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Bob Oehler is known as one of our moderators so needs no introduction! Here he gives us a very good rundown on modelling the 251, starting with a brief introduction listing the four Ausfuehrungs with their differences and also giving a table of the 23 variants. About the only improvement I can think of would be to list the Ausfuehrungs that each variant applied to, but space considerations must have eliminated that. Next is a very useful chapter on airbrush use, and as an inveterate airbrusher he gives us some extremely useful tips on techniques which I plan to try out next time I use my airbrush.
The first modelling chapter is at intermediate level and deals with the 1/76-scale Hasegawa 251/1 Ausf D. It’s built straight from the box and used as an example of airbrushing the camouflage and weathering – not as easy as one might think at this scale so a useful guide to follow. The second subject is also at intermediate level and is the Tamiya 251/1 Ausf C, at 1/35 scale like all the following models. Here he shows how to improve the kit sprockets and roadwheels, adds details to the inner hull walls, replaces the front crew seats with Royal Model parts, improves the fit of the roof and trackguards, and adds more external details. In the painting section of this chapter we get some notes on the use of washes and how to apply them.
Next is an advanced build, converting Tamiya’s 251/1 Ausf D to a 251/9 Stummel with its short 7.5 cm gun. This uses the gun and some other parts from DML’s SdKfz 250/8, with a scratchbuilt gun mount and armour, Modelkasten tracks and a host of other commercial accessories and upgrade parts. It must be intensely frustrating for him to see the announcement of a Stummel kit, but the effort is not wasted because this chapter will give modellers of that kit an excellent guide to improve and detail it – and we all know that there’s no such thing as a perfect kit that needs no improvement. The painting section here includes Bob’s technique for making an applying mud.
Then at master level comes a 251/7 D engineer halftrack with assault bridge sections, a conversion of the same Tamiya kit. Here Bob combines a number of aftermarket conversions and detail sets – Royal Models etch and resin sets, R&J engine and bay, Verlinden assault bridge, etc. The result is truly worth the effort and Bob shows how to do all the work to produce a really detailed model. The special technique in this chapter is soldering, and he shows exactly how to do it very clearly for the benefit of modellers who might be wary of soldering. This section alone is worth the cost of the book!
Finally, at intermediate level, he shows how to build a diorama base using a Verlinden Productions base with grassy areas, a paved road, a culvert with stream under it, a roadside shrine and a tree to shade it. Quite a lot to pack into one chapter, but he describes all the work and techniques very well. In fact, this is a great guide to base-building for anyone who’s not tried grass or water before or is just not happy with the results they’ve achieved.
Every chapter is comprehensively illustrated with photographs to show exactly what to do and what the results should look like. There are no reference photos of real halftracks, but I for one am very happy to have the extra “technique” photos instead of them.