At this point in the hobby, there probably isn’t a better-represented vehicle in styrene than the German Sonderkraftfahrzeug
Sd.Kfz.251 halftrack. Almost all manufacturers of plastic kits seem to have at least one, starting with Tamiya’s "Hanomag" kits from the 1970s. Unlike the recent spate of halftrack prime movers, the 251’s popularity rests on its “instant diorama” potential and its enormous presence on all battlefields of WW II (over 15,000 were built by war’s end). Intended as a stand-alone infantry support vehicle, the 251 was pressed by the exigencies of war into towing a variety of loads. And while developed by Hannoversche Maschinenbau AG (hence the nickname “Hanomag”) to carry Panzergrenadiers into the thick of the fight, Sd.Kfz. 251s were also mounted with a dizzying array of small-caliber guns like the 75 mm L/24 (nicknamed Stummel
(“stump”) and the a 3.7cm PAK 36 anti-tank gun. It was even equipped with sound recording equipment to serve the Nazi propaganda maw. In all, some 22 variants have been cataloged.
With so many kit makers having released untold versions of the Sd.Kfz. 251, QuickWheel has brought out a superb resin replacement set for the front tires, which the major styrene kits have not rendered correctly, along with a mask for painting them. QuickWheel has been known for some time for manufacturing wheel masks that make the painting of road wheels and return rollers less than the superhuman undertaking usually required with many German AFVs. Recently the company has expanded into resin wheel replacement sets (click here
to see a review of their Staghound wheels) with painting mask included.
This set for the Sd.Kfz.251 is packed in a Ziploc baggie mounted on a pasteboard hanger, and has:
A pair of Dunlop-branded light gray resin wheels
A pair of wheel hubs
Wheel painting mask
A printed insert with four photos of actual tires and rims
The photos at right show three examples of current wheels in styrene for the Sd.Kfz. 251: Dragon
and AFV Club
. None are the proper thickness, nor do any of them have the distinctive “Dunlop” logo-- or any other logo for that matter-- nor the other raised markings apparent on the actual tires. Yet beyond the obvious deficiencies is the tread: the 251’s tire treads were both distinctive and elusive to render with conventional styrene split-half mold technology. On the real thing, two rows of offset “teeth” give the treads an almost zig-zag pattern, not the alternating tooth pattern used by all three styrene makers.
I don’t quite know how QuickWheel does it, but their tires capture the tread pattern with only a tiny mold pore hole the size of the wheel’s axle at the bottom.
The wheel mask will make the painting of the set a snap, something that no hand painting can equal (at least not in my universe). And if you’re one of those folks who feel store-bought masks are for sissies, well, don’t bump into my purse. I’ve used QuickWheel masks (click here
to read my reviews of them), and I wouldn’t paint any wheels now without them if QW makes a mask. In this case, it took more time for the undercoat to dry than to get them ready for mounting with a solid layer of Dunkelgelb
: I popped them into the mask, sprayed on the color coat, and touched up one part that got a little bleed-through under one edge (the masks have a light adhesive coating on the inner portion to hold the wheel in-place, but sometimes some dirt or finger oils cause the adhesion to lift up a bit).
Game over, thanks for playing!
If accuracy is your goal, then you don’t want to build a 251 without this set. Period.
But just so I don’t sound too flip, here’s the bottom line:
These wheels are more-accurate than any kit-supplied wheels.
They have superb detailing that will make you want to build your Sd.Kfz. 251 as coming right from the factory or after a nice washing!
The mask makes painting them automatic.
Nothing more to say, except thanks to QuickWheel for providing this review sample. Be sure to mention Armorama when ordering. Oh, and the company plans to bring out other variants besides Dunlop. Can't wait.