Wednesday, 2 July 2014

PSC German Halftrack for Bolt Action - Box review

This month's major modelling purchase was Plastic Soldier Company's 'German Halftrack' (SdKfz 251/D). This is intended as troop transport for my Bolt Action German infantry.

For £11 you get three sprues with which to make three vehicles, more than enough for my needs (at most I will need two). Even a cursory glance at the sprues will tell you that at three and a bit quid each these kits are worth it for their intended purpose.

There are three identical large sprues included in the box, about half the
parts are the main components and half are the 'extras'.
As usual with PSC kits there is some 'artistic licence' taken with the model design so as to make them easier to build and suitable for handling during wargaming. Tiny fiddly details are absent and larger complicated detail has been moulded onto the surface or as one-piece components.

The main hull of the halftrack is simplified and detail is superficial and
sparse. But it's crisp and open to some scratch additions if you want.
As usual with kits intended specifically for wargaming, PSC's tracks for this
kit are 'dumbed down' affairs. They have sacrificed detail in order to make
these parts one-piece components. They are what they are, say no more!
Now I have started getting into the whole wargaming thing - which raised the issue of actually handling and using my kits - I can better appreciate the reasoning behind PSC's chunky and solid kit construction. Authentic and meticulous detailing is all very well for display but I can imagine how impractical it is for tabletop gaming with the real danger of small and fragile parts breaking off!

That said the PSC 'German Halftrack' is not a dog - it's quite an attractive looking vehicle and to anyone but the expert looks authentic enough.

So, what's in the box? Well, as mentioned there is a separate large sprue for each vehicle, but I was very pleased to see that you do get quite a bit on each sprue over and above just the basic vehicle kit itself.

Extra items include stowage so you can hang bits of individual kit off
the vehicle so it looks suitable different to the other two kits in the box.
There are crew, passengers and extra bits and bobs with which to decorate your vehicles and make them more individual in character. Furthermore there is a rather nice option of building the halftrack as either the basic infantry transport vehicle or one with a 37mm AT gun mounted atop! [It's also worth mentioning that PSC have also released a special customisation set for this model allowing you to build other variants and infantry support types.]

It's nice to have all these added extras (the passengers match PSC's Late War German infantry figures, of course, but may not be such a good match for you if you have other makes as they are on the larger side of 1/72).

Some of the vehicle's passengers and optional 37mm AT gun loader or
MG42 gunner. The cut-down figure are the crew.
As you can see PSC has moulded the pieces in a mid-grey colour (in hard plastic) which I suppose is a reasonable base colour though they do supply a fairly basic 'suggested' colour scheme which consists of a generic WW2 German sand yellow/mahogany brown/dark green camo. There are no decals included so you must source your own (I ordered some by Skytrex).

There is an instruction sheet which not only details the construction of the kit but indicates how the optional parts might be used. But, as you can imagine, nothing looks too tricky and I should think you could have this kit together in 5 minutes if you wanted.

Overall I am very pleased with the purchase. Obviously how pleased others will be will depend on what they bought it for - display modellers may be a little disappointed and in any case they can pick up one very detailed Revell for less than the £11 PSC ask for this (or even a beautiful Dragon kit for not much more). But that's missing the point I think.

The PSC 'German Halftrack' set is very much aimed specifically at the wargaming modeller, allowing them to quickly, cheaply and easily build up a nice looking section of German infantry transport or support vehicles.

That said, I do like the look of PSC's halftrack, it's not hideous and there is a very definite charm about how PSC have gone about designing the thing. And the extras they include only add to the sense of value for money that this set offers. So,  I really think you can only compare PSC's halftrack to other 'easy build' kits of the same type - Armourfast and Italeri - and here again I think PSC wins out because of the extras they provide.

I'm looking forward to building and painting this kit - it looks fun!

Addendum - Note on accuracy
I'd rushed this post a little and have only just started to acquaint myself with the history of the Sd.Kfz. 251 series of half-tracks. So here's a very brief update on what I found.

The version of the '251' (or 'Hanomag' as it seems to have been nicknamed) that PSC have modelled is the Sd.Kfz. 251/1 Ausf. D, version 'D' seems to be readily identified by the enclosed side hull stowage bins. This was what confused me at first as many of the photos I came across were of the 'C' version which simply has three stowage boxes sitting atop of the side fender (Armourfast's '251' is a 'C' model btw).

Sd.Kfz. 251/1 Ausf.D captured by the Polish Home Army during the
Warsaw Uprising in 1944. Source: Wikipedia
[You can clearly see the three flush enclosed stowage bins on the side.]
The 'D' variant appears to have come into use from 1943 onward, while the 'C' variant seems to be more applicable to 1943 and earlier. Therefore, I suspect, if modelling a Normandy D-Day campaign a 'D' variant might be more appropriate.

Anyway, the basic 251/1 'D' was the infantry carrier or 'Sch├╝tzenpanzerwagen' (SPW) - Armoured infantry personnel carrier - while the 251/10 'D' was a platoon leaders vehicle armed with the 37mm Pak. 36 gun. Phew!

As far as accuracy goes PSC seem to have done a fairly nice - if simplified - job of capturing the look of the 'D' Hanomag.

1 comment:

  1. Good review Stephen. Very true about the handling mate.