by: Bill Cross [ ]
Originally published on:
The Sd.Kfz.250/NEU began life as a designated support vehicle intended for command, radio and reconnaissance duties. It was based on the Sd.Kfz.10 developed by the DEMAG firm, and was the same chassis shortened by one road wheel. Production delays meant the first 250s didn’t reach the field until 1941. The cost and complications of its original body design led to a new version (hence the designation “NEU”) in 1943 that had a simplified construction. The vehicle was underpowered by American half track standards, and its armor couldn’t stop anything more than small arms fire, offering the crew limited protection. Still, by war’s end some 2,400 had been built on top of the 4,200 original 250s, with its most famous owner Erwin Rommel.
Dragon has released several variants of the Sd.Kfz. 250, including the reconnaissance model (250/9) that sported an MG 42 and a 20mm cannon. That’s a nasty punch for missions intended to gather intelligence, though German recce troops often were simply the advance guard of the main unit. Now Voyager has released a set of PE upgrades that, if followed through to the end, essentially rebuild the styrene out portions of the kit.
what you get
The set comes in the usual Voyager square box, and contains:
12 frets of brass photo etch
2 frets of steel etch
13 resin parts including an MG-32
5 pages of instruction on 3 sheets of paper
1 film for instrument dials
1 wire for making hinges, etc.
It might seem bizarre to complain a PE upgrade set with 14 frets of brass and steel parts is insufficient, but that’s the problem with some of Voyager’s upgrades: they are often broken into smaller sets, so the modeler must purchase multiple items to get the same effect as the cover photo. This set is no exception.
That having been said, the set offers some welcome improvements on the styrene or limited PE of Dragon’s kit. It has the usual Voyager quality brass PE, adding some nicely-sculpted resin items like the MG 42, ammo pouches, a Luger holster and radio sets. It does NOT contain a turned barrel for the 20mm cannon, but there are plenty of them on the market. Brass 20mm ammunition magazines will add a level of realism to the kit, and a film with instrument dials printed on it will round out the brass instrument panel replacing the kit part. This is a good thing, since Dragon never includes instrument dials in its vehicles, even when (as with most half-tracks) they are plainly visible.
One problem that crews had with the 250 was its open top— pretty easy to lob a grenade inside, no? So armed versions like the 250/9 sported a mesh cover that opened in the middle, allowing crew members to enter and exit, but keeping unpleasant items like hand grenades out. While the original kit includes PE screens, the upgrade switches out the plastic frame for brass. The MG42 and cannon were mounted in a small revolving “turret” and the set transforms it into scale-thickness brass.
The level of detailing is actually very good, with things like the fire extinguisher and the transmission both improved over the styrene parts in the kit. Unfortunately, to show off the transmission, you’ll need PEA142 (German Sd.Kfz.250 NEU Amour Plate) or else open up the slightly-clunky front doors that lead to the engine and transmission. In fact, the entire set requires PEA 141-143 and 184 (VBS0139 if you include the replacement barrel).
Despite the limitations of the brass included, this set is a triumph for the “fiddly bits” crowd such as myself. The Dragon kit is nicely-done, but this set takes it to a new level. The question is whether you will be satisfied with this set, or require the supporting ones, too.
Armorama thanks Voyager Model for supplying this review set. Please be sure to mention that you read about it on Armorama when ordering or purchasing from your supplier.