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Sd.Kfz.251/2 Ausf.C mit Wurfrahmen 40 - 3-in-1

DML 1/35 Sd.Kfz.251/2 Ausf.C mit Wurfrahmen 40 - 3-in-1 Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review September 2005 Manufacturer DML
Subject Sd.Kfz.251/2 Ausf.C mit Wurfrahmen 40 - 3-in-1 Kit Scale 1/35
Kit Number 6284 Primary Media 866 parts (771 in grey styrene, 68 etched brass, 16 clear styrene, 6 DS plastic, 2 turned brass, 2 foil stickers, 1 turned aluminum)
Pros Another triple option kit from DML (actually only two), new moldings for the wheel assemblies and other detail parts Cons Lack of solid information on the systems tends to hurt the modeler in building the kit; many small detail parts
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $34-$38

First Look

The Germans were not the first army in the world to use rockets in a tactical situation, but they were the first during WWII to use heavy rocket launchers in a close support role.

The first two rockets fielded came out in 1940. They were the Wurfkoerper Spreng, a high-explosive rocket with a 28 cm warhead weighing 55 kilograms, and the Wurfkoerper M FL 50, a napalm-type incendiary mixture fired in a 32 cm warhead weighing a bit less but carrying 40 liters of filler. Both rockets used the same solid-fuel rocket motor, but were ballistically awful and underpowered, providing only a very short range with high levels of dispersion. Maximum range for the HE one was 1925 meters, with a CEP of more than 80 meters; for the incendiary, it was 2200 meters with a CEP of over 100 meters. (CEP is circular area probable, which means only half of the shots would get within 40-50 meters of their intended target; result – you have to shoot more than one round to ensure you might hit it.)

Rockets could be fired from a number of different mountings with a device giving an interval of 2 seconds between shots (that was to let the mount settle down in order to minimize dispersion by the rest of the rockets.) Early mounts – Wurfgeraet 40 and 41 – were four-shot fixed frames with only elevation adjustment, firing from the ground. Later, a bigger mount, the 28/32 cm Nebelwerfer 41, was created with racks for six rockets of either type or a mixture of both. Finally, due to the short range and vulnerable situation it put the crew into when firing, someone came up with the bright idea of mounting six launchers (actually the open packing crate/launcher frame the rockets were shipped in) on a saddle mount fitted to an Sd.Kfz. 251 series halftrack. The idea worked, and was officially dubbed Schweres Wurfrahmen 40 or SWR 40; unofficially it was nicknamed "Stuka zum Fuss" or "Stuka for the infantry."

Due to the fact that they were fragile and added nearly three feet to the width of the vehicle, the rockets were not mounted until just prior to going into action. The frames would be preset for a specific range and the carrier would move in to range of the target (minimum range was 300-400 meters, which was just possible from the mountings but not recommended). The driver and commander would line up on the target, and since they had armor protection could fire the rockets from within the vehicle. For bombardment the crew had a remote firing device and could launch them from up to 10 meters away from the vehicle. They were heavily used in Russia, as the frames could be quickly fitted to nearly all standard hull 251 series halftracks of any model (e.g. Ausf. B, C, or D.) Normal mixture was five 28 cm HE and one 32 cm incendiary per load.

This is a popular model as it "dresses" up any 251 halftrack and makes it more interesting, and this is the third version in this scale. Nitto came out with a B model fitted with a very crude set of 32 cm rockets back in the early 1970s (each consisted of only two parts, four part packing crates, and a very sketchy set of "saddles" for the vehicle, but they were no worse detailed than that kit.) Tamiya came out with one about 15 years ago on its D model 251 chassis.

Now DML offers the model as a "3-in-1" kit, but since the only difference between two "versions" is the use of the 28 cm or the 32 cm rockets, and in real life a mixture was preferred, it is somewhat of a grey area.  

Also something not quite spot on is the fact that DML identifies this as a "Sd.Kfz. 251/2" variant, which was an 8 cm mortar carrier. While that is possible the vehicle is configured as a /1 with the normal infantry interior. Be that as it may, it is a correct version of the vehicle, and the rockets and their launcher frames are quite detailed. DML provides a total of six 28 cm and six 32 cm rockets for the kit, and with their launcher frames and the "saddle" mount they account for some 220 parts, a big change from the Nitto kit!

Even though DML used its "slide molding" technique on the rocket crate/frame assemblies, there are still some six to eight parts (with or without optional etched brass parts) per assembly, and the rocket each have four parts including a separate fuse assembly. The options for the diorama fan are going to be wide, as this permits showing loading and arming the rockets, fitting them to the frames, etc. For the more prosaic, the launcher frames are complete and may be shown either open, loaded or unloaded and prepared for travel.

The model may aslo be built as an Sd.Kfz. 251/10 platoon leader's vehicle with the 3.7 cm Pak 36 mounted over the front of the crew compartment. The complete upper part of DML's 37mm antitank gun and a new upper deck for it are provided along with a turned aluminum barrel and one-piece pre-bent brass gun shield for the halftrack mounting. Ammo racks are included to complete the conversion.

The rest of the kit is the welded C model 251 from DML with newly reworked wheel sprues with more detail on the parts. While they now show the detail on the sidewalls of the road wheel tires, oddly enough there are none on the front wheels! It comes with a dedicated brass sheet including seat back spring details, and better regular tracks.

A total of four different vehicles and marking options are provided in the kit: a grey SWR 40 from Warsaw 1944; a grey SWR 40, 11th Panzer Division, Eastern Front 1942; a white camouflaged SWR 40 on the Eastern Front, 1945; and a platoon leader's vehicle from the Eastern Front, 1942.

Overall this is a nice kit, and minor squabbles aside, is a very great improvement on the previous two attempts at this close support weapons system.

Thanks to Freddie Leung of Dragon Models USA for the review sample.