Itís a great time to be a fan of German half-tracks. There are at least ten new variants of the Sd.Kfz.7 out in 1/35th or in the pipeline. These join the Tamiya kits, both old and the newer (the Sd.Kfz.9), and the sea of Sd.Kfz. 251 kits. Itís not surprising that accessory providers are rushing out items tailored to this explosion of Sd.Kfz.7s. One of the latest is a set of wheel masks by Polish manufacturer Quick Wheel for the Dragon kit (they also have one for the Trumpeter Sd.Kfz.7s, whose road wheels are sized differently). Part of a large and growing line of wheel masks intended to make painting road wheels easier, the Quick Wheel masks are heavily-weighted to German vehicles, but also have them for some Russian and British tanks, as well as artillery pieces like the sFH 18.
Hardcore modelers and old-timers will probably scoff at paying $12-$13 for wheel masks, but with German vehicles especially, painting the road wheels is a royal pain. The Sd.Kfz.7 and other half-tracks in particular used a complicated suspension system called the box chassis (Schachtelfahrgestell
): the bogeys are interleaved with one another to support the vehicleís weight efficiently and deliver a smooth ride. Itís a complex arrangement that made German tanks more stable gun platforms and lessened crew fatigue, but tended to suck up rocks causing damage to the wheels's hard rubber rims. These "tires" fit onto the rims of the road wheels in a very precise manner that makes painting even more daunting.
What you see is what you get: the entire thing is a rhomboid-shaped piece of black plastic-like material with a blue sticky overlay. The instructions are a tiny piece of paper showing which kit parts go with which mask holes. Thereís nothing to using it; the road wheels pop in, get a coat of paint, and are ready for assembly.
As you can see from the photo taken from Chris "Toadman" Hughes's CD-ROM Mittlerer Zugkraftwagen 8T Sd.Kfz 7 Photo Detail
, and an invaluable resource for modelers), the masks very accurately replicate the "lip" of paint that extends past the outer depression on the road wheel to the base of the hard rubber "tire." There's simply no way of replicating this feature without masking the wheel, something heretofore that was impractical at best.
The only real drawback to these mask sets is the price: at around $12-$13 each, they would not make sense (to me, at least) unless you have a very complex vehicle like the Sd.Kfz.7, or you plan on building multiple versions of the same tank or half-track (e.g., the many Pz. IVs and variants like the Wirbelwind
using the same base that Dragon is issuing now). Please note that this set will only fit the Dragon Sd.Kfz.7s, and will not work with the Trumpeter kits, whose wheels are slightly larger in diameter.
To see a build log of this accessory, click here