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DRAGON MODELS LIMITED
6427, Sd.Kfz.250/1 Neu Premium Edition. 1/35th-scale injection-molded styrene/multimedia kit. Contains: 351 styrene parts (including eight clear), two bags of Magic Track, one DS-100 part, one photo-etched brass fret, two turned brass parts, seven decal/marking schemes and eight pages of instructions in 22 steps.
While continuing to go all-out in the production of new kits, DML also has made it a policy to revisit older products and rejuvenate them. These kits are then released in “Premium Edition” boxes. Typically, the rejuvenation process will see a kit get a more extensive etched brass fret, re-worked styrene parts (to a greater or lesser degree) and a new decal sheet.
The latest release of the Sd.Kfz.250/1 “Neu” (a.k.a. Ausf.B), follows the format described above and in many ways is an excellent improvement over what was a decent kit to begin with. Typical of any thing made by the hand of man, the finished product contains imperfections in a few places, which I will relate as I go along.
From the ground up, the kit provides semi-workable individual track links of the “Magic Track” type; these come in two parts (rubber pad and steel shoe); when sandwiched together they will remain flexible. Each steel shoe part of the link has two very subtle ejector pin marks on the inner face; the fastidious modeler will wish to clean them up and since they are subtle and not below the surface, this should be a relatively easy, if time-consuming operation. Assembling the parts will be a bit of work (it’s a small vehicle, so thankfully we are not talking too many links on either side), but will result in very well-detailed tracks that also exhibit the proper sag.
The suspension system for the tracks has been given a complete make-over; virtually no parts have been seen in any previous kits. The re-tooled three-part drive sprockets feature excellent small detail, including roller bearings that are subtly off-set. New torsion bar swing arms are provided as is a new final drive housing; the idler wheel axle is also separate and should not be fixed in place until the modeler is satisfied with the sag of the tracks. The road-wheels are also new and they have been given more details than the originals. Specifically, the rims are more accurate in appearance and the inner faces are completely detailed.
The conventional front wheels are completely re-designed and are composed of five disks that are laminated to form the tires; these fit over a new, separate wheel rim, which only needs an air filler valve to be added. This method of breaking down the parts will allow for an extremely accurate rendition of the tread detail; manufacturer’s logo (“ContinantaU”) and tire data are depicted on the outer side-walls. These mount on a multi-part axle arrangement, which can not be configured to show the wheels steering, out-of-the-box. With some care and skill, the wheels can be re-positioned for a more distinct look.
The belly plate and lower chassis sides is a single slide-molded piece to which separate torsion bar arms and final drive housings are attached; this core part, too, is all-new and replaces a previous three-part assembly. Tow hooks and a curved armor plate are attached to the front, while a trailer hitch is attached to the rear
The superstructure consists of the following separate parts: two side plates, the nose plate, rear plate and a one-piece upper side panel/roof assembly. The latter includes the engine hood panel, upper side panels, driver’s compartment front plate and roof panel. These are all based on the original parts but have been up-graded with subtle weld beads. Up front, the engine compartment access hatch lids are separate and there are etched brass screens to cover the two rectangular engine compartment cooling vents. New for this kit is a multi-part engine (from a separate, previously-released DML accessory kit); this will provide the basis for further details from the modeler and is a nice addition, considering the engine deck hatch lids can be depicted in the open position.
The rear crew compartment access door is separate and can be depicted opened or closed; it sports a stowage box on its inner face and a rain guard gets positioned above it on the hull rear plate. The driver’s view-port flaps are separate and feature new clear parts for the vision blocks, as well as internal hinge mechanisms; naturally these can be depicted opened or closed. A separate radio antenna base and mount are placed forward on the roof plate, but no rod antenna is provided. The forward gun shield has been re-worked to a much thinner scale appearance, which is achieved without beveled edges. New mounts for both the front and rear MGs are also provided. A new multi-part slide-molded MG42 and an MG34 from the Gen2 figure series is provided for the front and rear machine gun mounts. These include belted ammunition, “snail drum” magazines (with carry rack) and slide-molded, multi part boxes.
The track guards with their integral stowage lockers have also been re-configured compared to the original kit. The lids are all separate and can be depicted opened or closed; these also feature improved piano hinge detail as well as details on their inner faces. The rear convoy marker and brake light are separate and there are separate mud-flap/registration plate assemblies for the rear edge of the units.
The front fender units are separate and mount tools, Notek black-out driving head-lamp, marker lamps and turned brass width indicator stalks. The latter are already pre-shaped. The multi-part muffler/exhaust pipe assembly mounts on the port side and includes a choice of configurations; the opposite side mounts a stowage bin.
Fighting Compartment Interior.
DML has extensively re-vamped the interior of the fighting compartment by using etched brass and Gen2 German infantryman’s equipment. These items include water bottles, gas mask canisters and mess tins. Several small and large stowage boxes are provided in styrene, while some other items have been provided as multi-part etched brass items and resemble containers for man-packing optics of a Scissors Periscope. These last items can therefore be configured with shoulder straps. Spare MG barrel cases (I think!), stick grenades and racks, stowed MP40s and ammunition containers, fire-extinguishers and spare vision blocks complete the area. Kar.98k rifles are provided and I think that etched brass parts MA10 and MA18 are their racks. However, although the assembly and installation of the etched parts are shown in the instructions, if the rifles are indeed designed to go there, this is not indicated anywhere; it looks like they would not fit regardless!. Some research will be needed to figure out what these things really are and what their function is.
There is a host of extra Gen2 weapons and infantrymen’s gear included and marked not-for-use. These include Gew.43 semi-automatic rifle , StG.44, extra stick grenades, egg grenades, steel helmets, bayonets and entrenching tools. Naturally, the modeler can use them as he sees fit or consign them to the spare parts bin against future needs.
A separate floor panel mounts a single, three-part seat on one side and a bench seat on the other. Both have a nicely-rendered cloth texture and there are a couple of other parts to finish this area.
The driver’s compartment features an instrument panel and a radio set in its rack, mounted side-by-side. The firewall is dressed up with some stowage items, a multi-part steering wheel and transmission housing, with the latter including a shift lever; no foot pedals are provided. The separate floor panel features re-tooled two-part seats that now come with spring details on their rear faces. Behind that is a fairing that covered some drive train items; I suspect the machine-gunner could perch upon it if the need arised. The original kits in this series lacked a visible assembly under this part. It was included in some later kits, but for some reason is again absent from this kit. In addition, some easily-visible details around the inner hull walls, near the final drives are not included; they never have been.
A tarp has been provided to cover part of the open fighting compartment. It is molded in DS soft styrene, which in this case behaves much like resin. This means that undercuts and subtle detail can be engineered into a part that comes from a cleverly-designed steel mold. Some seam clean-up (use styrene cement to “smooth the wrinkles away”) will result in a very convincing “look”.
Molding, Fit and Engineering.
There was no shrinkage of any parts; there was no flash, while mold part lines are minimal and easily cleaned. I have already mentioned the slight ejector pin marks on the inner surfaces of the track shoes. It should also be noted that many of the various hatch lids, doors and wall interior surfaces have had their original molds cleaned up to minimize the work of removing ejector pin marks; the marks are still there but are very subtle and easily removed. A dry fit of the major parts indicates there may be a gap where the engine hood panel meets the superstructure upper and lower panels. Likewise, the rear panel will probably need care in fitting.
Some omissions were already mentioned regarding the area around the driver’s cockpit. No photos could be found confirming the precise nature of the interior stowage layout for the /1 Ausf.B (or Neu).
Major kit parts were compared to a set of four-view 1/35th-scale drawings in reference 2 and a profile 1/35th-scale view in reference 10. According to both sets, there is a relatively substantial length, and a slight height difference when compared to kit parts E6 and E7, the side stowage locker/track guard unit. The drive sprocket and road-wheel dimensions match both sets of drawings. The front wheel/tire arrangement is smaller than ref.2, but matches ref.10. The length and proportions of the main body match both sets, with only minute and easily tolerable differences. The overall width matches ref.2, but the width of the opening to the fighting compartment is noticeably narrower.
So, which set is completely reliable?
These consist of traditional line drawings; they are less busy than most from DML, but there are enough new bits to keep things “interesting”. I have previously mentioned provision of rifles for stowage but no hint provided as to where they go, so some research is in order. As usual, colors are keyed to Gunze and Model Master paints.
Decals and Markings Information.
Water-slide decals for seven vehicles are provided by Cartograf of Italy. They are in perfect register, have crisp, sharp edges and excellent color saturation. They depict the following:
The only scheme I can identify is “312” of 2.Panzer-Division; the remainder are unidentified using the references in my library. One thing to note is that the ‘250 from the “unidentified unit” is supplied with the divisional marking of the 21.Panzer-Division. This means it is now “identified”, but not that the markings are necessarily correct, especially since the division was stationed in the west, months before the Normandy invasion.
Despite a couple of omissions in the area of the driver’s compartment and probable dimensional failings, this latest iteration of the Sd.Kfz.250/1 Neu is a welcome but tainted improvement. Despite all this, I eagerly await the Sd.Kfz.252 with Sd.Ah.51, which has been in the catalog for the past few years, especially if it is based on these new parts. Those that simply like late-war German half-tracks will also be quite happy with what DML has provided.
Frank V. “Curley Stooge” De Sisto
References consulted for this review included, but were not limited to the following books:
1. “Schützenpanzerwagen in Action”, Squadron Armor 2, by U. Feist & K. Rieger.
2. “Sd.Kfz.250 & 251”, Sturm & Drang 3, author unknown.
3. “German Armored Personnel Carrier”, Tank Magazine Special 2, author unknown.
4. “Schützenpanzerwagen Sd.Kfz.251 and Sd.Kfz.250”, AFV Weapons Profile 57, by W. Spielberger, P. Chamberlain & H. Doyle.
5. “Halbkettenfahrzeuge, German Half-Track Vehicles 1939-1945’, Almark Wehrmacht Illustrated 4, by J. Williamson & K. Jones.
6. “German Armoured Cars and Reconnaissance Half-Tracks 1939-45”, Osprey Vanguard 25, by B. Perrett & B. Culver.
7. “German Half-Tracks of World War Two”, Concord 7054, by F. De Sisto.
8. “Allied and Axis”, Issue 10, article by P. Stansell.
9. “Panzerbeobachtungswagen”, Panzer Tracts 11-1, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
10. “Aufklärungspanzer”, Panzer Tracts 11-2, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
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.
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This message has been edited by zappa93 from IP address 18.104.22.168 on Oct 26, 2007 8:11 AM