This kit, Dragon Models Limited 6592-03, was generously offered for review by Armorama.
My objective was to finish it by the end of August; the construction took me more than expected for reasons I do not intend to discuss them here; anyhow, for integration into the planned diorama, the kit is not finished yet. Whoever is interested in following the future development of the kit and hopefully the finished diorama, is invited to follow my blog here
. The present feature deals with only what is inside the box, and there is plenty.
The now traditional “Smart Kit” from DML contains in fact two kits: an older Sd.Kfz. 251/1 and a newer Flak 38 with trailer. Besides, the box includes plenty of extra parts for external stowage, extra track links, and new molds for certain details and PE parts, some of which can optionally replace plastic ones for finer details. All in all, the box has over 700 parts; of course not all to be used. As general assembly, the kit offers two options: Sd.Kfz. 251/17 designed for and commissioned specifically to Luftwaffe, and the command version of the same vehicle, which appears rather an uninspired modification.
According to my written sources, Sd.Kfz. 251/17 was built on Ausf. C and D frame only, while only two of Sd.Kfz. 251/17 Ausf. C were converted to command or radio vehicles. The photographic evidence, however, shows only a single vehicle which, for its unique character, I decided to build.
As a method of building and painting I’ve chosen “paint as you go” which suits best in my opinion such a well detailed kit. In any case, this is my favorite method.
Chassis and Tracks
Unlike other kits, Dragon does not provide the whole torsion bar, but only the end of it. Despite two alignment points, there it is still enough play and much care has to be employed in correctly matching the angle. Once the ends of the bars were in place, I primed and painted the whole assembly, together with the wheels. Right after painting, I dry-brushed everything lightly to pick up the great detail provided by Dragon and finally I painted the rubber parts using a fine brush. The front steering / suspension assembly was also painted and added, along with interleaved wheels. Again, maximum attention must be paid to alignment. If a beat is lost here, the tracks will seat unnaturally twisted.
Further on I moved to tracks. Each link comprises two parts. The most difficult part for me at this step was removing the parts from the sprue and cleaning them. Luckily enough, The Carpet Monster received no sacrifice. Once I had all the links ready to assembly, I improvised a jig from an egg box held in place with masking tape and, using Tamiya extra thin cement, all went as a charm. The working tracks sag beautifully under their own weight. Once the glue was dry I removed the tracks (I never glued the sprockets in place before the last moment – three months later that is!) and paint them with rust color, then dry-brushed with silver to show worn out surfaces.
The interior of the kit is very well appointed. Although I knew very little detail will be visible upon completion, I decided to treat them with maximum attention: at first, few gaps had to be filled. For the seats I decided to use PE parts and the newer version included in the kit. The dashboard is quite accurate. Because the molding is perfect, I decided not to use decals and to paint by hand. At this point I realized my dashboard looks very much like a Mini Cooper dash or something and I went back to my photographic references. Indeed, I let myself carried away and I “improvised” too much on the color scheme. I subsequently corrected the error(s). Other details were painted using masks like on this electric box or using decals harvested from another kits, like on the fire extinguisher. For most of details I restricted myself to painting with the specified color. Whatever areas I considered would show worn out spots were moderately weathered before assembly, because once the build complete certain areas are very difficult if not impossible to reach.
I kept adding up the interior details step by step, as I finished painting…. One of the first difficulties during assembly proved to be the gun platform. The base was quite warped and necessitated a good supply of glue and reinforcement during drying. Fortunately, the plastic sheet is very thin and all went well. The last photo from this series is taken much later than the bulk, after I decided to include the AA gun into the diorama. As matter of fact, adding the 20mm projectile boxes goes against the kit’s instructions. I considered it logical however because the command vehicle in my diorama is used as a towing vehicle as well, and the gun itself has no caisson. Besides, the command variant looks quite bare without internal stowage or figures (none are provided by manufacturer).