One of the real challenges for recreating the Sd.Kfz.7/1 and 7/2 in 1/35th scale is the complex slat ďmeshĒ used on the fold-down ramps/sides of at least early war versions (and judging by photos and German Wochenschau
newsreels other halftracks as well). There is some dispute about the composition of the side ramps, with a sampling of period photos seeming to show ordinary mesh, while the few surviving museum examples have what can only be described as a complicated lattice-work array thatís not unlike the modern Strykerís slat armor (see photo at right from the excellent book in the "Wings & Wheels" series, Sd.Kfz.7 In Detail
, reviewed by me here
). The ramps presumably gave gun crews a secure footing when in the combat mode, and were lighter than metal sides. Not surprisingly, both Dragon and Trumpeterís Sd.Kfz.7/1s and 7/2s use fairly conventional photo etch mesh to render the screens, with both versions technically incorrect.
Dragon in its later war Sd.Kfz.7/2 and Trumpeter in its later war, armored cab Sd.Kfz.7/1 both offer the modeler the choice of wooden sides (rendered in styrene) and mesh. Both choices are accurate, and DML even refers to the mesh option as ďmuseumĒ mesh (see Jim Starkweather's review here
for more). Whether the Germans gave up on this complicated system in favor of ordinary mesh screening (as they did when switching to wooden sides), or the photos are simply inconclusive remains a topic of discussion. But there can be no doubt Griffon Model has taken on the challenge of rendering the slat mesh sides as accurately as the original with its set of PE for the Sd.Kfz.7/1 (reviewed by me here
The problem with the Griffon set is itís extremely
complicated to assemble: you have to separate steel components from their frets, bend the base frame to shape with the vertical slats in the "up" position, glue all the horizontal slats in-place, then assemble the various sections into a frame that must be glued-together literally piece-by-piece. For those who want the ultimate in detailing, the set is the answer. For those who are willing to accept a slightly lower level of authenticity for a HUGE improvement in convenience and ease-of-assembly, a Japanese AM supplier called Kamizukuri has released slatted mesh side panels that are made from laser-cut paper for both the Sd.Kfz.7/1 and 7/2 (the vehicles had slightly different rear panel dimensions).
The set comes in a clear-glassine envelope and includes:
A sheet of 3 laser-cut paper slatted mesh panels plus support brackets
1 fret of laser-cut paper for the pins and latches securing the panels
A sheet of illustrated instructions
The set is almost ready-to-use straight out of the packaging with little more needed than a sharp hobby knife and some viscous white glue. In fact, CA glue doesnít work very well on the paperís slick surface (actually a thick, cardboard-like consistency). Assembly involves separating the panels from the main fret and gluing on the support brackets, then adding some fixtures that secured the sides when in the travel configuration.
The set is a bit strange for those of us weaned on styrene and now brass photo etch. You can actually smell the burning from the laser cutting process, and itís important to be careful handling (and painting) the components. Too much torque and the various layers will separate. The manufacturer recommends putting down a thin base coat of some description to seal the paperís absorbent surface, though you will not learn this information from the instructions: theyíre almost entirely in Japanese. The simple assembly steps are rendered with drawings that are easy to understand, but I would have preferred something I could read, and I would urge Kamizukuri to provide an English-language update that could be downloaded from the Tasca website where the products are marketed and sold.
As you can see from the final photo in the selection at right comparing the two kit PE arrays, the Griffon Model set and this one, the mesh is not as to-scale as the Griffon PE. But blows away the PE supplied with both the Trumpeter and DML kits. Given the longer length of the Trumpeter side panels, this upgrade canít be adapted to that kit, and Kamizukuri tells me they have no plans to release a version for the Trumpeter Sd.Kfz.7/1.
While the laser-cut paper isnít as accurate as the Griffon PE mesh slats, itís so much easier to assemble, I canít imagine anyone except the hardest-core rivet counter not wanting to at least consider this option. The good news keeps getting better, too, with a set available for Dragonís Sd.Kfz.7/2. I want to thank Tasca for sending me this set for review.