Monday, 18 April 2011

Sdkfz 251 in "28mm" - A comparison

Sdkfz 251/10 B in Ukraine circa 1942.
The iconic "Hanomag Sdkfz 251" SPW (Schützenpanzerwagen) is a near essential purchase for anyone wanting to build a Panzergrenadier force.  Until a few years back (well a decade or so!) your options were largely limited to the venerable Solido diecast.  Things are now quite different.

In the following article I will show four different models available to the wargamer.  It may surprise some to see just how much the size of these vehicles varies - although all are marketed toward the "25/28mm" gamer.

In order of size (biggest to smallest) here goes:

Second City's 251 B.
First up, the offering from Second City. Priced at £7.00 it is clearly a "budget" option.  This is sadly apparent when it comes to quality - the resin casting is full of flaws - looking almost hand-poured!  The vehicle looks to be based upon a late "Ausf B" model and is thus usable for the duration of the Eastern War.

This kit comes in five parts (body, tracks and wheels)  No machine guns are supplied.  The vehicle is large being near to 1:48 scale (In fact I suspect it is a cast of a commercial kit)  That said, if your funds are limited and you are prepared to do a fair bit of work, this may be an option to consider.  Personally, I am tempted to take a crack at one and see if I can make it look acceptable - that is if it doesn't dwarf my Marder III!

BAM/Warlord's 251 D.
Next we move to Bolt Action Miniatures' ausf D (very late 1943 onwards) priced around £18.00.  My samples were bought  (4 years ago) before Warlord Games acquired BAM and they prompted a mixed reaction.  The kit comprises five parts (Hull, track and wheels on a base plus MGs and shield) and apart from the base they are well cast.  The latter was a real mess on both examples.

The track details had been chipped off before packaging and unless these were covered in scale "mud" they would disfigure an otherwise fine model.  I remember asking BAM for replacements and getting these only after a few less than pleasant exchanges.  If Warlord has rectified these casting and service problems I would wholeheartedly recommend the model, if not I would be wary.  Sold as 1:56 scale the height appears spot-on, although they look a little narrow compared to an Artizan figure.

AGNM excellent 251 B.
Third is an Army Group North model (£20.00 in the UK from The Wargames Command Post)  Again, this is an early variant (ausf A according to "Ditto" at TMP) this time with three rifle/vision ports on each of side of the hull.  It is a three piece model with only the MGs to add to a large resin moulding.

This hunk of resin is beautifully cast with no flaws present.  Like the BAM/Warlord model, this 1:56 beastie looks to be of correct height.  However, this time the width looks a little better.  The one problem is the length, I think it is slightly shorter than it should be.  I haven't measured it but my ageing eyeballs suggest that an extra 5mm or so would improve things.  This is a fairly minor niggle considering the overall excellence of this model - recommended.

The diminutive Westwind version.
Finally, we have an Sdkfz 251/9 from Westwind Productions priced at £14.00.  This is the only 100% metal kit and is thus a pretty heavy item.  The detail on the kit is good (this is an ausf C) but my examples (I had two) were of variable quality.  The first had large areas that were missing due to poor casting!  Westwind replaced this promptly and the replacement was fine - so I guess I was just unlucky - again!

The model is formed from hull halves that, for some weird reason, join vertically passing through the front, deck and rear of the vehicle.  This is a very poor design feature as the resulting seam is extremely hard to fill.  Additionally, the joining of two large hunks of metal is not for the faint-hearted.  When it comes to scale these are 1:60 and therefore very small compared to modern "heroic" 28s.  Westwind produce their own range of "25mm"  miniatures that work well with this model but I doubt many would wish to mix these little fellas with the more modern style of figure.

As an incidental note, I have seen Westwinds SPW used to great effect with Valiant Miniature's supposedly 20mm figures!

There are other options nowadays, Tamiya (1:48) and JTFM/Die Waffenkammer (1:56) spring to mind.  Sadly I don't have these to hand for comparison.  Both look to be of great quality albeit in different scales.

Comparative sizes of the four models.
To summarise, much will depend upon your choice of figures and your other vehicles.  As I have said before, the weird and unrealistic proportions of most 28mm miniatures make choosing appropriate vehicles difficult.

Whilst spot-on in terms of height, both the AGNM and BAM/Warlord models are not really big enough for an heroic 28 crew.  If you tried to seat ten miniatures in the rear you would soon see that it just won't happen.  Even if you imagine that your little men are suddenly rendered malleable, it is readily apparent that they are too broad and squat.  The vehicle was cramped - but not that tiny.

Reenactors and their mount.
Then again the Second City vehicle is enormous and your PzGrens would be riding in luxury!  The over-scale problem is most obvious when you look at the drive wheels - they are monstrous.  However, if you are using 1:48 diecasts or plastic models, the over-sized problem is redundant.

Personally, I would say that any of the first three can work with heroic 28s - just don't mix and match.


  1. Good information, that comparative size picture is frightening in showing the differences.

  2. It is pretty scary considering all are often talked of as suitable for 28mm gaming.

    I think the worst offender is certainly the Westwind model. It is tiny.

    Looking at the Second City vehicle I think I am going to take shot at making one look decent - I like a challenge and I am an inveterate cheapskate!