My reaction when I saw this release was “it’s about freakin’ time!”
Dragon has had its Sd.Kfz.7 prime mover out since January of 2010. But for those modelers who want to show the vehicle with a crew, their only choice was MiniArt’s artillery crew riders
(and you’d need two sets plus some heads for variation). These vehicles were intended to pull large guns like the sFH 18 and 88mm, so we’re talking about a crew of 10-11. And since no self-respecting artillerist is going to go about the battlefield unarmed, there are latches on the rear of the seats for a rifle. Given how hard (and expensive) it is to secure enough of these, it has been a challenge up to now to show an Sd.Kfz.7 properly kitted-out, even without a crew present.
Finally Dragon has released a set of half-track riders that does justice to the Sd.Kfz.7 and other prime movers.
what you get
The set comes in the usual Dragon two-piece box and contains:
5 sprues of gray styrene parts
An assembly and painting guide is printed on the box bottom
To say that I’ve been waiting for a set like this is not an exaggeration. Photos of Sd.Kfz.7s and other prime movers show them crowded with soldiers sitting on the wide bench seats with Kar98k rifles between their legs. Instead of scrambling to come up with a crew from this set or that, we can now use this excellent set for artillery riders or Panzergrenadiers (and just in time for Bronco's Sd.Kfz.6 "pioneer" variant or even the old Tamiya Sd.Kfz.9 which has an artillery version via an Aber PE set).
The figures look a bit smaller in scale than other Dragon offerings I’ve seen recently. The molding is crisp, with minimal flash, and the figures are in an average of nine pieces, including separate "wings" for the "skirts" on their field jackets. The lower torso and legs are in two pieces, and the result is more-detailed than with single-piece lower body molding. The usual seam lines for styrene will require some clean-up, but the seams are often well-hidden at bend points.
The weapons are the vaunted “Gen2” variety, and have very sharp molding (as well as delicate “fiddly bits” in some instances like the machine gun legs). But they are not as detailed as other offerings; for example, the four Kar98s are one-piece molds instead of separate bolts as in other sets.
And four Kar98s is another problem: you need at least seven to do a proper artillery crew, since everyone in the rear two banks of seats would have had a Mauser to themselves. Their hands won’t be empty, as the set includes three MP40s, an MG42 and an MG34, along with rifle grenades (Schießbecher
) and a single Gew43 semi-automatic rifle. But these are for Panzergrenadiers like the Großdeutschland motorized regiment or some of the Waffen-SS units, not for an artillery crew. While some of you will be looking to have shock troops in your half-tracks, I suspect most will want them pulling guns.
instructions & painting guide
The instructions are really just a photomontage of the assembled figures with sprue letters & numbers indicating where the parts belong. The painting guide is any color of Feldgrau
you could want in three brands of paint. It would be nice if Dragon included a fret of PE for the rifle slings, but I’ve given up on that ever happening.
The set is a good value for money because for little more than Dragon’s usual set of four figures, you get ten. While the purists among us will want to add an 11th figure, this set is really perfect for most occasions. I wish Dragon would be more mindful of small details like including enough rifles for the entire crew, but this is easier to fix than trying to modify smaller figure sets to kit out the big half-tracks.
Thanks to Dragon USA for providing this review sample. Be sure to mention you saw it reviewed on Armorama when ordering.