German half tracks, they’re so iconic. I’ve already got a couple of the standard 251/1 troop carriers, now they’re joined by the command variant, the 251/10:

The Sd.Kfz. 251/10

The Germans never really went in for sexy names for their non-tank AFVs, and the string of gobbledegook above simply indicates this was the command variant of the standard personnel carrier halftrack. The first battalion of each panzer division’s infantry regiment got to ride in these instead of trucks, and each platoon had four halftracks; three standard troops carriers (251/1) armed with machine guns and the platoon HQ had a 251/10 armed with a 37mm Pak-36 antitank gun.

Despite being originally designed as an anti-tank gun the 37mm wasn’t really intended to give this vehicle the ability to fight off tanks. The were fitted because the guns were obsolete, so as anti-tank units were re-equipped with 50mm and then 75mm guns the old 37mm guns were mounted onto these command halftracks. Presumably this was seen as better than melting them down and turning them into mess tins or something. The infantry are resourceful, they would find plenty of stuff to shoot the 37mm at. So the idea was more to give the platoon commander a mobile heavy weapon of his own and what he used it for was up to him. To be fair, even into the late war there were Allied AFVs that a 37mm could knock a hole in. But if the target was a tank there was a reason the troops derisively called the 37mm the “Heeresanklopfgerät” (Army door-knocking device).

Towards the very end of the war these 251/10s were phased out (there were no spare 37mms left) and the platoon HQ vehicle became the 251/21 armed with three 15mm autocannons, which was probably a considerably more useful armament, being able to swat marauding Allied aircraft and shred ground targets equally well.

The Ausf D designation refers to this being the simplified later model of the Sd.Kfz. 251 line recognisable from the sharply raked flat rear panel. Performance was the same, it was just cheaper and quicker to make.

The Warlord kit

This is honestly one of the simplest kits I’ve made in a long time. The hull is two large pieces with a separate one-piece interior that has all the seats moulded onto it. The interior detail is pretty much non-existent, there’s no dashboard or stowed gear. On the plus side you get nice one-piece tracks. I recommend just gluing on the details like stowage and headlights, and leave the main hull pieces, wheels and track separate until you’ve painted them.

Where you can go a little nuts is the crew. The kit consists of the standard plastic Sd.Kfz. 251/1 sprue which includes several passengers but no driver or gunner. To make the 251/10 you get a small extra sprue containing the gun and a gunner figure with some alternative seats that have the ammo stowage for the 37mm gun.

The 37mm gun is a bit pointless in the late war environment, so I’m not sure how much I’ll use a 251/10 outside of scenarios. So while it’s a “nice to have” I wanted to be able to use this model as a standard 251/1 as well. Due to the way the sprues are handled that’s very doable with a bit of light conversion work. By adding a small piece of plasticard as a false floor in the vehicle it’s possible to make the whole interior removable, with the bench seats, guys sitting on them and even the gun and gunner as a single lift-out piece. So to switch between a halftrack armed with an LMG and one with the Pak-36 you can just swap out the insert.

So I split up the crew figures and the Pak gunner between the two inserts and I added a machine gunner to the 251/1 version using some left over plastic bits from the bits box. I was pretty much done painting them all when I decided there was something missing. Despite coming with several passenger figures the kit doesn’t include a driver, which is a little odd. Sure, he’s a little bit difficult to see in there, but it just felt wrong having the vehicle full of bodies and an empty driver’s seat. So, back to the bits box! I grabbed a plastic body, stuck a head on it and cut the whole thing in half at the waist. I didn’t bother giving him arms as you really can’t see that. Head and shoulders is good enough to give the impression. While I had the plastic German infantry sprues out I decided to make an officer for the back of the 251/10 on a whim. It is the platoon command vehicle after all. So a little chopping and gluing later I had an officer sitting in the back of the SPW looking slightly quizzically at a map while th landser in front of him shoves shells into the Pak-36 and sends them downrange. That feels about right.

The stowage on the vehicle is mostly what you get on the sprue, with some panniers from a BMW motorbike added just for something a bit different.

The paint recipe is a pretty standard one for me: Army Painter Desert Yellow primer with Vallejo Dark Rust and Luftwaffe Camo Green splodges. The tracks were done in Vallejo’s very nice “track primer” colour. I normally don’t go in for single-use colours, but this is a nice one. The whole vehicle got a black ink pinwash and then a wash all over with Army Painter Dark Tone ink before a drybrush of Valleojo Middlestone and some Tamiya weather powders.