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DML's 1/35th Sd.Kfz. 250/11 le SPW W/Panzerbuchse 41
Kit no. 6132
MSRP: $28.00

by Ray Mehlberger

 

 

History

The vehicle that was to become the Sd.Kfz. 250 leicher Schutzenpanzerwagen series had its beginning in the same operational requirement produced during the mid-30's that led to the Sd.Kfz. 251 series. It was intended that there would be both a 1-ton and 3-ton half-tracks to provide mobility for the infantry and other units operating with the Panzer divisions, and the 1-ton vehicle became the Sd.Kfz. 250.

The Sd.Kfz. 250 was first produced by Demag AG of Wetter, in the Ruhr, although later other companies were also involved in its manufacture. The vehicle was based on the chassis of the Sd.Kfz. 10 Leichter Zugkraftwagen 1-ton vehile, but featured an armored hull with an open top to accommodate the crew of five men...plus the driver. The first examples were produced during 1939, and the Sd.Kfz. 250 first went into action during the May 1940 invasion of France. Compared to its larger counterpart, the Sd.Kfz. 251, the Sd.Kfz. 250 was built and used in a much smaller scale. The type's total production run was impressive enough (5,900 were built between 1942 and 1944) and by the time the war ended it was made into no less than 14 official variants (plus the usual crop of unofficial variants). From 1943 onwards production modifications were introduced to the hull shape to assist manufacturing, while at the same time cutting down on the amount of precious raw materials required. The armor thickness ranged from 6 to 14.5mm (0.24 to 0.57in).

The subject of this kit is the Sd.Kfz. 250/11 variant. It is an early body style and mounts the special "taper-bore" weapon, 2.8cm (1.1in) heavy anti-tank rifle sPzB 41.

The German taper-bore weapons were an odd off-shoot from the main stream of anti-tank gun development. Although they were successful, they floundered for the simple reason that German war economy could not afford the raw materials required to produce great numbers of them. Three different taper-bore weapons were produced for service. All relied on what is commonly known as the Gerlich principle. In simple terms this involved the use of a small projectile core made from tungsten, a hard and very dense metal...ideal for punching its way through armor plate. In order to provide the tungsten core with the maximum punch the Gerlich system involved the use of guns with calibers that tapered downwards in size from the breech to the muzzle. The special projectiles involved the using flanged or "skirted" ammunition that allowed the flanges to fold back as the bore narrowed. This had the advantage of increasing the emergent velocity of the projectile, enabling it to travel farther and to hit the target harder. The principal was attractive to the German ordinance designers who adapted it for the anti-tank gun, but the principal had some disadvantages: to ensure the maximum power of the gun expensive and relatively rare tungsten had to be used for the projectile core, and the guns themselves were costly to produce.

The first of the taper-bore guns to enter service was the 2.8cm schwere Panzerbuchse 41. It was really little more than a heavy anti-tank rifle, with a bore that tapered from 28mm (1.1 in) at the breech to 20mm (0.787 in) at the muzzle. It used a light carraige, normally, but a second version...with even a lighter carraige and smaller wheels was produced for use by German airborne (falschirmjager) formations. Both types were used right up till war's end.

The Kit

DML has already, in the recent past, released 3 versions of the later "Neu" chassis versions of the Sd.Kfz. 250. These kits differ from the the latest /11 version in body shape. The fighting compartment has verticle sides on them...whereas this first kit of the earlier "Alt" version has angled sides. In the future DML will release two more kits on this early chassis. One will be Rommel's famous vehicle, with "Grief" painted down the side: the Sd.Kfz. 250/3 and the other will be a 250/1 with just machine guns for armament.

The sPzB 41 2.8cm taper-bore weapon has been out once before in DML's kit no. 6079 with a JF8 limber that is horse drawn and with a crew. A crew could have been included in the new kit. The box art shows a crew...but ...alas...you only get the driver figure.

There are 387 parts in this new kit. 30 of these parts are blued out on the instruction sheet as not to be used. All the parts are molded in a light gray plastic...which seems to be the trademark of DML kits. Most of the parts trees are in their own, individual cello bags. The exception is the trees of road wheels and individual links which are all commonly shoved into one cello bag. A postage stamp sized decal sheet is included...more on this decal sheet later in the review.

The first, large tree of parts (letter K) holds parts for the fighting compartment sides, the firewall, a couple of MG 34 machine guns and their mounts, some tools the rear wall of the fighting compartment and it's door, and other smaller fittings. 49 parts total here.

The next, slightly smaller tree (letter A) holds parts for the vehicle's floor, drive sprockets, steering shaft, fire extinguisher, suspension parts, lower chassis sides, tow hooks, cable cutter etc. 41 parts on this tree.

The next tree in decending order of size (letter M) holds the vehicles top, nose plate, fenders, axe, hatchet, pick, pry bar, and the head lights with their seperate black out covers. 14 parts here.

The next tree (letter C) is all the parts for the taper-bore gun and its carraige, and some ammo cans. Unfortunately, it looks like only one, tiny round of ammo is included. The carriage is supposed to mount on the rear wall of the vehicle after it is built for storage. Parts on this tree total 25

A second (letter C) tree, of roughly the same size as the first letter C tree, holds the driver's compartment floor, the driver and passenger seats, some storage boxes, gear shift lever, steering wheel, radios, etc. 30 total parts.

A small (letter B) tree appears to hold the vehicle base plate for mounting the taper-bore gun and some locking and storage mechanisms for it. 8 small parts here.

A similar sized (unlettered) tree holds the parts for the driver figure: his body, separate arms, head, and field cap. 5 pieces here.

A very small (letter A) tree holds 2 parts for the transmission. These last three mentioned trees are all in one cello bag along with a piece of nylon mesh screen to do the air intakes.

There are four copies of (letter F) tree...that holds the individual track links. There are 30 links per tree, for a grand total of 120 links.

The final four, identical (letter B) trees hold the road wheels, front tire rims, tires,suspension arms, a rifle, a MG 42 machine gun, vision flap, and other small fittings. 20 parts per tree, for a grand total of 80 parts. A lot of these parts are duplication and will wind up in your spares box.

The very small decal sheet is printed mostly in white...so I did not bother to scan it as it would not show up well here. It has only one lonely marking on it for the Grossdeutschland Pz. Div. There is a tactical sign, license plates for front and rear, and what looks to be a windmill insignia that goes on the side of the vehicle? I was very disappointed that there were not more alternate markings in the kit...but lots of aftermarket markings are around and extras in other armor kits that I own.

A very good side view picture of this vehicle is shown in a AFV Weapons Profile book that I have, No. 57, on page 179...showing one with a canvas weather top installed. The taper-bore weapons carraige...slung on the rear in this picture...appears to have white walled tires!! Strange indeed!

I actually found the exact markings used on this kit's decal sheet, except for the license numbers, in a book by Aero Publishers Inc., Fallbrook, California. Armor Series no. 7 "Halbkettenfahrzeuge...German Halftrack Vehicles" on page 13. The license number in this picture appears to be WH 679094 vs the one the kit gives you of WH 1032475. Otherwise all the markings are the same...including the windmill on the side. Anybody know anything about this windmill marking??

The parts are flash free and this looks like it will make up into a great addition to my armor show case. My only gripes are the lack of any kind of history on the instruction sheet. The 'one only' decal marking, and the lack of a gun crew to man the taper-bore gun.

Instructions are a 10 page, gate fold affair, with 29 assembly steps and a half page of painting/decaling instructions.

I look forward to the upcoming other two early versions of the Sd.Kfz. 250 to be released later.




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