fredag 31 augusti 2012

Plastic Soldier Company SdKfz 251/1 D.

Another essential release from Plastic Soldier Company is the german half-track Sd.Kfz 251, or "Hanomag" as it was called after the main automobile company that produced it. It went through four different versions -- A through D -- and was in production for the whole of the war. Each version was further modified into different variants depending on the their battlefield role; the /1 is the basic troop carrier and the most common variants. Other variants include the /2 which is a mortar or rocket carrier (given the same designation as they are both mobile artillery), the /3 which is a radio carrier and the /10 which is a platoon commander. All in all there were over 20 variants produced.

The WW2 equivalent of an SUV?

Plastic Soldier Company has produced both the C and D variants in 15mm scale, but so far only the late war D variant has been released in 1/72. As usual, Maelstrom Games mixed my order up and first sent me a box of 15mm Hanomags, but they sorted it out and I got my 1/72 kit. As compensation I got to keep the first box and I couldn't resist assembling one of the smaller hanomags to compare it with the larger kit. In the middle is a 1/87 scale Hanomag from Roco which I bought on eBay. It was listed as 20mm but is right between 15mm and 1/72 scale-wise. As you can see the size difference is quite noticable between the three scales.

15mm, 1/87 and 1/72 scale Hanomags.

This review will mainly be about the 1/72 version though, so all the pictures are of 1/72 models.

The 1/72 scale sprue.
The 1/72 scale box contains three sprues, each with one vehicle. The 15mm box contains five sprues, but is slightly more expensive. Both kits are quite lavishly equipped with crewfigures and stowage. Almost no "proper" model kits I have built have contained any crew.

A finished vehicle. The parts fit well and assembly takes less than 20 minutes.
The different scale kits contain almost the same parts with a few small differences. The 20mm kit has a 37mm AT-gun for the platoon commanders vehicle included on the sprue and a tow cable wrapped around the front tow hooks, which are not in the 15mm version. Included in both scales are backpacks, helmets, spare weapons, jerry cans and a spare tire to decorate the vehicles with.

Crew and stowage. Note the Panzerschreck.
In 15mm you get 7 figures which are all wearing helmets; two drivers, four seated passengers and one standing machine gunner. In 20mm some of the figures have field caps and you get an extra figure to act as a loader for the 37mm gun, although you don't get a figure that actually fires it! I guess you could convert the machine gunner if you wanted to. An interesting note is that the figures are clearly wearing camoflague smocks making them SS. It has been a bit hard to tell what the previous german figures from Plastic Soldier Company have been wearing because of the way they were sculpted. However, I think you could paint the figures all field grey if you wanted without anyone noticing!

Close-up of the seated figures showing the lacing at the front of the camo smocks (click to enlarge).
In real life a Hanomag would take ten passengers and have three crew; a driver, a radio operator and the machine gunner. So you would think that only seven crew is a bit few, but as I said earlier it's more than any other kit has included. Also, since the compartment in the hanomag is rather cramped it's hard as it is to get the figures in anyway. Plastic figures are not as bendable and adaptable as real soldiers. Besides, you can always add a standing figure or two from their regular infantry set.

It's quite cozy inside!
Contrary to popular belief the majority of panzergrenadiers were not mounted in Hanomags but trucks. Typically only one batallion per regiment had half-tracks. Also they were not battle taxis used to charge into the midst of the enemy with. Instead they allowed the grenadiers to accompany the tanks over rough ground and advance where regular trucks couldn't drive. Upon contact with the enemy the grenadiers would dismount and fight on foot. While the machine gun could provide covering fire and the armour withstand small arms fire and shrapnel the driver usually tried to get the vehicle out of harm's way as it wouldn't last long against anything heavier than a LMG. That said the crew was trained to follow behind the grenadiers in case they needed to mount up again.

Note the spare tyre mounted on the front for extra protection.
The vehicles were equipped with a tow hook and often used as tractors towing light guns. An unarmoured variant called the Sd.Kfz. 11 was designed as towing vehicle but the germans did have a knack for improvising on the spot, especially during the late war as casualties from strafing attacks mounted. A rudimentary representation of the towing hook is included in the kit if you wish to model it towing something, perhaps an ammunition trailer.

Some stowage added.
 As mentioned the kit comes together nicely. The track assemblys are all one part, the hull is two parts (upper and lower) and everthing is glued to the hull. Simple instructions are included, but I figured I didn't need them as I have built a couple of Dragon kits earlier and promptly installed the benches the wrong way around. Not that it shows if you put figures inside!

Dakka dakka dakka! Oops, wrong game!
The kit is not perfect though, but nearly so. There are some small details omitted that are not really necessary on a wargames model, but you still miss them in case you know what they are. First, the guide poles, rear-view mirrors and headlights are all missing from the front fenders. Sure, they would usually break off after a couple of months in combat but not everyone at once and not on every vehicle. Still they are the things that usually break when the model is used in wargames so it's a nit-pick really. Worse are the machine guns; they lack any ammunition whatsoever -- neither ammo belts or ammo drums are included -- and are poorly sculpted.

The offending machine guns.
The area around the breech and eject port are not detailed at all, just a flat square of plastic. Furthermore, the barrel casing is all wrong. The caseing has cooling vents (the small holes) along both sides, while in reality the right side was open to allow the barrel to be changed quickly. This needs to be carved out to look good. Another problem is the gun shield of the 37mm gun included. It's a full-height gun shield as used during early war. Late war hanomags had a cut-down shield, in order not to be easily identified on the battlefield, sometimes even only protecting the left side of the gun. This is a very minor issue as using the gun is optional and as it could be a field modification using a regular gun mounted on the halftrack.

You can just see the top of the helmets above the rim. In real life I guess the passengers would hunker down a bit...
Now it may sound like this kit is very bad. It isn't. It's excellent for wargamers and even modellers will find it useful as it can be made into a very nice background vehicle with very little effort. All the options and extra parts included are very, very nice and the finished vehicles really look the part, especially if you use the stowage to give them that lived-in feel.

To sum it up I give this kit 5 out of 5 possible for wargamers.
If you are a modeller that doesn't want a super-detailed vehicle I give this kit 4 out 5, just for the reason that you get three kits in the box, great value for your money.

8 kommentarer:

  1. Nice review mate.
    Id like to buy a kit of them...but I have to finish a British artillery battery first. :)

  2. Thanks for this review. I am increasingly tempted by the PSC kits.

  3. Good review. I'm waiting for the early-war version, the C version.

  4. Great report and very useful ;)

  5. Very nice! I'm going to get me some of these, and probably long before I've finished painting the rest of my stuff...

  6. Very nice review. Your comments regarding the MGs and the high profile PaK shield are spot on. I did try raising the latter with Mr Townsend but he didn't respond to my question.

    Cheers, Dave

  7. great review. I am getting the 1/72 models too.

    1. Thanks. I think PSC is on the right track doing wargame models that's only available as resin, costly and fiddly dragon kits, or old arfix stuff.


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