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Zvezda 1/35 scale SdKfz 251/1 "Stuka zu Fuss"

Kit:3625 // Scale:1/35 // Price:$34.95
Detailed engine; easy-to-use decals; good detial without photoetched metal
A few damaged parts; poor detail in some areas; inaccurate in some respects
Injection-molded, 631 parts, decals
The German army added Wurfrahmen 40 rocket launchers to SdKfz 251 halftracks to provide powerful fire support to fast-moving panzer divisions: 28cm shells contained high-explosive warheads;  32cm projectiles, incendiary. In action, the crew dismounted and remotely fired the rockets from their frames. Though not as accurate as artillery, they were effective when used in large numbers.

Zvezda has resurrected its 2006-vintage SdKfz 251/1 Ausf B by adding the rocket frames and ammunition. Previous reviews  have mentioned the inaccuracies of this model, and they have not been corrected in this kit: wrong detail on the suspension; interior of an Ausf C instead of the more-spartan Ausf B; and an MG34 machine gun should have been included instead of the MG42.

The model is molded in light gray plastic with flash, sink marks, and mold shift that required reshaping many of the parts. There is no photoetched metal in the box, so good old-fashioned modeling skills are all you’ll need. The directions are clear and include callouts in Humbrol paints for all of the detail along the way. Since this is an open-topped vehicle with a complete interior, you need to study the directions to plan on how to build the model and paint the interior.

Construction starts with the engine, which shows enough detail to look good with the hatches open. The hull is composed of multiple panels: Any one that is slightly out of place will cause problems later in the build.

The suspension unit comprises multiple pieces, with the cross members needing to be trimmed to fit. I skipped ahead to Step 10 to start construction of the hull. I glued the firewall and seat bottoms to the floor, then glued the lower side walls and lower rear hull panel using the upper hull to keep everything lined up. This unit was then glued to the suspension pan.

Lower front panels and the front plate came next. I tried to use the hood (Part D25) to line these components up, but this part was damaged in my kit (I tried to fix it as best as I could). I completed the driver’s compartment so it and the engine compartment could be painted. The instrument panel is a decal applied to the dashboard, but there is no detail there to show where the gauges should be. The rear doors are supposed to be workable, but if you want to display them closed you should glue them in place for a better fit. I scribed slots in the wood seats to emphasize them.

With the interior painted, I was able to glue the upper hull components. Everything lined up except the hood, which took trimming and filler. The side vent covers lack hinge detail but you can add it with styrene strip. Glue the storage boxes to the fenders, then glue the fenders to the model for a stronger bond and to make sure they are in the proper place.

The front suspension is designed to pivot just like the real thing. It can be made steerable if you melt the pins that the tie rod (Part C37) attaches to. The tracks can also be workable if you are careful with the glue. Links interlock with the track pad to hold everything in place. The tracks suffer from mold shift that needs to be cleaned up for the two links to interlock. Also, many of the pads are marred by sink marks.

Directions call for 55 links per side, but I added one more link to each run to give the tracks natural sag. Otherwise, you need to glue the upper run down to the wheels.  

The rocket-launcher assemblies complete construction. The kit supplies three each of the 28cm and 32cm rockets with their wood crates; you can show them mounted on the launch frames or stow the frames. Markings are supplied for the projectiles. Directions are to paint the frames the same color as the rockets, but I found pictures of the frames as natural wood so I painted them that way.

With an Ausf B, there’s only one choice of exterior color: panzer gray. Tamiya German gray (XF-63) was the main color I used, with AK Interactive dunkelgrau base (AK163) for highlights. I hand-brushed details with Vallejo, Tamiya, AK Interactive, and Humbrol paints; Mig Productions and AK Interactive filters and washes provided weathering.

Two marking choices are given, one for the 8th Armored Division and another unknown company; both vehicles are from 1941. The decals are in register and showed minimal bleed-through on the dark gray background. There was no silvering and they were easy to handle.

Dimensionally, the model is close to the drawings in Schützenpanzer, by Bruce Culver and Uwe Feist (Ryton, ISBN 978-1-930571-29-7). Another great reference was Armored Transport SdKfz 251, by Waldemar Rogowski (GPM, no ISBN).

Even with no photoetched metal, this was not a throw-together model. With all of the small parts and the need to rework many of them, it took me 51 hours; most of the time went to cleaning up the tracks and trying to fix the fit at the front.

Still, it builds into a respectable model, and it’s the only plastic kit of an Ausf B SdKfz 251. I recommend it to experienced modelers.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the May 2015 FineScale Modeler.
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