For those of us who can’t get enough German half-tracks, this is (to quote Leibnitz) “the best of all possible worlds.” There are at least ten variants of the Sd.Kfz.7 out in 1/35th or in the pipeline to replace the ancient Tamiya kits. Books and accessories are coming to market aimed at this segment, including wheel masks from the Polish manufacturer Quick Wheel. I have already reviewed their mask for the Dragon Sd.Kfz.7 kits (click here
, part of the company’s large and growing line of wheel masks intended to make painting road wheels easier). Since the dimensions of the road wheels on the Trumpeter and DML kits are not identical, so you’ll need the right mask for the right kit.
Hardcore modelers and old-timers scoff at paying $12-$13 for wheel masks, but with German vehicles especially, painting the road wheels is a royal pain in the rear end. The Sd.Kfz.7 and other half-tracks in particular used a complicated suspension system called the box chassis (Schachtelfahrgestell
): the bogeys are interleaved with one another to support the vehicle’s weight efficiently and deliver a smooth ride over rough ground. It’s a complex arrangement that made German tanks more stable gun platforms and lessened crew fatigue, especially due to the hard rubber edges on the bogeys. But the array tended to suck up rocks that damaged those hard rubber rims (thereby providing an after-market industry for “damaged road wheels”). These "tires" fit onto the rims of the road wheels in a very precise manner with an overlip of base color that makes painting them daunting.
There’s nothing elaborate or tricky about the mask: it’s a rhomboid-shaped piece of black plastic-like material with a blue sticky overlay. The instructions are a tiny piece of paper showing which kit parts go with which mask holes. There’s nothing to using it; the road wheels pop in, get a coat of paint, and are ready for assembly. It couldn’t be easier. The mask is reusable, which makes it ideal when you’re turning out multiples of the same vehicle.
As you can see from the photo taken from Chris "Toadman" Hughes's invaluable, but reasonably-priced CD-ROM Mittlerer Zugkraftwagen 8T Sd.Kfz 7 Photo Detail
and reviewed here
), the masks very accurately reproduce the "lip" of paint that extends from the outer depression on the road wheel to the base of the hard rubber "tire." There's no way of replicating this feature without masking the wheel, something heretofore that was impractical.
The only drawback to these mask sets is the price: at around $12-$13 each, they would not make sense (to me, at least) unless you have a very complex vehicle like the Sd.Kfz.7, or you plan on building multiple versions of the same tank or half-track (e.g., the Pz. IV). This set will only fit the Trumpeter Sd.Kfz.7s, and will not work with the Dragon kits, whose wheels are slightly smaller in diameter. That having been said, I have a whole series of these masks on my “to buy” list because there are so many kits, and so little time. Be sure to mention this Armorama review when ordering from Quick Wheel.
As part of a build log of Sd.Kfz.7/1s (click here
to view), I discovered the set does not include a mask for the drive sprockets and have lowered the overall rating accordingly.