Few kits recently have produced the kind of “buzz” that the announcements of competing versions of Germany’s Sd.Kfz. 7 from Trumpeter and Dragon did. The first to the finish line is Trumpeter’s “early version” of this widely-used prime mover. The original was developed by the firm of Kraus-Maffei in Munich between 1934-1938, produced later by other factories in Germany and Austria. While the vehicle could transport mechanized troops, its intended purpose was to drag around a variety of artillery, especially the various models of the 88mm and several field guns.
As Allied air power began to erode Germany’s initial advantage on the ground, the Sd.Kfz. 7 platform was fitted with 3.7 cm and 20mm “Vierling” (quad) guns to provide anti-aircraft fire cover. There are also three other variants, including one mounted with a 7.6 cm PAK anti-tank gun, one with an AA range finder, and (strangest of all) one used for fire control with V2 rockets. The Sd.Kfz. 7 served on all fronts, and nearly 12,200 of them were produced through 1945.
The box contains 17 sprues with nearly 850 parts modeled in Trumpeter’s usual soft light-gray plastic, and includes three “rubber” tires (one for the under-mounted spare), plus 2 sheets of PE brass additions (including some anti-skid plates), and Trumpeter’s usual detailed instruction book.
The model comes with a reputation already; the company’s critics say it has poor design, inaccurate measurements and is simply the ancient Tamiya version many of us have labored with for decades that incorporates the various AM upgrades. This is emphatically not the case. The kit’s power train is a thing of beauty, so much so it’s a shame to mount the body and cover up the details that no after-market manufacturer I know of offers. The engine promises to include all details found in the R&J Enterprises resin engine I never put into the Tamiya I recently finished, though I promise to do a side-by-side comparison when I build this kit for Armorama. The only thing that appears to be missing from the motor are some of the hoses and cables, which the serious modeler can easily add.
The vinyl tires do appear to have an incorrect post-war tread pattern, but there is an abundance of AM tires intended for the Tamiya kit to correct that, including DAK sand tires and snow tires. My build plan for this kit will be a Winter Eastern Front diorama with a FLAK 36, so I already have a pair of R&J snow tires in-house. I probably wouldn’t use the vinyl tires included any more than I would use “rubber band” tracks on tanks, so it’s not a major
mistake in my opinion. Still, I sympathize with those of you who object to correcting a manufacturer’s oversights and shortcuts.
Overall detail on the individual pieces is sharp and appears correct, in keeping with other Trumpeter kits I’ve handled. Sadly, the company’s issues with knock-out holes and flash continue somewhat, though the cumulative effect is nothing particularly onerous to an experienced modeler (and this kit is too complex for the novice). Other nice touches include correctly-sized handles for climbing onto the vehicle or holding on from the bench seats, latches for rifle mounts in the correct in shape (unlike the Eduard PE set), and rear storage bins with doors you can have open or shut (an Eduard PE upgrade was required for the Tamiya kit-- and even then the handles on the set are incorrect).
The tracks mimic the excellent Modelkasten plastic versions, though this time with a two-piece track pad instead of MK’s one. The track components are mounted on sprues and will go together into a working linkage. The tracks appear to have no great flash issues, and actually less flash than the Friulmodel version I included on my Tamiya build.
A decal sheet and painting guide offers four choices of historical vehicles, though none are attributed to any actual unit:
• 2 Luftwaffe variants in panzer gray (presumably Early War)
• 1 DAK Luftwaffe variant in sand yellow
• 1 Wehrmacht Heer variant in tricolor camo
The problems with the kit’s dimensions have been mentioned in other reviews, including an inaccurate angle on the front fenders and thick hatch covers. I will be better able to comment on these and any other issues as I get into the log build of the model. For those asking whether it would be better waiting for Dragon’s version (promised at some point in the next two months), I can’t say. Will DML improve on Trumpeter? I have yet to purchase a perfect kit. This kit is a valuable addition to the hobby, a huge improvement over the old Tamiya kit, and looks like it will go together into a vehicle that many of us want in our collections.
A Build Log
has been started on the Forums to evaluate the kit construction.