English resin manufacturer Grey Matter Figures has been collaborating with American master modeler Jerry Rutman, re-releasing many of Jerry's aircraft resin kits and conversions. Along the way, GMF has also brought out some of Jerry's new 1/35 scale armor projects, including a conversion for the Sd.Kfz.251/11 Fernsprechpanzerwagen
("Telephone armored vehicle") for laying field telephone cable.
The Sd.Kfz.251 was based on the Sd.Kfz. 11, and was Germany's most-numerous softskin. The Wehrmacht released at least 23 official versions of the 251, and there were numerous field modifications, too. The 251 has found favor with kit manufacturers and modelers alike, resulting in a profusion of kits from Dragon, AFV Club, Tamiya and others.
Inside a white cardboard box are:
4 Ziploc baggies containing 20 light gray resin parts
1 black cardboard box the size of a jewelry box containing 10 extremely delicate parts
1 page of instructional drawings
While the myth of Blitzkrieg makes us think of the Wehrmacht as all-mechanized and coordinated by a vast network of radio communication, the real story is quite different. In 1940, a very small portion of the Germany army was mechanized, and the mundane field telephone still played a major roll in command & control. German radios were, overall, superior to those of many Allied armies, especially the French and the Soviets. Yet for all the vehicles sporting sophisticated radio arrays, many units still relied on comm units laying down cables connected to field telephone exchange trucks
Laying field telephone cable from a half-track makes perfect sense once you think about the horrible off-road conditions on the Eastern Front (and even the roads weren't always that great). It's completely logical to see this evolution, and it's great that Jerry and GMF have seen fit to give us this conversion option.
The conversion is small and delicate, so care should be taken when unpacking and handling it. Working off just about any base Sd.Kfz.251 kit, you get a storage cabinet for files and wire reels, as well as a wire dispenser for the vehicle front fender. It's not a lot of resin for 18 quid, but the delicate casting should be apparent to all in the photos at right.
The advantage of the set is the ability to recreate something no styrene manufacturer would ever touch. The distinctive results are yet another variant on this highly-popular family of vehicles, and one that will fit in almost any diorama.
Thanks to Grey Matter Figures for providing this review sample. Be sure to mention you saw it reviewed here when ordering.