458 parts: 418 in the AFV Club
signature green styrene, 18 photo-etched, and 2 vinyl tracks. This kit uses the radio sets from the “Ausf. c/ 17" command vehicle (item AF 35117), but provides a total of 27 new parts, including the unique 251/3 radio aerial and a set of 12 jerry cans in two different styles, a boarding ladder, and a portable generator.
Construction, beginning with the lower hull and suspension, is straight-forward and relatively trouble-free. Like many German vehicles, the inter-leaving road wheel suspension appears very complex. Luckily, torsion bars are located at the correct angle by locating pins (see photo, RIGHT).
I am beginning to overcome my personal aversion to vinyl tracks after using the very pliable and realistic new generation of vinyl. When carefully painted and weathered, they look as good as individual links, and are easily joined and glued-down atop the road wheels with regular cement (not CA adhesive) -just stuff some wads of tissue paper between the fenders and tracks while the glue dries. It's not obvious which direction the track runs, so study the box art carefully. Otherwise, they come without sprues, so there's no flash or moulding stubs to be removed.
Anyone who has built a 251 half-track from AFV Club will already be familiar with the construction steps up to # 15. This new release is made-up mostly of sprues from the very similar 251/17 (item AF 35117) Ausf.C Command Half-track from 2005. The main difference between the command half-tracks and other variants is, of course, the radio equipment and masts/aerials. Radios included in this kit: the 80 W.S. Transmitter, 10W.S.c Trans, Mw.E.c Short-wave receiver, U.kw.E.e receiver, and the Fu 7 and Fu 9 units.
Construction of the radio gear takes a big chunk of time. The radio racks are extremely hard to remove from the sprues intact. Do not attempt to apply any pressure with cutters or a knife when doing so. Using a heated knife, instead attack the sprues AROUND the sprues containing the fragile parts. It sometimes helps to first warm the whole sub-sprue you have so removed, in order to take the brittleness out of the styrene. The only other real chore in this build is to carefully mate the upper and lower hull halves together, with a gap-free join. Patience required!
The stand-out features of this kit include the finely-detailed small-arms: MP40 machine pistols, Kar 98 rifles, MG34 and MG42 machine guns, ammunition canisters, as well as the realistic creases of the leather seat cushions. Two alternate machine gun shields are offered, depending upon which gun is mounted. The detailing of the radio equipment is well-executed, while the inclusion of a sprue of beautifully-done jerry cans with photo-etched metal seams and PE brackets seems good value-for-bucks. Particularly nice are the opening rear doors. A little patience is needed to carefully line-up the working hinges, however. The multi-part vision ports can all be positioned opened, and can also be enhanced with the separately-available clear vision blocks set from AFV Club.
The expansive interior is well-appointed: pedals and gear levers are separate parts. The seats have nice cushion, spring-back, and frame detail, as well as separate lower seat sections. All of the AFV Club 251 kits include optional welded or cast front armored radiator louver covers. The fenders are separate parts with their distinctive subtle sag recreated here. A minor detail, this and the well-done underside, just adds to an already excellent kit. Two Ausf.C style head lights, a Notek light, and a three-part upper exhaust system and separate closed fender storage boxes are provided. The road wheels include the distinctive spot welds around the outer wheel rims and subtle curves around the edges of the lightening holes, while the drive sprockets are detailed with the correct offset drive teeth.
Markings are provided for five different vehicles: 4 for the Eastern front and 1 for North Africa. I found the decals to be trouble-free, especially with a dab of softener. They are thin and crisply-defined.
With over 30 hours spent on this build, the kit doesn't fall into the category of "weekend project." At least an initial once-over of the instructions will definitely be mandatory for a new-comer to German half-track kits. Other than some very fragile radio rack parts which are difficult to remove from their sprues, I can find very little to complain about. I found the multi-part front tires left me with join seams, so I would have liked a couple of nice vinyl ones instead. Overall, the fit is excellent, with few ejector pin marks, very little flash, and no moulding seams to remove.
Instructions are never clear enough for me, but this was a piece of cake after having previously built an AFV Club 251 half-track. I hid some fishing weights in the front end before closing-up my 251; otherwise, it will teeter back and raise the front wheels off the ground, as the finished model is rear-heavy. The separate engine access doors make it possible to enhance the model with an after market engine kit, while the ease of build inspires me to tackle all of the German half-track variants (and now, in 1/48th scale as well), available from the AFV Club catalog.
Not quite as glamorous as its stable-mate 251 variants from AFV Club: the Stuka Zu Fuss and PAK 40, this model is nonetheless an important edition to any 1/35th scale collection, as it was such an integral part of the German mechanized forces of WW2.
Only a small production run will contain the limited-edition print of the box art. Best to order yours soon!
Link to build log: