Sd. Kfz. 7/2 3.7 cm Flak 36 Smart Kit

Published: June 24th, 2011     
Box Art
Box Art
Reviewed by: 
Michael Novosad, IPMS# 36721
Scale: 1/35
Company: Dragon Models
Price: $59.95
Product / Stock #: 6541

History and Performance

The Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two, by Chamberlain, Doyle and Jentz, show that 319 Sd. Kfz. 7/1 fitted with quad 2 cm FV38 were produced until October 1944, and 123 Sd. Kfz. 7/2 fitted with 3.7 cm FlaK 36 were produced until February 1945. This review addresses the latter vehicle. These vehicles were issued to FlaK units of the Luftwaffe.

I scoured many of the personal library references and found very few images of these vehicles. Nonetheless, this looks like a very interesting build.

Kit Review

  • Instructions - The typical Dragon fold-out instructions are used for this kit. There are eight, busy pages, with 17 steps to the construction.
  • Sprues and packaging - There are nine sprues included with several packaged in sealed clear cellophane bags. The chassis frame is a separate part as is the rear fender set. There were no ejector pin marks found on the later mentioned parts. The first sheet of the instructions highlights, in blue, the parts not to be used in the build. A word of caution: as fine as the Dragon kits may be there is the occasional instructional error where parts are misidentified, and therefore the parts shown as "not used" should not be removed from the sprues until the construction is completed.
  • Clear Parts - There is a small clear sprue for the head light lenses, spotlight lens and the windshield.
  • Photo Etch - The PE fret contains the fine screen mesh for the gun deck fold down sides, plus tread pads for the steps to the cab. Also included are two windshield wipers.
  • Running gear and Tracks - Teeny, tiny tracks are provided in the individual "Magic Track" links. Not certain why they are called "Magic" as they still require assembly. Stare at them all you want, they will not go together on their own!! There are four DS (Dragon Styrene) tires included, with one being a surplus tire with rim.
  • Decals/Markings - A small sheet of Cartograf decals are provided with individual numbers, plus vinyl windshield masks (both sides)
  • Figures - There are no figures included with this kit.
  • Miscellaneous - A small sheet of windshields masks are included.

Construction

Note:  Last year I was fortunate to have been given the opportunity to build the Dragon Sd. Kfz. 7 8t Half Track Initial Production for the IPMS Review Corps. In that build I found two rather significant problems with the fit of major parts: the firewall assembly and hood did not fit properly, but both problems were resolved without noticeably affecting the appearance of the model. With this current build I have the opportunity to redeem myself or determine that the problem is a design fault with the kit. Let us see what happens.

  • Chassis and Suspension - I spent about an hour removing mold lines and ragged sprue attachment points from the various parts. In Step 1 I found the fit of the drive sprocket assemblies to be a bit loose where attached to the frame. There are raised mounting discs for the two drive subassemblies to be affixed to. Care must be exercised for a correct fit. In addition, the swing arm mounts must be properly aligned so that when the swing arms are fitted in Step 8 everything will be level and aligned.
  • The winch is a four-part assembly, but a fifth part (power shaft) is added in Step 7 later. There is no cable provided for the winch. The fitting of the winch drum and power shaft is a bit vague in the instructions  It took a bit of care to fit the power shaft properly, and when that happened the winch drum almost fell into place.
  • The two drive sprockets are assembled in step 5, but the installation of the PE outer bands are shown to be installed later in step 13. Do it now, and be sure to anneal the brass parts for an easier rolling of the metal.
  • Engine Assembly/Installation-The engine assembly is detailed in Step 3, but the completed engine is not installed until Step 9. A dry test fit of the engine revealed a conflict with part B31 installed in Step 1. The engine mounts were about 1/8" away from the mounting locations on the chassis. I reviewed the instructions and realized I have mounted the part incorrectly. I was able to remove and reset the part with a little care and effort.
  • Crew Cab- The instrument panel consists of several parts and will require some effort to assemble correctly aligned.
  • Upper Gun Deck and Armament- The assembly for the 3.7 cm PaK is the most complicated part of the entire build. There are three major assembly steps, supplemented with four subassemblies. Many of the parts are small, and the instructions are often vague as to location. There were some parts that I just could not determine exactly where they were to be fitted in place. The placement for Part A61, for example, was so vague that installation was anyone's guess. The images on the box bottom offered some clarity.
  • The construction would have been helped with more steps to this part of the work, and perhaps a numbered sequence for the installation of specific parts. Sometime parts previously installed were in conflict with other parts installed later.
  • Fitting the upper deck and crew cab to the chassis is a bit tricky as there are several "fins" below the cab that must be fitted carefully over the chassis before applying the solvent.
  • Running Gear and Tracks- The instructions show that fifty four links per side are required for each track run. That is correct, but the assembled tracks required some effort to fit around the sprocket teeth.

Painting and Finishing

  • Painting was done with Tamiya acrylics. Vallejo paints were used to paint the details and accessories.

Decals

  • From previous experience the decals included in Dragon kits are a fine quality and generally work well on a glossy finish and applications of decal solutions.

Conclusion

This model is for the experienced builder due to the many small parts and complicated instructions and subsequent subassemblies. Many of the small and finely molded parts will require care to avoid breakage during the removal and cleanup process. Sometimes the location of the  parts is quite vague:  I found it best to install the other parts in the subassembly and then the placement of the first part become a bit clearer.

The illustrations on the bottom of the box proved to be a valuable supplement for the sometimes busy or vague instructions. The photo etch parts are quite thick and any part that requires bending or forming for installation must be annealed first. The drops down side screens, being a thick metal, really reinforce the drop down frames.

As noted above in a previous build of a Dragon halftrack I found a serious fit problem with the hood, radiator enclosure and the crew cab. In this build I dry-fit these parts several times and found no problem, but after painting and the final assembly the fit was not as good. I would recommend one of two solutions: (1) leave the hood off and expose the engine, or (2) glue all the parts together before painting and forget about displaying the engine. I am at a loss as to the final fit issues.

This kit was an intense experience for me to build, and will take time to assemble. Often I found it was necessary to partially assemble a subassembly and then allow the solvent to cure completely before proceeding with additional parts. One must go slowly and review the instructions and the illustrations on the box bottom often. The engineering and fit of the parts is quite noteworthy, and the amount of detail is almost breathtaking. This model will make an impressive addition to anyone collection, provided they have the skill and patience to work with the many tiny parts and subassemblies. It was not an easy build, but it was a build worthy of the efforts.

I wish to thank Dragon Models USA and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to build and review this kit. Recommended for experienced modelers.

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