by: Russ Amott [ ]
As WWII progressed, Allied air superiority began to have a telling effect on German forces, creating an urgent need for increased anti-aircraft vehicles. One of these vehicles was the Sd.Kfz 251 equipped with a triple (drilling, in German) gun mount on a rotating stand in the rear compartment. Designated the 251/21, it was mounted primarily on the D model of this vehicle. The initial armament was three 15mm automatic cannons, later changed to three 20mm cannons, increasing firepower, but at the same time decreasing rate of fire. The 20mm armed variant is the subject of the AFV Club Sd.Kfz 251/21 kit.
I have seen this model kit several times and finally decided that the price Lucky Model was offering it at was too good to pass on. I ordered it and 8 days later it arrived.
The large box shows a Sd.Kfz 251/21 Ausf. D painted in dark yellow, ready for action. Kit details are advertised on the box sides. My box arrived from Lucky Model slightly crumpled; the shipping box was in good shape but at some point was opened for customs inspection, and may have been bumped or dropped at some other point in the 5000 mile journey as well. Damage was minimal and will be dealt with below.
The kit consists of approx. 260 parts in three different shades of dark green plastic, as some of the sprues come from previous Sd.Kfz 251 kits. There is a large sheet of photoetch parts, brass gun barrels along with vinyl tracks and ammo belts. The instructions span 13 pages with the assembly broken down into 25 steps which are clear, and include separate drawings and directions for building either the early or late gun shield versions. A paint guide on page 2 has colors listed for GSI Creos, Humbrol, Revell and Life Color brands.
The parts breakdown is as follows, in order of sprue lettering:
2 Sprue "A", consisting of front wheels, road wheels and some of the rear suspension assembly. Details are very good on the kit parts and flash is minimal. Ejector pin marks are kept primarily to hidden surfaces.
Sprue "B", consisting of the front suspension, drive wheels and some rear suspension parts. One of the axle parts for the rear road wheels was broken in the kit from shipping. Again, pin marks were hidden or raised for easier clean up. Seam lines were minimal. The plastic is a bit fragile so care must be taken when removing some of the more delicate parts or they will snap.
Sprue "D", consists of the hull body. Weld seams are visible and delicate. The instructions call for the removal of raised bumps on parts D2 and D8, the lower hull sides, but on my kit sample they appear to have been corrected in the master mold. There are some slight seam lines along the surfaces of some of the welds. The upper hull is a separate part but is included on the "D" sprue.
Sprue "E", consisting of the two plastic gun shields and small retaining pins. The two gun shields look clunky in appearance and are replaced by etched parts. The two pins were surrounded by flash. This part was twisted in the box, probably due to shipping.
Sprue "F", consisting of the rear hull floor and mount, gun assembly and ammo boxes. There are prominent ejector pin tabs on the bottom sides of the hull floor parts which must be removed, but the marks won't show after construction. Again, there are very small, fragile parts that can be easily broken or lost. Details on this sprue are excellent. There are some small seam lines and raised pin marks on other parts to carefully clean up. My sample had two small sink marks on the gun cradle sides, parts D21 and 22.
Sprue "G" is the photo etch fret. My sample was bent but useable. This contains the two new gun shields, armor for the gun bay for the early version, chains with locks attached, a gun sight and other small bits.
Parts "H", consists of the two vinyl track runs. The vinyl is very soft and flexible and shows excellent detail. There is a mold seam that runs lengthwise down the middle of both tracks and my sample had two or three track pads that were slightly deformed but can be easily hidden. For those who prefer the individual track links, AFV Club makes three different sets of late or later style tracks for this kit. Both runs are the same length and on the real vehicle one side was one link shorter than the other.
Decal sheet "J" has markings for four vehicles and generic numbers. Markings are all for the outside. No instrument dials are included.
Parts "M", consisting of three turned brass barrels and two flash hiders for the outside guns.
Part "R", consisting of three 20mm ammo belts molded in black vinyl. There is a light mold seam, and the parts look a little clunky, but otherwise very nice.
Sprue "U"; consisting of the lower hull inside and out, assorted hull details and some suspension parts. Again, slight mold seams, raised pin marks and ejector pin tabs that are easily removed.
2 sprues "TA", contain the seats, MP 40 and solid vision blocks. Molding detail is excellent on these sprues.
The last two pages of the instructions show painting and decal guide for four different vehicles:
•Hungary 1945, Dark Yellow and Dark Green, early gun shield.
•Dark Yellow, no region specified, early gun shield.
•Eastern Front, 1945, Dark Yellow, Dark Green and Red Brown, early gun shield.
•Eastern Front, 1945, Dark Yellow, Dark Green and White, late gun shield.
No unit is specified for these vehicles. Some photos show the gun mount on the rear of the hull for the MG42. The mount is included in the kit, the gun is not.
I did some basic assembly of the lower hull, front suspension, gun mount and gun to see how the parts fit. In general there were no issues and fit of the parts is very good. On the front suspension I had to remove a little plastic as the fit was too tight for the axle and axle spring. Parts A14, which appear to be the stops for the torsion bar suspension, all had a slight mold offset and had to be filed flat to fit well. The two front tires in my sample would not go together without significant pressure. It appeared that they had a slight warp. Once together I sanded down the glue seam, giving the tires a slightly worn look as well.
The gun mount base fits well on the lower hull. The gun mount itself can move up and down after construction, but required repeated dry fitting and filing to get the parts to fit properly. Step 16, the joining tabs for parts F8 and 9 to connect with center brace F10 were slightly oversized. Part F21 and F22 then had to be carefully shaped and F7 set into place. All of this must be assembled before the glue has set to ensure proper alignment.
I also partially assembled one of the guns to check the fit of the brass barrel to the plastic receiver. The fit on my sample was very tight. I had to carefully sand down the base of the barrel and slightly enlarge the opening on the receiver to get it to fit properly. Part F64 is a very small ring for the base of the flash guard at the muzzle. I test fit the barrel while this part was still on the sprue, and found this was also too tight, so again I lightly filed down the end of the barrel. When it fit, I carefully removed the ring from the sprue and set it in place. The flash guard was loose on the muzzle end so I glued it in place over the ring, carefully aligning the part, then after the glue had set I cleaned up the attachment points on the ring. I will glue the barrel in place when I complete the assembly of the gun.
There are no figures with the kit so if you want more animation you will have to shop around and find something suitable.
Overall I think this is an excellent model and I am enjoying the build very much. It will require careful cleanup and assembly but no more than other kits I have purchased. I recommend it to halftrack fans and anyone looking for something different.
This kit doesn't have as much media as the Dragon kit, but was also $20 US cheaper. For a detailed comparison of the AFV and Dragon kits, as well as dimensional measurements, you can visit Terry Ashley's review at Perth Military Modelling Site (PMMS).