This is the latest in the Sd.Kfz.251 series from AFV Club and represents the Sd.kfz.251/3 Ausf.D mittlerer Funkpanzerwagen communications vehicle which replaced the earlier Ausf.C Funkpanzerwagen version.
The 251/3 Ausf.D Funkpanzerwagen had a number of sub-variants depending on the radio fit for different roles such as tank communication, command vehicle or air co-operation with initially five sub-variants and from late 1944 increased to seven sub-variants;
251/3 I Fu 8, Fu 4, Fu.Spr.Ger.f
251/3 IIa Fu 8, Fu 5, Fu 4, Fu.Spr.Ger.f
251/3 IIb Fu 12, Fu 5, Fu 4, Fu.Spr.Ger.f
251/3 III Fu 7, Fu 1, Fu.Spr.Ger.f
251/3 IIIa Fu 12, Fu 7, Fu.Spr.Ger.f
251/3 IV Fu 11, Fu 12
251/3 V Fu 11
There were also variations within these sub-variants as well as some field modifications for specific roles or for available radios which have resulted in different features with many being internal only making it difficult to accurately identify specific sub-variants.
Most of the Ausf.D versions were fitted with a large star rod antenna as well as smaller rod antenna with one version also know to have the frame antenna as fitted to the earlier Ausf.C type.
The kit provides the basic Sd.Kfz.251/1 Ausf.D from the previous kits and includes the updated initial Ausf.D hull parts from the Sd.Kfz.251/20 “UHU” (kit #AF35116) as well as the late Ausf.D hull with the rearward opening engine bay door from the Night Fight Group (kit #AF35S38) plus the radio equipment sprue F from the Sd.Kfz.251/17 Ausf.C Command Vehicle (kit #AF35117).
There are actually three build options for the kit, two on the initial hull labelled “early” and “late” with the differences being in the equipment fit that sees the early version having a set of binocular sights and large searchlight mounted on the roof panel and the “latest” version on the later hull with revised antenna arranglements.
Dimensionally the kit matches the 1:35 scale plans in the recent Panzer Tracts No.15-3 Sdkfz251 Ausf.C & D to within acceptable tolerances for details such as hull widths, lengths, wheel sizes etc. as well as other smaller details.The kit consists of 305 parts in the usual dark green plastic, 20 in clear plastic, 1 resin part, an etched fret with 47 parts, a set of vinyl tracks plus the decal and instructions sheets.
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 a few minor sink marks most notable on the front lower hull extensions plus the odd bit of minor flash but nothing to get excited about and are easy to deal with as are the normal mould seam lines on the parts.
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 that will need care removing from the sprues and during assembly but shouldn’t pose problems for those will some basic modelling experience.
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 equipment 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 the same soft vinyl Zgw 5001/280/140 rubber pad tracks from the earlier kits and have quite good details for the medium, although you may want to update to one of the available individual link track sets for better detail definition.
As mentioned you get two complete upper hulls in the kit, the initial hull with two side opening engine bay doors and the later hull with the single rear opening engine bay door. Both are full length mouldings which feature some very subtle but nice bolt head and weld seam details with separate engine bay doors including the flush screws around the engine bay opening. 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 late upper hull with the rear opening engine door also has the small side opening panel added at the front with nicely defined hinges on the right side. The flush screws are included around the engine bay opening and the separate one piece hatch has nice hinge detail as well as small bolts and latch detail on the inside which is also completely free of any pin marks.
The driver’s front panel has the initial style vision port covers with three additional inner visor parts each for the “early” and “late” versions while the “latest” version has the outer flat visor covers again with the inner visor parts and either visor can be positioned open or closed as you wish. The side vision ports are the later simple slit type for all versions with inner vision blocks provided in solid plastic as are the front visors.
The driver’s overhead roof has the standard curved bullet splash guard as well as inner head padding and the rear mounted grab handle with this being the same for all versions.
Included for the early version are the binocular sights and a large searchlight with clear plastic lens and etched mounting brackets and this appears to be for a specific vehicle as it is not widely shown in photos?
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. All the pioneer tools have their mounting brackets and clips moulded on and would be improved with replacement etched tool clips from any of aftermarket etched sets available separately. Also included in the kit is a resin air horn/siren that was fitted to the right front fender on the Command /3.
The side storage boxes have two doors on each side opened up with separate doors and finely moulded hinge detail although the doors themselves 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 separate rear plate has the two doors as separate parts with the inner latch mechanism moulded to the doors which are completely free of pin marks or other blemishes. Inside the rear plate are two fire extinguishers, one either side of the doors with their mounting brackets moulded with the extinguishers.
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.
Moving back there are the two hull side bolted flanges as separate parts again for good detail definition and there are the rifle racks with very nice Kar98s and the crew bench seats and back rests are very well done with a choice of early leather cushions or later wooden slat bench. For the later Ausf.Ds the wooden slat bench are the more appropriate option as indicated in the instructions and there is also the separate grab handle railing along the inside of the upper hull sides.
Armament consists of a nicely detailed M.G.34 or M.G.42 with images of earlier 251/3 show them fitted with the M.G.34 with the M.G.42 authorised for use from January 1944. Your choice of weapon is mounted in the standard 251 machine gun mounting/shield which is nicely moulded although the shield is a little on the thick side with bevelled edges to simulate the scale thickness and could do with the some thinning for a better look.
As mentioned the radio equipment sprue comes from the Sd.Kfz.251/17 Ausf.C Command Vehicle (kit #AF35117) along with a new sprue with the new aerials and aerial mountings with the long star antenna ‘post’ being moulded extremely thin and care will be needed removing this from the sprue and in handling to avoid damage. The top ‘star’ antenna is in etched brass and the join to the aerial post will be extremely fragile and it would be best not to attach this until the final thing after all painting and weathering as it will be damaged otherwise.
The large radio rack is made up of two parts that are moulded extremely thin and you will need to take care removing these from the sprues as well as the rack frames which are also very finely moulded with just thin mould seams to be removed. There are quite a few small plastic nodes attached to these frames and I found it easier to remove these while the frames were still attached to the sprues proper to provide support and then cut the frames from the sprues once the nodes have been cleaned up.
The radios are made up of transmitters and receivers with etched brackets added on each end before fitting into the rack and adding the wiring would finish off this assembly nicely.
There is a problem here in that the radios are a very tight fit inside the mountings and if you add the etched end brackets they simply will not fit, so it’s best to leave the these brackets off unless showing the radios outside the mountings. To add to this the two small receivers had to be reduced in width to fit inside the mountings by sanding either end slightly as well as leaving off the etched brackets.
Another thing missing from the instructions is to add the two small parts F27 to the back of the rack frame part F15, the location for these is indicated clearly on part F15 so fitting should be easy.
Added to the side of the main radio rack is a smaller rack with two additional transmitters/receivers mounted on a small platform and again adding the wiring will add to the overall effect of the racks.
The assembled radio mounting and frames sit on a new larger equipment locker and this whole assembly is positioned at the right rear side of the interior as indicated by in the instructions.
The aerial mountings and hull side brackets are in plastic with the armoured box added to the rear left corner is in etched brass for a finer appearance and there are additional finely etched ‘steps’ and equipment clips added to the hull sides depending on the version being built so refer to the instructions regarding fitting these parts. There are also small bolt heads included on the sprue runners that you cut off with a fine blade and add the armoured box to add additional detail.
Also included on sprue F is the full Fu 8 frame antenna and mounting posts usually fitted to Ausf.C vehicles which does give you the option of adding this for a specific version if reference is available to add further variety to the kit.
The radio fit provided is the same for all three versions in the kit but given the different radio arrangements listed at the start of the review these may not be correct for all three but as I don’t have specific data on the radio types I will have to leave this to those more knowledgeable on the appropriate radio fit.
A decal sheet is well printed with a selection of vehicle numbers, number plates and balkenkreuz with markings for 4 vehicles shown in the instructions.
A. 12.SS Pz.Div., Belgium, March 1944 (kit early version)
B. 20. Pz.Div., Eastern Front, Summer 1944 (kit late version)
C. 116 Pz.Div., Hurtegen Forest, Belgium, Nov 1944 (kit latest version)
D. Panzer Korps Feldherrnhalle, Czech, May 1945 (kit latest version)
This is another excellent kit in the 251 series from AFV Club that includes all the little updates made in previous kits to build the second most widely produced version of the 251 family.
The kit is dimensionally accurate and has excellent details as we have seen from previous kits and the inclusion of the two upper hulls gives a good choice of final finish with the aerials moulded extremely fine as mentioned for a good appearance.
Only having one radio setup will limit the sub types you can build and maybe the aftermarket people will produce additional radio sets for other configurations to fully exploit the kits possibilities?
Highly recommended 8/10
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