The Sd.Kfz.251/1 was the standard armored personnel carrier of the German Army in World War 2. The chassis was based on that for the Sd.Kfz.11 half-track and was a successful design, forming the basis for many production variants. Another variant, the OT-810, was even produced and used after World War 2 by the Czech Army (though that is outside the scope of Panzer Tracts books). Panzer Tracts 15-2: mittlere Scheutzenpanzerwagen (Sd.Kfz.251)" was created by Thomas Jentz with scale plans by Hilary Louis Doyle and originally published in 2005 by Panzer Tracts and covers the Sd.Kfz 251 Ausf. A, B, and C and variants built on those models for the time period of 1939 to 1942. The book has 56 8.5"x11" pages and all scale drawings are 1/35 scale with most being 4 view (left, front, back, top). All photos are black and white.
In Depth: Vehicle Design and Modifications
The first two chapters are text only and do not contain any photos. "Introduction" is a one page explanation of what the book covers while "Development" covers what little first hand information there exists of the development stages. Unfortunately, it seems almost all of those records were destroyed or lost during the war and the chapter makes use of what's available.
"Description" is a nice meaty chapter. There are 3 photos of the chassis alone as well as front, side, and top scale plans of the chassis. Scale plans of Ausf. A, unarmored Ausf.A, and Ausf.C, and a 5 view plan for Ausf.B (left, right, front, back, top) are included along with 8 exterior photos.
"Production" has no photos or drawings but does include various production figures and details. Several companies built the armored bodies while several others built the chassis, both of which were sent to final assembly plants for joining. Interestingly enough, the riveted armored bodies were made only by Bohemia as they were not experienced in welding.
"Modifications" is another good chapter with drawings provided of Ausf.B armored louvers and two different tracks. There are side plans of the armored body without chassis for Ausf.A, B, and C. although there is a small glitch in that one diagram caption says that the "commander's" side visor was raised, though I think the author meant the "command compartment's" (which is what I would term the driver's compartment).
In Depth: Variants
From here on the book deals with chapters on the different variants:
"Grundfahrzeug mittlerer gepanzerter Zugkraftwagen (Sd.Kfz.251)" is the main infantry carrier variant with 3 interior photos. One frustrating point is the last note on page 21 which says there was a difference between what is pictured and the actual production version, but there is no further explanation provided as to what those differences are.
"Sd.Kfz.251/1 fuer dir Schuetzen u. s.M.G.Gruppe 'mittlerer Schuetzenpanzerwagen'" covers the variant for heavy machine gun teams. Oddly enough there are 4 photos here, and one is a nice shot of the driver's compartment, but none are of the actual sMG variant. There is an exterior photo of an sMG variant on page 9 however, so be careful when comparing the text to the photos.
"Sd.Kfz.251/2 fuer leichte und schwere Granatwerfer 'mittlerer Schuetzenpanzerwagen (Gr.W.)'" covers the mortar carrier variant. There are 4 photos with 2 of the interior, one with the mortar stowed and the other with the mortar setup for firing.
"Sd.Kfz.251/3 fuer Infanterie-Geschuetz 'mittlerer Schuetzenpanzerwagen (I.G.)'" was a surprise for me. I had always thought the /3 variant was for a command/radio vehicle but it was originally for towing an infantry gun and then converted later. There are 2 interior pictures provided.
"Sd.Kfz.251/4 fuer I.G.-Munition 'mittlerer Schuetzenpanzerwagen (I.G.Mun)'" covers the ammunition carrying partner to the /3. There are 2 interior pictures, which look very similar to the /3.
"Sd.Kfz.251/5 fuer die Pionierzeuge der Scheutzeneinheiten 'mittlerer Schuetzenpanzerwagen (Pi)'" covers a Pioneer (combat engineer) variant. There are 2 interior pictures. Evidently, the emphasis on this variant is on carrying engineers instead of equipment as evidenced by the interior layout of 3 bench seats, 1 equipment stowage box.
"Sd.Kfz.251/6 als Fuehrerfahrzeug mit Funkeinbauten 'mittlerer Kommandopanzerwagen'" covers the radio/command variant. There are 4 exterior pictures with a glimpse of the interior in one.
"Sd.Kfz.251/7 fuer Panzer-Pionier-Bataillon 'mittlerer Pionierpanzerwagen'" covers the better known combat engineer variant. The text here is on proposed Pioneer configurations of which there were 3. Could both the /5 and /7 have come out of this study? There are 6 interior shots of the proposed versions and 1 exterior and 1 interior shot of a production /7.
"Sd.Kfz.251/8 fuer Krankentransport 'mittlerer Krankenpanzerwagen'" covers the medical transport variant. There are 3 interior and 1 exterior photos. Interestingly, no mention is made of the water cask which Tamiya provided in their original 1/35 251/1 Ausf.C kit.
"m.Schuetz.Pz.Wg. (3.7 cm Pak) (Sd.Kfz.251/10)" covers the platoon leader variant armed with a 37mm PAK 35/36. There are 1 exterior photo and 1 interior photo from the back. Unfortunately the latter shot does not show the 37mm ammunition stowage and the gun mounting is blocked by the gun itself, so the value is limited. It does however show the under-roof reinforcing for the 37mm mount.
"schwere Wurfgeraet on m.gp.Zgkw." covers the "Stuka zu Fuss" rocket launcher armed variants. There is only 1 exterior photo but 2 more photos appear later in the book.
In Depth: Informational Chapters
The book concludes with 3 final chapters around the use of the 251s in different units and situations. "Organization and Issue" has different tables of organization and shows who were issued Sd.Kfz.251 when. This information is useful when picking unit markings. There are 4 photos.
"Tactics" will be most useful for war gamers and diorama builders as the text describes how the 251s were to be used. There are 3 photos, 2 of the type with a map table extension on top of the driver's compartment. "Translated Experience reports" describe how the units felt about the some of the 251 variants. There are 2 photos of Wurfgeraet vehicles included here as mentioned above.
This book is both a joy and a frustration. The joys are the scale plans and interior photos as well as the interesting stories of development, production, and actual combat use. The frustration is from incomplete interior shots, a problem with typesetting where you can't tell where quotes begin or end in places, and a few unanswered questions.
Highs: There are some nice interior photos and great scale plans.Lows: There are some problems distinguishing between when the author is writing and quoting. Some interior photos are not very comprehensive.Verdict: A nice reference, especially concerning the chassis and armored body of the Ausf.A, B, and C vehicles.