ARM: Review - DML 1/35 scale Sd.Kfz. 7 Late Production - Smart Kit

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale =9139-=9145 Series Kit No.

6562; Sd.Kfz. 7 Late Production - Smart Kit; 639 parts (379 in grey styrene, 216 =93Magic Track=94 two-piece links, 25 etched brass, 13 DS plastic, 6 clear styrene); retail price US$41.95 via DragonUSA

Advantages: first model ever of this specific vehicle; nicely done use of =93slide molding=94 and DS plastic tires to avoid seams and extra assemblies; full engine and underside details; lots of options for finishing - two cabs, two bodies

Disadvantages: as a =93Smart Kit=94 probably not enough brass for some; small links perhaps better as DS tracks

Rating: Highly Recommended

Recommendation: for all German halftrack and artillery fans

The Germans, as well as the Soviets, began to feel the squeeze on their industries in the middle of the war and as such had to try and come up with ways to economize on items like steel. Both countries found a way to do this via conversion of some of the less essential parts in their transport vehicles to wood - bodies, cabs and fenders in some cases. The Soviets called theirs =93simplified production=94 - even cutting back to a single headlight - whereas the Germans called theirs =93Einheits=94 (unified) with similar or identical components used for most vehicles of a given class or size.

While the halftracks retained most of their steel body parts, they did lose the purpose-built steel passenger and ammunition bodies with the most common ones being the Sd.Kfz. 7 8 ton and Sd.Kfz. 11 3 ton versions. Instead, a generic wooden body with simple racks was installed along with slat-type bench seating. I have no information on how many of them were built but it would seem anything from 1943 onward would have had this body.

DML has taken another =93bob and weave=94 move in the battle of the halftrack kits =96 instead of releasing the long hoped-for Sd.Kfz. 7 initial production variant with =93theater=94 seating for gun crews and enclosed ammo lockers at the rear they have now released the post-1943 variant with the wooden body. This kit comes with the complete wooden body as a new mold item (sharing nothing with the recent Sd.Kfz. 7/1 or Sd.Kfz. 7/2 bodies) and three sprues =96 one styrene and two DS ones

- from the excellent sFH 18 15 cm howitzer kit. This is a good call because by this time of the war the emphasis was on field artillery and not medium antiaircraft guns, so it is more fitting as the howitzer prime mover.

The new mold body consists of 76 parts and provides the body with troop seats, the ammo rack in the front of the body, and the tilt framework but no simulated canvas tilt. Note that in Step 13 there are a large number of holes in the bed of the body (part E4) which have to be drilled out from the bottom. Two complete rifle racks for 12 rifles for the gun crew are provided but once again only two Kar 98K rifles are provided, so anyone wanting full racks better head for the spares box. The sides may be shown either open or closed, as when closed you cannot see much of the detail on the ammo rack. The kit also provides a new simplified cab for the driver and tool stowage which mounts on the hood and fenders; this also requires holes to be drilled out in Step 11.

The kit retains the same nicely done details from its two predecessors - a complete engine and undercarriage to include a complete transfer case, fuel tank, four-part winch drum, and complete tow hook installation that form part of the chassis. The drivers are two-piece with suitable rollers represented and also add etched brass centers for scale appearance.

Once again two-piece =93Magic Track=94 halftrack tracks are included, but as often noted are very small and DML could have made many modelers happy by molding them as one-piece runs in DS plastic. Also, as the kits are =93Smart Kits=94 they make use of slide molding and other tricks to avoid needless small parts assemblies and minimize the use of brass.

The kit retains the nicely done front tires with DS plastic outers and treads combined with a styrene inner section.

As this kit is like the Sd.Kfz. 7/1 it has an open windshield and thus the painting masks are included.

Research and technical assistance were provided by H3 Design Office. Dan Graves, Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.

Three finishing options are offered but only include the Cartograf license plate =93number jungle=94. The variants which can be modeled are: Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front 1944 (grey overall); Unidentified Unit, Western Front 1945 (sand overall); and Unidentified Unit, Western Front 1944 (sand with dark green mesh pattern).

Overall while not the =93prime=94 prime mover hoped for this is a distinctly different variant and at least an artillery tractor.

Thanks to Freddie Leung and Toby for the review sample.

Cookie Sewell

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