by: Jacob Hederstierna-Johnse [ ]
The German armed forces used a large number of different halftracks, or prime movers, during WWII. The Sd.Kfz.7 was widely used and was converted into many versions from gun tractors to self-propelled anti air craft guns. The vehicle was designed by Krauss-Maffei as early as in 1934, but after a number of test vehicles it came into production in 1938. Over 12000 vehicles were produced between 1938 and 1944 by various production plants, and even the British Army supposedly had planned to make their own copy, after testing some captured vehicles from North Africa.
The kit comes in the old familiar Dragon Models sized box, with a nice box art by Ron Volstad. On the side and bottom of the box, there is depicted the numerous special features of the kit. The sprues come in clear sealed plastic bags, and the whole kit contains over 480 parts and includes the following:
7 sprues molded in grey styrene
1 sprue molded in clear styrene
1 separate chassis frame
1 separate floor plate and fenders
1 length of metal wire
3 tires in DS Plastic
1 small fret of PE parts
1 set of clear masking tape for the wind shield
1 very small decal sheet (license plate numbering only)
1 instruction booklet (Black and white)
Dragon Models has released this as a Smart kit, which means that there are not too many small parts, but the level of detail is still very high. And for something quite rare in a kit from this manufacture; only 10 parts are not to be used!
Dragon Models provide the chassis frame as a single molded piece, which really is nice, because this ensure the perfect alignment for the base of the build. Leaf springs, final drives and mountings for the road wheels and idler wheels are to be fitted, and both the exhaust system and steering mechanism are added as sub-assemblies, which all in all make up a nice enclosed vehicle platform.
The engine and transmission are both very well detailed parts, even though they are hardly visible when the upper hull is fitted. The engine especially is a real beauty, and it is built up in no less than 15 parts, which adds to the realism, if one wants to portray this vehicle with the hood open. Maybe some extra wiring will be necessary, but that shouldnít be too much of a challenge for the average modeller.
Partly hidden to the rear is a winch, which is a nice feature, and Dragon Models has provided a length of metal wire for this. It really makes a great difference that itís real metal wire and not just a piece of nylon string, because the string doesnít look like a wire, but a rope! The wire provided is very soft, which means it wonít be difficult to use.
The back plate on the chassis is almost a small kit by itself; 11 parts goes on this small end piece alone, but it looks absolutely fantastic.
Wheels & tracks
The front wheels and the spare wheel all come with DS Plastic tyres. These look well detailed and are easy to use. If someone wants another tire pattern, I am sure thereís tons of options on the AM market.
The drive sprockets and road wheels are all very well executed and have great detail. One mystery though, on the back of the kit box, it clearly states; PE flange around sprocket wheel centre, but none of this is shown in the instructions, very strange.
This kit also contains Magic Tracks, which is a big plus in my book. 54 links are to be fitted on each side, and due to their size, it wonít be hard work assembling these.
The upper body
This part of the build looks pretty straight forward, but it does have its tricky spots, especially around the fenders, where you are to remove the outside curve, and replace it with two smaller parts. I guess the kit part is from the earlier version, and that the fenders were modified on the later version. I definitely smell hard labour, sweat and foul language with this kind of surgery. I would try to trim off the right amount of plastic on the existing fender part, thereby saving lots of filling and sanding.
The seats have excellent texture detail, which really will reveal itself when painted and weathered. It looks very much like canvas. On the back of each seat, a crisply detailed rack of rifle holders are located. Unfortunately the kit only provides two rifles instead of the twelve needed, and they are of the older batch, not the 2nd Gen.
The fire wall between the driverís compartment and the engine room is very well executed, and it holds a lot of fine details, which all adds to the realism of the build, but no decals for the dash board. Dragon Models already made some great decals for the Sd.Kfz. 251 series, so why not add some for this baby. Itís an open vehicle, and all the instruments are clearly visible. Itís beyond me, why such decals are not in such a good kit.
All the doors to the tool and storage compartments can be open or closed, and thereís some great detailing on the inside of the doors as well. The only thing needed is to cut the doors open through the middle, and youíre good to go.
For the final assembly you can choose to leave the hood on or removed. Itís very tempting to leave the hood off, and show off that little gem of an engine, it would really add to the finished model. Ooh, not to forget, thereís a tiny Krauss-Maffei molded into the front of the radiator, which looks real cool. This too will stand more out when painted and weathered.
Painting and markings
Dragon Models only provide two options, and both are from unidentified units on the Eastern front 1943. One is in three color camouflage, while the other is in plain dark yellow.
This is a great kit, and it can be made into a very fine model of the Sd.Kfz.7 8t straight out of the box. Dragon Models has put in a lot of fine and crisp details in this kit, even Magic Tracks have been provided, which in my opinion raises the standard of this kit. I do however find some things missing in this kit, crucial parts such as decals for the instruments and enough rifles have been left out. I highly recommend this kit.