Unless you’ve been on the island in the TV show “Lost,” you have to be aware of the explosion of styrene kits for the Sd.Kfz.7 8 ton Prime Mover and its gun platform variants, the Sd.Kfz.7/1 and 7/2. Dragon and Trumpeter have dueled with competing versions, and now Cyber-Hobby.com has entered the fray with a “limited edition” of the Late War Sd.Kfz.7/1 2cm FlaKVierling
The 7/1 was in answer to the rise of air power over the battlefield that began with Germany’s ominous and stunning success during the Spanish Civil War. The Wehrmacht realized it would need mobile anti-aircraft guns to protect its armored spearheads from air power, and its first answer was mounting the FlaK 2cm gun on the Sd.Ah. 51 trailer body and towing it into battle. But the single-barrel FlaK 38 proved to be insufficient, and a Vierling
(“quad”) version was brought out by developer Mauser that could pump out an astonishing 800 rounds per minute-- lethal against not only aircraft, but light armored vehicles and personnel, too. Married to the Sd.Kfz.7 platform with a built-in mounting ring, the Sd.Kfz.7/1 was born.
One prominent characteristic of German half-tracks developed in the 1930s is the elegance of their design (wags would say “over-design”). The coachwork on the early Sd.Kfz.7 Prime Mover, for example, would rival many luxury cars of the period, with elegant rounded mud track guards complimented by storage hatches sporting complex locking mechanisms. But as World War II progressed, the exigencies of production resulted in simplifications, and increasingly the Sd.Kfz.7s were fitted with squared-off track guards. The Sd.Kfz.7/1 also started life with side panels comprised of a complex slatted “mesh,” but by war’s end were being fitted with wooden side panels.
This limited edition Cyber-Hobby.com kit reflects those exegencies and adaptations of wartime production, offering up a Late War variant complete with two pieces of (field modified?) sheet metal covering the vulnerable radiator. The armored cab Sd.Kfz.7/2 would later incorporate this change into its design.
The box has the customary white background with color illustration, and unlike some Cyber-Hobby kits, this one really is
a variant that can’t be built from other Dragon kits. It contains:
13 sprues of light-gray styrene parts
1 sprue of gray plastic tools
1 sprue of clear plastic for headlight lenses & the Sd.Kfz.7's multi-unit windshield
1 sheet of paper painting masks for the windshield components
3 Dragon Styrene tires
1 small fret of PE
1 small sheet of decals for license plates & tactical markings
2 plastic bags with Magic Tracks parts
8-page instruction folder
The kit is basically a re-working with additional parts of Dragon’s Early War Sd.Kfz.7/1 (reviewed by me here
and built here
). I don’t want to repeat that review verbatim, so please refer to it for specifics about the base kit. But some features deserve calling out, including the Magic Tracks (instead of the DS “rubber band” tracks that simply can’t accurately recreate the characteristic “sag” of German tracked vehicles).
They aren’t conventional Magic Tracks, either, the kind that are glued in place, but true workable links. German half-tracks had an ingenious system of wet pin/lubrication that would last almost indefinitely (if a somewhat intensive maintenance protocol was followed). The efficiency of the linkage was coupled with a rubber pad that made for quieter running traveling on improved road surfaces, and good traction off-road. The Magic Tracks recreate that metal track and rubber wear-pad extremely well.
But note: when painting or weathering the tracks, be sure NOT to paint the wear-pads a metallic or rusted color.
The one major “minus” to the tracks is the prominence of “knockout holes” paired on either wing. They are not prominent enough to attract attention during assembly, but will jump out at you after painting, so take care to clean up the links before assembling them.
The Dragon Styrene is used to good effect for the tires (two front ones and a spare for mounting under the gun platform). They're a real pleasure to work with, and perform as well as resin AM tires, taking paint much better than the vinyl “tires” other manufacturers continue to supply with their kits. As with the earlier kit reviewed and built by me, the PE is minor: four anti-skid plates, the step-up rings on the drive sprockets that allow occupants to reach the rear seats, the support for the front-mounted Notek blackout light, the windshield wipers (better rendered in brass than in styrene), and the hold-down straps for the sheet metal intended to protect the radiator from small arms fire.
What makes this kit different from the Early War version is the switch to simple straight track guards/rear fenders. This basic array could be stamped-out by any metal fabricator, and didn’t require a specific milling machine. With the Allied bombing campaign steadily destroying Germany’s large, centralized factories, production was switched to smaller shops located (or re-located) in the countryside and small towns. As with the ornate fenders, the slatted “mesh” side panels favored in the Early War version were abandoned by this point and replaced by wood, both to save metal and reduce production time and complexity.
The kit has no real fit issues. It starts with a single-piece chassis, expertly-rendered by Dragon’s slide-molding technology. The sample supplied by Dragon USA showed no warpage I could detect. A single-piece chassis is much easier to build, though it does compromise some details (ones that aren’t visible after construction). The gear box and winch assembly are also somewhat simplified (especially in comparison to the Trumpeter kit), but again, the final results are not seen. The Maybach HL62 6-cylinder engine is assembled from 16 parts (vs. Trumpeter’s 27), resulting in lesser detail, but an easy build.
For those who have to have the ultimate in detail, Griffon Model has released two engine updates, one with a resin open-work grill (reviewed by me here
), and another that adds brass vented louvers to the bonnet (reviewed by me here
). Perfectionists will want to add additional wires and levers to the detailed firewall, and perhaps upgrade the styrene support rods between the cab and the radiator housing to brass, especially if you plan on showing the bonnet/hood open.
A continuing disappointment in all the Dragon Sd.Kfz.7s is the absence of decals for the instrument panel (fortunately, Archer Transfers makes a set).
The detailing of the road wheels is solid, though I definitely recommend QuickWheels’ Sd.Kfz.7 mask set (reviewed by me here
). There is a distinctive "lip" between the rubber outer rim and the metal portion of the road wheel that would try the patience of Michelangelo to reproduce without a mask.
Regarding the 2cm FlaK 38 gun: as noted above, earlier versions used a built-in mounting ring. But something led builders to switch at some point to a sled. I have no documentation for the reasons behind the switch, but assume it reduced costs and made the gun portable, even allowing it to be left in-place, as well as making the vehicle’s platform capable of carrying other cargo with the gun unmounted.
The gun itself is well-rendered in styrene, but I would recommend upgrading the barrels to the Griffon Model four-pack set
. The gun site is the earlier FlaKVisier 20 instead of the more-common model 40.
As has already been mentioned, another important difference with earlier models is the side panels: having built the slatted-mesh version (reviewed by me here
), I'm looking forward to the relative simplicity of wooden sides! I’m pleased to say Dragon has resisted the temptation to mold the wood with the usual grossly out-of-scale grain we see on some 1/35th kits that please the untrained eye, but are ridiculous. The wood slats are smooth, which is appropriate for a painted surface in this scale. Showing any grain texture would mean fissures as wide as a man's finger if brought up to 1:1.
Instructions, Decals & Painting
The instructions are line drawings, and relatively issue-free. Painting options are poor, with only two unidentified vehicles:
Western Front, 1945 (tricolor camouflage)
Western Front (Dunkelgelb
The decals include enough blank license plates and generous digit selections to an almost unlimited variety of Heer
, Luftwaffe and SS vehicles. As usual, the SS “runes” are rendered in two pieces to circumvent anti-Nazi restrictions in some countries of Europe, especially Germany.
This kit seems to be true to the Cyber-Hobby.com business model of adapting regular Dragon kits to specialized vehicles. I must admit when the kit was announced, I felt the hobby didn’t need another Sd.Kfz.7/1, especially one so specialized and limited in time frame. But given all the Panzer IV variants that sell steadily, I have come around to the idea that it’s better to have these “odd ball” alternatives than simply a glut of the same models over and over.