by: Andras [ ]
There is much written about the sd.kfz251 series of half-tracks, so Iíll spare the reader of yet another introduction, and focus on the ausf A and B versions exclusively.
The sd.kfz.251 ausf A was the first version of this well-known halftrack. The development started on the basis of the sd.kfz.11. A ballistically shaped armored superstructure was built on the chassis of the vehicle, creating an armored personnel carrier capable of transporting ten troops, a driver and a commander. The ausf. A, and the interim ausf. B, were considerably different from the much more widely known ausf C and D models. The nose was made of two armor plates with a ventilating flap in the middle; two other flaps were located on the sides of the engine compartment. Later cowls were added over the cooling flaps on the ausf. B. The air intake for the radiator was located under a grille on the engine deck in front of the large double hatch. This version was equipped with a bumper, which was not present on the ausf C/D vehicles. The turning indicators were placed right in front of the front vision blocks; later, in the ausf C., they were moved lower, just above the front mudguards. The armor was mostly welded with a few places where rivets were used (the hinges on the back doors, for example).There were three vision blocks on each side of the half-track: one for the driver or commander, and two for the passengers (these last two were removed in the ausf B).
There were two MG34s mounted on the vehicleís front and back in unprotected mounts. They were later retrofitted with armored shields, and fixed pivot mounts which increased protection and accuracy; itís not uncommon to see photos of early 251 ausf Aís with sandbags around the front MG mount. The toolboxes were located on the middle of the fenders; most of the larger tools were fixed to the sides of the passenger compartment.
The interior of the vehicle was also very different from the ausf C/D versions. The seats for the driver and commander were much more simple constructions, with padded cushions and separate backrest with simple support frames. The 251 was equipped with the standard Funksprechgerat F radio. It was placed on the side-wall, just behind the commander in the ausf A version, making its operation a bit difficult, as he had to turn back and sideways to access it. In the ausf B version it was moved to its final position, in front of the commander. (There was a medical kit in the ausf A version in this position.) The aerial of the radio was originally on the right front mudguard, and this also was moved on the ausf. B to the right side of the passenger compartment. The benches in the passenger compartment were also much simpler, and the backrests were placed directly against the armored superstructure; there were no stowage bins installed (the presence of the side vision ports would have made them impossible to install). These were added in the ausf. C version. There were brackets on the walls of the passenger compartment for attaching the two MG34s, spare barrels, Kar98 rifles and other equipment.
The model comes in a nice, sturdy cardboard box, with the contents packed in ziplock bags, protected by shredded paper padding.
The kit enables the modeler to build either the A or the B versions; however since there are no instructions included, serious research is needed. There are several books available on the 251, and of course, there is the internet for reference photos. Unfortunately the interior is not very well documented anywhere. This is actually a serious issue with most of the early-model 251ís.There are two plastic models available on the 251 ausf A: the 1/35 Zvezda, and the 1/76 Revell, but neither are accurate, especially when it comes to the interior of the vehicle. To my knowledge, this is the only remotely accurate model in any scale.
The kit is very impressive when it comes to molding. Most of the body comes in one piece, with the front and the lower chassis molded in one, along with the complete enclosed driving compartment. It is an impressive feat of resin molding, but it will make painting details difficult. The upper part of the passenger compartment comes as a separate piece as it is different in the ausf B; both of these parts have molded-on tools. The small parts are molded onto pouring blocks, with very crisp and fine detail. Most of them will need to be cleared up as they have very thin resin flash around them. The fit seems good on all parts; the hinges for the back door are especially well designed to fit (something that is usually a problem even in injection-molded versions).
There are some negative aspects of the model as well. No vision blocks are included, only the armored vision slits; there is no radio, medical kit and no turn indicators. Some parts became loose in the bags, and one of the width indicators and towing hooks went missing before I opened the box. (I have tried to contact Modelltrans about the missing parts, but have not received any answer.) There are stowage bins with racked rifles available, along with the improved seats for the driver and commander, but these were only added on the ausf C. version according to my sources. (These will come in handy on other projects.) No decals are included.
There are bubbles in the resin, some on difficult places. (My sample had one large bubble on the front cooling flap, on the right corner where the armor plates meet, on the armored machine gun shield, and on one of the backrests.)