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Dragon 1/35 scale SdKfz 251 Ausf C

Kit: No. 6187
Scale: 1/35
Manufacturer: Dragon, imported by Dragon Models USA, 1315 John Reed Court, City of Industry, CA 91745, 866-365-8721, www.dragonmodelsusa.com
Price: $30.95

Comments: Injection-molded, 610 parts, decals

Pros: Excellent detail, excellent fit

Cons: No engine, individual-link tracks
require experienced builder
Built on the chassis of the SdKfz 11 halftrack, the 251 series support vehicles were important to the Wehrmacht. More than 15,000 were built.

There were four main production variants of the vehicle. The most common, the Ausf C, had welded armor plate and a more-simplified nose than the earlier A and B variants. Dragon's first 251 release is a basic Ausf C. The kit is molded in Dragon's familiar light-gray plastic and features more than 600 detailed parts. The box also contains a driver and four figures, optional armor plate for the vehicle's underside, two field jackets, and two pairs of boots.

The individual-link tracks will work like the real thing if they're assembled carefully. A full interior is included in the kit, but there's no engine, although the hood panels are separate in case one appears from the aftermarket.

The main hull consists of several separate panels, allowing for a lot of molded-in detail.

A full-color "painting guide" is provided for the extra figures. Decals are provided for two Eastern Front vehicles.

Assembly begins with the main chassis and the installation of the transmission, fuel tank, and battery. However, once the crew floor is installed, none of them can be seen. I didn't install the wheels as shown in Step 4, preferring to add them after painting and assembly. I also left off all of the seat cushions so I could install them after the interior was painted.

The detail parts were added to the hull sides, but before the hull was assembled I sprayed the interior with Tamiya desert yellow lightened with about 30-percent flat white. Details were picked out with paint, and I added a wash of burnt-umber artist's oil paint to the interior.

Even though I was impressed with the kit's overall fit, I still needed to add a bit of putty on the seams of the upper and lower hull halves. Other joints required a bit of sanding-stick work to make the panels flush. When the main hull's glue was dry, I added the fenders, leaving off the tools and muffler to be detail-painted.

I sprayed the exterior of the model with the same Tamiya panzer-yellow mix then added streaks of dark green and red-brown camouflage. I applied the decals over a coat of Future, and although the decaled panels are flat, I used a little Micro Sol to make sure the decals would blend in with the paint. Polly Scale clear flat sealed everything up afterward.

The track links are well-molded and will require little cleanup, especially if you use a sharp sprue cutter to remove them from the trees. A little test-fitting revealed that the track pads (E11) could only go on one way. They have a small set of pips that trap the pins on the next link. Once I figured this out, things went together much more quickly. Finally, I gave the model my usual burnt-umber oil wash then I dry-brushed it with lightened panzer yellow.

My finished model exactly matches the dimensions in Squadron/Signal's SdKfz 251 in Action. Mine does sit back on its tracks, however, causing the front wheels to lift off the ground. This won't be a problem if you plan to display your model on a base with groundwork, but will look funny if you display the model on a plain base or shelf. There is a picture of the gray 14th Panzer Division vehicle in the second volume of Squadron/Signal's Panzer Colors, but the decal sheet lacks the divisional symbol clearly displayed on the right rear of the vehicle. I spent about 22 hours on my model; not bad considering the wealth of detail and the complex paint job. The model's tricky assembly will require some experience.

- John Plzak

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