Tag Archives: DML

DML 1/35 Sd.Kfz. 250 Neu with Royal Models set part 1



This is a very, very old build that has been sitting in a box for a long, long time. I feature this model because it represents my limits; not necessarily limits of ability (although those, too), but the limits of what I’m willing to do for a build. The base kit may not be a difficult one, but this is an all-out aftermarket bonanza. Over the years I reflected on this build a lot, and it helped me understand better of what the hobby means to me. I realized I like challenges, but only within a certain limit; as soon as a build becomes work I do not enjoy it any more. This model with all the aftermarket essentially became a job; you are spending an hour or so just to put together the convoy light from individual PE pieces -and the fruit of your effort does not actually look better than the plastic original (if there’s a visible difference at all). Or worse yet, due to the high level of skill needed for assembly, it actually looks worse. So yeah. From now on only builds that are not evolving (or devolving) into a full-time job. (Unless someone is paying for it of course.) So the work has been ongoing for at least a decade now: I continued my predecessor’s efforts, then gave up; I shipped the model to Hungary when I moved to the UK, and there it sat in my mother’s attic until I dug it out to finally finish it two years ago. Here in the UK I’ve finished several 1000+ part models while it was waiting patiently for me to work on it which I did on and off. But mostly off. And now it’s finally close to finishing.

So without further ado, the model.

I bought it on Ebay already started; someone went all-out with the DML 250, and bought all the Royal Models aftermarket sets he could get his hands on- and then sold it for peanuts. It was an ambitious project; a project with appealed to my naive younger self. Trying to build several sets does feel like biting a bit too much: you not only have to coordinate the kits instructions with one aftermarket set, but coordinate it with several sets, with a lot of overlap and variation. Some sets fit a different version of the vehicle, and all three have parts which are duplicated/triplicated; making sense of four sets of instructions is not an easy feat. The fact that Royal Models are not always clear on their instructions do not help matters either.


My main issue -aside from the conundrum presented by the several sets of instructions- was the tiny PE parts plaguing the whole build. I started the interior in 2007 back in the US, then shelved the model because I got a bit overwhelmed by the sheer amount of PE. I still do not know how possibly I could hold a 1mm PE part, and apply it to wherever it should be going without gluing my tweezers together and onto the model.

The finishing touches did not go well; not at all. I finished the interior a year ago, and the model went back to the box as I found it difficult to add the PE tool boxes on the sides. A year ago I weathered the interior a bit: added streaks, chips and dirt, finished with the small details, and closed the hull. I realized really quickly that the kit parts are not always inferior to the aftermarket alternative: the radio rack (but not the radios), some of the smaller equipment was kept from the DML set. In retrospect I wish I kept the tool boxes and the fenders, too…

The kit tracks were surprisingly good -they are workable plastic tracks. I have to say this may be an older DML model, but it’s still pretty good when it comes to detail.

Once the hull was closed off, I turned to the toolboxes on the side. I managed to attach them after a brief struggle, but there are some issues with the angles. I suspect some of it is my own incompetence, but some is due to the fact that the Royal models set was designed for the Tamiya model, and it’s the DML version I’m using. Regardless I went through several iterations of filling, sanding and painting; I used both Green Stuff and ordinary putty to do the job, and used the primer to check for irregularities.

Despite of having done the most annoying/disheartening part – filling and sanding- I ran out of steam again. I was only recently spurred on by my feelings of guilt. I have decided not to start new models until I finish off these shelf-queens; so far I’m making good progress. (There’s an Airfix Bentley and a DML 251 to be finished; not to mention several WWII and Warhammer figures.) And here I ran into one of the problems with the instructions: the doors for the tool boxes were to be installed from the inside. Which were not exactly indicated by the instructions: it shows the doors going on from the outside. The problem is I’ve already attached the frame to the hull, so outside the doors went.

I did try to install most of the minuscule little padlocks and all but at the end of the day I did what I could without driving myself crazy. For me a victory will be achieved if I finally can mount this model in its case. Ironically the plastic original has very nice padlocks moulded on them.

The Royal Model set is extremely comprehensive and detailed; the problem is it’s not very user friendly. I especially disliked the fact that the front mudguards are to be built from three different parts instead of folding one into shape; I’m not even lamenting on the fact that you’re supposed to glue the edges together without a small PE flap provided that could have been used for more secure attachment. (OK, I am. I AM lamenting.)

Another few months of rest; and then a new effort to finish this build. I’m quite motivated to finish off everything as I may be moving to a different country; I want to take these models with me mounted in their cases, instead of languishing in a box, half-assembled.

I sorted through the kit parts that I wanted to keep, and installed every single little detail I’ve left out so far. I also decided to stick to the kit’s plastic option whenever I can; particularly when it comes to the antenna mount for the large radio. I did not feel like folding and gluing the elaborate little assembly made out of several tiny PE parts, so I just slapped the three-part plastic one on. It does not look as nice, but at this point I was just happy to call the building phase finished. I also decided to use the kit’s width indicator rod instead of trying to fashion one out of wire as the instructions suggest; I also used the kit lamps and tools. The truism -just because it’s there you don’t need to use it- never rang truer to me than in this kit. I still am left with a ton of PE I have absolutely no idea where they should be going.

Anyhow. I’m done with the building, and this is what matters. Next step: painting the blasted thing.



Should you hoard?

This is the age old question about scale modelling: do you really want to buy that new kit coming out even though you already have ten (ha!) others in your closet and five being built?

And the answer is: god knows.

There are genuinely good arguments about buying stuff. One, and most important is that the model might go out of production.

This is an acute problem with limited run resin kits. I did not buy Inside the Armour’s Churchill interior set, and now there’s no chance of getting one. I passed up on the Stalker figure I really liked and took me two years to get one from someone who had it in his stash. I passed up on the Extratech Extrapack 1/72 models (with PE and resin goodies crammed in), and now they are impossible to acquire. I do have two of the initial Tiger I editions by DML (not the Tiger I is initial but the edition) which are frankly legendary, and quite difficult to get. So in that case it was a good call to hoard -and a series of bad ones not to.

However. If you buy models left and right you will run into obsolescence. For sure you will have a bunch of old models in your hands that are surpassed by newer, better editions, and then you will grind your teeth for wasting your money on them. See my example: I do have a liking of interiors, so I collected tanks and aftermarket interior sets over the time. I just finished the Tamiya T-55AM with CMK/Eduard/Miniarm extras (and Trumpeter individual tracks). I’ve spent a lot of time and money on that kit to bring it up to a standard that is still lower than the new MiniArt T-55A kits out there. Same with my King Tiger still to be built: it’s a relatively old DML kit with a resin interior and Lionroar PE set -yet I would be better off with one of the newer King Tiger sets with dedicated interiors (Takom‘s for example). I’ve planned to build all German WWII tanks with interiors, but now that I’m building the Panzer IV, I don’t feel like doing an almost identical tank, the Panzer III with interior – the tank and the resin set will go on Ebay soon. I’ll have the StuGIII and that will be it.

This is a delicate balancing act, and frankly there’s no good answer to this. The question you should ask is: am I really going to build this kit even if there’s a newer version later? Do I have a realistic chance to build it in my lifetime? Will you even be interested in this model in five year’s time?

Personally I have too many kits already: the ones I brought over from the US eight years ago (mostly 1/35 armor and 1/48 airplanes). A lot of it I don’t really care about any more; they will probably go on Ebay real soon – a real investment for sure. (Some I gave to kids of my best friend.) Some I do still feel I will build: the Tristar Flakpanzer I, the Panzer Kpfw. 38(t) Ausf. E/F, the Trumpeter Panzer IV bridgelaying variant, the 1/144 Dora railway gun… and a couple of others. I do have an eye on the Trumpeter Trench digger, and the Mondelcollect T-64, T-72 with full interior; these are kits I absolutely want to buy. But the ones I “just” fancy – other Modelcollect trucks, REVOSYS’ Panzer VI (VK36.01 H) with interior… well, these will probably never be purchased even if I have the money. The sad fact is I don’t want to leave behind a room full of boxes. (And I’m not an old man, so I don’t have excuse for such a grim talk.) I try to curb my impulse buys -which is an especially hypocritical statement now, that I managed to buy a Forgeworld Chaos Warhound Titan for 1/3rd the price on Ebay.

I would be interested in your comments.

DML 1/35 Panzerkampfwagen II Sd. Kfz. 121 Ausf F. with interior


Another build long in the box, waiting to be finished. The same story, really: I moved over to the UK from Florida, and had to box everything up; this guy was waiting six years to be finished. (And some parts are still missing- like the wooden block for the jack-, since I can’t find the box I put them. Yet.) I was in the same box as the Pnz I, so it was fitting to put them into the same display box as well… With the Panther, that’s three tanks down with interior, and a lot more to go.


The DML kit is amazing; I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone. The detail is just great, the model is easy to assemble; if you want a 1/35 PnzII ausf F with interior, this is the kit you want to buy.


I only really had to take care of the weathering: pigments, washes, filters. I did not want to go overboard; I liked the relatively clean look of the tank.

I used the usual German Grey by Tamiya back in the days, but a little blue filter really made the color look good.


Now I only have the Tiger I, Tiger II, Panzer III, Panzer IV, Panzer 38(t) to finish and I’ll have all the German tanks of the war with interior…

DML 1/35 Panzerkampfwagen I Ausf A with full interior


Well, this is one of those old projects, too… I started this model back when I lived in Florida, about 2007.

If you follow this blog you’ll know I have a fetish for interiors – and I was ecstatic that DML issued a bunch of models with full interior, so obviously I had to buy them. (I decided to get all the German tanks from the war with complete interiors. The Panther is done -sort of-, Pnz I-II are done, and I have the rest waiting. I’m also building as many world war and cold-war Russian tanks with interiors as possible, too.)

(Tristar had issued a couple as well; most of them I have waiting in my mother’s attic.)

This and the PnzII was mostly finished by the time I had to pack everything up and move back to Europe to do my degree. A couple of months back I picked up the box containing these kits, and brought them back with me to the UK to finish them up. Some parts are missing regrettably, but hopefully they’ll come around.

Regardless I declared them finished.


DML 1/35 Marder III Ausf H – finishing up old projects



Well, this is an old build as well. Or rather, the finishing of an old build.

I bought this model in Florida, back in 2007, and after doing a minimum amount of work on it, I just boxed it up. It stayed in a box for a long time along with a Tamiya T-62 -soon to be featured-, and a DML Sd.Kfz.250 -similarly soon to be featured.)

Anyhow, it came with me through my years doing my PhD, but I never got to work on it. I had no airbrush, no space, so I focused on 1/72.


Well, no more.


I finished the beast.

(Another confession… I just realized that there were not two, but three Marder III variants. I was under the impression this kit was a Marder III (Sd.Kfz. 139) -it goes to show how long ago I saw the instruction manual-, and I am still planning to build a Marder III Ausf M. Well, apparently, this is the third one of the two I wanted to build…)


Anyhow, since it’s a DML kit, it went together well; I experienced no problems with the build, aside the poor fit of the gun shield into its place on the upper hull. The detail is great, and the kit came with PE and metal gun barrel- things that made me love DML in the first place.

I got most of the sub-assemblies ready, painted and muddied up the sides of the hull so I could install the running gear and tracks, and proceeded with the painting of the rest of the vehicle.


I wanted to try the new (well, for me at least) Mig Ammo paints, so I got the Dunkelgelb and Olivegrun from them. I did not look up how to use them, so I did experience some problems with the paints. Before I dismissed them as crap, I found a good tutorial which highlighted the differences between these paints, and the acrylics I’ve been using. This was the first ever free-hand camo painting I’ve done; any mistakes were covered up by a layer of the base color.

Too late for this build, but still useful to know.


I’ve used brown filters in several light layers to blend the camo colors together; it also made the very pale base color a bit warmer and darker. Managed to break one of those backward pointing rods on the gun shield, so I replaced it with a styrene rod (I just noticed I forgot to paint it and the antenna before taking these photos).

Paintchips were painted using the base color and a dark brown color to stimulate light and deeper scratches; the metal parts were painted with AK Interactive’s True Metal paints. I left the painted parts to dry for a day, and then carefully polished them with a cotton swab. I painted some oil marks onto the large wheels; I’ve been looking forward to paint these ever since I saw how everyone else paints these wheels on the Hetzer and other Pnz 38 based vehicles; unfortunately the next layers of mud and dust covered these lovely marks up. Next time.

After washes and filters, I’ve added a copious amount of mud. It was mixed using pigments, plasters and static grass, and used a stiff brush to create splash marks.


Even thought I did not exactly feel inspired to do this build, and I rushed some parts of it, I feel the results are much better than I anticipated. This is the problem with backlogs- you want to get them over with, so you can concentrate on new projects. I really envy the people who have the self-control of only buying a model at a time; I still have three-four half-built models I need to finish. This one took its place next to the MiniArt SU-76 I’ve finished not long ago (also a historical build); but the other two Marder III variants will be done in 1/72 to fasten things up.


I’ve built two of DML’s Bergetigers. The first one is based on the Tiger I (P) chassis, and was a legitimate “berge” vehicle: it was modified for battlefield engineers for recovery and other tasks where you can’t work in peace and quiet without someone taking shots at you. It’s a pretty good model with PE and high level of detail; the build was quite enjoyable.

In this model I’ve used silly putty to prepare the net-like camouflage I liked from the painting guide. As a green base I used Tamiya’s German grey – with scale effect and subsequent weathering considered it gives a quite nice olivegrun base.


Adding the silly putty… it’s quite relaxing and surprisingly fast.



Yeah, I forgot to say. We’ve got a link-and-length track here, which is surprisingly easy to assemble. (As opposed to some models I could name.)





Once the camo was done I could dirty up the lower chassis, and finish the running gear. This was followed by some some light weathering (mostly washes and filters; I did not go overboard).



Bergetiger I -second vehicle.

This Tiger is somewhat of a mystery. It appears to be a field-conversion, and only two were ever produced (or perhaps only one). The crane fixed to the turret is definitely not strong enough to actually lift a vehicle out of anywhere (any vehicle; I’m not talking about Tigers -it would be difficult to get a Beetle out of a driveway with it), and it’s also hand operated. From the outside. Not a very healthy place to be if you need to modify a tank to be able to do whatever you want to do with it.

The most convincing explanation I’ve found was that this vehicle was used to drop demolition charges in front of barricades and minefields; however, it still does not explain why the crane operator had to stand outside of the vehicle.

Anyhow, it has an unique look, so I was very eager to build one. You can get several conversion kits in both 1/35 and 1/72, and there are some dedicated kits as well you can occasionally fetch up on Ebay. DML did come out with their own version years ago. The model is sub-par when it comes to other Dragon models. Looking at the sprues it’s quite obvious that the different parts were scavenged from different Tiger models, which make the quality wildly diverse (this is an issue with some other DML Tigers as well).
So it’s not a good model. Even though it’s not up to the expected DML standards, but it’s not a bad model, either; it’s just a bit disappointing to get something like this from Dragon. The bottom of the hull is metal, by the way; it must be one of the really, really early 1/72 kits by DML. (Or perhaps they wanted to have a realistic weight; who knows?)



Turret with the crane… I’ve used some copper wire for the cables.


I’ve had some fun with the mudguards, to make them a bit more varied: I’ve cut up the long piece into sections, and attached them slightly disjointed, with some sections left out -after all, this is supposed to be an already battered vehicle that was converted into a different role.


The tank is painted in Dunkelgelb -no special camo added.


The Tiger has pre-moulded Zimmerit added; it’s a bit too accentuated for this scale, but hey; at least I did not have to do it myself. After covering the model with Future, some light washes with burned umber (the most used oil paint color in model building) helped to bring out the details.


And the finished tank… It does not look bad, once done. And it’s mighty heavy due to the metal parts.




DML 1/72 Mil Mi-28



This is also a very, very old build -and an even older model that I’d been dreaming about when I was 13.
As many others, I’ve started scale models with airplanes: old-school Czech, Polish and Russian models, with an occasional Airfix thrown in. (Mind you, this was in the ’80s, behind the Iron Curtain.) These models came in smallish cartboard boxes with drawings as box art (at best), and they lacked the polish, professional look of the Western (and Asian) kits.

I still remember the first Airfix model I’ve got: a Hawker Typhoon in 1/72. The model was in a bag, with the artwork printed on a cartoon to which the bag was stapled to… and it’s still in circulation.



But I digress. After 1989 the first “Western” models appeared: Revell, Tamiya, Hasegawa, and the rest; beautifully printed (and very light) boxes, which forever seemed to be out of reach, as the incredible increase in price made it sure I could not afford them on my pocket money. (An “Eastern bloc” model cost about 60-130Ft; the new ones vent for 1200-2000Ft at the time. The minimal wage was 4000Ft, and my allowance was 20Ft, just to give you a context.)

This particular model, the Mil Mi-28 was a particularly attractive one due to the looks of the helicopter. Back in the days I -as every other kid my age- was all over American military hardware; the Apache, the F-15, and other aircraft were the pinnacle of all that is cool, so the attraction to this particular helicopter was out of character for sure. I remember see a box of this model was sitting on a shelf of a stationery/toy store in the neighbourhood for years…


Fast forward to 2004, the price of this model was much more agreeable, and I promptly bought it when I was living in Boca Raton. (I have to admit I really felt guilty spending money on it, as I was still a student living under the poverty line.) Additional motivation to buy this model was the Commanche vs Hokum game, which I played a lot back then (although never in a serious, campaign mode, as I still have not mastered the whole game -or any sim game, for that matter- yet.)

I have not made photos of the build itself, unfortunately, but it went together quite well. The cockpit was very sparse (which is a shame), but most of the details would be hidden by the small, thick windows, anyhow.

I used masking tape to cover the transparent parts and the gun, which needed to be attached to the model before painting if I wanted it to be positionable. (It goes between the two fuselage halves.)  The model was sprayed using Surfacer 1000.



The bottom of the helicopter was sprayed in the light blue/grey characteristic of Russian aircraft, and masked using tape.


The three tone camo was applied with an airbrush and I used silly putty for masking out the different areas; the results were spectacularly nice (for my expectations).




As usual when using masking, some areas were not perfect, and had to be retouched using a paintbrush.


Once the camo was finished, I’ve attached and painted the small details, did some very light weathering, and considered the model to be finished. The yellow band on the rotor was also spray painted, using masking tape to get a straight line. (This was my first experience in trying to achieve an even coverage with yellow. It took lots of fine layers.)

This model is from the earlier DML offerings, but it has no major flaws (no fit issues, no warped parts), and the level of detail is very good even by today’s standards.


DML Panther Ausf. G. and interior


I have gotten the new “Smart” DML Panther Ausf. G. a long while back; it was, in fact, a 2007 Christmas project. Because it looked very sad and empty inside, I’ve gotten my hands on something I’ve hardly dared to try: a Tank Workshop complete interior… (As I mentioned before, I have a fetish for interiors… they do make the model much, much more interesting by letting you peek under the “hood”.) It made me understand how torsion bars work, how the torque was transferred to the front gearbox, where the ammo was stored… it made me understand a bit better how a steel monster, like the Panther, was assembled. Having finished a couple of other German tanks with interior detail, it also made me appreciate the similarities and differences between the different German tanks from the light Panzer I to the enormous King Tiger. (Interestingly the basic layout did not really change from the Panzer III.)

So… the first steps were the bottom parts and the torsion bars. The torsion bars were created from evergreen plastic. Two things were incredibly frustrating: removing the bottom from the casting block (it was one huge flat block), and removing the plastic pegs from the inside of the lower hull…

For most of the time I’ve either used Gorilla Glue, or two part epoxy. I wanted to make sure the joints will hold. Forever.



At least the bottom of the interior fit into the hull.


Fitting everything together… with some paint already applied.





The turret

The turret basket is -obviously- a multiple part affair…  not an easy one at that. The detail is quite nice; you get all the motors that are rotating the turret, the gun cradle, equipment stored on the base of the turret. There’s even an ammunition pouch on the side.




The gun’s breech is entirely resin; the kit did not have one.u8xflpn


The turret basket is finished; with the seats installed it is quite apparent that even the relatively large Panther had a very tight turret.








The assembled hull was sprayed with Surfacer 1000.


Once the mistakes were corrected, I’ve used a light cream color for the typical German interior color.


Once it was dry, the interior surfaces were masked with tape, because I needed to do the lower hull. I’ve decided against the typical primer red; every modeller uses it, but the Germans did not necessarily leave everything red. A lot of the tanks had a light blue-ish basecoat on the bottom of the inside.



Kind of like this. I might sound a bit strange to do the blue second, but I was conscious of the fact that light colors are very difficult to paint well. I was not sure how hard it would be to achieve an even coat with the light cream over the darker blue. The neutral grey primer was a much more forgiving surface for painting it.




Adding details… the tank’s interior looks more and more busy.


I’ve collected some reference photos online; I tried to replicate the larger cables and wires, but overall I was not concerned with absolute authenticity. To be honest, as this was my very first resin interior, I was happy it was coming together nicely, and that I managed not to mess it up.



Painting the turret was a similar affair: it was spray painted to the interior color, and I’ve used a brush to paint the rest.iwnv8rk

Weathering was done very lightly. Some metallic wear-and-tear only. Unfortunately I have not taken photos of the turret’s interior; Tank Workshop has provided everything to dress up the frankly quite plain kit turret interior.



Even more details were added and painted.ygazy5msuf6fre


Finishing the interior by adding the ammo racks, radios, seats, and other small details.4rfoxxbjjbqgfa


Painting the exterior was done after some extensive masking. I’ve chosen the two-tone color scheme from the box art.



Camouflage was done with silly putty.


Practically ready.3yn6104d6q2zwzgtkehl3


The tank is unfinished as of yet. Mostly because it’s in storage still (I’ve built it in Florida), and because I have no idea how I should display it… I do not want to close up the hull. Perhaps I’ll cut a couple of holes on it, or display it somehow with the upper hull “levitating” over the lower. Some weathering will be also in order; the interior needs some scratches, some dirt; as does the exterior. Anyhow; the main parts are done. On to the next German tank with interior.

Sd.Kfz.251 bonanza part 2. The AAA section

Just to recap from part one – I developed an immense (or unhealthy, depending on your point of view) fascination with the different versions and variations of the sd.kfz. 251 halftrack series at one point in my life. (Others do coke; I think I was still better off, although the costs were probably the same.)

I realized a lot of these models were available as conversions in 1/72, and the scale also offered one thing the 1/35 scale can never do: a reasonable time-frame of building. Imagine completing 10-13 models of the same type, putting together the same modules, gluing the same individual tracks, and you’ll have a decent image of a scale modeller’s hell. (At least my hell.) A disclaimer (again): unfortunately I had no airbrush at the time; and my skills with brushes are not as good as the airbrushing skills (which are, in turn, not very high either). So view the results with this in mind, please. (I also need to mention -again- that I used DML’s 1/72 251 model – I can only recommend this kit to anyone. It’s accurate, easy to build, the details are perfect, and it’s ideal for conversions.)

So to today’s topic: AAA vehicles. Funnily enough the Germans did not manage to stick an 8.8 onto this platform; the chassis was simply not strong enough. (I did build a lot of 8.8 based vehicles; most of them are on this blog, and some will be featured as soon as they are finished.)

That leaves us with the smaller caliber guns. Since Allied air superiority was an issue at later stages of the war, many different vehicles were converted into anti-aircraft gun platform. Some of these vehicles were purpose built, based on a chassis of an usually outdated vehicle, and a lot of them were converted ad hoc. There were even kits delivered to divisions which helped the workshops to do the conversion in the field. The success rate of these vehicles are dubious – for obvious reasons they quickly became the targets of ground attack aircraft, and they were not as heavily armored as the tanks they were protecting.

Sd.Kfz. 251/17

This version was equipped with a pretty cool looking gun with a small, triangular gunshield, which can be used against low flying airplanes or infantry for that matter. ModellTrans offers a neat little conversion set with turned barrel, and I have to admit it’s pretty nice. The attachment of the shield is a bit difficult, and you’ll have to add some styrene rods to the build yourself, but that’s just part of the world of resin conversions. (The moulding is pretty impressive; they managed to mould the handgrabs onto the shield.) More important issue, though, is that only one ammo storage rack is provided. I wrote a review about this conversion on armorama, so if you want to know more about the kit itself, you can read more about it.

There are instructions provided, which was a welcome change.

You literally just drop the gun into the hull, and you’re done with the conversion. No surgery, no major modification required.

Painted and weathered… (It was a learning curve how to weather 1/72 kits. Funnily enough it looks pretty good by eye; the camera has this tendency to expose the problems in a very brutally honest manner.)

Next stop: the Sd.Kfz.251/21 Drilling

To introduce this version I’d like to quote the review of this conversion.

As war progressed, aircraft needed a bigger punch. The Luftwaffe adopted heavier 3 cm cannons instead of the various 1.5-2 cm guns they have been using before, so there was a large surplus of the excellent Mauser MG151/15 and 20 cannons (15 and 20 mm respectively). Not to let the guns go to waste, the Kriegsmarine constructed a simple triple gun mount called Flak Drilling Sockellafette. This gun mount was adapted for the Sd.Kfz.251 to provide an anti-aircraft platform. They were available as kits for the troops to make this conversion possible on the field as I mentioned in the introduction. All benches were removed from the vehicle, and additional armor plates were installed around the sides. The mount itself was simply bolted onto the floor of the passenger compartment. Two ammo chests were placed in the back with a total capacity of 3000 rounds/vehicle.

The gun mount was a full rotating pedestal with a cradle assembly which housed three MG151s. They were mounted slightly offset to the right side to allow clearance for the ammunition belts and feed chutes. The shells and belt links were collected inside the pedestal. The guns were fed from three ammunition boxes attached to the pedestal itself. The center box was larger than the two others, containing 400 rounds in mixed HE, AP and tracer rounds. The two side boxes contained 250 rounds each. This arrangement was necessary as the middle gun was considerably more difficult to reload.

The gunner was sitting on a metal seat suspended at the rear of the gun, and operated the whole mount manually. The triggers were placed on the two handgrips. Early versions had reflector type gun sights, while the late ones used speed ring sights. (The armor shield and cradle assembly was different as well in these versions.)

The CMK conversion set is typical of the company: it’s professional, well designed, easy to assemble, but somewhat sparse on the details, and contains inaccuracies. (The review lists the issues I could find with the set.) The most important issue concerns the gun barrels. They are made of resin, and quite chunky. I’ve seen amazingly accurate resin barrels for the Modelltrans Luchs, so convincing 2cm guns can be produced using resin, but these ones really look like a couple of broom handles. This is when you buy an aftermarket set for your aftermarket set -a couple of metal barrels. The other problem is that the gun sits too low on its pedestal; the whole assembly should be much more higher to clear the sides of the vehicle. I’ve lifted it up considerably once I realized that it would sink under the sides. (The shields are way too wide as well, but this is not as noticeable.)

Sd.Kfz.251/17 mit 2 cm Flak 38 Luftwaffe Ausführung

This was a purpose-built anti-aircraft platform for the Luftwaffe’s armored forces. (I know. Why they needed tanks is everyone’s guess. Goering wanted some cool stuff, too, and that was the end of the story. I think the world can thank a lot to the ineptitude and stupidity of the leaders of the Third Reich… looking at the success of the Mongols it’s a scary thought what would have happened if the German war machine was lead by competent leaders.) Anyway, back to the model. The whole crew compartment was radically altered to accomodate the 2cm Flak gun and the fold-down sides. All in all, it looks quite wicked I think.
ModellTrans offers a full kit of this vehicle. There are some issues with the kit: some moulding imperfection (which are to be expected), some accuracy issues (please read the review for more information), but the main problem is with the chassis itself: it’s different from the basic model. The bottom of the chassis is much more narrow than the original 251’s. I think it’s safe to say that it’s a problem with the model, and not a design feature in the original half-track, however it is an issue which you will not notice once the model is complete. The shields are very thin, and quite delicate -a very impressive feat in resin-making. As usual, instructions are somewhat sparse- they only cover the gun’s assembly. Using photos, however, it should not be a problem to build the rest of the model. (Of all the missing details I really think they should have included the rifle-rack on the mudguards, though. I’m planning to add it at a later time.)

So here they go. The three AAA vehicles in the display case. Since I’m moving about a lot, and don’t have a stable base of operation, I’m fixing my models in display cases -easy to store, easy to transport. It also protects them from accidental damage and dust.

DML 1/144 Leopold Railway Gun

This one is a very old build. I bought it at least ten years ago; it seemed like a saner option than buying the 1/35 version made by Dragon. (Not to mention a cheaper one.) The subject is one of those atavistic, yet mind-blowing things of the Second World War: a gigantic gun that is mounted onto a railway carriage. Tactical and operational mobility is almost zero; and good luck if you want to turn the gun 20 degrees. It’s useful if you want to lob shell after shell on a faraway target, if your target is large enough, and stationary enough. (They had to build the railroad tracks usually before the deployment of the gun, and it does take time. The rate of fire was also somewhat low; a couple of shells every day. Additionally, you have to factor in the wear and tear on the gun; the lining had to be changed quite frequently, which also lowered the strategic value of these weapons.) But to be fair if you want to cause damage and kill, you just use bombers. It’s cheaper and more flexible. (If you really must cause damage and kill, of course. For one, I prefer these things in 1/144 scale.) The non-plus ultra of this insanity was the Dora railway gun; a the largest gun ever built, with an average rate of fire of two shells per day. I do have it somewhere in 1/144, waiting to be built. It’s a huge model even in this scale, by the way. The 1/35 scale model of this thing is over two meters long by the way…

Back to the 1/144 Panzer Korps. As I said before, these kits are amazing; small gems in fact. I should have bought all I could when they were still in production, and were readily available. This is the gun in all its glory. The detail is astonishingly sharp and very, very good; some 1/72 models could hang their heads in shame looking at this level of detail. And you get photoetched parts, of course. And a metal barrel. Everything nicely pre-packaged, waiting for you to start. The build was amazing. (As a personal note: I still remember watching the Wedding crashers with my girlfriend while I was building it. It’s strange how things like this associate themselves with the model…) The build was a joy. The only challenging part was to glue together the railway sections, and fill in the seams so that they don’t stand out. (The surface is really rough, so I had to try to make the surface of the filler look similarly rough. In other words: it was not a difficult build.) The PE really does enhance this little gun. There is a crew provided, but I decided very early on not to include the little dudes. I usually don’t add figures to my models, because no matter how well they are done (and I cannot paint them well enough) they look artificial, and ruin the illusion of the model for me. We are getting into philosophy here, but let me explain it quickly. I think we all accept that a scale model is a representative 3D image of the real thing, and only that. It does not try to be the tank in a smaller scale. This is why we accept heavier weathering on models than on the real tanks; we accept that it is not a direct, smaller copy, but only the representation of the real vehicle. Kind of like a technical drawing, or a painting, and as such it overemphasizes certain things. By adding a lot of scratches, dust and dirt we show that this tank had a story, it was used. Adding a crew changes the model; it makes it a bit toy-like for me. (We’re not discussing dioramas, of course. Dioramas tell a story, which is a different matter altogether.) So, back to the model at hand. In the background you can see a 1/72 DML T-34/76, and a 1/72 DML Mi-28 Havoc… The first layer of paint was black, of course, and then successive layers of lighter and lighter German gray. Because the scale is so small, the final color should be really light. The Leopold only looks dark on these photos because of the gloss coat applied.   A flat coat makes it look much lighter. It also seals the decals. Filters applied using oil paints. Mostly white, burnt umber and blue, applied using the dot method. I did not want to overdo the weathering (after all, you would not be seeing any scratches and rust from a distance that corresponds this scale), but a little fading, some discoloration due to rain does make the model feel more “real”.     A little size comparison: 1/35 Stug IV, 1/144 Leopold, Thor, JgdPanther and some Hetzer-based howitzer whose name I forgot. (Apologies for that.)