Italeri 1/72 Sdkfz 251/8 Ambulance
When I consider different kits that are available on the market today, I don't often have much interest in 1/72 scale because my favored scale is usually 1/35th. About 15 years ago I dabbled with a 1/72 scale T-62 and M4A3E8 Sherman from Hasegawa, but was disappointed by overall soft detail and poor fit of various parts. Due to a couple of different reasons including more recent builds in 1/72 scale and keeping in mind that my available shelf space doesn't seem to be increasing any time soon I decided to give this smaller scale another try. This kit from Italeri is a nice kit of a less common variant of the vehicle being an ambulance. Since I'm leaning more toward more unique vehicles these days, I decided to give this kit a try.
According to scalemates.com, the kit's original molding dates back to Esci's first release of it as a new tool kit in 1974. Despite it's age, the moldings have held up well. As of it's announcement late last year, Italeri has brought this kit back with a new box and new marking options. The box is an adequately sized container which protects the kit contents well. The sprues were all contained in a single plastic sealed bag with the instructions and decals separate in the box. There is little to no flash to deal with. A Wehrmacht medical officer is pictured on the box art, and although no mention of figures is given on the box in writing, the kit includes both the medical officer and one other crew figure (a machine gunner in firing pose for the front Mg-34 or Mg-42) which is most likely a hold over from previous boxing for the regular armed versions. The fold out instructions have a brief introduction/historical background of the vehicle, sprue map, and four pages dedicated to assemble with 3 more pages for the 3 different marking options. The styrene is light grey in color and on the moderately soft to slightly brittle side. No parts were damaged during shipping. A total of 4 sprues are in the single bag, with sprues A for the upper & lower hull components, Sprue b has the lower hull "tub" , wheels, and figures, Sprue C is comprised of the link and length tracks, and sprue D has the ambulance specific parts such as the litter's and stretcher supports for 2 litters. The decals are nicely done with great thickness for this smaller scale and wonderful clarity/register of each marking. The markings are printed for Italeri by Zanchetti Buccinasco MI of Italy. The 3 marking options include one vehicle in whitewash/panzer grey on the Eastern Front in the spring of 1943, an Afrikakorps vehicle of the 21st Panzer Division in panzer grey with desert yellow over painted from Libya in 1942, and a third option in overall Panzer grey with mud brown camouflage over painted from the Eastern Front in the summer of 1942. The decals are quite straightforward, but it's a simple kit, so I didn't anticipate much difficulty with such a lower parts count.
The sprues all come in a single sealed bag. There were very few parts which came damaged in the bag.
The instructions are quite straightforward and clearly show the placement for each part.
Upper hull parts, tools, machine guns (for other versions), and front suspension.
Link and length tracks.
Lower hull, wheels, and two crew figures.
Litters for the ambulance.
The build is quite straightforward although I did take some liberty to change around some of my build sequence from the instructions to ease painting and weathering. Step 1 kicks off the build by assembling the two litters, dash, benches and the marrying of the upper and lower hull. I built the interior as instructed, but held off on attaching the upper and lower hull halves so that I could paint and apply the dash decal before weathering and attaching the two hull halves. I decided to drill out the holes in each of the road wheels as many were filled with flash.
Steps 2 through 5 involves assembly of both track suspension runs. I proceeded with assembling as directed, but kept the tracks divided into an upper and lower run for both sides to aid in painting and weathering. Initially I glued parts 58A and 59A to the lower hull, only to realize I needed to remove them so that I could better attach the track fenders before attaching the track assemblies. This led to some wonky fit when attaching both track/suspension runs to the hull later, but it was no fault of the kit. The tracks are link and length and allow for an accurate degree of "sag" to be included for each side.
Step 6 sees the front wheels and suspension built up, but another problem was encountered, which I also see could have been avoided. I neglected to check how level the front suspension was in relation to the track assemblies, which led to the front wheel's not touching the base when the tracks rested level.
In step 7 the fenders are assembled with toolboxes, pioneer tools, and lights being added. In Step 8 the fenders are then called for to being placed on both sides of the hull. I made sure to paint the upper and lower hull before this to get appropriate paint coverage and weathering with pastels. Finally step 9 completes the assembly with the "bows" for a tarp being added. A template is provided for making your own tarp for the vehicle from your own preferred canvas tarp media (In this case I often use Aves Apoxie Sculpt, but have not done this for the build yet.)
I really liked the weathered look of the AfrikaKorps marking option of overall Tamiya XF-63 panzer grey and used a fine sponge to dab on the XF-59 desert yellow. I used Mig and AK Interactive powdered pigments to replicate a dusty weathered look.
After painting the vehicle Tamiya Panzer Grey and applying the decals, I stipled on Tamiya XF-59 Desert Yellow with a piece of sponge.
In the end, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this build and the weathering for the end result. These 1/72 scale kits by Italeri offer the "bare-bones" of a decently detailed kit with lots of potential for the more skilled builder to go wild with added detail if desired. If the builder would like, one could alter the kit by simply building it as a Sdkfz251/1 as the parts are there to do so, but this ambulance version offers a nice variation from the run of the mill kits that are often built. The kit fit well with the exception of my goofs with the suspension. A little putty was required to improve the look of the joint between upper and lower hull, but in the end I'm pleased with the results.
Highly Recommended for intermediate to Advanced builders.
Thanks goes out to Model Rectifier Corporation for this review kit.
Reviewed by Ben Brandes
Central SC AMPS Wildcats
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