Kit Review: DML 1/35 scale ?39-?45 Series Kit No. 6187; Sd.Kfz. 251 Ausf. C; 556 parts (553 in grey styrene, 3 in grey vinyl); price estimated at around $28-33
Advantages: Gorgeous new kit of a popular subject; captures tiniest details in most areas and comes ready for an after-market engine; includes five figures and optional parts for detailing them and the vehicle
Disadvantages: two-part single track links unlikely to be popular with some modelers; multi-piece hull body may cause some minor problems
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all German armor fans, especially of Panzergrenadiers
F I R S T L O O K
There are times you can feel sorry for fans of some modeling subjects when the most common kit going is a real dog. Such was the case with the 1973 vintage Tamiya Sd. Kfz. 251/1 halftrack kit. While it came with what seemed to be a good package then ? and it was, providing a number of reasonably well animated Panzergrendiers and optional parts to mount the Pak 36 3.7 cm AT gun on it and make a "stroke10" model out of the kit, it had a host of problems. The main one was that the hull ? for whatever reason ? was around 8 mm too narrow, which amounts to a foot off in 1/35 scale. I recall swearing a blue streak while vivisecting the hull of a half-assembled one to get the correct width to it. (It wound up going back in the box until I used it to make a correct Sd. Kfz. 251 engineer variant with the Ausf. D hull.)
It was also blessed with "dwarf" figures ? not big strapping Saxons or Brandenburgers, but itty bitty 5' tall Germans. (Nobody cared at the time, for this was the only kit in town! The ancient Nitto Ausf. B was pretty much a toy.)
Tamiya never fixed the problem with that kit, albeit they did come out with a correctly proportioned Sd. Kfz. 251/9 series that was used to make a new "stroke 1" model ? but this was the later Ausf. D hull. Most of the early halftracks used in Russia during Operation Barbarossa were the C model, so it still left this common vehicle missing. Also, more conversions were made with the C model than with the D, so it was the base vehicle for most of the more interesting conversions.
DML has now followed up its nicely done Sd.Kfz. 250 series halftracs (both the early and late models) with a similarly done version of the Sd. Kfz. 251/1 Ausf. C. This is a state-of-the-art kit and unless you want a fast build it is time to send the obsolete Tamiya kit packing. It comes with a driver figure (who appears to be the same one from the 250 series) and a complete set of No.6124 "Grossdeutchland" figures, but with the new DML replacement head and detail sprue and three vinyl parts that represent casual uniform discards ? two uniform blouses and a pair of boots.
The kit has the old-style black-white-blue directions, but these are pretty clear and the model is not hard to sort out. The kit comes with everything except the engine, but the engine access doors are separate so that when the inevitable resin engine kit comes out ? or a separate on from DML, as they did with the 250s ? it will drop into place. Some of the lower hull details are included as well, such as the fuel tank, battery and transfer case/transmission.
The hull builds up from the chassis pan, nose section, two lower hull sides, the upper hull and hood section, forward machine gun platform, lower tail section, and the doors and engine access panels. This is to simplify getting all of the details together, such as the interior stowage bins behind the seats. Fenders are in single-piece units but the fender stowage bins are molded as one and have a single piece door assembly.
The wheels are very nicely molded, but the tracks are single-link with two parts to each link (link and pad; careful assembly will yield working tracks.) This is likely to bother some modelers who do not like "fiddly bits" but I think most will enjoy this level of detail as part of the kit.
The rest of the details appear to match the kit's high quality. All of the interior bits ? from what I can see in the old Bellona handbook series on the251 ? are there or at least the main components are provided. This includes all of the levers, spare vision blocks, Funk f radio set, rifle racks, and a much thinner and more scale set of hinges for the rear doors. The doors appear to be made to work if one is careful, but unlike the roundhouse quality hinges on the Tamiya kit these are quite delicate and may not. The steering can also be made to work, or at least will permit posing the front wheels.
Decals and painting are included for two vehicles: a 251/1 from "Grossdeutschland" at Kursk in 1943, and a grey one from the 14th Panzer Division, Ukraine 1942. The figure painting and assembly instructions are separate and cover the uniforms for "Grossdeutschland" but not for the other division.
Note that there are two optional parts, a section of mine-protection armor plate for the lower front of the hull and a small part that goes at the rear. These are found on the figure instruction sheet, not the main directions.
It is likely that this will be the first of the series, and that DML has 21 more versions of the 251 that can be built if they also expand to offer an Ausf. D hull as well.
Overall, this should be a popular kit and is a contemporary kit, well executed.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell AMPS