The 251 series, based on the Sd.Kfz 11 3 tonne tractor, saw action on all German fronts during WWII. There were 4 basic versions, A, B, C and D, and in addition to these there were 23 specialised versions produced, for example the 251/1 personnel carrier, the 251/2 Mortar carrier, the 251/3 Communications vehicle, and so on. This kit represents the 251/17 carrying the pedestal mounted 2 cm 38 in a small armoured turret. Prototypes of this existed on A & B chassis, and some were manufactured on a C. This kit however, is an Ausf. D, as mainly issued to Luftwaffe units, although some did find their way to armoured units. Interestingly, there were other versions of the 251/17 with a specially extended crew compartment that had fold down sides, and the gun on a full ground mounting, allowing a full 360 degree traverse of the gun, and the engagement of ground targets, but these were dropped as they proved too costly in terms of resources, to produce in large numbers.
As with all the 251 kits from Dragon, the kit is beautifully presented. Excellent box art by Barry Crook, showing the 251/17 in winter camouflage. Inside the box everything is individually bagged, as we’ve come to expect from Dragon, with the now ubiquitous Dragon ‘card’ holding the photo etch, metal and other small ‘goodies’. These ‘goodies’ included an extra set of the late EZ tracks, (there are early tracks included on sprue E), a pair of brass width indicators (I wish these were in all 251 kits), 3 photo etch frets (more on these later), and a small metal barrel for the Kwk 38, which if used, means cutting out the plastic barrel of the Flak 38, which was longer, and reusing the flash suppressor.
There are 12 sprues of the normal light grey styrene, dependent of course, on how you count them! One sprue of transparent plastic holding the periscopes, the hull, and a rolled back’ tarp in the new DS100 flexible styrene, this tarp is the same one issued with kit # 6224. Also included is a beautiful pre-formed armoured turret in photo etch. This represents one of 2 turrets supplied in the kit. A styrene one, which I can’t imagine anybody wanting to use, the pre-formed one which is supplied in a small vac formed, contoured case for protection, and a flat one that requires folding on one of the photo etch frets. The only difference between the two photo etch ones is that the flat one has a small cut-out, the purpose of which I’m unfamiliar with, but seems to have been a modification to allow for easier reloading. There is also a driver figure included, made of the tan, DS100 styrene.
Back to those photo etch frets! One is from kit # 6223, the 251/ 7 Ausf.D, and holds mostly the armoured plating for the hull sides under the fenders. The second is, as mentioned, the third option turret, and the third small fret holds the magazine racks for the gun. In fact, these last two photo etch frets and sprues K & J, are the only new parts, the rest coming from earlier releases. However, they were worth waiting for! Sprue J is the Flak 38 itself, but sprue K hold all the associated hardware including pedestal mount etc. and this is really worth looking at up close. This sprue holds some of the finest styrene injected parts I’ve ever seen. From the tiny moulded on butterfly nuts, to the amazing magazine racks, the moulding is pin-sharp and needless to say, as with the rest of the kit....totally flash free. There are two decal sheets included in the kit, one contains license plates and individual numbers to make up any number you might want, the other contains markings for the 8 schemes offered in the instructions. All of which are late ’44, early ’45 as you would expect.
Dragon still refuse to re-tool for those rollers on the drive sprocket, but you what? You can’t see them....and the bits you can see more than make up for it!
Another stunning addition to the growing range of 251 variants from Dragon. Who know? Maybe we’ll get the complete line up... and if they’re all like this one.... I can’t wait!