AFV ClubDragon
Sd.Kfz. 251/21 Ausf. D "Drilling"
Kit Comparison
AFV Club Kit #AF 35082 - Dragon Kit #6217
1:35th Scale
Kit Comparison by Terry Ashley

In what seems like deja vu we again have two kits of the same vehicle from AFV Club and Dragon, this time being the 251/21 Ausf.D “Drilling” and following the individual reviews of AFV Club kit #35082 and Dragon kit #6217 we’ll have a look how they compare directly.

I have again included many images that hopefully will illustrate the differences with the AFV Club (AFV) parts shown in olive green plastic and the Dragon (DR) parts in light grey plastic and also note that the parts have been removed from the sprues and cleaned up for the images to better show the parts.

The first major difference is that the AFV kit features the MG151/20 20mm cannon while the DR kit has the earlier MG151/15 15mm cannon so we have quite a marked variation to begin as well as the AFV kit offering a choice of the early or late configuration while the DR kit has a mix of early and late configurations.

Lower Hull:
DragonStarting from the ground up the breakdown of the lower hulls is treated differently on each kit with AFV including the road wheel axle mounting plate as part of the side hull panels while the DR kit has a separate lower hull part with the hull side panels as separate parts. Both kits have separate axles and bump stops for the suspension so you can articulate these if you wish. The lower sections of the engine are included with the lower hull part on the DR kit and with the lower floor part on the AFV kit but they both arrive at the same end result.

The detail definition around the lower hull axle mountings is far more detailed on the AFV kit with a raised reinforcing panel with recesses around the bump stops but from references this raised reinforcing panel seems to be a later modification as early photos of the chassis don't have this feature, and it would seem more appropriate for this later vehicle. The AFV kit also has separate small sections either side of the front hull for additional details around the front hull. The DR kit has thinner etched panels to represent the reinforcing panels around the axles but look a little thin compared to photos.

The DR kit again has the gearbox, battery, fuel tank and rear axle in the lower hull tub even though this can't be seen on the assembled kit and is probably best to bypass these during assembly.

Upper Hull:
DragonThe upper hulls in both kits are single mouldings with separate engine bay doors, separate vision ports on the separate front panel with just indentations for the side vision slits.

One difference here is that the DR kit again gives you two complete upper hulls, one with the initial engine bay layout with two side opening doors as well as the later hull with a single rear opening door while the AFV kit has only the initial design hull.

Of interest is that to give you the late hull you get the full sprue L from the DR 251/22 kit with all the mountings and gun cradle for the PaK40 which can be consigned to the spares box.

The AFV hull lacks the recessed screw heads around the engine bay opening used to hold the door sills in place while these are on the DR hulls with nice recessed screw head details.

The radiator cap cover incorrectly included on the first late hull kits from DR has been removed from this hull as the front section is actually another door that opens to the right to access the radiator. The side hinges for this front door are included but you will need to scribe the door line on the left side, again very easy to deal with.

Both kits have subtle weld seams and bolt head details on the front panels and along the side walls for nice subtle details.

Photos do exist of the “Drilling” on the late hull with rear opening engine bay door but note they usually do not have the additional upper hull armour panels included in the DR kit.

The upper panel above the driver’s position is replaced with a new bolted panel on the DR kit while the AFV kit has two alternate panels for the early or late versions plus both have the V gun travel lock fitted on the front of the panel and both kits also include the underside padded head guards on the panels.

There are a number of small dimensional differences between the AFV and DR upper hulls and the first noticeable difference is with the width which is 2.1meters (210cm) wide in real life scaling down to 6cm (60mm) in 1:35th scale. The AFV hull is 60mm wide exactly while the DR hull is 58mm wide making this 2mm too narrow which is quite noticeable when looking at the two hulls together.
The opening at the top of the rear hull is 39mm for the AFV kit and 38mm for the DR, so the 2mm hasn’t been carried through to the top which also means the angle of the upper hull side is slightly different on each kit due the 2mm difference at the bottom (widest point) and only 1mm at the top.
The width of the upper front hull is also different on both with the AFV hull being 18mm and the DR hull at 19.5mm which matches the plan size exactly while the side angle from the front plate to the outer hull junction (at the driver’s plate) is slightly out due to the narrower DR hull.
Due to the front being 1.5mm narrower on the AFV hull the hull angle is also slightly off not as much as the DR hull angle is out with narrower hull, but overall the front hull angle is really indiscernible and probably won’t be an issue.

The length of the upper hulls see the rear section of the AFV hull 1mm shorter than the DR hull while the length of the front section back to the drivers plate is the same except for the angle of the side panels due to the above.

So overall both have minor niggles but when looking at both hulls together the 2mm narrower hull of the DR kit is more noticeable than the minor differences of the AFV hull but as mentioned initially it’s up to the individual to decide if these discrepancies are of importance as there is little you can do about them without major surgery?

Rear Hull and Fenders:
DragonBoth kits have the rear hull panel as a separate part with additional separate doors. The AFV kit has the door latch mechanism moulded with the doors for very simple parts while the DR kit has separate delicate latch mechanisms for the doors for very good detail definition but note the handles should be in the horizontal position even when the doors are open, also the DR kit has the outside T door knob as a separate part which isn't on the AFV door but again note the handle should be in the horizontal position and not vertical as shown in the DR instructions, easy to fix. On the inside wall the AFV kit has two fire extinguishers, one on either side while the DR kit only has one fire extinguisher with current information indicating that the two extinguishers is the correct configuration.

Both kits have separate fenders with separate multi-part exhausts on the left fender with both being slightly different in design, i.e. AFV has the lower drum as part of the fender moulding while DR has it separate but they both arrive at the same result.

The bolt head detail on the fenders and around the exhaust is more refined on the AFV parts while both kits have Bosch head lights with separate base and two part light and they also both have basic NOTEK lights and base included although the instructions in both kits indicate to use the Bosch lights but at least you have the option of the NOTEK lights if you want to use these them.

Both have separate axe and pick axe which are okay with the AFV kit including etched tool clips if you want to cut off the moulded on tool clips for better details while the DR kit tools only have moulded on tool clips. The width indicators are fine plastic parts in both kits with the DR kit including optional formed brass width indicators.

The side storage boxes on the AFV kit are single closed mouldings while the DR parts have one separate door on each side (different door for variation) that can be shown open or closed as you wish. The DR kit has moulded on pad locks and fine chain plus the lower hinge while the AFV doors have separate etched padlocks, brackets and fine etched chain to add a bit more detail to the doors.

Running Gear/Suspension:
DragonThere were different styles of front wheels used on the 251 series and both kits included what could be referred to as the most common type with the detail on the AFV kit having good definition although they don't have the tyre valve fittings while on the DR wheels have the tyre valve indentation on the rims and finely represented valve stem.
The tyre tread pattern is different on both wheels and I've seen images with both tread types so there is really no problem here.

The road wheels are also more refined on the AFV wheels with the spot welds around the outer wheel rims and the subtle curve around the edges of the lightening holes and raised sections around the lightening holes on the inner wheels. The drive sprockets the AFV parts are again more detailed with the correct offset of the drive teeth and the rollers included on the drive teeth while the teeth are not offset nor do they have the rollers on the DR sprockets. It appears the drive sprockets are destined to never be corrected on the DR kits so we better get used to it and while this may only be a minor point as the offset is really not as noticeably on the 251 sprockets as it is on the bigger FAMO for example but it should be there as should the teeth rollers which are more noticeable.

The front suspension units are multi-part on both kits with the DR parts being much finer than the AFV parts but on referring to available plans and photos the DR parts are a little undersized with the AFV parts being closer to the sizes indicated.

The AFV front axle stubs are fixed in place while the DR stubs are designed to be steerable after assembly which is handy to include a bit of animation to the finished model or when used in dioramas. The AFV kit also has the left side steering arm which is not present in the DR kits.

Overall the lower hull and running gear/suspension detail is far more detailed and refined on the AFV kit but the simpler breakdown of parts on the DR kit will probably result in an easier build.

DragonAnother major difference in the kits is with the tracks where you get the Skeletal individual link working track and the bonus EZ-Track cast type track in the DR kit and simple vinyl ‘rubber band’ Skeletal track with the AFV kit and while this has nice details for this type of track doesn’t have the definition of the DR individual link tracks.

The fact that AFV offer separate individual link track sets is really irrelevant in regards to the comparison but they are available if you wish to shell out extra cash to update the tracks.

DragonOn the interior both kits represent the upper side panels for mounting the sidewall equipment as raised panels on the inner hull sides and have full length floor sections with tread plate pattern included. The rear floor section on the AFV kit is a separate part with the pedestal mounting included and the central transmission hump is the correct size. The DR kit on the other hand has the central transmission hump quite noticeable undersized and while the transmission hump has been corrected on more recent DR kits the fact that some kits have updated parts and others don’t makers it a minefield for buyers as you have no idea what you are getting, but it is good the updates are being made along the way despite making it a lucky dip at purchase.

The forward engine bulkhead/instrument panel is the correct shape with the left side wall slanted outward on both kits. The engraved detail on the instrument panels is quite well done on each with the panel being a separate part on the AFV kit, which is really incidental and both have the lower piping as separate parts. The driver's foot pedals are very basic flat ‘blocks' on the DR kit while the pedals are separate parts on the AFV kit for better definition and three gear levers also have more refined details on the AFV kit.

Both kits have the separate large bolted flanges between the forward and rear hull sections and upper hull plate although the DR parts have the incorrect shape at the bend being more squared off that it should be.

The crew seats on both kits have nice cushion and rear spring detail and securing tabs around the seat frames as sell as separate lower seat sections. The steering wheel and column appear more to scale in the AFV kit than with the DR parts which are a little undersized but probably won't be that noticeable on the finished kit.

The visors are again multi-part in both kits with nice details with the new clear parts in the DR kit offering slightly better detail definition and both can be positioned in the open or closed position.

Both kits indicate to replace the rear crew seats with additional large ammo storage boxes but there is a difference with the rear compartment floor and pedestal mounting. The AFV kit has a new separate rear floor section with the lower circular pedestal mounting included with the floor section while the DR kit has the original floor which requires a locating hole opened up for the separate lower pedestal mounting base. There is an issue here as the DR instructions overlook to tell you to open up this hole which has to be done early in the construction before the floor is glued in place (in step 5) as it will be very difficult later to locate and open up the hole in the correct position.

Pedestal and gun mountings:
DragonThe pedestal “cone” is a single part in both kits with a two part “neck” and the breakdown of the gun mounting parts treated differently in both to arrive at the same conclusion. The DR parts are mostly finer in appearance with the overall size being basically the same on both give or take a fraction of mm here and there. Some of the smaller AFV parts (e.g. F62, F63) are on the other hand finer than the DR parts and will need careful handling as will the corresponding DR parts (G2, G4).

The large ammo storage boxes in both are in two main halves but split differently with the AFV boxes having a large join seem on the inside of the assembled box but this is hidden on the inside of the mounting if you didn’t want to fill this. Both kits have the two sizes of ammo box with separate finer details and the AFV kit has the ammo belts in soft vinyl material which does allow natural bends to be added while the DR kit has normal plastic ammo belts that will have to be carefully bent to the required shape to fit between the boxes and gun feeds. The ammo belt rounds are also slightly different sizes which do reflect the 15mm/20mm guns in the kits.

The ammo boxes are also slightly different sizes with the AFV boxes marginally wider and 1.5mm shorter and again I am assuming this has to do with the different calibre rounds?

MG151/15-20mm Machine Guns:
DragonOne of the main differences with the kits is that the AFV kit has the MG151/20 20mm guns while the DR kit has the MG151/15 15mm guns which not only means they are not direct duplications but gives a good excuse to buy both kits.

The DR guns are broken down into more parts than the AFV guns for a finer overall look with the AFV guns being simpler to assemble but the AFV kit gives you fine brass barrels with separate brass flash suppressors while the DR kit has plastic barrels with separate aluminium flash suppressors that are quite rough where cut at an angle and will need to be cleaned up a bit.

The small ring bracket between the barrel and flash suppressors on the AFV guns is one of the smallest and finest moulded parts you will find and extreme care will be needed when removing from the sprue and in fitting to the end of the brass barrels.
In fitting this part to the barrel I did have to reduce the diameter of the barrel tip with light filing but this was just a small amount. Don’t try and force the ring onto the barrel as you will either snap it or “ping” it off into the modelling void.

The small ring sight mounted on top of the guns is supplied as an etched part in both kits but the telescopic sight is more finely moulded in the DR kit.

Gun Shields:
DragonThis is another area where there are big differences between the kits with the AFV kit giving you both the squatter early and taller late configuration gun shields in both plastic and etched metal, the upper hull armour panels are also in plastic and etched to give multiple choices in the final fit out. The DR kit only provides the taller late configuration for the gun shield in plastic only along with the upper hull panels also in plastic only. There is one point in that most photos available and that’s not a lot show the taller late gun shields without the upper hull panels to allow the guns to better engage ground targets, but it’s a simple matter to leave these off the DR kit to represent specific photographed vehicles. But as things were quite hectic in the final years of the war and as there are only a few photos available it is quite feasible that some vehicles did have the taller late shields and upper armour panels.

The DR shields don’t include the small curved cover for the upper sight which was a feature of the later shields with this part included in the AFV kit as well as other small detail differences between the early and late configurations including the offset travel lock bracket on the AFV late shields but this is located centrally on the DR shield. This in turn means the travel lock attached to the upper hull panel is also offset for the late configuration in the AFV kit while the DR kit has this located centrally as with the early configuration.

The AFV etched brass shields require you to bend these to shape which is quite easy as the lower facets are accounted for in the flat shield layout and soldering would be the best method to make robust shields.

DragonThe AFV decal sheet is well printed with thin carrier film and provides markings for three early and one late vehicle;

The DR kit again has four sheets, a new large sheet with a selection of vehicle numbers and balkenkreuz plus stencil data panels, the licence plate sheet with many variations possible from previous kits and another small sheet with divisional markings for 18 different Panzer divisions and this sheet is marked being from kit #6233 and as this wasn’t in the kit I reviewed I can only guess it has been added to later production runs? The final sheet has instrument panel dials to use if desired and this sheet is marked from kit #6187 and again this wasn’t in the kit I reviewed and I can only guess again it has been added to later production runs?
The instruction sheet gives no specific unit markings with only two vehicles illustrated, one with three colour cam scheme and one in overall Dark Yellow for your choice of markings and references will come in handy to identify specific vehicles.

Extra bits:
The DR kit has bonus brass 15mm rounds with three full rounds and three spent shell cases which have excellent details and you again have a bonus set of figures this time from set #6191 "Achtung-Jabo" Panzer Crew France 1944 and these are one of the better sets released by Dragon pre Gen2 with excellent uniform and facial details as well as the etched head phone details and these will really add to the well represented “drilling” kit and also two additional figures and a small selection of clothing moulded in the DS100 vinyl material to use as desired.

Again both kits are will build into nice models of the 251/21 with each having areas better detailed that the other and visa versa such as the undersized interior parts and incorrect drive sprockets in the DR kit while these features are correct in the AFV kit. The AFV kit has the two styles of gun shields in both plastic and etched brass plus the brass barrels while the DR kit has the early and late hull to choose from plus the bonus figures and finer rendering of the gun parts.

So again it’s a case of ‘choose your weapon’ with personal preference also playing a part but with the different calibre machine gun it really means we are not comparing like for like and is a perfect excuse to but both. But overall the AFV kit takes the points with the more accurate hull details, metal gun barrels and choice of early, late, plastic or etched gun shields, providing you want an MG151/20 ‘Drilling’ that is otherwise it’s the DR kit.

Metal Parts: Dragon


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Page created March 3, 2006

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