Most of us are familiar with the standard German halftrack. The Sd.Kfz. 251 series was used throughout the war, and its early success inspired the production of the US M-3 Halftrack. Over 18,000 of these halftracks were produced, in many variants.
This Dragon kit is of the C version of which approximately 4,100 were built, in all variants, from August 1940 until September 1943 when the simplified D version superseded production until the end of the war. The Dragon kit is of the standard troop carrier 251/1, which carried a squad of infantry and was armed with two machine guns. Packaging
The box-top shows the same high-quality Volstad painting as seen on the 1/35 scale kit and states there ere over 130 parts inside. The box has seven separate drawings on one side showing a variety of the kit features and the other side shows a color photo of the decal sheet, photo-etch parts and tracks.
Inside are three bags with plastic sprue trees and one bag with the one-piece lower hull with the suspension arms built in. One bag has the photo-etch gun shield and metal rod for the antenna, and another the DS one-piece flexible tracks. Lastly, one bag with two sheets of decals. Materials
The kit is molded in flash free gray styrene and the ejector pin marks are either in unseen areas or absent altogether. For example, on the rear doors, where both sides are seen, and the positionable engine hood hatches, no pin marks are visible. A small photo-etched package is included for the front MG shield, MP-40 ammo box covers, and a small steel rod for the antenna. The tracks are DS and are crisply molded and very flexible. There are two decal sheets by Cartograf.Assembly
Instructions are black-and white line drawings except for some reason Dragon chose to show the tools and MG-34’s in color.
The assembly begins with the running gear. Dragon did a very cool, time saving, and alignment-enhancing thing here. The seven inner road wheels that comprise the first two “layers” of the overlapping wheels are molded in one piece. This piece is very crisply done and it will be very difficult to tell that the 7 wheels are molded together once the outer two “layers” are glued on. This one-piece base should make the alignment of the remaining wheels a breeze. I assume the DS tracks go on at this point as the instructions do no specifically tell you when to attach them to the model. The subsequent drawings after the running gear show the model without tracks but they magically appear on the last drawing in step 7 when the MG shield, machine guns, and Notek light are put on to complete the model. As for the tracks themselves the instructions say they allow “cutting, sanding, filing, and polishing”. They can also be glued with “normal modeling cement” I’m looking forward to trying these. The front wheels and suspension are next and appear to be pretty straightforward and nicely detailed. Next comes the inner part of the hull and fighting compartment. The separate floor has pilot holes on the underside to drill out to attach the benches so I expect more 251 versions soon. The kit provides four very nicely molded Kar98 K rifles a couple of MP 40’s and other stowage for the interior. The driver’s compartment and seats are also crisply molded and a little dry brushing should bring the spring wire seat backs to life.
The upper hull gives you the option of positioning the vision blocks open or closed and these are all made of two parts-inner half and outer half. The engine hatches on the hood can also be mounted open or closed but some serious work would have to be done to make the hatch and the hood look right thickness. The plastic hood as molded is a scale 4 inches thick. The rear doors can be positioned open or closed also. The swing-arm hinge mechanism for the rear doors are well done for such a small item in this scale.
The outer tool and stowage boxes are molded in one piece-no positionable doors here. All the tools are molded separately and the Notek light is a little gem in three parts. The MG shield is photo-etch with two photo-etch braces. The shield is even notched where the braces are to be glued and will make getting the angle of the shield correct when bent to the appropriate wedge shape. Lastly the two MG-34’s are put on and these are again very nicely done and they even include the drum magazines.Decals
The kit provides markings for seven different vehicles. Each is pictured in color in four views. Here is my big gripe with the kit. The one sheet is the decals for the WH numbers. One decal is a white box, then you have to put on a “WH”, and then you have to put on each individual digit. Each number on the decal sheet is sequential listed and you have to cut out the correct 7 separate digits and apply those. This makes what could have been single decal a 9 decal compilation - and extremely small at that. I’ll do one of the versions with no “WH” numbers. The second sheet is the crosses, division markings, etc. These are all black and white. Dragon decided not to do any markings in the more interesting red or blue numbers or divisional emblems with color.Accuracy
Not having built the model yet, I cannot state the accuracy of the model, but looking at the upper hull it appears proportioned correctly.Conclusions
Except for the decal situation, which will be remedied by not building a version with WH numbers, I’m looking forward to building this kit straight form the box. I expect that with the other timesaving aspects of the kit it should be relatively easy build.