Sd.Kfz.251/1 Ausf.D mit 28/32cm WURFRAHMEN 40
By Dragon Models Limited
Quoting Dragon USA's own website announcement concerning this kit......It has been some time since Dragon issued a member of the Sd.Kfz.251 half-track family, but the new one is something special. It’s a 1/35 scale Sd.Kfz.251/1 Ausf.D with 28/32cm Wurfrahmen 40 rocket launchers. The Wurfrahmen 40, literally “launch frame 40”, was introduced in late 1940 to give units more firepower. The launch frames for 28cm high-explosive (HE) or 32cm incendiary rockets could be fitted to a variety of vehicle chassis, and in the Sd.Kfz.251’s case, six frames were attached to the hull sides.
Dragon’s newest half-track member is based on its acclaimed Sd.Kfz.251 Ausf.D family, and as such the kit comes with an impressive level of detail visible in the open-topped fighting compartment. Of course, what sets this kit apart is the three projector frames attached to each side of the armored hull, these giving the model a fearsome appearance. These crates are well detailed, and they can be filled with either 32cm WK Flammgranate rockets or 28cm Sprengranate HE rockets. To further add to enjoyment of the modeling experience, the half-track comes with the convenience of EZ-Track. This 1/35 scale kit is certain to rocket off the shelves given its level of detail and the fact that it’s just bristling with firepower!
The History of the Vehicle
The highly reliable SdKfz 251/1 chassis was selected to mount a high explosive delivery system in the form of rockets that could be launched. Originally designed to delivery a squad of German panzergrenadiers into battle, the vehicle hit the ground as very dependable. The drive train on this vehicle was sturdy and robust, with a long track area, which lacked any return rollers, having "slack track" where the tracks road freely on the road wheels coming back to the drive sprocket. As a result, the vehicle had a good weight to pressure ratio.
The 251 also had tank steering, whereby the normal steering wheel moved the front wheels, but after more turning of the steering wheel, the tracks are braked to cause turning, like on a tank. However, the interleaved and overlapping main road wheels shared a major problem with the Tiger I and Panther tanks that also used such road wheel configurations - in muddy or winter weather conditions, such as those during a mud season (rasputitsa) or the winter conditions, accumulated mud and snow could freeze solid between the road wheels, immobilizing the vehicle. Unlike US halftracks, the front wheels were not powered. Of the four variants in the 251 Hanomag series, the Ausf D variant was the final production variant that used less angled plates to simplify the production line while having flat doors on the rear of the crew compartment.
General Characteristics of the 251 were:
Weight: 7.81 tonnes (8.61 short tons)
Length: 5.80 m (19 ft)
Width: 2.10 m (6 ft 10 in)
Height: 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
Crew: 2 + 10 passengers
Armor: 6-14.5 mm (0.24-0.57 in)
Main armament: MG 34 or MG 42
Secondary armament: MG 34 or MG 42
Engine: one Maybach HL 42 6-cylinder petrol engine 100 PS (99 hp, 74 kW)
Power/weight: 12.8 hp/tonne
Suspension: Overlapping torsion bar (track) Leaf spring (wheels)
Operational range: 300 km (186 mi)
Speed: 52.5 km/h (32.5 mph)
With the advent of the need for a mobile rocket launching capability, the 251 Ausf C and Ausf D were fitted with the Wurfrahmen 40, otherwise known as a "launch frame 40", It provided a much more mobile and protective form of a mobile launching system than the towed artillery piece in the Nebelwerfer. In order to use the Nebelwerfer, the attending crew were exposed the entire time while attending the artillery piece. With the Wurfrahmen 40, also called Stuka zu Fuss ("Stuka on Foot" or "Walking Stuka") and Heulende Kuh ("Bellowing Cow"), attending crewmen could be inside an enclosed fighting compartment and ride with the delivery system all the way up to the point to where it was fired. The crew had to exit the cabin of the vehicle in order to launch the rockets but this meant that the system was mobile and could be withdrawn for maintenance and servicing.
To aim the rockets, the entire vehicle was pointed to control traverse. Elevation was accomplished by pivoting the rocket frames. In theory, they could be fired, the vehicle could withdrawal to reload and quickly brought back to the scene of the action, to be fired with the ability to repeat the process. Like the Nebelwerfer and most othe rmultiple launch rocket systems, there was a huge firing signature. So moving after firing was a pretty good idea.
The Stuka zu fuss was introduced in late 1940. The adjustable base plates fitted over the vehicle sides. The rockets came in their loading crates and the crates could then be loaded into the launchers. Unlike conventional artillery that was spin stabilized, the rockets were generally not as accurate. The rockets were also somewhat awkward to reload while in their crates. Weighing in at between 170 and 185 lbs depending on the type of rocket loaded, the challenges were real on a typical reload. The general idea on firing of the rockets were to have multiple 251/1 rocket launchers operate in tandem where the combined firepower could be brought to bear on a target, only to be saturated with this devastating ordnance. Very much like a SturmTiger, the Wurfrahmen 40 was meant for a purpose to employ high fire power to destroy a target.
Even though the above photograph(s) is of a 251/1 Ausf C, you can see the trouble that the crew had in fitting the rocket crates to the side of the vehicle. It was a process that was incredibly cumbersome and hard to manage. But in order to make this work, the ordnance was man-handled by a squad of men assigned to the vehicle. It was on their backs that this reloading would take place.
And as the above photo(s) show once again, the results of this weapon could be devastating if used in batteries of multiple vehicles.
The Review.......the Box Images....
What's in the box???
This kit has over 840 parts on multiple sprues. There are clear parts, Photoetched metal parts, a set of decals for 3 different combat settings and last but not least, individual track links. There was also to my astonishment, a reflective sheet that was pre-stamped to provide mirrored surfaces for the two driver side mirrors. I had not seen that before in any kit until this one. The lower hull comes as one part. It does not appear to be warped and is true when placed on a clear plate glass to check for warping.
Sprue (D) X 2
Sprue (E) X 2
Decal Sheet (Exploded view for review)
Small PE Fret with reflective tape for mirrors.
lower Hull Tub close-up
Individual tracks come in two bags. One bag contains the track links and the other bag contains the rubber pad. These track links do come with a challenge by the way...not that easy to address but it is an option......
This photo was taken with a 100mm macro zoom lens and a Digital SLR Camera in order to zoom in and show you how minuscule the flash and knockout pin marks are on this part. I am talking about these track lengths being the size about the end of a dime so they are very small and hard to work with, especially if you have sausage fingers like I do. These knock out pin marks are on each flare portion of the link body and have to be addressed. If you do not fix this, in the AMPS scoring system, you will be judged harshly with a deduction in score.
Here is what a small run of these tracks look like once assembled. I found the assembly of these track links to be pretty challenging. Not that they are complicated, no, but because they are so small!!! It is a clam shell type arrangement to construct them and the pad locks the links together when applied with a small amount of Tamiya Liquid Thin Cement.
Conclusions pending full review:
I would have to say that this kit has the makings of being an outstanding replica of the 28/32cm Wurfrahmen 40. The details are in the kit for certain. I looked at the rocket crate parts on the sprues and those parts are nicely detailed. The crates have "wooden" detail. I would think that a little dry brush work will make that detail really stand out. It's gorgeous to be honest.
The overall lower hull tub details are nice as well. The floor is molded with the steel plate details there. There are optional parts to install below this floor and with a little bit of surgical work, could be cut apart, revealing the fuel storage tank below the floor, along with some other parts. Could be a good start for a cutaway model.
There is no complete engine in the kit. An aftermarket engine, or scratch build engine could be added since the engine compartment doors are molded separately. That is a nice gesture on Dragon's part to allow the modeler to add that level of detail.
The tracks....those will need some work. Like my photo suggests, the track shoes have worrisome knockout pin marks that will have to be addressed. And, in building the small run of tracks that I built for this first look review, they do not fit together all that well. I noticed some curvature in the tracks as the run got longer and it might be to the tracks not being molded properly on one side of the shoe. I'm not exactly certain if that is the case or not. But, you can source aftermarket tracks to improve this in the model build. Of course, it will add cost to the project but in the end, will be well worth it.
There are details here in this kit that are very nicely done. With a little bit of extra work, this kit can really make the judges sing its praises.
A full build review will be posted sometime in the near future to show how this kit can build out.
Highly Recommended for Intermediate to Advanced builders. I would not recommend this kit for a beginner simply due to the effort in building the tracks and getting the hull plates to line up.
Thanks goes out to DRAGON for this review kit.
Reviewed by Glen Martin
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