As the German air superiority dwindled, and the Allied aircraft took the skies, the German armored forces increasingly found a need for mobile anti-aircraft platforms. Several purpose-build and converted vehicles were designed and built; many of them were based on trucks and halftracks. The sd.kfz.251 halftrack served as a basis of several different AAA platforms; the Drilling was but one. (Ironically, the weakly armored AA vehicles quickly became targets for fighter-bombers; most Drillings were lost to air attacks.)
As the Luftwaffe adopted the heavier 3cm cannons, there was a large surplus of the excellent Mauser MG151/15 and 20 cannons (15 and 20 mm respectively). Not to let the guns go to waste, the Kriegsmarine constructed a simple triple gun mount called Flak Drilling Sockellafette. This gun mount was adapted for the 251 to provide an anti-aircraft platform. All benches were removed from the vehicle, and additional armor plates were installed around the sides. The mount itself was simply bolted onto the floor of the passenger compartment. Two ammo chests were placed in the back with a total capacity of 3000 rounds/vehicle.
The gun mount itself was a full rotating pedestal with a cradle assembly which housed three MG151s. They were mounted slightly offset to the right side to allow clearance for the ammunition belts and feed chutes. The shells and belt links were collected inside the pedestal. The guns were fed from three ammunition boxes attached to the pedestal itself. The center box was larger than the two others, containing 400 rounds in mixed HE, AP and tracer rounds. The two side boxes contained 250 rounds each. This arrangement was necessary as the middle gun was considerably more difficult to reload.
The gunner was sitting on a metal seat suspended at the rear of the gun, and operated the whole mount manually. The triggers were placed on the two handgrips. Early versions had reflector type gun sights, while the late ones used speed ring sights. (The armor shield and cradle assembly was different as well in these versions.)
The conversion set comes in a typical CMK blister pack with precise, well designed instructions. The molding is crisp and very good quality, as are the photoetched parts. The kit is designed for the Hasegawa 251/D kits, but it should be no problem using it with any D model kits. Personally I prefer the DML offerings, as they have much superior detail to any other 251 models on the market. As an added benefit, the floor of the crew compartment is not perforated to mark where the benches would go, which makes conversions simpler. All the other kits have preformed holes and ridges on the floor plates for the benches.
The set seems to depict a late version armed with MG151/20 guns. There are several accuracy issues. The rear ammo chests from the crew compartment are missing, and the instructions show the rear seats installed. The kit might represent a field modified vehicle (they did send out "kits" to workshops to modify vehicles in the field) –or CMK did not do their research. The gun barrels are resin, and while they are certainly straight and parallel, they look like someone stuck broom handles into the guns; turned metal barrels will make the model much more realistic. (There are aftermarket MG151/20 barrels available, but no one produces the 15 mm barrels to my knowledge, which is a shame. It looks very different with the angled muzzles on the two guns on the side.) The three ammo boxes attached to the pedestal are the same size, even though the middle one should be bigger. The ammo belts are missing from the kit, along with the gunner’s seat, and they will need to be added by the modeler. (References will come very useful; the most practical would probably be instructions for one of the 1/35 kits on the market.) As a bonus, the rear doors are included made of photoetched parts for scale thickness, should someone want to depict the vehicle with open doors.
The other issue I faced was sizing. I found that the pedestal was too short when I tried to fit it into the fighting compartment. This issue could be solved with a little spacer glued between the resin piece and the floor. (I did not raise it high enough on my model, though.) The other problem is apparent if we look at historical photos: the gun platform is a bit oversized compared to the vehicle. This could very well be an issue with the DML kit, but I don't think the Hasegawa model is that much different in size. The build otherwise was quick and easy; the only difficulty I ran into was the attachment of side armor. The PE parts unfortunately have no attachment points, which made gluing them onto the plastic difficult. Someone with more expertise (or patience) should be able to achieve a more convincing result.
I have had a chance to compare the CMK offering with the considerably more expensive Kora Model version’s instruction sheet. While I cannot comment on the quality of the Kora kit, it looks more detailed, and have some crucial missing items (such as the ammo belts and the seat) included. It does not, however, have the ammo chests at the back of the vehicle, either. (It also looks like having the MG151/15 guns.)
Despite of the missing details, the CMK set looks quite good on its own; certainly good enough for wargaming or perhaps as a quick build if you are not too fussed. (I built mine out of the box -with the exception of the excellent Master gun barrels.) However, if you want to have an accurate model, you will have to definitely work on it, and some scratch-building experience will definitely come handy.
Highs: Very good quality, relatively inexpensive.Lows: No metal barrels, inaccurate and missing details.Verdict: Recommended with reservations.
I am a biologist by trade, and as a hobby I've been building scale models for the last twenty years. Recently I started to write reviews of the models I bought. These reviews are written from the point of view of an average model builder; hence the focus is on quality of the model, how easy it is to...