This latest 1:72nd release from Dragon continues its trend to utilize the basic hull of earlier offerings to provide the modeler with a selection of versions based on the SdKfz 251 series. This model is the instantly recognizable SdKfz 251/7 Engineer version with the side mounted light assault bridges. This kit is based on the D version which was the last major production subtype of the 251 series, introduced in 1943 and produced through to wars end. The 251/7 served with the Pioneer Platoons attached to the Panzer Battalions and the Armoured Infantry Battalions and the Pioneer Companies attached to the Panzer and Panzergrenadier Divisions.
The kit contains 130 parts (plus a handful of unused ones) supplied on 7 sprues and moulded in standard Dragon grey styrene. A one piece lower hull casting is provided, including suspension arms again in grey styrene. 2x PE sheets with gun shields and some interior mounting clamps. Three decal sheets and one set of band tracks molded in cream coloured Dragon DS, “glueable” styrene. The instruction sheet is of the diagrammatic style in 8 steps and although busy appears fairly straightforward and easy to follow.
Details and Features
The kit appears very well moulded (as expected from Dragon) with few visible sink or ejection marks and very little evident flash. The basic vehicle and components are as supplied on Dragons other “D” halftracks. Road wheels are moulded in “runs” which allow for quick assembly with no loss of visible detail. The one piece lower hull has suspension arms molded on and also has a good level of detail for a single piece. Combined with the quick assembly wheels and single run DS tracks the kit includes some nice features which aid assembly. Separate rear doors and engine access hatches allow for some customization and diorama opportunities although no engine is supplied.
The parts which set this kit apart are the assault bridges and 2.8cm sPzB antitank gun. The bridges and mountings are made up from 5 parts which include the often seen wooden planks used to mount extra stowage between the bridge mountings. The planks are moulded with wood grain but while this may be in-scale, it appears a bit light and would benefit from being sharper to better pick up washes and weathering. I would also like to have seen carrying handles supplied for the bridges, but these can easily be added with fine wire.
The 2.8 sPzB weapon was officially classed as a heavy antitank rifle (schwere Panzerbüchse) although it is generally referred to as an anti-tank gun. One of several German weapons using the tapered “squeeze bore” technique to increase muzzle velocity, it was last produced in 1943 due to the shortage of Tungsten used in the 2.8cm Pzgr.41 armour piercing rounds. As such it makes for an interesting but probably rare choice for a support weapon. The kit 2.8cm sPzB antitank gun is well reproduced and benefits from the added PE parts which are supplied to make up the characteristic two layer gun shields. Slide moulds have also enabled a detailed one piece gun cradle to be supplied and the slender gun barrel to have a hollow muzzle brake – much less chance of a mishap with the drill here! A critisism however is that no ammo racking or rounds are supplied.
Finally one area where I feel Dragon could have added extra interest would have been to supply the commonly seen large stowage bins which often replaced one set of seats in the engineering vehicles. The kit also lacks any additional or specialized pioneer tools which would have undoubtedly cluttered up the interior.
Markings and finishes for two vehicles are specified with only one vehicle actually being identified. However the excellent Cartograf printed decals offer the usual extra options for vehicle ID and number plates should you wish to create your own. Markings are featured for;
- Pz Lehr Div, Normandy 1944
- Unidentified Unit, Itlay 1944
In all, another detailed and crisp addition to the Dragon 1: 72 251 series and a must have for those collectors of small scale German armour. The addition of the 2.8cm sPzb is very nice and the Photo-etch shields really add to its distinctive character. I would have likde to have been given a few more Pioneer tools and stowage options but this is a small point considering I was just about to cross-kit the bridges from the “C” version with a standard ‘D” APC kit!
Editors note: Some additional photos provided by Jim Starkweather.