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The German Sd.Kfz. 251-series of semi-tracked medium armored personnel carriers have been, and continue to be, very popular subjects not only with modelers, but with manufacturers as well. Indeed, the recent and on-going battle between DML and AFV Club, regarding producing variants of this vehicle in 1/35th-scale, has rewarded modelers with an embarrassment of riches. Likewise, after-market accessory manufacturers have also been busy supplying upgrades for the available kits. If you like this AFV, you have never had it so good!
Due to the obvious current popularity of this AFV, it is small wonder that Osprey’s re-vamped Modelling series has chosen to release a title devoted to the Sd.Kfz. 251 series. The author, Mr. Oehler, is also the series’ consultant editor, an accomplished modeler, and a former employee of Tamiya America. Thus, although this is his first book, his credentials are rather weighty.
In order to provide a modeler with the best information currently available, the author uses a combination of 234 step-by-step color photos, a chart depicting paint chips, plus a kitography, an index, a bibliography, and finally, a list of vehicles in collections in both the USA and Europe. For reference, there are a few helpful photos depicting a restored ‘251, including very useful photos of the engine compartment. Of course, with the newly released kits that have just begun to flow from both DML and AFV Club, a fair portion of this book may be considered obsolete since, with the exception of DMLs new ‘251/1 Ausf. C these are not covered here. But, the modeling techniques shown between the covers will not become obsolete. So, fans of this vehicle should not be put off by what some may consider a grave shortcoming.
Speaking of techniques, there are some that the author describes that I found to have potential. For instance, he is also an aircraft modeler, and the use of Future acrylic floor polish (which he terms as a “wax”, although it is not) as a base upon which to apply water-slide decals is detailed. Another interesting method is his use of the 3-inch cardboard tube from a roll of masking tape as a form for mounting tracks to ease in their finishing. He also discusses soldering of photo-etched brass parts and provides what may be the simplest explanation of the technique I have ever seen. Following his methods, I think I’ll finally give this a try.
As is the standard for the series, the author constructs several models, each of varying skill levels. The first item is the Hasegawa kit in 1/72nd-scale of a ‘251/1 D. This is a basic, out-of-the-box build with the emphases on painting and weathering. Next up is a slightly more advanced build featuring the brand-new DML Ausf. C kit. This article describes basic detail additions, as well methods of dealing with fit problems. The next subject is another step up on the complexity scale. It consists of a Tamiya base kit of an Ausf. D converted into a late ‘251/9 using parts from the DML Sd.Kfz. 250/8. The final build is also based on the Tamiya Ausf. D and also involves a conversion using after-market accessories as well as a fair amount of basic scratch-building. The author converts the kit into a ‘251/7 engineer ‘track, adding such things as an after-market engine (actually parts from two of them!), AFV Club suspension, Model Kasten tracks and various other accessories. The final bit concerns using this finished model in a diorama, where yet more useful techniques are described.
The text and captions explain everything quite clearly, although there is a tendency for things to be repeated in both places, almost verbatim. Likewise I found it a distraction when the author continued to thank those who provided items for the book, within the body of the text. Although I understand his desire to give them credit for their generous support (as a product reviewer myself, I am always grateful for that kind of support!), all of them are given proper credit at the beginning of the book on the “Acknowledgements” page, which is quite sufficient.
I would also disagree with the author when he states that “the representation of the vehicle in kit form has been very limited” because he follows that by listing no less than 18 plastic kits (available prior to the book’s completion), in all of the major scales, which include virtually all of the body styles. But these last words of mine are just observations and are not meant to discourage the potential purchaser of this book.
This book offers an array of good modeling techniques and will be a great aid to those who are anxious to dive into the new releases of the ‘251 series.
Frank De Sisto