1⁄35Paper Panzer Half-Track
IntroductionThe Sdkfz 251 series of half-tracks served a variety of roles for the German forces during World War 2 with 22 variants ultimately being produced. A 23rd variant was drawn-up but never entered production and is known as the 251/23. The design was an attempt to create a reconnaissance vehicle by using the Ausf D vehicle in combination with a 2.0cm KwK 38 or Flak 38 in a Hangelafette turret similar to that used on the Sdkfz 234/1 or Aufklarungspanzer 38(t). No authenticated photos of this vehicle exist and it’s widely believed that this variant never got off the drawing-board and is therefore a “paper panzer”. Cyber-Hobby, as the boutique arm of DML, has produced a limited edition kit representing the 251/23 and is the subject of this build project.
Lower Hull ConstructionThe first few steps of the construction deal with the lower hull and running gear and are familiar to anyone who has built one of DML’s 251 series of kits. I skipped over the installation of the fuel tanks and transmission details since these are hidden under the floor plate anyhow and aren’t necessary for the build. The kit-included PE extra side armor was installed along with the suspension arms and idler mounts, with some care needed to keep them aligned properly since the slot tabs have just a bit of play in them. The front wheels and their suspension are one of the more complex assemblies in the entire construction of the kit. The rocker arms and how they connect up with the wheel hubs and leaf springs is very complex and almost requires a third hand to get it all together. In the end, I was able to construct it so that the wheels remained steer-able and the suspension functioning properly laterally to insure flexibility for final alignment of the wheels. The road wheels were also assembled in their corresponding pairs for the interleaved arrangement with the exception of the end-cap wheels. Each of the road wheels has multiple sprue attachment points, so careful removal and clean-up was necessary to preserve them in good shape. The wheels were test-fitted using blue-tack to hold them in place and allow for easy removal for painting and detailing later on.
InteriorOne of the attractive features of this kit is that, despite the fact that it’s a closed-top vehicle, it still provides a substantial amount of interior detail. I decided early on that I would include as much of the interior detail as possible and make it at least partially viewable by leaving the rear hull doors in the open position along with the detail viewable through the open turret. The interior would be finished in Elfenbein with a Red Oxide floor and this in turn drove the order in how the interior was constructed and painted. For the most part, the kit instruction steps were done in order, with the floor plate and driver’s area getting the first attention. This is the standard interior provided in DML’s kits and included decals for the instrument panel which were added after painting. Only one bench seat and back is installed on the right side to provide a seat for the radio operator and the holes required for that need to be opened up in the floor plate, something the instructions neglect to indicate. For the front seats, I selected the option that allowed for the PE cushion spring inserts to be used, although these are quite delicate and weren’t installed until after the seats had been painted and detailed. The lower hull sides, particularly on the left side, are populated with quite a bit of interior equipment but also have a myriad number of molded in locator marks, many of which weren’t appropriate for this variant, so some head-scratching and knife work were required to get things in their proper final position and remove the un-needed marks. Some deep sink marks were also present and required putty filling and sanding to correct. The most critical part of all the detail is the 2.0cm ammunition rack on the left side. The instructions are somewhat vague and conflicting on its exact location and it is vital that it be positioned properly to avoid causing a fit problem with the hull roof. The little side diagram misleads you into thinking that the ammunition rack should sit raised on the hull panel when in fact it needs to sit flush to have sufficient clearance with the hull roof. Also on the left side are the radios and their rack mounts. These, unlike the ammunition rack, do need to sit raised and are actually supposed to be cantilevered out from the lower and upper hulls to allow them to stand level for use by the radio operator. The racks are multi-part affairs along with the radios and have some very fine details, some of the best I’ve seen in styrene, and would get some additional detail attention once the interior was painted. As an added touch, I also decided to take advantage of the detailed visor assemblies provided in the kit and construct the driver’s visor not only open but with the foul weather glass in place as well. This required some careful work since all of the assembly is done using clear styrene parts and would have to be masked on both the interior and exterior surfaces to preserve it during painting, so once again some handy blue-tack was pressed into service for that. The interior was then painted an overall coat of Model Master enamel Flat Black followed by a coat of Interior Panzer Buff with the floor plate painted with Rust for the Red Oxide finish. All the corresponding details were finished in their respective colors and the interior dry brushed with Raw Umber to simulate some light wear. The floor plate was dry brushed lightly with Steel and also some Raw Umber for the same effect. Last but not least, I add some additional detail to the radios provided and used some fine gauge solder along with some spare PE headphone bands and styrene ear-pieces from a DML figure set originally meant for the Hummel in the spares bin to add some detail. The radios were wired up along with the junction boxes and the headphones left hanging on the edge of the rack to add a “lived in” touch to the interior.
Copyright ©2020 by Bill Plunk. _OPINIONS IPMS-UK KitMaker Branch, KitMaker Network, or Silver Star Enterrpises. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of KitMaker Network or the British Bulldogs IPMS-UK group. All rights reserved. Originally published on: 2007-04-22 00:00:00. Unique Reads: 28657