A simple conversion of the standard half-tracked APC, used as an armoured engineer equipment carrier in Panzer-Pionier battalions. The vehicle operated with a reduced crew in order to make room for engineering stores. The bridge sections mounted on the superstructure would have to be deployed manually, they are long enough to span a 2 meter gap. The kit is the same as the standard APC produced by ESCI, with eight additional parts for the bridge, and a set of Panzer-Pionier decals.
Pionier-Geräte-Panzerwagen and Crew Figure
- Type: Half-Tracked Engineer APC
- Length: 5.80 m
- Width: 2.10 m
- Height: 2.10 m
- Weight: 8 900 kg (7 400 kg empty)
- Speed: 52.5 km/h
- Armament: 2 Machine Guns
- Crew: Driver + 7 Men
- Production: 1939–1944
Scale model with excellent detail. The vehicle is covered with cast-on rivets, hinges, tools, and other small parts which can be accentuated by drybrushing.
The running gear consists of interlocking road wheels with plastic track sections and individual track links glued on. The entire chassis consumed 67 parts, compared with only 35 for the superstructure. The Schützen-Panzerwagen had 55 links on the left, and 56 on the right track, but our model needed 57 on both sides. Plastic track requires a little more work than the old rubber tracks, but the result is far more realistic. Once the plastic track is glued into place, it stays there. Rubber track had a tendency to slip off, and it was difficult to glue.
The model can be built as a standard APC, simply be leaving the bridge sections and the mounting brackets off. The spare bridge could then be used in a diorama. Wargamers may want to keep the bridge sections accessible, and ready for action. There are small pegs on the mounting brackets, which secure the bridge even if it’s not glued on permanently.
The decals cover two different vehicles from the same unit, named Büffel 1, and Elch 2. A novel concept, and reason enough to build them both, one with the bridge deployed, the other in reserve. Unit markings are particularly important for wargamers who want to build entire platoons, and companies of vehicles using the same kit. Manufacturers interested in selling more than one vehicle of a particular type need to think big, and nurture the megalomaniac in everyone of us. Why would anyone build a single tank in 1:72 scale, if they can have a whole platoon of them, with the proper turret numbers, different crew figures, and combat stowage to customize each vehicle. At the very least, manufacturers need to consider publishing additional decal sets, vehicle crew, and accessory packs compatible with their own range of kits.
The rear hatch can be modelled with open or closed doors.
Care must be taken to push the rear of the fenders down onto the tracks as far as the pegs will allow. Otherwise, the fenders tend to ride up on the hull side, causing them to flare out in the rear. As a result, the vehicle scales out 204 mm wider than it should be. Vehicle length, height, and track gauge are scaled correctly.
One disadvantage of using the same model for a number of vehicle variants is that any crew figures supplied with the kit are identical, resulting in some unwanted uniformity. Modellers, collectors, and wargamers crave variety in figure poses. So much so, that manufacturers can make a lot of money by supplying boxes of additional vehicle crew in hard plastic. At the very least, separate head variants should be included in a model kit, encouraging the modeller to swap heads frequently. The machine gunner supplied with ESCI’s Schützen-Panzerwagen, and all of its variants, is probably one of the more versatile crew figures on the market. His pose would be typical for a gunner involved in a firefight. Alas, the man is marred by a mould line which runs right across his forehead, destroying the typical shape of the German steel helmet. Off with his head! ESCI offers a nice selection of heads in soft plastic figure sets of German infantry. One of these heads can be attached to the machine gunner, using a short peg of 0.6 mm pianowire to secure it.
The manual recommends painting the vehicle Panzergrey (67) overall, but the camouflage pattern shown on the box cover looks much more attractive. Since the cover art is what sells many customers on the kit, we would have liked to see a scale drawing of the pattern.
- Armoured Engineer Equipment Carrier, 1939 – May 1945
- Sd.Kfz. 251 m.Schützen-Panzerwagen APC, 1939 – May 1945
- Sd.Kfz. 251/2 Granatwerfer-Wagen (8 cm) Mortar Carrier, 1939 – May 1945
- Sd.Kfz. 251/5 Pionier-Schützen-Panzerwagen Engineer APC, 1939 – May 1945
- Sd.Kfz. 251/6 Kommando-Panzerwagen Command/Radio vehicle
with frame antenna and radio mast at the right rear, 1939 – May 1945
The armoured engineer equipment carrier Sd.Kfz. 251/7 is an interesting variant of the standard Schützen-Panzerwagen. Markings for two vehicles of the same unit are supplied, encouraging the modeller to create a diorama, or a wargame scenario involving both of them. ESCI offers six of the 24 variants of the Sd.Kfz. 251 series, covering the most important combat types. Others, like the mortar, radio, and assault gun carrier, require relatively little conversion of the basic APC.