Dragon Sd.Kfz. 251/7 Ausf. D Pioneerpanzerwagen
by Frank De Sisto
1/35 scale injection-molded styrene plastic. Contains 835 styrene parts
(including eight clear and 118 for the figures), two bags of “EZ
Track”, 42 parts in DS100 soft styrene, eight pre-formed brass handles,
five turned brass parts, two frets of photo-etch brass, five decal sheets,
one piece of string, peel-and-stick mirror surfaces and ten pages of instructions,
which vary in steps according to the version the modeler chooses to build.
Whew! Price: $37.95 USD.
DML continues to build on its Sd.Kfz.251-series half-track kits by bringing
the modeler a “3-in-1” kit to construct variations of the
Pioneerpanzerwagen (armored engineer vehicle). The variants include the
standard /7 with pioneer equipment and “Ubergangschiene” (portable
bridge) sections, the same version mounting a 2.8cm s.PzB41 anti-tank
rifle in place of the forward MG42, and a command version with extra Fu5
radio equipment and “Sternantenna” (star antenna) for use
with Panzer units. Since the anti-tank rifle or MG42 are options to be
mounted on the command vehicle, there are actually four variations that
can be made from this kit. Not bad considering the asking price.
As with all of the Ausf. D halftracks from DML, this one also has display
options. These include two storage lockers with open lids, separate engine
hatch lids, separate rear doors (complete with separate locking mechanism
as well as tiny “T”-shaped handle; this is the only kit in
this scale that includes this over-looked item), photo-etched brass hoops
for a tarp (with plastic formers on one of the sprues), DS100 uniform
items and a partially erected tarp made from DS100 soft styrene (with
excellent undercuts and fold details; a trademark of this particular material).
Other features include two-position visors with clear plastic vision blocks
as well as either pre-cleaned individual-link “EZ-Track” of
one style, or traditional “sprued” individual-link track of
a slightly differing style.
DML has also improved the appearance of part A29, the interior floor
panel. They have done so by enlarging the hump over the transmission system
to the proper size. Other improvements carried over from the more recent
iterations of this vehicle are the enhanced details on the road wheels
and drive sprockets. However, these parts are still not completely accurate
since the drive sprocket teeth are not off-set, and the circular holes
on the road wheels still have a smooth face, lacking the slightly “swollen”
effect that is seen on the prototype. While this is a bit irksome, considering
the revisions that have been made to the original kit parts, quite frankly,
with a bit of paint and weathering, these subtle inaccuracies will disappear.
Other improved parts that were recently introduced, such as new driver’s
seats, slide-molded tow hitch and photo-etched brass parts to detail the
lower hull, are included here as well. Additional details in the form
of peel-and-stick mirror faces and turned-brass fender-mounted width indicator
poles are also included.
A complete 2.8cm s.PzB41 anti-tank rifle, along with mounting plates
and ammo storage is included. The original kit represented the basic airborne
version with tubular frame and small high-flotation tires. So, it can
be built as a stand-alone piece if the modeler chooses not to mount it
on the half-track. It is nicely detailed, has properly thinned edges on
the spaced-armor shields and includes three turned brass 2.8cm rounds.
The next major option consists of a Fu5 radio set so that a command version
from a Panzer unit may be built. Aside from nicely detailed radio sets
and racks, it includes a fine set of accessories, such as transformers
and various junction boxes. There are three nicely done antennae, including
a “Sternantenna D”, all of which include various mounts (some
using etched brass) and insulated bases. All the modeler needs to do is
add wiring according to references.
The interior of the half-track can be fitted out in a variety of fashions
by including the extra radio set, the ammo for the s.PzB41 or by varying
the seating arrangements. Likewise, the stowage for the pioneer’s
equipment can be varied to suit. In this regard, the instructions are
very complicated and will require careful study and a conscious decision
by the modeler very early in the process, concerning what his finished
kit will depict. In short, study the instructions several times so you
know what’s in store!
The pioneer equipment consists of the “Ubergangschiene” bridge
sections and their mounting brackets. The bridge sections themselves are
a single part manufactured using a multi-part slide mold. At first glance,
they appear to be very narrow, but I am told that there were several variations
and that these depict one of them. To these are attached pre-formed brass
rods for grab-handles, as well as various styrene bits. These are then
mounted to the usual tri-angular brackets that are fixed to the upper
hull armor plates. The often-seen wood planks, which converted the areas
between the brackets into a storage container, are also included.
For stowage, DML has included dozens of pioneer items, none of which
are depicted in the instructions! There is no information on these items
in the painting section and no information on where (or how) they would
be stored. The only description of these items is on the side of the box.
However, DML has included some awfully useful items. In styrene they have
included ten different types of land-mine, a pair of hand-saws, large
wire cutters, tape-measure in a case, detonators, two large wire reels
and frames, 7.92mm snail-drum ammo cans along with their carrying frames
and various types of explosive charges in their cases. In DS100 soft styrene,
they have included common items such as four 7.92mm ammo boxes, two each
of three styles of closed grenade boxes (for a total of six), two styles
of opened grenade boxes (two carry egg grenades, the other two carry stick
grenades), and four Haft-Hohlladung magnetic hollow-charge anti-tank mines.
There are a few items that I can’t figure out as well. There are
five items that I think may be pairs of mines in their carrying cases;
another pair of items may be wooden box-mines. There are also four other
items that may be explosives in a carrying case. But…I simply don’t
know! At any rate, since they are made of DS100 soft styrene, they are
nicely detailed on all sides and will repay careful clean-up and painting…if
only one knows what the colors should be.
An additional 118 parts are included to build four pioneer figures. One
carries an electronic mine detecting apparatus, another carries a flamethrower.
A third man wears the pioneer assault packs and is priming an explosive
charge, while a fourth carries some sort of pole-like device and wears
a pair of bags commonly used to carry stick grenades. Each figure consists
of six basic parts, including separate heads. Molding is good, although
the figure sprue is a few years old; some resin heads will not go amiss.
Aside from the pioneer-specific equipment items, each man carries standard
items such as helmet, gas mask canisters, bread-bags, mess gear, canteen
and ammo pouches. A second sprue contains weapons and additional individual
equipment as well as four more helmets and bare heads. The weapons (Kar98k,
MP40, MP44, GW43) all include molded-on slings, with the MP40 having a
separate part for the folding stock. There is also a separate telescopic
sight for one of the rifles, as well as pairs of ammo pouches for the
various weapons. The individual equipment items include variations on
canteens, entrenching tools and bayonets. There will be lots of extras
for the spare parts box, something quite common with this manufacturer.
The instructions are, as mentioned above, very complex and need to be
carefully studied. The sections are broken up so that where they repeat,
color-coded heading numbers tell the modeler which of the “3-in-1”
options are being catered for. The drawings are clear, but busy. Be cautious!
There are also nine different marking schemes detailed in the painting
guide, some of which can be verified as accurate using various available
sources. Among the five different decal sheets (from Cartograf, of Italy)
there are sufficient items to mark not only these vehicles, but any other
the modeler can research. The decals are in perfect register, with excellent
detail and color saturation. One sheet will provide for up to four Heeres
or Waffen-SS license plate sets as it includes separate plates, numbers
and letter prefixes. Another sheet contains three different styles of
Tac numbers, four shipping data stencils, four styles of Balkankreuz and
divisional signs. The third sheet contains another variation of Tac numbers,
insignia specific to this kit and another set of Balkankreuz national
insignia. Sheet number four has divisional insignia for Heeres panzer
Divisions 16 through 27, as well as 116 and Panzer Lehr. There are insignia
also included for four different SS-Divisions (all of which probably never
had armored half-tracks). The last decal sheet contains full-color dials
for the driver’s instrument panel. For painting, colors are matched
to Testors and Gunze paints.
I have built segments of the DML half-track kits for previous reviews
and can comment, in general, on the fit of the major components. The lower
hull pan is a single part to which the remainder of the side panels fit.
The fit is quite good, but since some joins are along beveled edges, care
in alignment and clean-up will result in the best fit.
So, with the exception of the lack of proper pioneer equipment painting
and stowage information, this is one of DMLs best efforts in their continuing
series of Sd.Kfz.251 half-tracks. With some care in construction and some
detailed research by the modeler, an outstanding finished model will be
Reviewer’s note: Since May of 2005, I have been working on books
for Concord Publications, a sister company to DML. The reader may wish
to take this into consideration. For my part, I will attempt to maintain
an objective viewpoint when writing these reviews.
DML kits are available from retail and mail order shops. For details
see their web site at: www.dragonmodelsltd.com.