Thanks Frank, appreciate the comments and interest.
Here's the latest:
Continuing on with the interior today, I skipped Step 11 as that calls for the installation of all the interior sections into the lower hull. Steps 12 and 13 deal with the new interior layout for the two different sides.
As a result of this being a "Premium" edition, the hull side panels have a mix-and-match set of molded in placement lines, some of which are appropriate for this kit and others left over from the older release. Why DML went through the trouble of adding new molded in locater guides but didn't remove the old ones is somewhat of a mystery, but that's the way it is on both sides of the hull. The newer locater marks overlap the old ones in many places as a result.
I started with the left hull side first, removing all the un-needed mold lines from the old kit as well as the new ones that were added for the large PE box that goes roughly in the middle according to the instructions. This box doesn't belong to a /1 variant, it belongs to the /5 spotting variant and since it won't be installed, the mold lines also went.
The right side required more surgery since it had molded on heavy mount points for the right side stowage bin not present on the Neu as well as a curved mount point that was a holdover from the older kit.
Once that was taken care of, I started in adding the details for the left side. The "premium" treatment here deals primarily with the addition of PE mount brackets and Gen 2 crew gear. Curiously, the MP38s provided in the added WA sprue are not identical...one has the folding stock molded in place and the other has the folding stock as a separate piece...and they both have different receiver/bolt mechanisms, one that is in the charged position and the other not...and although the instructions indicate you have a choice with the double arrows, only one of each is provided so your choice is really which one goes on which side!
The brackets for the MP38s are provided as PE and the instructions aren't very helpful in how to bend them to the necessary shape as they show them already installed, however after some study I was able to figure it out. The PE brackets are not the same size as the molded on locater positions, being somewhat shorter, so testing their respective positions just forward of the trigger and just forward of the magazine is essential to get their placement correct.
Fitting the brackets to the mess tins is a real pain...the Gen 2 tins have prominent features molded on them top and bottom and their little "ear" handles off each side make it an adventure to get the straps and brackets to line up properly. The little PE buckle portions that are on these were so fragile that they broke off with the slightest bit of pressure...a shame they weren't a bit more sturdy as they were a nice added detail. Last but not least, I added the stick grenade brackets one at a time starting at the rear and working my way forward. The instructions indicate only to fill 4 of the 6 brackets since the added GC sprue only has 4 "standard" grenades, although 4 additional are provided of a type I'm not familiar with. These are the normal grenades plus some sort of projection added to the "can" at the end of the stick, these however are too long to fit the brackets, so unless you have grenades from another kit to use, 4's the limit as provided. I carefully bent the clips so that the grenades could be added later after the panel has been painted.
Next up came the right side. This one has a bit more gear than the left side. I gave the PE signal flag racks, MA10 and MA18, a try but while their one-piece design was innovative, the tiny connection points for the little trays proved to be my undoing. Since these have to be shaped in a curve, I annealed it and as I was working on shaping the curves, the entire thing literally fell apart in my hand. The PE is too springy without annealing to shape the curve, so it's a Catch-22...and mine won't have this feature in the end. I'm not 100% sure it belonged to the /1 vs. the /5 to begin with, but wanted to give it a shot to see how they would assemble.
Just as with the left side, the various crew kit items were constructed and installed. I ran into a small problem with the three-in-a-row mess tin holders...due to the dimensions of the Gen 2 mess kits, it's not possible to fit 3 of them into the space designated and still be able to fit the gas mask and fire extinguisher as well as have the necessary room for the MP38 magazine that sticks down...so my novel solution was to install the third kit bracket empty. I also ran into a slight problem with the MP38 for this side, the one with the folding stock molded on...turns out the mount brackets aren't wide enough to fit around the folded mount in position, so some careful trimming with the hobby knife was necessary here as well.
The day's adventures didn't stop there...but a little calm before the next storm. I skipped over Step 14 since that installs the side panels to the hull as well as Step 15 which deals with the side fenders. Step 16 was largely skipped as well except for the construction of the rear hull panel and installation of the crew hatch door. The interior face of the panel and the door had slight raised sink marks that needed to be dealt with but these were very faint and just a small bit of sanding was all that was required. The door was installed in the closed position.
Staying with the interior prep work, next up was the upper hull. I installed the PE grills for the engine intake vents, a much improved area vs. the old vinyl mesh for sure. Other odds and ends details were also installed, except for the crew water bottles, as needed. When it came time to do the driver/radio operator visors is when the fun started. The "premium" package includes the now-familiar clear multi-part assembly for the visors, armored glass, and interior frames that allow for the visor to be posed open or closed on the 251 family of vehicles. As I went to test fit these before installation, I noticed a curious thing...the visors were too small vs. the openings in the hull plate. Since I have the older release kit in the stash, I pulled that out and compared the new clear visors to the old kit ones and sure enough, the older kit visors were larger.
Now the side-by-side difference may not seem like much, but it makes a huge difference when installing these as the frames that support them are the same dimensions...meaning that there's a noticeable gap around the perimeter if you use the supplied clear styrene parts. The "premium" kit still includes the parts on the sprue, E28/E29 and marked as not for use, that are the old kit armored glass/frames housings but the "premium" sprues DO NOT include the old visors. Fortunately, the old kit has 4 visors on the B sprues and only 2 are needed, so I snagged those for use on the "premium" kit. When the older parts are installed, they fill the cutout as they should. Just to highlight the difference, I placed the clear visor on the left over the kit backed frame to show just how much of a size difference there is. It would be possible to use sheet styrene and "fill" the cutouts to make up for this but it would produce a slightly off-center look to the visors unless you did it evenly on either side...a real pain given how small the total difference is. My only conclusion is that DML assumed that the visor dimensions would be the same on the 250 kit as on the 251s that these were originally designed for...and they aren't. You might be able to get by with installing both of the visors in the open position but I had a hard time installing the frames due to the size difference in the first place which is how I discovered the discrepancy so a gap would still likely be present to be dealt with.
To round out the upper hull details, the instrument panel and radio were installed. These have nice molded on features that ought to make it easier to hand-paint their details. No instrument face decals are provided as in the 251 kits, so that's the only option for this area, but not a hardship really, just an observation.