by: Vinnie Branigan [ ]
introduction The Sd.Kfz.251 was of four main models or Ausführungen, A, B, C and D. Each of these could be produced with differences, to fulfill defined roles, e.g. the 251/7 Pioneer, or the 251/19 mobile telephone communication vehicle. The subject of this kit is the 251/16 Ausf.D Flammpanzerwagen. These were armed with two flamethrowers, the Flammenwerfer 40 and also 2 MG34 or MG42 machine guns.
Dragon have previously produced a 251/16 Ausf.C, which was the version more commonly seen.
I must admit to feeling slightly excited when I open a 251 kit from Dragon. It’s my favourite vehicle, or one of them, and even though the base kit for all the variants from Dragon should be the same, Dragon are known for listening to modelers, and making corrections where necessary. So with this in mind, I like to see each little tweak that Dragon make with each release.
Open the box, and there lying on top is the ubiquitous ‘card’ containing all the ‘goodies’ we’ve come to expect with each of Dragon’s new releases these days. This time it holds a set of late ‘Magic’ tracks, the main track links in one bag, the ‘pads’ in another. A nice, decent-sized photo etch fret, more on this later. Two brass width indicator poles, these are really nice and should be in every kit Dragon release. Three decal sheets in this one. First there is a tiny one for the dashboard, with all the dials on, a slightly bigger one containing white-outlined blue numbers, and white-outlined red numbers for the marking options provided, plus 3 balkencreuz, and then the generic license number decal sheet, which I think is provided in all the Dragon 251 kits now, which means of course, that you can make up any license number you might need or want.
A small transparent sprue is there also, with all the vision blocks and associated hardware for them. A small length of woven nylon tube is provided also for the Flammenwerfers. Lastly, on the card at least, we have two pre-bent rods, that are for putting on the hull sides around each Flammernwerfer. When I found these two rods and realized what they were intended for I searched my references, but I haven’t been able to find anything that refers to them…if anybody does I’d be interested to see them, for now I think I’ll be leaving them off!
The hull comes separately bagged of course, as do each of the 15 light grey sprues, and one light tan sprue which contains the driver figure and two standing crew, both of whom have a choice of heads, peaked cap or asbestos hood. So is there any difference between this and the original release? Making allowances for the fact that this is an Ausf.D of course!
upgrades The light tan sprue, made of Dragon’s special vinyl styrene that holds the three figures is the same one from the Ausf.C kit, as is sprue C which contains parts mainly for the inside of the vehicle, as well as parts not normally seen, such as the fuel tank, transmission etc. Sprue D is a generic sprue to all 251 kits, and is no different in this one, containing parts for the crew compartments, and some for the running gear. Sprue L is the same, with parts for inside the crew compartment, and sprue E which has most of the running gear on, including the road wheels. The hull is the same one as in the Ausf.C kit, as is Sprue T with the seats. The original Ausf.C kit contained an extra sprue (H) which allowed us the option of producing a vehicle with a riveted hull, this is NOT included in this release, so only the welded option is possible.
The sprue that hold most, if not all the parts for the Flammenwerfers is K, and two small sprues (V). Sprue K looks identical to that in the first release too. Although we are given newly-tooled flame projectors on the small sprue V. Dragon seems to have left some things out of this kit though. For example, in the Ausf.C kit we were offered two very nice photo etched shields for the Flammenwerfer…….they are NOT offered in this kit, which I find an unforgivable omission, given that they have already been produced for another kit. We are offered instead, two newly-tooled projector shields, however, according to all the references I can find they’re incorrect. The ones in the original release were much closer, being open at the top, unlike the new ones which are closed, and also they have no associated hardware on the inside of the shields, unlike the Ausf.C kit. The photo etched fret in this kit is more extensive however, holding parts to represent the armour along the hull bottom behind the running gear, along with springs for the seat backs etc.
Anybody who has built the original Ausf.C, will know what to expect with this kit. As with all the 251 kits from dragon, the parts go together beautifully, as long as extra care has been taken locating things early in the construction, such as the crew compartment floor.
As in the Ausf.C, the detail of the parts that go together to make up the Flammenwerfer, the compressor and fuel tanks is phenomenal! All the pipework is there, along with various clamps and valves, and when painted will look stunning! As mentioned before, the Flammenwerfer themselves are newly-tooled, but I have to say that I liked the original ones better! They looked better detailed!
All of the improvements that Dragon have made to the 251 series of kits are included in this one. For example, the choice of seat backs, whether to include photo etched springs, photo etched lower hull armour, brass width indicators, manufacturers logo on the tyres of the road wheels........the list goes on, it is definitely a beautifully engineered kit.
marking options Only two options are provided for in the kit a two-tone 5th panzer Division vehicle from Warsaw in 1944, and a three-tone scheme, of an unidentified unit on the Eastern Front sometime in 1944 also.
conclusion I’m a great fan of 251’s, and of Dragon’s in particular, so I can recommend this kit, however, I really do think that the two etched shields in the original 251/16 kit should have been included in this kit, and I won’t be using the Flammenwerfer shields provided in this kit either.
My thanks to Dragon for the review sample.