You're probably sick of reading my reviews about the Sd.Kfz. 7, its kits and its accessories, but it's the most-famous, most-important half track used by the Wehrmacht during World War II, Germany's version of the American M3. If you're only going to have one German softskin in your collection, this is the one. The Sd.Kfz. 251 seems to fit more into the jeep or other small vehicle category, but I digress.
Developed by the firm of Kraus-Maffei, The Seven served in all theaters and in roles that included troop transport, artillery prime mover and a platform for various FlaK guns (as well as a mobile launch control center for the V2 rocket). The Seven has also enjoyed a veritable Renaissance in plastic kit form over the past two years that has taken it out of the primitive versions still being peddled by Tamiya into a flurry of new kits from both Trumpeter and Dragon.
One of the problems with both lines are the road wheels supplied with the kits. They aren't very good.
Sd.Kfz. 7s sported several makes of tires and tread patterns, yet Trumpeter has gone their usual vinyl tire route, while DML has Dragon Styrene tires, but in a single tread pattern with no commercial markings (see a comparison of the three road wheels in the photo at right).
Into this vacuum has come QuickWheel, the Polish company known for its excellent painting masks, and (under the brand name BitsKrieg) a growing line of superb resin road wheels for a variety of Wehrmacht halftracks. Their newest offering includes two versions of road wheel for the Sd.Kfz. 7: a "sleek" tread pattern with the Fulda logo on it (reviewed by me here
), and the "diamond" tread pattern in this review. Both are the two most-common treads seen on period photos.
what you get
Inside QuickWheel's usual zip lock bag stapled to a pasteboard hanger are:
2 resin tires with the Continental logo on the side
2 six-spoke hubs
1 painting mask
a sheet of instructions with photos of original wheels
Vinyl tires simply aren't an acceptable solution to many modelers: you can't paint or weather them properly, and some vinyl has been known to disintegrate over time or after exposure to the solvents in paint. I simply won't use vinyl if there's an after-market alternative.
Fortunately, a number of companies have released AM resin road wheels for the Sd.Kfz. 7. But none of them reaches the same level of execution that QW has with its resin offerings. There is almost no sign of a pour plug-- a relief for those who think resin wheels mean sawing off large plugs, then trying to hide the ugly scar. These wheels look as if they were reduced from the real thing to 1/35th scale: there is no clean-up. None. No need for tools, not even a hobby knife, just wash off the mold release agent (I use Bleach White, but Windex or any ammonia window cleaner will do), assemble and paint.
And the painting is a snap thanks to the QW vinyl mask included.
You might think you can paint wheels by hand, but you haven't come as close to perfection as these masks will get you. And if you insist on making your own masks from tape, then please come do that for me, since you obviously enjoy wasting time you could be spending building kits. I don't have time for home-made masks.
What's more, Quick Wheel never seems to rest. The manufacturer names on earlier QW resin wheels were solid, raised lettering. But Greg Rossa, QW's owner, has an almost obsessive zeal for improving his products, whether with new casting technology or getting the details closer to the originals. In this case, he has cast a smaller profile for the "Continental," one closer to the outlined letters of the real thing. He says it also puts less torque on the mask, resulting in a sharper painted edge.
Despite the cost, I don't think a better or even an equivalent solution exists. These wheels will give either Trumpeter or Dragon Sd.Kfz. 7s the best-looking wheels on the show table. Be sure to couple them with QW's bogey wheel masks (reviewed for the Trumpeter kit here
and the Dragon kits here
Thanks to Quick Wheel for providing this review sample. Be sure to say you saw it reviewed here on Armorama when ordering.