Early in WWII, the United States mounted an anit-tank gun on a half-track but found the vehicles were vulnerable because they lacked speed, armor and maneuverability. In late 1944, Germany was being overwhelmed by mass produced Soviet and US built tanks and in desperation began mounting anti-tank guns on every platform available in an attempt to stem the tide. In December 1944 Hitler ordered that a PaK 40 7.5 cm anti tank gun be mounted on the Sd.Kfz.251 half-track. The resulting vehicle, designated the 251/22, carried 22 rounds for the gun and a crew of four; one driver and a gun crew of three. It is unknown just how many vehicles were built. AFV Club makes an excellent representation of this vehicle which is the subject of this review.
I consider myself an average modeler and I selected this kit to try something different. This review is based on my observations. For a more expert opinion on hull dimensions and kit accuracy I suggest Terry Ashley's review at PMMS, which is what I based my purchase of this kit on.
I purchased both this kit and the PaK 40 accessory kit, which includes ammo crates, tubes and individual rounds, from Lucky Model. They arrived in good condition. The box shows an image of the 251/22 in a camo pattern from the "Western Front 1945", unit unidentified. Lucky Model's website showed a small resin figure included in the kit but that was only in the first 1000 kits produced and so was not in mine.
The kit itself consists of approximately 353 plastic parts, two track lengths, one turned aluminum barrel , two preformed gun shield parts and an etch sheet with four parts. A decal sheet with markings for two vehicles is included.
Molding of parts is generally excellent. There are no ejector pin marks visible on any of the major surfaces. There are some large ejector tabs on the reverse side of several parts that will need to be removed prior to assembly. The plastic is soft but somewhat brittle and may tear along the edge you don't use a sharp razor. Use side cutters only with caution and well away from the part being removed. For delicate parts only use the razor or the part may break.
This kit is actually a combination of two kits; the basic Sd.Kfz.251 ausf.D and the PaK 40 7.5cm anti tank gun. As a result there are two A, D and H sprues. Parts for the gun assembly are called out with a black circle and white letter. The regular vehicle assembly is a white circle with black letter.
The first "A" sprue, of which there are two, is for the suspension assembly. On my 251/21 kit the mold was misaligned and the two halves didn't match up. On this kit they were much better. Very little cleanup was needed and as the parts for the suspension and bump stops are not visible once the kit is completed it could be skipped. The suspension can be molded as "movable" to conform with terrain features. The front tire had small bits of plastic, like spalling from the molds, that had to be removed.
Sprue B has additional suspension parts and again details are crisp with minimal cleanup. Parts for the front axle are delicate and should be cut from the sprue with a razor to prevent them breaking.
The first "D" sprue is for the vehicle body. Detail is crisp and the parts clean. On the interior of the hull sides there are lines molded on to show attachment of the various parts for the different variants offered. These should be removed and it is easiest before the body assembly. I also added the suspension to the hull sides before assembling the hull as I found it easier.
Sprue U is the hull interior. The hull floor has nice tread pattern and the vehicle bottom is molded separately for enhanced detail. The rear hull floor is a separate part to allow for the several variants. When the floor and sides are assembled there is a small space along the edges as was present on the actual vehicles. The mold seam for the hull sides and floor run along the edges so the parts will have to be dry fit and trimmed carefully before final assembly to get the correct fit.
One sprue TA is included, with the driver's seat, one rear bench and one set of vision blocks. TA 9 and part D28 are not indicated in the instructions but are the parts for the hull side vision port for the driver. Because of the gun mounting the co-driver/radio operators station was eliminated.
One sprue X is included, with four Kar 93 rifles, one MG 38 and one MG42. One ammo drum for the MG38 is included.
The second "A" sprue contains parts for the assembly of the 7.5cm gun. There is excellent detail on the parts with the breech able to be shown open or closed. Careful cleanup is required of the breech parts to get them to fit around the aluminum barrel.
The second "D" sprue has additional gun mount parts and tools mounted to the original PaK 40 frame.
The second "H" sprue is the mounting base for the gun, new rear hull floor with good tread plate detail, and the ammo storage. There were minor ejector pin marks on the frame sides of the gun mount which were easily cleaned up. I don't know how visible they would have been once the vehicle was completed. Bolt heads are carefully molded and a new front shield with attachment for the gun travel lock is included.
The tracks provided are handed, with one side being one link shorter than the other. These represent the early pattern track and I don't know if they are correct for a late war vehicle. The tracks are clean with excellent detail and can be glued with regular model cement.
Individual link tracks are available from AFV club if you want to try a different look.
The gun shield comes in two preformed parts with plastic bolts to provide the details. there are four etched parts that fit between the two halves for the view port, gun port and a spacer.
The decal sheet has numbers for one variant (the one shown on the box art) and bumper decals for one other variant, both from the Western Front 1945. The protective paper for the decals was stuck to the decal sheet. I carefully removed it but I don't know yet if it damaged the decals. Paint schemes are dark yellow base with red brown and olive green pattern over that.
Overall, assembly is fairly straight forward. As mentioned above, care is needed when removing small or delicate parts so as not to break them. Dry fitting is required and some parts will have to be trimmed/shaped to fit properly. Aside from the driver's side vision port I don't know if anything else was omitted from the instructions. I thought it was odd that both decal sheets were stuck to the protective paper. Overall, I am impressed with this kit. I would have preferred to see a generic set of hull numbers as was included in the decal sheet for the 251/21, but particularly for the price I can't complain. I recommend this kit for fans of German armor or anyone looking for something different.
Russ also reviewed AFV Club's "AFV Club 7.5cm PaK40 Ammunition and Accessory set."
To read that review click HERE