This long awaited kit of arguable the most interesting and mystical version of the Sd.Kfz.251 family is the Sd.Kfz.251/20 UHU fitted with a large 60cm infra-red searchlight and designed to illuminate the night battlefield for other IR equipped vehicles such as the Panther G and 251 Falke with other types planned.
The kit consists of approximately 362 parts in olive drab plastic with 16 clear parts, 17 etched parts and a set of soft vinyl tracks and the decal and instruction sheets.
The basic 251 parts are mostly from the previous AFV Club 251 kits but the upper hull has been updated with the flush screws around the engine bay opening missing from previous kits and the side storage boxes now have two doors moulded open with separate doors to show open if you wish.
All other parts (sprues I, K, L) are new for the UHU as well as one sprue N that will also be included with the Falke in the German Night Fight Group 3 in 1 (kit #AF35s38) to be released at the same time as the UHU, this gives a few extra parts that will come in handy with the UHU as well.
The standard of moulding is again excellent overall with virtually no pin marks to be seen which is especially noticeable on the hull sides, the real hull panel and doors which have details on both sides but not one pin mark to be seen. There are a number of small plastic ‘nodes’ on some parts to be carefully removed but these help to reduce pin marks and the extra cleanup has benefits.
The details included on the parts is also very good with nice bolt head details on the hull and fenders as well as nicely rendered weld seams on the forward hull/engine compartment and the excellent tread plate pattern on the interior floor panels. There are quite a few very small parts such as about 20 minuscule plastic wing nuts added around the searchlight that will certainly test your eyesight and dexterity when removing from the sprue and in fitting.
The detail on the new IR searchlight and mounting in particular are exceptionally finely moulded with very intricate assemblies that add greatly to the overall appearance of the kit. There is as with any kit room for additional details and a few areas needing attention which I’ll get too shortly so let’s move on and see exactly what you get in the kit.
Dimensionally the basic 251 parts match available plans perfectly including the latest sets in the recent Panzer Tracts No.15-3 Sdkfz.251 Ausf.C & D with the hull length, width including the rear hull top opening being spot as are the wheels and other detail for an excellent start.
The lower chassis part has the engine oil pan included on the undersides and the central hump with the tread plate pattern on the top while both hull sides are separate parts as with previous kits with the locating tabs for the storage boxes refined to allow easier fitting of the boxes.
The hull sides have the internal panelling used to fix the internal fittings with the gap between the hull side and panels represented by small indentations along the top of the hull sides while the rear hull floor section is a further separate part again with separate rear doors. The underside hull panel is another separate part to allow the inclusion of all the bolt and panel line details.
The suspension is the same as with previous kits with the road wheels having excellent details including the spot welds around the rims and on the drive sprocket the correct offset of the drive teeth as well as the drive rollers included while the front tyres have excellent tread pattern and good hub details on the wheels.
The lower hull sides have excellent details on the axle mountings as well as the raised reinforcing panels along the lower hull sides around the axles and bump stops with all the axles as separate parts which will allow you to animate the suspension if you wish?
These are done in soft vinyl and have very good details for this medium while AFV Club have again saved their separate link track sets for separate purchase should you want to go the extra expense?
The upper hull is a full length moulding which features some very subtle but nice bolt head and weld seam details with separate engine bay doors with the inclusion of the flush screws around the engine bay opening as mentioned above. The “orange peel” surface effect has been enhanced slightly but the weld seams along the upper sides of the engine bay should be very lightly sanded as they are a little sharp but otherwise the detail is excellent.
The two front fenders are separate parts and also have very nice bolt head and panel details with a two part Bosch headlight and base for the left fender as well as three parts for the exhaust system and the pioneer tools carried on the fenders come with moulded on tool clips. On the front plate is a small bracket that includes an aerial base but this bracket was actually for another 20cm IR searchlight of the type carried in front of the driver’s plate and as there is sprue N for the Falke included this has a couple a spare 20cm searchlights so you can easily add one to the mounting as well as adding the wiring for additional detail.
The side storage boxes as mentioned now have two doors on each side opened up with separate doors and finely moulded hinge detail although the doors them selves are a little thick if shown open. The doors included moulded on padlock and latch detail while at the rear are separate tail light and other fittings.
The basic 251 parts are nicely detailed with the front bulkhead which is correctly
located with the left side slant having a separate instrument panel with
engraved dials as well as separate driver’s foot pedals and gear levers
plus the distinctive slanted steering wheel and separate Fu 2 radio and rack.
The driver's seats have two part lower sections and the back rests with superb cushion detail on one side and the distinctive spring pattern on the back and as mentioned no pin marks to spoil the detail.
The rear section of the floor is replaced with a new part that includes the
correct raised rear section that was lifted by 50mm to include additional bracing
for the large searchlight and also includes a nice representation of the searchlight
But do not attach this floor section when assembling the hull here as you have to attach the searchlight base beforehand to allow it to rotate, see below.
The forward hull panel has separate outer vision port covers with each internal visor having three parts each for excellent detail definition and the two side vision slits also have two part internal armoured glass housings. The vision ports are in the solid plastic and not the clear vision port parts in some previous kits but can be shown open or closed as desired, with the Driver’s visor open for the UHU.
The bolted flanges between the front and rear hull sections are again separate parts with the correct curve profile as well as the small left hull side mounted seated and you are also provided with a radio rack for the right side wall but this is incorrect as the Fu 5 radio rack should be mounted between the Driver and Co-Driver as with Falke layout. The space where the radio was supposed to go was actually occupied by the large standard German 8Kw Generator modified to fit into the forward hull compartment which is unfortunately not provided in the kit.
This leads to the only area of the kit with any real concerns being the handling of the upper hull with the kit having a large plate covering the entire front section (part L19) and an internal panel (part L13) blocking off half the inner compartment.
This arrangement is not as indicated in available references as the large 8Kw Generator which was fitted crossways in the compartment completely blocked access from the rear compartment to the driver’s compartment and there was an upper space between the generator top cover and the normal overhead hull panel with MG bullet splash guard. This splash guard was also the later angled type with is correctly included in the kit as is a separate upper panel supposed to be used with the Falke kit but you can use it here to help correct the layout.
Along the upper hull sides where four slat wooden walkways designed to be a working platform as well as providing access from the rear compartment to the front driver’s compartment. The kit walkways are free of any pin marks and correctly have the four support posts of production UHUs and not the three supports seen in photos of trail vehicles and this detail is good to see.
If you wanted to include the Generator there is a standard ground mounted 8Kw Generator available from DES Kits (set 35098) which could be modified and fitted into the hull space with the top panel suitably modified.
On the right rear compartment wall is a three drawer compartment added which
is the storage for the IR equipment but the top drawer should be slightly bigger
then the middle drawer with both being the same size on the kit part if you
want to get real picky but really this will not be apparent to most on the
Also provided is another small triangular locker for the right rear side only which is storage for the 20cm searchlight and as the UHU carried two of these it was most likely fitted on the opposite side as well although no photos exist to confirm this.
The large 60cm searchlight was a standout feature of the real UHU and so it is with the kit with this assembly being virtually a kit in itself and as mentioned has many very fine parts that will need care during assembly. The level of detail extends to the lens louvers and projector inside the searchlight itself which can’t be seen after you add the front opaque lens glass but would enable an interesting diorama with the front cover off undergoing maintenance to expose all the hidden detail.
The main searchlight body is in two halves with the projector (part K12) and rear reflective mirror (part K3) in clear plastic with the instructions indicating to add the mirror to the inside of the rear cover (part I14) before fitting the cover but due to a small lip around the inside to the searchlight halves the mirror will not fit into the searchlight. You can either reduce the diameter of the clear mirror or slide it through the front of the searchlight after the rear cover in attached, also the instructions are not clear where the projector should actually go but if the opaque front lens is fitted you can’t see it anyway.
Added to the searchlight body is the large front ring which is moulded in one piece with details cleanly rendered around the outside as well as on the front and inside for a very impressive moulding. There are eight very small wing nuts to be added around the ring which will require care and on the inside is a clear front lens and six etched louvers for an impressive assembly but again this can’t be seen when the opaque front lens is fitted but it’s impressive all the same.
Other smaller details are added around the searchlight body including more very small wing nuts and lifting handles as well as large equipment boxes and fittings with the final front ring (part N21) trapping the opaque front lens in place, the lens should obviously be painted before hand.
The large searchlight yoke is in three parts with many additional supports and small details added and this allows the searchlight to elevate once fitted in place with the two side attachments (parts I39) but make sure you use glue sparingly when fitting these. But watch as there is a third yoke arm supplied but no indication is given what it is used for and you should use parts I16 and L32 for the yoke arms.
There are a couple of noticeable details missing from the searchlight, an L shaped viewing tube fitted on the underside of the light which is to allow the operator to check if the light is working and this can be added from thin plastic tube and there is a channel down the rear left of the searchlight which is basically and extension lead for two controls on top of the light body allowing access to the operator without climbing up onto the light. Again this shouldn’t be that hard to add from tube and wire.
(Photo Panzer Tracts)
Assembling the searchlight is what you might say straightforward but with a total of 73 parts that includes 21 of those tiny wing nuts it will require a bit of patience and care but there were no actual problems other than the strain in the eyesight and looks very impressive after assembly.
As mentioned if you can’t see the interior details if the opaque outer ring is attached but if you show this off for maintenance it will look most impressive, one thing to watch is there are two grab handles on the front of the main light (parts I28) which should not be attached if the outer ring (part N21) is fitted but added if the front ring is omitted.
At the bottom is the based plate with a five part operators chair and stand frames that house the lower IR scope made up of the main body with clear front lens and additional plastic cover with added support arm and a couple of finely moulded hand wheels and other fittings added.
The assembled lower base is attached to the floor with a small underside pin (part L39) that allows the searchlight base to rotate after assembly if careful with the glue.
On the engine deck in front of the driver’s plate is located the Driver’s IR scope mage up of one plastic and two clear parts with the 20cm searchlight mounted centrally having a hollow body with clear plastic lens with basic detail that could be enhanced a little and remember to paint the insides of the lens before attaching to the light body and as mentioned you can also add an additional 20cm searchlight to the bracket on the lower hull front if you wish.
A small triangular fitting (part N9) is added to the left side in front of the Driver's visor and this is moulded solid when in fact it should be an open V shape being the protecting guard for the Driver’s IR scope cable that exits the hull at this point and can easily be replaced with thin card or wait for the inevitable etched update sets, you will also have to add the cable from wire or stretched sprue.
There is another small detail missing being the Generator exhaust pipe which exits out of the back of the right hand side storage boxes and this is easy to add by drilling a small hole and adding a short length of 2mm tube for the exhaust. For those wanting more, this exhaust pipe enters the storage boxes through a hole just in front of the three drawer stack on the right hull side and can be seen in a common UHU image looking into the compartment through the open rear doors.
As mentioned the hull top walkways have the correct four supports and these are added along both sides of the hull and the searchlight can also be shown in the raised operating position or in the lowered stowed position if you wish due the revolving base and elevating searchlight attachment but you have to make a choice for the final configuration.
There is also a large front searchlight light cover (part I22) which is not mentioned in the instructions but would be installed when the searchlight is in the stowed position.
The decal sheet is well printed with thin carrier film and provides markings for two vehicles with two types of balkenkreuz and the front and rear number plates for a single vehicle. The side data stencil is also provided with the legible stencil Sd.Kfz.251/20 and vehicle data being correct for the UHU as it was only the Falke that had the two large data panels.The instructions give two camouflage schemes, one in overall Dark Yellow and the other in three tone Dark Yellow/Red brown/Dark Green with four view illustrations to aid in applying the scheme.
These are the usual exploded view drawings and are easy to follow although the usual care should be taken with some of the more intricate assemblies to make sure you understand where things go before gluing.
Another excellent kit based on the original AFV Club Ausf.D which is the more accurate of those available and added to this is the intricate and detailed IR equipment for an impressive model.
There is a issue with the internals most notable the absence of the 8Kw Generator and incorrect depiction of the roof panels that will take a bit of effort to rectify as well as a couple of other details to be added to the searchlight.
But overall this is an excellent rendition of the UHU with the large 60cm searchlight and associated supports being a kit in itself for an impressive model.
Highly recommended because it’s the most accurate 251/D available and for the highly detailed 60cm searchlight assembly but with reservations on the lack of generator and roof layout.
Also see the Subjects Page for other reviews of the 251 series.
For those interested in the UHU a detailed article on this vehicle an German IR equipment by Jon Bailey is in issue 35 of AFV Modeller Magazine and should shed some light on the subject, (excuse the pun).
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