German Personnel Carrier
Sd.Kfz. 251/1 Ausf.B

Zvezda Kit No. 3572
1:35th Scale

Review by Terry Ashley


With the flood of Sd.Kfz.251 Ausf.C and D kits from AFV Club and Dragon still continuing we now have this new kit from Zvezda of the earlier Sd.Kfz.251 Ausf.B which makes for a nice change and will be welcomed by German armour fans just for that alone.

Not wanting to pre-empt the conclusion but the kit is quite a conundrum in that if you are not that bothered with complete accuracy it will build into a respectable Sd.Kfz.251 Ausf.B out of the box and look the part, but if you do value accurate details there are a few issues which will be highlighted below.

Dimensionally the kit measures out fairly well against the 1:35 plans in the Panzer Tracts, Ground Power and Tank Power books (listed below) except for a couple of areas such as the tracks and some smaller details.

The main area of concern is that the interior appears to be for the Ausf.C and not the Ausf.B which is quite different. The Panzer Tracks Sd.Kfz.251 book No.15-2 indicates the Ausf.B has plain bench crew seats with no backrests in the rear hull and simpler front seats as well as different equipment storage layout than what is included in the kit and the Ausf.C. This is backed up by clear photos and line drawings of the Ausf.B interior in the Ground Power Sd.Kfz.251 book.

The Kit:
This consists of 285 parts in light grey plastic with a further 300 parts for the individual track links plus the decal and instruction sheets for a more conventional kit in the light of all the etched and metal parts in some kits these days.

The standard of moulding is good overall with very few pin marks but some small sink marks and heavy mould seam lines to contend with especially on some of the smaller parts. Care is also needed as some of the sprue attachments overlap the part detail and careful cutting is needed to clean this away without damaging the detail.

Details included on the parts are quite nice but a little basic in places and lacks subtle contours and finesse in others but is not poor by any standards and the fit of the parts is a mixture of troublesome to good.

Lower hull:

This has the lower floor plate with separate side panels with the axle supports and four crossbeams that are trapped between the side panels to form the lower tub but unfortunately all the crossbeams had to be reduced in width by about 1mm to fit properly and you have to make sure that you trim equal amounts of both sides of the forward axle mounts and rear beam otherwise the axle and towing pintle won’t be located centrally. Fortunately the plastic is fairly soft making any alterations easier.

The final drive housings and all the axles are separate parts but the shock absorber on the last road wheel station is missing altogether and the fit of the axles is a little sloppy and you should ensure they all line up evenly before the glue dries so the road wheels sit even.

Included in the kit is a full Maybach HL42 engine made up of 17 parts with two more for the large radiator at the front and has all the major components included and will build into a nice looking engine that you can see though the open engine bay doors if you wish. Some of the engine parts have quite substantial mould seams that will need care in removing and some wiring would finish it off nicely.

The front axle is made up of 6 parts and is again nicely detailed with the wheel axle stubs designed to move allowing the wheels to be positioned at any angle with the steering cross linkage also designed to be movable and the whole axle assembly can pivot on the central mounting like the original but the actual steering arm on the left side is not included.

Running Gear:

The front wheel and road wheels are the correct diameter but unfortunately the front wheel rim is 1.5mm too big in diameter and the central hub which is a separate part is too small and has a small sink mark in the end and the tyre tread pattern is basic at best.

On the road wheels the lightening holes are too small on the outer dished wheels which also have lips around the holes that shouldn’t be there and the centre hub extends way too far out and the inner road wheels have the lightening holes the correct size but lack the lip around the holes.

The fit of the road wheels to the axles is not that good and you will have to thin down the axle stubs a little for the wheels to fit.

The drive sprockets on all German half tracks feature “teeth” in the form of small rollers that intermesh with the track links and the drive sprockets themselves have flat sections around the sprocket that the track links “sit” flush on as the pass around the sprocket. The kit sprocket rollers are correctly depicted and are nicely done but they don’t have the flat faceted sections around the rim, although this appears less prominent on photos of the Ausf.A and B sprockets than it does on the Ausf.C and D sprockets they should still be there.


The kit includes individual link Zgw5001/280/140 type track which is the most common type seen and the real track link measures out at 280mm wide and 140mm long (pitch), this equates to 8mm x 4mm (1/4” x 1/8” give or take a 1/16th) in 1:35th but the kit tracks are slightly larger being 8.5mm wide and 4.5mm deep which doesn’t sound a lot and may not be that noticeable on the finished kit. The link lightening holes are not well formed and may need to be drilled out for a better look with the pads also slightly oversized in keeping with the links and have minor sink marks in the middle of each pad.

Comparison with the correctly sized AFV Club and Dragon links
Assembled track run

Assembly is the same as with other 251 tracks where you lay one link pin over the next and trap in place with the track pad, but the links would not fit together without trimming a small amount of each side to the pin tough and this along with the cleanup of the sprue attachment points on each link made for quite tedious assembly.

Alterations for a better fit

The assembled track runs fit neatly around the kit sprockets as you would imaging and if you wanted to update the wheels for a more accurate appearance the AFV Club set #AF35043 Sd.Kfz.251 Wheels & Tracks is a ready replacement and far better detailed than the parts in this kit. Also the Zvezda tracks will fit the AFV Club drive sprockets and the AFV Club individual link track (available separately from set #AF35043) will fit the Zvezda sprockets well making cross kitting very easy if you wish.


The fighting compartment floor has basic tread plate pattern included but the central transmission hump is slightly too small and added to this is the forward instrument panel/engine firewall which is situated at the correct position in relation to the hull but the panel undercut too shallow although this will not be very noticeable on the assembled kit.

The panel has the correct left side offset and includes the clutch and brake pedals but strangely the accelerator pedal is missing and added to the panel is the slanted steering wheel and radio on the right side and a couple of decals for the instrument clusters which makes things a lot easier than painting.  There are the separate gear levers added to the floor transmission hump but not included are the levers for operating the cooling flaps on the hull front which were on the Ausf.A and Bs.

As mentioned the remaining interior appears more applicable to the Ausf.C than to the Ausf.B with the front seats that should be more simplified for the Ausf.B with a single backrest support post while the rear seats should be simple bench seats without back rests and no storage boxes underneath and the there should also be no storage lockers on the upper walls with a different rifle storage arrangement. There are separate flanges between the forward and rear compartments with the correct profile for the Ausf.B.

There is an excellent photo on page 63 of the Ground Power book looking through the open rear doors of an Ausf.B which shows to good advantage the rear bench seats, the front seat backs and side wall storage as well as line drawings showing the side wall equipment storage layout.

On the inside of the upper superstructure are separate visor surrounds and separate hand rails inside the top lip of the superstructure but most of the equipment storage is also different on the Ausf.B from the Ausf.C as depicted.

Upper Hull:

The separate hull sidewalls include inner detail and are free of any pin marks but include the locating points for the rear seats and equipment which as mentioned is different for the Ausf.B but the rear crew seats are used to help locate the side walls by resting these against the back of the seat and to the side of the firewall with small pins that fit inside the rear sets to guide the correct alignment and this may be a little tricky if the seats are not used.

The fit of the rear hull section may need a little trimming to blend in with the side panels after the glue dries and this assembly is then fitting to locating stubs on the lower hull assemble and the fit here is good making for good alignment.

The engine and front radiator is now fitted if you are using these along with two small supports at the front sides of the chassis and the separate front side panels added to mate with the side panels with the fit of these panels being very good.

The upper superstructure is moulded in one large rectangle with openings for the vision ports and rear doors and this just sits on top of the assembled side walls and real hull panel and the fit here is very good not requiring any trimming. The vision port covers are separate parts but don’t have any internal detail on them but there are the inner visor surrounds as mentioned.

The rear doors have the large hinges nicely done with inner latch detail moulded on without any pin marks and are designed to be workable with small brackets to hold the hinges to the doors and the other end trapped between the lower hull and superstructure as you fit these together which may be a little fiddley but the good fit of the superstructure will help things along as you don’t have to worry about getting this to fit as well. The only issue here is the rivets on the outside of the doors are undersized and you may want to replace these for a better look.

The forward engine compartment cover has separate engine bay doors and side cooling flaps and you can leave these open to show off the engine if you wish with the fit of the doors to the compartment also being good.

At the top front is the Ausf.B grill intake but this is too narrow and should extend out to the corners of the top panel and should have 16 grills with the kit part only having 14 grills but this again may not be that noticeable on the finished kit.

At the front is the angled nose panel with a separate cooling flap as well as the tubular bumper bar which only needs the mould seams removed before use.

Thankfully again the fit of the engine compartment and front panel is good with the engine compartment mating nicely to the front of the superstructure and angled side panels and if any trimming is needed it will only be very minor.

The superstructure top panel above the driver has the rear grab handle included and also fits neatly with a separate bullet splash guard but no underside head pads.

Also provided is the upper machine gun shield and a quite nice MG42, the only problem being the MG42 did not come into service until 1942 and every photo I have ever seen of an Ausf.B has the MG34 mounted, also early vehicles did not have the shield fitted but it’s easy to leave this off if required. The box top illustration and instruction painting diagrams also show the MG34 fitted and it should be fairly easy to source an MG34 elsewhere to use.

The fenders are added to the hull sides and these have the correct profile for the Ausf.B fenders but the outer lip curvature and angles are far too sharp and could do with being sanded a little for a more rounded appearance.

The left side exhaust is in two parts fitted either side of the fender and the end of the exhaust pipe could do with drilling out for a better appearance and added to the sides are the storage lockers. These are located in the correct Ausf.B position but do not have any compartment scribing on the front having just a flat face and you may want to scribe in the two compartment segments.

Other detail items added to the hull are the front head lights which are about 1mm too big in diameter plus the Notek light and side width indicators which are moulded quite thin for plastic items, the left indicator also includes the rear view mirror.

All the tools have moulded on tool clips and you get six basic jerry cans with separate handles to use as you wish with racks to fit two of these to the rear doors as often seen.
There are also 8 Kar98 rifles which are quite nicely done being the correct size and 2 nice MP40s to include inside the vehicle or as you see fit.

These are the usual exploded view drawings and are quite easy to follow without any problem areas but as with any you should study these beforehand to understand where things go.

The small sheet is well printed with thin carrier film and markings for three Ausf.Bs in overall Panzer Grey with unit insignia and balkenkreuz in two styles.

The markings are:


As mentioned at the start is you are not concerned with the finer details the kit will build into a respectable model from the box with it basically dimensionally correct and the good fit of the upper hull panels making for a trouble free build after getting past the lower hull issues.

But if you are concerned with the accuracy then there are major problems from the poorly detailed running gear and oversized track to the incorrect interior and some major work will be needed to make an accurate Ausf.B.

So the final decision is up to the modeller but despite the problems it sure beats scratch building an Ausf.B.

Recommended because it’s and Ausf.B

The Sprues:

Sprue Images
Click on thumbnails for larger view
Detail images
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Sd.Kfz.251 1939 to 1942

Panzer Tracts No.15-2
Covers /1 to /10
Sd Kfz 251

Tank Power Vol.VI
Wydawnictwo Militaria No.215
ISBN: 83-7219-215-4

Ground Power Special
GALILEO Publishing Co.,Ltd
Schutzenpanzer (Armored Personnel Carrier)
Ryton Publications
ISBN: 1930571291

Osprey New Vanguard 25
SdKfz251 in action
Squadron Signal #2021

Thanks to my credit card and Jadar-Model Poland for the review kit.

Page created April 8, 2007