Over 12,000 Sd.Kfz.7 eight ton prime movers were produced for the Wehrmacht in WW II with its original mission towing artillery (principally the 88mm FlaK and sFH 18 15cm howizter), and carrying Panzergrenadiers into battle. But as the war developed, the Nazis realized that air superiority was increasingly belonging to their foes. The Sd.Kfz.7's stable chassis made it an excellent gun platform for anti-aircraft weapons like the 3.7cm Flak 37. By war's end, only 123 had been produced with that or the FlaK 36, far fewer than the Sd.Kfz. 7/1 FlaK "quad" (750-800 units).
While there were open-cab versions of the 7/2, the most-common seems to have featured an armored cab and radiator shield to protect against small arms fire (the armor wasn’t sufficient to counter strafing from aircraft, and did not protect the engine). As the old Gunny might say, "that's the sort of thing that could ruin your whole day."
Griffon Model has been releasing an extensive and growing line of AM upgrade sets for the Dragon Sd.Kfz.7s, and now has out this comprehensive one that adds all sorts of details to the kit (though it does not include the gun's splinter shield, which is a separate set).
what you get
Inside Griffon's usual zip-lock bag affixed to a pasteboard hang tag is a riot of goodies:
10 frets of photo etch
A baggie with various gauges of brass wire for making hinges, engine wires, etc.
4 lengths of ABA plastic rounds
5 sheets of double-sided instructions
a length of thread for the towing winch
a tiny rectangle of decals for instrument dials
a tiny section of clear plastic for making covers for the instrument dials
While produced in far smaller numbers than the quad-toting Sd.Kfz. 7/1, the 7/2 has several distinctive features, including its armored cab. And since Dragon does not supply instrument dials for its halftrack kits, Griffon's decision to include both decals AND instrument covers made from a sheet of clear acetate is a welcome development. Tools are improved over the styrene kit offerings (especially the latches holding them to the vehicle), and the FlaKvisier 40 gun sight is elaborately detailed.
Other kit parts replaced or improved include the hood bonnet (with the vents opened up, though you have to position them open with a metal straight edge), detailing of the gun mounting platform, the spare tire storage locker, and the winch (though it's mounted under the gun platform and not visible once the kit is finished). While you'll have to be satisfied knowing you have an accurate winch, the engine detailing is so good you'll want to show the bonnet open, including brass wire for the spark plug wires and other connectors. The cab interior and door locks look equally good-- so much so you'll want to show the doors open, too.The radiator is substantially improved, including the option to use either a Kraus-Maffei or Borgward logo on the grill, two of the companies that manufactured the Seven.
There is a long list of other improvements that the modeler can take advantage of, including double-sided mesh for the radiator, correct perforated support brackets for the engine firewall, support brackets for the mudguards, view port covers, rifle rack and many control features of the gun and its mounting platform. The set, while not exhaustive, may just exhaust you!
The real challenge for the Sd.Kfz.7/1 and 7/2 are the lattice-work "mesh" side panels. Both Dragon and Trumpeter have chosen to go with mesh PE; the only accurate options are a blindingly-complex but beautiful metal slat set from Griffon Model (reviewed for the 7/1 variant by me here
but available in a version for the 7/2
), and the slightly less-accurate (but more practical one-piece) version by Kamizukuri (reviewed by me here
). This set doesn't address this question, but does supply some more-accurate hardware if you plan on using the Dragon kit-supplied PE mesh.
The voluminous instructions are necessary because of the many small details that are needed all over the kit. They are well laid-out and seem to provide the necessary guidance for making the full use of this set.
With this set, you can pretty much remake the details of the kit with more-precise brass versions. It's not a total package (no turned barrel and the PE for the gun shields is a separate set), but very nice just the same. I look forward to using it in my build of the Dragon kit, and would recommend it to anyone who wants to kick the level of accuracy of their build to a higher level.
Allied-Axis #21, Ampersand Publishing
Sd.Kfz. 7: mittlerer Zugkraftwagen 8 t, Auriga Publishing
German Half-Tracks of WWII vol. 2, Concord Publications
Sd.Kfz.7 in Detail, Wings & Wheels Publications
Thanks to Dragon USA for supplying this review sample. Please mention that you saw it reviewed here on Armorama when ordering.