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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AMPSOne
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