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In-Box Review
135
Sd.Kfz. 251/21
Sd.Kfz. 251/21 Ausf. D
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by: Russ Amott [ RUSSAMOTTO ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

introduction

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 kit

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.

partial build

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.

conclusion

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).
SUMMARY
Highs: Nice details, good instructions and a great price.
Lows: Some flash, fit issues and cleanup. Decals are very basic.
Verdict: I think this is a good kit representation of this less common variant. It is well worth getting and building.
Percentage Rating
85%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: AF35082
  Suggested Retail: 22.00
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Aug 14, 2009
  NATIONALITY: Germany
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 84.47%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 89.65%

About Russ Amott (russamotto)
FROM: UTAH, UNITED STATES

I got back into the hobby a few years back, and wanted to find ways to improve, which is how I found this site. Since joining Armorama I have improved tremendously by learning from others here, and have actually finished a couple of kits. I model to relax and have fun, but always look to improve. ...

Copyright ©2017 text by Russ Amott [ RUSSAMOTTO ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of TankRat's. All rights reserved.


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Comments

Thanks for the review, I have this kit as part of the 3-in-one pack. I have heard the dimensions are slightly off, but apparently so are the other manufacturers, so I am not too worried about a couple of scale inches....a very cool,version.....anyone know what camo scheme these would have?
AUG 13, 2009 - 10:37 PM
Scanned this pic out of SS Armor on the eastern front I think. I'm going to start working on this soon. I love the fact that it has both a 251/17 late, and the 251/22 in the same pic. I'm trying to track down some figures to put with it. The camo is cool looking too, I don't see any markings on it though. Anyone one now what unit it is? The Fedorowicz book says Hungary but in Anthony Beevor's the fall of Berlin 1945 he has the same pic captioned as Pomerania.
AUG 13, 2009 - 11:50 PM
The photo looks like the one used in the kit instructions, late model gun shield. The instructions just say "Eastern Front 1945". I don't know how well any of the German army units would have been organized at that point in time. Just a couple of updates on the build. My camera is down right now so I don't have any accompanying pictures. First, I goofed. The supplied vinyl tracks are sided with one side being one link shorter. One track length has a square tab and one a circular tab to differentiate. Some of the mold seams go along the edges of the kit parts which leaves the parts slightly over sized so dry fitting is critical. Also, with the kit instructions, step 18, assembly of the ammo boxes. For the two side bins it shows bin top part F28 for the left bin and F34 for the right bin. It should say F34 for the left bin and F31 for the right. As for figures to go with this, I purchased the DML Cherkassy set, which I also reviewed. I am looking for another to go with them. I am doing the late gun shield variant.
AUG 14, 2009 - 12:49 PM
Russ, Great review and I look forward to seeing your build take shape. Have a safe shift sir. Darryl
AUG 22, 2009 - 07:04 PM
I figured I would post a few images and comments to the review attachment to tie it all in. The forward hull, fenders and side hull storage bins should all be fit at the same time as there are some minor fit issues. If there is a two or three week interval as on my kit, it will be harder to adjust parts. I painted the interior and added some weathering in the form of dirt/mud. As these were relatively new vehicles in service for a short time there won't be much chipping or wearing down of paint. Here are some shots of the mostly completed hull. Sorry the pictures are dark. One of the dearest children took the camera and dropped it or got it wet and now I can't adjust anything. It is fixed focus with random flash. Fit of the gun mount parts is a bugger. Lots of small parts that will ping out of the tweezers and fly away. I have found parts to other kits I was looking for, money, kids toys, Jimmy Hoffa, the Roswell alien, the lost ark of the covenant, all the missing socks from the dryer, Amelia Earhart, my sanity, the 39 minutes from the Watergate tapes, several pins dropped into the carpet, bigfoot and three Japanese soldiers who never knew WWII was over, but not the missing parts to the gun. Maybe next time I loose something I will find the part I need now. They are small and might be hidden by the gun itself. As unfortunate as reality is, I believe these issues of fit and assembly are primarily user caused. These are the figures I am working on for this kit. Two guys are just standing there looking at maps and pointing, just like everyone did in real life. Dragon makes a crew for this vehicle, but they are dressed for warmer weather. As this is a late production vehicle and I am doing the late version of that, It will be January or February 1945.
AUG 28, 2009 - 12:53 PM
Thanks for the review and pics of the built kit Russ. I don't have many 251s, but this one looks like a keeper... HONEY, where's my wallet!?
SEP 04, 2009 - 03:12 PM
Here are a few more images of the build. The paint job was sort of an accident. I was doing a three tone and did the base coat white, middle coat dunkelgelb and top coat olivgrun. I then did a light wash over that. The thinner doesn't really affect Tamiya rattle can colors (top and bottom coats) but took the MM spraycan dunkelgelb right off. So now I have a two tone winter cammo scheme. The light got knocked off so I have to replace that. I haven't placed many of the small bits because I didn't want to loose them as well. I'm almost finished with the 2cm drilling mount. Parts fit on this is difficult. The vinyl ammo belts aren't very flexible, are too large for the ammo box openings and there was a slight twist in the mold creating uneven alignment. The etch shield was very easy to form but the instructions say to put the outside flash hiders on before the shield. The shield won't fit over the plastic end rings. The entire assembly was movable until I installed the ammo belts, but it is fairly fragile so you will want to choose the final position and leave it there. I haven't finished painting the shield and still need to add the sight. Part E3, what looks like maybe a travel lock pin, is supposed to go on the front of the shield. It is very fragile. Two parts are supplied. I broke both trying to get them off the sprue. Here is the temporary placement of the gun mount. These are the Cherkassy figures to go with the vehicle. I modified the bread bag and made straps for the gas mask case. I still need to make slings for the guns. You can't see but I actually managed to hollow out the front ring sight. I re-scribed all the seams and under all the overlapping clothing. Now I just need to figure out a diorama base.
SEP 12, 2009 - 10:08 PM
The instructions don't call this out, but there is an etch cover for the sight, part G-1. Also, I used some of the other etch parts for the brackets for what I believe was the travel lock. I redid the paint job on the shield.
SEP 21, 2009 - 10:25 PM
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