The Sd.Kfz.251/23 Mitteler Schützenpanzerwagen mit 2cm KwK was the last authorized version of the 251 series designed as a reconnaissance vehicle to replace the Sd.Kfz.250/9 and was fitted with the six sided "Haengelafette 38" (suspended mount) turret the same as fitted to the Sd.Kfz.250/9, Sd.Kfz.234/1 and Aufklärungspanzer 38(t).
This turret was fitted with the short barrel 2cm KwK.38 cannon, a variation of the 2cm FlaK38 cannon designed for use in vehicles such as the Sd.Kfz.140/1, Sd.Kfz.222, Sd.Kfz.250/9, Sd.Kfz.234/1 and the 'Luchs' light tank plus a co-axial MG42.
Despite what has been written in various publications there is no evidence available this vehicle progressed past the trial vehicle stage and no known photos exist of 251/23s actually in service, there is also no documentary evidence of the final vehicle layout such as the enclosed hull roof and so we could refer to this as one of those paper panzers
This latest 251 kit from Cyberhobby/Dragon has the main vehicle parts from previous Dragon 251 kits such as the Sd.Kfz. 251/22 Ausf.D (kit #6248) and Sd.Kfz. 251/17 Ausf.D (kit #6292) plus the new Haengelafette 38 turret with turned brass 2cm cannon and etched upper screens with these parts actually from the forthcoming Sd.Kfz.234/1 (Dragon kit #6298) which gives an indication of what we can expect in that kit.
The quality of the parts is excellent with crisp mouldings and details with only a minimum of pin marks to be cleaned up and there are the usual array of many plastic ‘nodes’ on the parts to be carefully removed especially from the smaller parts but these help reduce the amount of pin marks so are a small price to pay.
The new sprue H has the parts for the Haengelafette 38 turret and detailed interior as well as sprue WA with re-tooled MG34 and MG42s which has extensive use of slide moulds for superb details with the weapons being as good as you will find with resin MGs.
The lower hull tub as mentioned is the same as before and has the axles and
bump stops separate with the front axle having nicely rendered leaf spring
and steering arms although the steering linkage rod is still missing.
The road wheels and drive sprockets are those included in kits #6248 and #6292 (plus others) with the embossing on the rubber sections of the road wheels and drive sprockets which are still without the offset drive teeth or rollers as they should.
There is the inner gearbox and fuel tank detail which still can’t be seen but you know it’s there but can easily be left out of the assembly and there are the etched re-enforcing panels for the lower hull sides around the axles also included in previous kits.
The main upper hull is the late type from the Sd.Kfz. 251/22 Ausf.D (kit #6248) modified with the rear compartment covered with just the round opening for the turret and features very subtle weld seams and bolts head details along the lower sides as well as nicely rendered flush screws around the engine bay opening with the correct rear opening engine bay door.
Also still included in the kit is the earlier Ausf.D upper hull allowing you to build a standard D if you wish?
There are separate side panels with inner panel details with some large pin marks but these will probably be covered by the side storage lockers and seats but check first to see if they need filling.
The outer side fender storage boxes have nicely rendered door details with recessed latch panels that also include small padlocks and two of the doors are separate to allow these to be position opened if you wish for a bit of animation. The forward fenders have subtle bolt head details and other details such as three part head light and mounting as well as the exhaust muffler on the left fender with pre-formed brass width indicators as well as the plastic indicators and rear view mirror that includes a self adhesive silver sticker to represent to mirror surface and lastly the fender mounted tools that are quite nice but could benefit with the clips replaced with etched items for more detail definition.
The separate rear doors and rear hull panel are fairly simple as per the original and the doors feature finely moulded separate inner door latches with etched handles and fire extinguishers on the inner rear panel.
The front superstructure plate with driver’s/radio operator’s vision visors is a separate part and features clear parts for the visors which are made up of three inner parts and the outer visor which can be assembled so the outer visor is movable and if care is taken during assembly would work quite well to offer more animation to the finished model and the upper superstructure plate is also separate with separate bullet splash guard added.
On the inside is the compete interior from previous kits with the newer crew seats and etched rear springs plus the floor panel which has the correct sized central hump and revised floor panel details as well as the tread plate pattern being more pronounced than in previous kits.
The right side troop seats have separate lower frames and you get a choice of early leather covered or later wooden slat bench seats and the under seat storage boxes with a large 2cm magazine storage box on the left side with excellent details on the magazines that should look good when fitted and painted and show the first round in the magazine using slide moulds.
The front instrument panel has nicely detailed engraved instruments and some parts separate with the correct offset on the left side as well as separate accelerator pedal and steering wheel and nicely detailed crew seats with rear spring details, gear levers and the separate bolted flanges on the side walls between the front and rear hull sections.
This kit like previous 251 kits contains two full sets of tracks, the initial
type track (skeletal with lightening holes) with rubber shoe and the “EZ
Track” which is the pressed pattern with rubber shoe.
The “pressed pattern” track which was also fitted with steel shoes for a short time in 1944 is often referred to as “late” track when in fact both types were used throughout WWII and while less common the pressed pattern was used at about a 3 to 1 ratio to the skeletal type. In the recent Concord book “German Half-Tracks of World War Two” (Armor at War Series #7054) on page 64 (top) is a photo an Ausf.C fitted with the “pressed pattern with rubber shoe” tracks and from the uniforms is early/mid war.
The EZ Track links and separate shoes come already separated with no cleanup required apart from two largish pin marks on the inside of each track link which will require filling but as there is no sprues or other cleanup they would probably take about the same time as “normal” plastic individual links to assemble but the rubber shoes do look a little undersized.
Assembly is the usual method for this type track where you fit one link into the other and hold in place with the track shoe, but due to the small size there isn’t a lot of contact area to glue and care should be taken if you want them to fully articulate after assembly with the assembled tracks fitting snugly around the drive sprockets and provide a nice alternative to the skeletal track, not to mention a full set of track left over for other projects no matter which you choose.
Skeletal type track links
The turret has the upper six sided walls with separate lower turret ring which includes fine traverse teeth and mountings for the various additional parts.
The gun mounting is very detailed with separate mountings for the KwK38 and co-ax MG42 as well as the ammo spend shell cases and side mounting brackets plus the lower crew seats, traverse hand wheels and radio mounting with the details matching very well compared to the detailed turret photos included in the Museum Ordnance Special #24 Sd.Kfz.234 book.
There are two KwK.38 barrels and the FlaK38 barrel included in the kit, the short metal barrel section from kit #6292 to which you have to cut off the plastic flash suppressor from the FlaK38 barrel and attach using the jig provided and then attach the barrel to the front of the 2cm cannon body. The other is a turned brass barrel that includes the rear housing and the flash suppressor with four open collar holes and four rows of fine holes in the suppressor cone.
The only problem here is the two barrels are too long for the KwK38 barrel according the 1:35 plans in the recent Panzer Tracts No.13 Panzerspaehwagen Armored Cars Sd.Kfz.3 to Sd.Kfz.263 book.
The new armorscale KwK38 barrel (set #B35-048) matches the dimensions shown in the Panzer Tracks book exactly and I am not aware of a third barrel length between the shorter KwK38 and longer FlaK38 barrels, there is of course the KwK30 2cm barrel but that is different again. You should take care when looking at wartime photos of the vehicles, the Sd.Kfz.222 especially as this could be fitted with any of the 2cm barrels and is often seen with the FlaK38 barrel fitted but usually with the earlier eight sided turret.
Added to the turret are the extensive etched top screens with additional plastic parts for the hinges and rear screen braces and at the back are the two small storage boxes with all this adding considerably to the overall good impression of the turret.
As mentioned the turret is from the forthcoming Sd.Kfz.234/1 kit and bodes well for that in conjunction with the already excellent base 234 vehicle in kit #6221.
Bonus items include a DS100 vinyl driver figure from previous kits but this is really academic as this would be very difficult to see with the fully enclosed upper hull.
Two decal sheets are included, one with generic number plates and numbers from previous kits and new sheet for this kit with a selection of generic balkenkreuz with both being well printed with good colour register and thin carrier film.
The instruction sheet has markings for two unidentified vehicles from the Eastern Front in 1945 but as mentioned above these are purely speculative as is the camouflage schemes indicated but you really have a free hand here as the finish of the vehicles is again speculative so let your imagination go wild.
While the operational existence of this vehicle is speculative the kit itself is very good and due to the continued evolution of the kit details correcting many of the previous issues leaving the drive sprocket teeth about the only one of consequence left.
The new Haengelafette KwK38 turret is very nicely detailed with the etched screens and interior details with just the minor issue of the barrel length but overall is a superb little sub-assembly.
Hopefully all the corrections included with the base vehicle have found there way to the previous kits to bring them up to standard.