The Sd.Kfz.7 eight ton prime mover was one of the most-popular vehicles developed by the Wehrmacht in WW II with over 12,000 produced. Used to pull artillery, carry Panzergrenadiers into battle, and recover tanks, it was also a favorite gun platform for at least two major anti-aircraft weapons. The FLAK 38 in the Vierling
or "quad" version, was designated the Sd.Kfz.7/1, and was first developed in April of 1940. By December 1944, 750-800 had been produced, including versions with an armored cab and radiator shield. The past few weeks have seen a plethora of new Sd.Kfz.7 kits, including one each of the “early” version by Dragon and Trumpeter. I reviewed the DML kit Here
; this review is about the Trumpeter model.
The kit comes in the usual sturdy Trumpeter box with distinctive cover art showing a 7/1 shooting down what looks like a Hawker Hurricane. The box contains 12 sprues of light gray plastic parts, one clear sprue of windows, 7 sprues with mocha Modelkasten-colored track parts that assemble into workable links, a 35-page instruction booklet, a 1-page painting guide, a small sheet of decals, 3 black vinyl tires, five frets of PE and a poly bag with string for making the tow cable and a piece of copper wire for the rear hitch set-up.
The kit has a number of exemplary features, including a highly-detailed engine, transmission box and winch. Sadly the latter two are not visible once the model is assembled. The gun shield is made of brass photo etched parts, which no styrene kit can match for scale thickness. Other PE parts give the kit an attractive overall impression, including PE “mesh” for the sides. Unfortunately, the mesh looks very nice, but is incorrect, since a sort of grating was used on the real vehicles. No current PE technology allows for the correct grating, so this is not something that takes away from the kit.
Other positives are Trumpeter’s usual clear instructions which generally avoid ambiguity about part placement. The tracks require a bit of clean-up, but will go together easily. But be careful when mounting them to the vehicle, as the plastic is soft and the track pins molded to them can be easily stripped off.
The lows of the kit include the tires: the usual vinyl, which and should be replaced by one of the many after-market resin versions from Tank Workshop
. Additionally, the gun can be built only in the firing/deployed mode and not with its shield folded back and platform and sides hitched up for travel. If you are looking to build an Sd.Kfz.7/1 on the move, your only choice short of major refitting is the Dragon kit, which can be built in either deployed or travel positions.
A number of accuracy problems have been identified with the Sd.Kfz.7 base kit from which the 7/1 has been extended, as well as incorrect features for this particular kit. The most-glaring are the front mudguards (too high), 7 ammo bays along the base of the quad instead of the correct 8, the gun barrels (too long and too thick), the gun sight (not resembling anything ever found on the real gun), and the drive sprocket (detailing reversed and not meshing properly with the tracks). The barrel and sight issues can be remedied by using four of the many after-market brass barrels, along with a sight from the Tristar FLAK 38 kit, but fixing the mudguards would require major surgery. Their inaccuracy is not obvious except to the expert or the fanatical, so they are not a fatal flaw for most kit builders.
The gun issues are, in my opinion, a serious shortcoming of what otherwise should be a stand-out release. In addition, the base kit this was extended from has been out long enough so that Trumpeter could have fixed the underlying issues, especially the drive sprocket and mud guards. That they did not and have introduced further errors in this version forced me to lower my evaluation.
Decals and Painting
The painting guide is frankly poor, with no options other than Panzer Gray. These vehicles served in all theaters of war (though I have not found any photos of them in North Africa). Even a few suggestions of real units and a few tactical markings seem little enough to ask. The decal sheet has 2 Luftwaffe license plates, one Wehrmacht Heer, and one SS, along with a “G” for Guderian’s Panzer Group in Russia in 1941, but no “kill” markings and only 1 tactical. Instrument dials are included. Numerous photos show airplane silhouettes on the shield to record kills.
While this kit (and the Trumpeter Sd.Kfz.7 in general) have some accuracy issues, it will build up into a huge improvement over the ancient Tamiya versions. Price differences with Dragon will likely make some modelers choose Trumpeter, especially as it includes an Sd.Ah. 51 ammunition trailer. Sadly, the 7/1 used the larger Sd.Ah. 56. That may not matter to some buyers, who will simply be happy to get the extra goody and figure “hey, in war you use whatever is at hand, right?” Photos of the 7/1 towing the Sd.Ah.56 exist, but I have not found one of it pulling the 51, which was used with the single-barrel Flak 38 and did not hold as much ammo as its larger cousin. I would not counsel against buying this kit, but I can’t recommend it highly.
To see a build log of this kit, click here