Karl explains how he weathered his SdKfz 251 in the July 2010
FSM. Check out the issue's video issue preview.
Building Dragon’s 1/35 scale SdKfz 251 requires a lot of forethought and planning – and placing the track and wheels so the vehicle sits flat can be a real headache.
The kit instructions begin with assembling a completely hidden engine and transmission – nice if you’re going to show the vehicle in repair, but I skipped this step completely, 1
Next come photoetched-metal strips for the lower hull, over and around the suspension arms. Mine didn’t fit properly and would have interfered with the suspension arms; I snipped the photoetched metal behind the sprocket (where it would be hidden), patched it up with super glue, and filed the break smooth, 2
The suspension arms were a really sloppy fit. I made a jig from two coffee-can tops to level the arms while the glue dried, 3
. Luckily, an FSM
forum member gave me some advice on the tricky alignment of the front wheels and the tracks, so I assembled a length of track and slipped the wheels on over it, giving it the proper height, then glued on the front tires, gently bending the axles to firmly ground the tires. I weighted the chassis with a tweezers and left it overnight for the glue to harden, 4
I felt pretty smug until the next morning, when I realized I had forgotten to put the track blocks on the tracks – adding a millimeter of height to the sit of the vehicle! Ugh! 5
I decided to try to lower the suspension arms; since they were already cemented into place, I cut halfway through them with a scalpel, 6
, wiggled them loose, and was able to move each one about 2mm without them snapping. I used a drop of Tenax R-7 on each cut-through part of the mounting arms, which both helped move them and re-cement them.
Now I had to make sure all the road wheels touched the tracks and that the hull sat correctly. The only proper way to determine this was to attach all the wheels, at least temporarily. I permanently glued the first six inner wheels (they’d be easy to paint attached). Then, I added a tiny drop of glue to the attachment points of the other wheels to tack them in place until after wrapping the tracks around them. I could reattach them after the tracks and wheels were painted (same as I do tank tracks).
After four hours of surgery, the patient was stable (and level), 7
. I took another night to assemble the tracks, wrapped them around the wheels, gluing all but the joining link, then let them dry overnight.
Finally I was able to move on to the rest of the details and pieces. The intricate 20mm gun required care and patience, 8
. I had to shorten the post for the gunner’s seat to fit it inside the gun shield.
Working in subassemblies aided the painting process, 9
, as I would have to paint and weather the interior before I joined the upper and lower hull. I added accessories to the interior after painting and weathering all the pieces, then carefully added the top hull, wrapping rubber bands around it to clamp the seal. (I was not impressed with the difficult alignment of the hull sides.)
I added wires to the front lights, 10
, and opened up the two small molded-on lifting points at the front so I could hang extra tracks on them (as in a photo I saw). First, I cautiously cut their top halves away from the hull with a photoetched-metal saw blade from Micro-Mark, 11
. I drilled them out with a micro bit in a pinvise, 12
, then carefully bent them away from the body. Using stretched sprue for hanging wire, I threaded it through the attachment points and the links themselves. Three hours of extremely frustrating work produced exactly what I wanted, 13
After finally gluing in the gun pedestal and adding a war-weary figure waiting for reinforcements, 14
, my Schwebenlafette was ready for display-case war!