by: Darren Baker [ ]
The German military in World War 2 were big users of the half track so much so that I bet when a half track is mentioned most think ‘Hanomag’, I know this is not accurate as regards a vehicle. During the build up to World War 2 it would appear that only Germany was looking at half tracks as Armoured Personnel Carriers with the 251 proving to be a successful family of vehicles. There are a great number of 251 models on the market in many scales. The 251 Ausf A was the half track that Germany entered the war with and it proved a successful design with many alterations being made during the war to better protect the vehicle, make it more user friendly and to make production easier, you also need to consider how many variants were produced to fit specific roles. This offering is the command version of the Sd.Kfz. 251/6 A. ICM has now released their Sd.Kfz. 251/6 A for the second time and matched it with their excellent 1/35th scale figure release of the German Command Vehicle Crew (1939 – 1942).
Sd.Kfz. 251/6 A
This offering is supplied in the now usual flip top cardboard box favoured by ICM with a second separate card lid with the artwork on it, as a modeller I do appreciate a well packaged offering and I feel ICM is one of the best in this respect. The artwork on the lid is very nicely done and will draw your eye to the box I believe. Inside the box is an instruction booklet with the decals protected between the pages. The sprues and other model elements are packed inside a re-sealable plastic bag with further bags holding the clear and vinyl rubber parts. The figure set is provided in a separate re-sealable bag with the instruction sheet provided also.
Starting with an examination of the model contents reveals little in the way of concerns. I found a lot of ejector pin marks throughout the model parts, but very few of these should be an issue with the finished model. A look at the larger mouldings reveals a number of flow marks that do not look good, but on the positive examination reveals no issues with it that has affected the surface finish of the plastic. The figures were released fairly recently and an examination of the sprue does not cause me any concerns at all as I can only see some very light seam lines that will need to be cleaned up; not something that should shock any modeller unless excessive which these are not.
Sd.Kfz. 251/6 A
Looking at the detail on the mouldings reveals crisply replicated raised detail that should please most and keeps the model easy to construct while providing a good level of detail. I have done a lot of reference checking for this review and the exterior does appear to be accurate for an Ausf A version of the 251. The view ports or shooting slots depending on how you look at it along each side are correct and while designed to be closed a little effort will enable them to be open. The tools are correctly mounted along the hull sides rather than on the mudguards used in later models. The engine vents are exposed rather than covered which is again correct for version. An engine is included with this offering and that can be exposed if wished due to the access doors being separate parts.
This offering contains all of the sprues from the previous ICM releases of the Sd.Kfz. 251 Ausf A and an additional sprue covering the aerials and radio equipment. The aerial mast has been well moulded but will require care when removing it from the sprue. The thickness of it is acceptable and should look the part well enough. ICM has added some mounting plates for the support arms and these need to be drilled in two places, however ICM has not supplied the drill size that is needed for this task. The radio stacks are very well done and the addition of some wires will finish the area off a treat. My only complaint here is that I would have liked to see some headsets included here. The changes here has resulted in the need to remove a seat some personal weapons storage and the external radio parts from the earlier releases.
Moving to the rear of the model again reveals nice and accurate details provided by ICM in this release. The machine guns are nicely presented and a guard has been supplied and shown used in some of the finishing options; it needs to be remembered that in early versions no guard was used on the machine guns and sand bag protection was commonly used by troops. While talking about the machine guns I would have liked to see some ammunition boxes or drum magazines as the breech of the MG’s are separate parts. The rear of the model and rear doors are correctly angled and so alls good right? Well no there are some issues I found.
The body work on the 251 Ausf A is made of a front and rear portion that was bolted together just behind the drivers compartment and that has been very nicely replicated by ICM in this release. The clear parts supplied with this model are from a previous ICM release and that is the Type 320 Saloon staff car. The vinyl rubber tracks and tyres are very good from a detail aspect, but I am looking for alternate tracks in plastic or similar.
ICM has provided two finishing options for this model, one of which I know will prove a very popular option. These finishes are:
Sd.Kfz. 251/6 Ausf A. Command vehicle of Lieutenant-General Heinz Guderian, Poland, September 1939
Sd.Kfz. 251/6 Ausf A. 1941
German Command Vehicle Crew (1939 – 1942)
The figures in this release are as indicated on the box top and so we get a driver for the halftrack, a radio operator, a figure taking notes on the messages and an officer who gives the impression of being impatient, but he is at least not pointing at the distance and shouting. The figures other than the driver break down in the usual manner and I am pleased to see that the heads are all separate parts that make painting an easier proposition for those of us that struggle.
The uniform replicated here is the early German uniform as signified by the breast and main pockets having the pleats down the centre, as the war progressed everything became scarce and the pockets lost the pleats plus the cut of the uniform was not of the same high standard. The three infantry soldiers are all wearing the cloth side cap and the officer getting in the usual peaked affair. The badges are all present on the jackets and hats with the eagles on the side caps being a little hard to see in some cases; my only surprise here is that the officer has an award badge on his left breast pocket which I suspect would be uncommon during the very early stages of the war. The trousers and boots are as I would expect and I do not have anything more to say about them.
The stances of the two figures operating the radio and taking notes are really nice have a relaxed but attentive look to them, as in they are doing a task but have a relaxed natural look for seated figures and I would say have possibly the best poses I have seen for seated figures outside of resin. Another aspect I like is that the headsets have been included with reasonable detail only requiring some wire be added by the modeller. The driver is in the typical pose seen many times before, but I appreciate the arms been provided in four parts and the split at the elbow will I feel allow manipulation to get them into the correct and natural position on the steering wheel. The officer has an interesting stance that will catch the eye. I was pleased to see the strap detail for the binoculars replicated and even the eyes on the belt are present; the holster is a separate moulding which I like but there is no obvious attachment point in the required area. The crease detail is very natural for these figures and the seated figures provide a lot of chances for the modeller to use colour modulation on the uniform.
The hands of these figures are excellent in most cases and a little clean up on the other hands should result in a very pleasing finish; the detail on the hands for the most part does not just include the fingers but also detail on the backs of the hands. The faces have all the needed detail including the ears where seen, an area often poorly replicated. My only gripe here is that the only face with real life in it is the radio operator, but to be fair the driver does look to be concentrating.
This model in my opinion is a very nice offering from ICM and represents an updated 251 A rather than an early vehicle, but that is not so easy to pick out in this release due to the external aerial and machine gun shield not being used on this release. The build should not present too many issues to the modeller beyond the usual issues present in all models. The interior of the model is very nicely done with a dedicated crew now also in the box. This figure offering from ICM is a perfect accompaniment for the Sd.Kfz. 251/6 Ausf A and they are is really nice due to the great poses presented, especially the radio operator and note taker. The driver shows a lot of promise and I like that effort has been made for the modeller when it comes to getting the hands on the wheel. The officer I would have liked to see scratching his head at a strange order as that is what the pose screams at me. This combination is excellent and will make for a great addition the combination sets released by ICM covering the early stages of Operation Barbarossa.