The 251 - a brief historical overview...
The first 251s rolled off the production line in 1939. Chosen from an existing half-track design (the Hkl 6p) and built on the chassis of the Sd Kfz 11, what became known as the 251 series went through four evolutions (Ausf. A, B,C & D) with a total of over 15,200 vehicles built which encompassed 23 different configurations (251/1 - 251/23). The subject of this review is the basic engineer variant - the Mittlere Pionierpanzerwaen. Gerät 907
.... The last, was the Ausf D version, which is easily identifiable by it's welded hull and more 'streamlined' hull configuration.
First impressions - DML's251/7
box-art is undoubtedly eye-catching. the box art for DR 6223
is undoubtedly one of the most attractive in the recent releases. The box-art was done by Barry Crook and is different in both style and execution from the more 'familiar' work of Ron Volstead. Opening the box, here is a veritable 'mass' of sprues all of them individually bagged and all inside another plastic bag... The photo-etch, the decal sheets and other parts are all mounted ont a strong 'header' card for even more protecton.
The kit''s 'vital statistics'
The kit consists of no less than 1004 parts. The majority are the hard, grey plastic we have become accustomed to from DML
. However, there are quite a number of parts in other materials (another thing we have become accustomed to) such as etched-brass, DML's 'Dragon Styrene' which is a mixture of vinyl and hard polystyrene and even a length of cord. A total of five figures are included, four engineer figures from a previous figure set and the 'vinyl' driver figure which now comes as standard in all of Dragon's 251s. This is true multi-media....
As this is a 'Three-In-One' kit of the type we are becomingly increasingly used to, the kit will build ONE
of the following variants:
With the two 'assault' Sapper's bridges.
251/7 Pioneerpanzerwagen Command Version
The two Assault bridges plus the additional radios and all the necessary aerials (including a 'Star' antenna)
251/7 Pioneerpanzerwagen with the 2.8cm sPzB41 Anti-Tank gun
The kit - preliminary evauation
have used components from a number of previous releases to create this kit - DR 6217 & DR 6233
for the 'basic' 251 Ausf. D, components from DR 6224 (251/7 Ausf. 'C')
The 2.8cm sPzB41, comes from the previously available set.
The new parts are the etched-brass parts and the inclusion of the Sturmpioneer set.
N.B. See Figs A to E for some photos of the vehicle sprues...
Two sets of tracks are included, one portrays the 'Initial' type tracks (in seperate links on Sprue 'E' ) these can be seen in Fig. 'E'
and a set of the later type (pressed steel with rubber 'shoes') the latter are provided as 'EZ' Tracks
which are pre-cut and 'snap' together.
Some features which are worth mentioning are as follows:
The side storage boxes are provided with seperate doors which can be displayed open or closed...
The Pioneer Bridges are far better with the addtion of the photo-etch. I have just compared them with those offered in DR 6224 and these have slightly better detail with the addition of the PE. In fact, comparing the two bridges in the 251/7 'C' kit and this one, the bridges are (according to scale plans) the correct length - 2-3 mm longer...
The frequently-seen wooden side panels which 'boxed-in' the area below the bridge ARE
included, however they would be better being re-done as the wooden 'texture' is a bit indistinct and would merit some attention.
One of the principal complaints over DML's 251s, has been the drive sprockets - comparing them to the documentation I have of both contemporary and preserved examples, indicates that they are still not quite right - for more on this subject, see the reviews over at P.M.M.S
. Perhaps, in fairness to DML, it may be a limitation in moulding capabilities - they do have a complex form in the original.
Once again, the diorama builders will be in 'hog-heaven' with this kit. Several sprues are included consisting of nothing more than infantry and engineer gear whch is extraordinarily well done. I have never, for example, seen German canteens in 1/35th scale with the handle present (not simply 'hinted-at') The figures are good, not brilliant, but careful painting should do them justice...
Turning to the 2.8cm sPzB41 Anti-Tank gun, it is well represented although the shields seem a little on the heavy side. Curiously enough, DML DIDN'T
include a turned metal barrel for it....
The decals consist of no less than 4 sheets. Most of the color variations of the large numbers are covered along with tactical signs, divisional markings, licence plates and national markings. Well printed with good color definition and clarity.
Moulding definition is good, delicately done for the most part with little in the way of mould-lines or the dreaded 'plastic-dimples'
One last point concerns the instruction sheet. Due to the complexity of the kit itself, some careful study and thought, will pay dividends later. On the back page (see photo) there are no less than NINE vehicles presented, with different camo schemes....
It has to be said that this is a a welcome addition to the 251 'Stable'. The 251/7 Ausf 'D' is an attractive modelling subject and DML have certainly done the subject justice. Both the 'stand-alone' armor modeller and the diorama builder will find plenty to keep their attention focussed. This is NOT
a model recommended for absolute novices and is also a vehicle in which additional reference will be extremely valuable (particularly in the case of internal fittings).
Some references which may be useful are:
Rossagraph 251 Ausf. D
Modelling the 251
Tank Power Volume VI - Sd Kfz 251
The kit was purchased from Lucky Model.com
in Hongkong, whose highly effcient service had the postman staggering under the weight of it less than nine days after ordering it..
Finally, much of the detail references which I will be using for the 'build' were sent by Chris 'Toadman' Hughes
, whose photo references are becoming an essential part of my library. Chris's CDs can be obtained HERE