- Published on Sunday, 29 April 2012 00:01 Nick Mayhew
1/35 Sd.Kfz.7/1 2cm Flakvierling 38 w/Armor Cab
Catalogue # DML6533
Available from Creative Models for £62.50
Courtesy of Creative Models I am delighted to review this Dragon kit of the German half track in one of its guises as mobile anti-aircraft artillery. After many years (decades?) in which we just had a choice between three venerable Tamiya offerings, the market is now seemingly awash with SdKfz7s! Taking DML's kits alone (Trumpeter have also released a range of SdKfz7s), I think you can now model pretty much most configurations seen during WWII. Our kit comes armed with the Flakvierling 38 (literally quadruple FlaK), but also has an armoured cab, and is at present the only kit of this particular configuration on the market.
This review will naturally focus on the kit itself, but there is already a fairly large array of aftermarket goodies available for this half track, and it would be a review in itself to even list them all. What I will do, however, is mention alternatives for where I think the kit parts fall a little short, especially where they are what I would choose when building this kit myself.
Overview of the Sd.Kfz.7/1
After a demonstration of the 2cm Flakvierling combination to Hitler in Novemeber 1939, the Luftwaffe was the first branch of the Wehrmacht to order 100 of these weapons mounted on the 8-ton Zugkraftwagen chassis. Thus, the 2cm Flakvierling 38 auf Selbstfahrlafette, or Sd.Kfz.7/1, was born.
The first 100 Sd.Kfz.7/1 were completed 1940-41, and it was only in August 1942 that production increased beyond a paltry 10 vehicles per month. In all, 800 were completed by the end of production in December 1944.
The Flak 38s were initially mounted on a central hub, but later vehicles were produced to accept the Flakvierling 38 complete with its ground mount. This kit has this later mount, as well as the armoured cab for the crew and radiator shield (introduced in 1942). There were two types of armoured cab: the first had the sides and doors made from flat armoured plates riveted to steel support ribs; the second, bent plates, as depicted in our kit.
This Sd.Kfz.7/1 from 12.SS Hitlerjugend shows the earlier style cab made from flat armoured plate [Bundesarchiv]
Furthermore, the cabs differed slightly in the design of their roof: early versions had the roof plate extend almost in line with side panels; later versions saw the roof run only as far as the bulkhead separating the driver's cabin with the rear cabin, and a tarpaulin was used to cover the rear bench seat (more about the seat itself later).
There were drop-down panels at the sides and rear of the vehicle which when deployed created a larger weapons platform. On the earlier non-armoured vehicles, these panels were a simple wire mesh, whereas those with armoured cabs had either a square grating or flat plate with round perforations. I must confess that whilst the former seems quite common, I have yet to see a photo with this perforated plate, and would be very interested to see one – feel free to post your thoughts on this on the SP&R Forums. Finally, some very late war vehicles had panels with wooden sides, like in the cargo version of the Sd.Kfz.7.
Sd.Kfz.7/1 being picked over in Czechoslovakia at the war's end; note later style cab with bent armour plate, and also wooden drop-down panels [British Pate]
There are other differences between the non-armoured and armoured versions, as well various combinations of fender styles and drop-down panels, and I will try to cover some of these as we go through the review.
Overview of the Kit
The kit is presented in a way that will be familiar to those having modelled DML armour before: a sturdy box, not too large, fully packed with individually bagged sprues. There is near zero flash and the moulding is very high quality. In terms of multi media, the tyres are Dragon's DS Styrene – not to be confused with Trumpeter's rubber tyres I should point out, and there are two frets of photo-etch. The tracks are DML's indie-link Magic Tracks. There is a sprue of clear parts for headlamp lenses etc, which also contains the windscreen parts (not for use) from the non-armoured cab version.
The box is packed full!
The kit comes with full engine, gear box and winch. The Flak 38 comes with two different gun shields: one open, as if firing, and one closed or folded inwards, depicting the guns in transport mode. The drop-down panels are the later wooden type, and may be modelled closed or opened out. However, the kit also has parts for the earlier mesh type sides, including plastic frame and PE mesh panels, so you can model whichever one you want.
Magic Tracks, photo-etch mesh and DS Styrene wheels
From an accuracy point of view, I have compared the kit to the plans in Panzer Tracts No.12 and the drawings of Dan Graves as presented in Military Modelling Magazine (technical advisor to DML for this project) and dimensionally everything seems in order.
Cabin – Crew Compartment
The cab is the later bent steel plate type, but has the earlier full roof, extending out over the rear seat. This combination has been difficult to definitively track down in photographs, but I did find one clear shot in Der Deutsch Panzer und Militarfahrzeuge an der Front Bildband, published by Dai Nippon Kaiga. Most of the pictures I have tend to be shot from ground level looking up, and it's difficult to tell, so artistic license is there even if you are modelling from a particular WWII photograph.
Cab side panel showing bent armour plate construction; sadly the doors are moulded shut rather than separately, but the shape and detail is an excellent
Despite what the box art and indeed DML's own 6533 kit page would have you believe, this kit does not also come with the riveted flat plate option. Moreover, the doors are not separate but moulded shut to the side panels as one piece. The riveted / flat plate cab does have these separate doors, but is only available in kit 6542.
Two things of note here: the rear facing bench seat, folded up here, which is not provided in the kit; the later roof style, with tarpaulin covering the rear seat area [Bundesarchiv]
Now, more about that rear seat...There should be a rear-facing seat just the other side of the bulkhead behind the driver's seat; the seat folds up / down, and ammunition boxes are stowed beneath it. The seat is missing in this kit. The part is provided in kit #6542 as you can see from the snapshot of that kit's instructions, so it took a little digging to work out why this might be the case. As regards the parts breakdown, the seat and the stopper it rests on when folded down are on a Sprue G in kit #6542; this is also the same sprue that contains the alternative cab, with separate doors etc. Sprue G in our kit is completely different – it has the gun barrels and 20mm ammunition magazines. All my references indicate that the seat should be present on every Sd.Kfz.7/1, and the fact that the slots are there on the inside of the kit side panel points to an error on the part of Dragon. Now it's fine if Dragon only give you one cab type (even if they do show two on their box art!) but it is not fine if parts that should be there to correctly complete the kit are not included. I will update this review as soon as I find out where one should go for the relevant replacement parts.
Slots provided, but the seat is not!
Snapshot of instructions from the #6542 kit – shows placement of the bench not present our kit [1999.co.jp]
Instructions from our kit - the seat notable by its absence!
Now back to the cab. A full interior is provided, and even though you won't see it through the doors, you can see a fare bit through the two hatches in the roof; these open in opposite directions for some reason – a feature correctly captured by DML – and have some nice rivet and padding detail on their insides.
The foot pedals are ok, but the accelerator has been moulded as a tiny blip on the cabin floor, when it should be a fairly prominent button. The gear levers are glued to the cabin floor when in reality they should go through holes in the floor, direct to the gear box; even with open side doors, I'm not sure this is a big deal. The vision slots in the armour can be modelled open or closed, courtesy of some small PE metal parts, which I quite like. The instrument panel is rudimentary with only raised detail for the dials; you may wish to consider Archer's Sd.Kfz.7 instrument and placard set if you plan to peak around inside?
The armoured replacement parts for the engine compartment sides and bonnet are correctly depicted – the rivet detail is very subtle indeed. The radiator grill looks quite pleasing at a distance, but on close inspection is moulded solid, without the ability to see in between the fillets through to the radiator itself. This might seem a bit a harsh, but Bronco have managed exactly this on their Sd.Kfz.6 series (one of which I shall be reviewing shortly). These Sd.Kfz.7/1 were usually seen with an angled piece of armour plate in front of the radiator grill, so you wouldn't see much anyway. In case you want to model one without the extra armour at the front, Griffon Model make a nice resin and etch replacement where the fillets can be posed open or closed.
The grill looks good, but is not quite up there with Bronco's half tracks
The side panels of the engine compartment only have ridges moulded in to represent the vertical vents, whereas they should be see through. I think a number of aftermarket companies incorporate engine panels in their upgrade sets, but Griffon again do one specifically for the panels and engine itself here, and the panels with the vents cut out do look rather impressive.
These 'gills' could be more clearly defined perhaps?
The shape of the fenders is well done, although the fender supports underneath the wheel arches are not present, but can be easily sourced from a number of upgrade sets if you wish. This is not essential, but given the arches are a fair bit larger than the wheels themselves, will be quite visible. Note that there are alternative configurations for the left headlamp and Notek lamp, but all the pictures I have seen thus far show the Notek on the outside.
The Sd.Kfz.7 was powered initially by the Maybach HL62 engine, which was replaced by the HL64 in 1943, but I am afraid I do not have references on what the specific differences were. A full engine is provided, and looks a decent initial representation but there is certainly scope for adding lots of plumbing and extra wiring if you wish. The gear box is a little more rudimentary than the engine, but unless you pick your model up and look underneath will be difficult to see clearly. I have struggled to find clear pictures of it in my references.
Main engine block parts
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