Sd.Kfz. 251 Ausf. D
This is a fantastic series of kits, and I consider these half-tracks to be some of the best small-scale kits available today. The German halftracks have actually been under-represented in 1/72d scale until this series. ESCI produced the Ausf. C version of this Sd.Kfz. 251 (although it has some flaws) and the "Alte" version of the Sd.Kfz. 250. The "Neu" versions of both the 250 and 251 were produced in large numbers during the war, and it is surprising that it has taken this long to see one in plastic (Al.By sells a couple versions in resin). The Sd.Kfz. 250 Neu is still non-existant (although I've heard rumors of a resin kit soon to be released).
The Sd.Kfz. 251 Ausf. D was produced in many versions throughout the later part of the war, and Hasegawa has given us the three most numerous types. The base model, the 251/1, is the infantry-carrier, and any of these three kits can build into this version, if the modeler so desires. So if you want to build a 251/1, but the only kit on the hobby shop shelves is the /9 or /22, go ahead and buy it. In fact, I would recommend doing this anyway, so that you can have the spare cannon parts to use with other projects.
In the scans below, I have placed two identical sprues next to each other to show both the front and back sides, but of course, only one of each sprue (except D) is included with each kit.
Sprue A contains the primarly hull components, and some smaller details. The machinegun shield is a little thick, and has some ejection pin marks in the inner surface, but both problems can easily be taken care of with some sandpaper. The rear fighting compartment hatches are molded as a single piece, and will need to be separated if you want to model them open. The latching mechanisms are molded onto the inner surface of the doors, and would need to be modified if posed open. The "Bosch" headlight is beautiful, and the "Notek" light is also pretty decent. Notice the nice bolt detail around the rim of the oil pan under the front of the hull.
This scan shows both Sprues B and F. Sprue F is NOT included with the base 251/1 kit, because the two parts on the sprue are blank visor covers for the cannon-armed versions of this half-track. The fighting compartment floor has recessed panel lines, but no treadplate pattern. The instrument panel is nicely done, with a spare gas mask container attached. The chassis is also very well done, although none of the detail will be visible with the wheels and tracks attached. One of the best design features of this kit is the fact that the wheel axles are molded onto parts separate from the hull. This makes it very easy to build and paint the wheel and track sub-assemblies before attaching them to the hull. I wish all manufacturers would do this (if possible).
Sprue C contains the smaller details of the kit, including radio, pioneer tools (sort of), steering wheel and trailer hitch. The axe is molded as a separate part, but for the pickaxe, Hasegawa molded the axe head directly onto the fender, with the handle as a separate piece. It looks good enough when built, but I'm not sure why they chose to do that. The radio is great, as is the hitch.
Two copies of Sprue D are included with each kit to provide all the necessary wheels and other details. It's not visible in this scan, but the driver's seat has a very fine spring pattern molded onto its back surface. The backs of the bench seats should contain a rifle rack, which is not included in this kit. The MG-42's are the first MG-42's included in a plastic 1/72d scale kit, and are fairly well done. Their detail is good, but they are a little thick, and their stocks could stand to get some attention from a piece of sandpaper.
Sprue E contains the Pak 40 cannon for the 251/22 version, and is included only in that kit. The only other Pak 40 in 1/72d plastic is from ESCI, and the Hasegawa gun is better than the ESCI attempt because the ESCI gun is actually molded in the recoil position, as though it had just fired. The Hasegawa gun is not. The Hasegawa gun shield is much thinner than the ESCI kit's, but that's not necessarily a good thing. The Pak 40 gun shield was actually two thin sheets of metal separated by a couple of inches. With the overly-thick ESCI gun shield, it was possible to carefully scribe a groove down the edge of the shield, to simulate the two pieces of metal. This can't be done with the Hasegawa gun. Also, the ESCI kit included some details molded onto the inner face of the shield. These details were not real well done, but the Hasegawa gun doesn't include them at all. It could use some extra detailing. Also, the recoil slide is molded as a solid piece, whereas there should be a very deep groove cut down its center. The rest of the gun and its mount are very well done.
I am not sure why Hasegawa skipped Sprues G, H and I. Perhaps more versions will be released? Sprue J (pictured here) is the cannon for the 251/9, and is not included in the other kits. The gun and its mount are fairly well done, although they could probably benefit from a little more detail. There are some sinkmarks on the side armor plating from the interior support braces. The framework around the gun breach is a little over-simplified, and could use some more detail.
The tracks are single piece vinyl, but for once I am not going to criticize them. The track is very flexible and detailed. It holds paint very well, the ends melted together with Tenax Plastic Welder glue, and superglue holds them to the tops of the bogie wheels nicely. Unlike the horrible tracks included in their Pz. IV kits, I actually like these tracks very much.
The decals are typical of Hasegawa, i.e., well printed, good color and registration, but the carrier film is too thick. As you can see, the markings are extensive. The painting guide in the instructions (which are fantastic, by the way) show a single marking option for each kit, but each set of decals gives many more options, each with three different divisional markings, plus several styles of balkankreuz, and optional vehicle numbers. If it wasn't for the overly-thick carrier film, these would be pretty sweet decals.
According to my references, this half-track is perfect 1/72d scale.
I have previously posted a construction review of the Sd.Kfz. 251/22.
References: SdKfz 251, Wydawnictwo Militaria No. 12, by Janusz Ledwoch; SdKfz 251 Half-Track, 1939-1945, Osprey New Vanguard No. 25, by Bruce Culver and Jim Laurier; and Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two by Chamberlain, Doyle and Jentz.
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