.Kfz. 251/6 Ausf C

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale ?39-?45 Series Kit No. 6206;
Sd.Kfz. 251/6 Ausf. C Command Vehicle; 568 parts (546 in grey styrene, 14 in
PVC vinyl, 7 in etched nickel, 1 in etched brass); price estimated at US $32-34
Advantages: Bright, new kit of a variant only available in an obsolete kit;
great job of rendering details
Disadvantage: PVC figures will not be popular with figure modelers
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all German and radio equipment fans
Why, in the very early days of the Second World War, were the Germans
successful? This is an old question, and one rarely given realistic discussion.
It was not due to their "great" tanks, as most other nations in 1939-40 had
superior tanks to the German efforts. It was not that their tactics were so
brilliant, as many other nations had similar plans. But it was due to one word
? communications ? where the Germans excelled over every other force on the
battlefield, or did until the Americans showed up with better radios and
command vehicles.
The Germans had conceived a complete family of vehicles that were fitted with
communications to deal with every contingency and cover every echelon from
mechanized infantry squad up to army and theater command levels. Each had
precisely matched radio sets for a specific purpose. Commanders in France, up
against French armor and artillery, simply made direct calls to artillery units
or roving Stukas to deal with the obstacles. The French, unable to respond at
the same rate of speed, were soon blasted off the battlefield. Ditto the
Soviets and the British in North Africa.
Nearly all of the German communications at the time were medium- or
high-frequency amplitude modulated (MF or HF AM) signals, produced by a
networked system of communications. The radios varied in power from five watts
for low level (infantry regimental internal communications) through 20 watt
tank radios, 30 watt divisional command radios, 80 watt Panzer division command
radios, and finally high-power sets of 100 to 1,500 watts for higher level
command.
Command vehicles were created for specific purposes, and the first major
armored command vehicles were the Sd.Kfz. 251/3 series and Sd.Kfz. 251/6. Most
of the first series produced used the Ausf. A chassis, as few were built and
they were seen as not quite as suitable for combat as the later B and C models.
Production/conversion of these vehicles ran up until 1943.
Each vehicle was provided with a suite of radios matched to its purpose and
echelon, and as a result the crew could maintain communications for the
supported commander and his staff with both subordinate and superior
headquarters. The /6 series was designated for divisional level command and
above (corps, army and army group) use.
The Sd.Kfz. 251/6 came with a large number of communications sets:
1 x Funk f (low-power HF AM set from 20-21.475 Mhz for inter-vehicle
communications)
1 x Fu 6 (medium-power HF/VHF AM set from 27.200-33.300 Mhz for communications
with tanks)
1 x Fu 11 (high-power MF AM set from 0.200-1.200 Mhz for corps and above
communications)
1 x Fu 12 (high-power MF AM set from 1.200-3.000 Mhz for division level
combined arms command and control)
1 x Fu 19 (an auxiliary command radio set)
Some vehicles, at higher echelons, also were provided with an "Engima"
three-rotor cryptographic machine (whose broken messages were classified ULTRA
by the Allies) for use by senior commanders for direct communications with
theater commands such as OKW or OKH. There is a famous photo of General Heinz
Guderian in his Sd.Kfz. 251/6 command vehicle watching two radio operators
break out an "Enigma" message.
For years, anyone wishing to build a model of the command variant (or convert
one to the lower echelon /3 models) was stuck with the ancient Nitto Sd.Kfz.
251/6 Ausf. B model, which dated to the early 1970s. This was a dog ?
motorized, with rubber band tracks (the motor went in the engine compartment
and the two AA batteries were fitted to a "trailer" that followed it around)
and with no details to speak of inside. The "radios" consisted of a simple
two-piece component that fitted in the back of the right side of the hull. Up
until now, no other company had offered one of these variants, but now DML has
created a really decent model of it.
The new kit is based on DML's recent C model ? making it somewhat later than
the early campaign vehicles, most of which as noted were A conversions ? but
is a gem. Two new sprues with a total of 83 parts are provided for the interior
details and the radio sets, as well as the "clothes rail" antenna and a mast
antenna provided on the later variants. This latter item comes with an etched
brass "crow's foot" antenna head for it, making it relatively easy (if
fragile!) to replicate.
The kit retains the A, B. C. D. and E sprue sets from the earlier /1 kit
intact, but adds the new F and G sprues with the radio and interior bits. They
also include a driver (Z) and a set of two radio operators. These latter will
no doubt cause a bit of unhappiness, as they are made from PVC vinyl and while
the directions indicate they can be assembled with ACC cement, they are going
to be hard to clean up and harder to paint. This is a shame, as they come with
three distinctive heads each (two with sidecaps and different headsets, one
wearing what looks to be a leather Luftwaffe helmet) and would be great if they
were styrene.
The rest of the kit is the same, EXCEPT that the model does not come with the
internal water tank. Comments indicate that fans who are really into the German
halftracks found out that this was only used in the ambulance versions of the
251 (Sd.Kfz. 251/8.I and 8.II), and photos seem to bear this out. DML has
therefore corrected the kit ? the /6 comes with what appears to be a manpack
radio for short-range communications in that position. The actual command radio
console goes from the wimpy two-piece Nitto effort to some 45 parts, and can be
intimidating! (Note: I do not have a wiring diagram for these sets, but can
assure you that they will look better if "plumbed" with connecting cables,
antenna leads, headsets, telegraph keys, or microphones.)
The rest of the kit is verbatim /1 and has the two-piece track links for the
track runs. The directions are not real helpful with these (they are installed
per the directions in Step 13 as a "stick here" with parts E1 and E11 called
out, but no numbers and only an arrow indicating where they go; it does not
call out how many or which way they face, either.)
Note that not all of the Sd.Kfz. 251/6 vehicles mounted the extendable mast
unit at the right rear of the hull, so if you can get research photos of a
specific vehicle it would help. At least one photo exists of what is reported
to be a /6 (note the /3 looks alike externally with the same "clothes rail"
antenna) with no mast and a 2.8 cm Gerlich gun fitted at the front of the roof!
There are two decals sheets included in the kit (!), one for the suggested
finishing options and one which is a set of license plates and "number jungles"
as model railroaders call them to make up your own plates. The kit provided
ones are for command vehicles from the 11th Panzer Division, 9th Panzer
Division, 4th Panzer Division, 24th Panzer Division, 39th Panzer Division, and
one unknown unit. They range from grey (of the "Barbarossa" 1941 period) to
three-color schemes from later in the war, but no estimated dates or locations
are given.
Overall, while I wish it had provided a bit more history and locations for the
recommended marking options, the kit itself is amazing and it should be
popular. Unless, of course, you hate wiring and consider anything with radios
"wiggly amps things..."
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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AMPSOne
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