SdKfz 251 ausf C Interior Details
By Bruce Culver
With the recent release of the 1/48 scale AFV Club SdKfz 251 ausf C, modelers have the opportunity to build an accurate replica of the workhorse halftrack infantry carrier of the German military ground forces in World War II. The kit as it comes in the box is superbly detailed, a vastly better and more accurate kit than the old Bandai effort from the 1970s. I am writing this document to guide those modelers who might wish to improve the kit by adding smaller details, and correct an error in the design of a very few key detail pieces.
The AFV Club 1/48 ‘251 ausf C contains most of the detail seen in their earlier 1/35 kit, and represents a standard welded /1 infantry carrier intended to carry a full squad of 10 men, a driver, and a vehicle commander. Where pieces have been simplified because of the smaller size, they generally are well-done, and careful painting will augment the details very well. It will be possible, with just a little extra work, to build as detailed a model as you wish, and for those who want to use as many internal detail parts as possible to dress up those other kits not as well researched or molded, here is your answer: tarpaulins are your friends. . . .
For the rest of us, this document will provide information about the details and layout for the interior of the SdKfz 251 ausf C mSPW. I was going to deal only with the error in the kit, but I decided to supply a view of the interior for those who never had a chance to see the Aberdeen ‘251 ausf C before neglect and the weather destroyed the interior that had been complete. Even by the time I first saw it in 1967, the old girl was pretty well shot inside, and only one seat survived intact. It is now in Austin, Texas, indoors at last. I decided the best way to approach this was to conduct a tour of the interior of the ‘251 ausf C, in art and photos, and point out the good, the bad, and the ugly. I also will point out some differences between the ausf C and ausf D for certain details, as the differences helped contribute to the error the AFV Club kit has.
The exterior of the AFV Club kit is exemplary, and very little work needs to be done other than adding wiring to the headlights and Notek taillight. Those who wish to do so can add tool clamps and brackets from PE sets, scrap brass, lead foil (I recommend the elderberry wine myself), or thin styrene strips. The lead foil is especially good as it is soft and bends very easily, yet will hold its shape. Other than this, I won’t cover the exterior.
Here is the front section of the Aberdeen Proving Ground SdKfz 251/1 ausf C (riveted) as it looked at APG. The front seats disappeared long ago, as did the floor, but the forward details under the roof, and most of the side wall details have held up surprisingly well. The assembly hanging down from the top of the photo is a heavy MG34 mount, used to provide long range cover fire for the infantry. The open frame at the bottom of the mount held a metal octagonal ammunition container (Patronekasten) holding 300 rounds. At the upper right, note how deep the rifle butt oval brackets are; in the kit, they are low relief raised lines, and should probably be deepened if you are going to show them empty. With the rifles in place, this won’t matter.
Note that on the ausf C (and ausf D), all the interior details behind the body joint flange were attached to an interior lining and not to the body armor. You can see the lower edge of this liner above the floor to the lower right. The AFV Club kit shows the liner.
These two views are artwork I did for a book on the SdKfz 251. Note that the seat cushions all would more commonly have been black. Most of the details you see here are included in the 1/48 AFV Club kit of the ‘251/1 ausf C.
This is the SdKfz 251/8 ausf C (riveted) from Bovington. This version was an armored ambulance, but this example is stripped out completely. Although only the basic structure remains, note the similarity to the APG /1.
Above is the complete forward /8 interior.
Above is a stowed /8 ambulance interior with the special seats and hung stretchers.
This is the forward interior of the ‘251 ausf D. Note the similarity to the forward section of the ‘251 ausf C. Most Ds had wooden slat seats as seen here, but very early models still had the leather covered horsehair cushions of the ausf C.
This CAD drawing of the SdKfz 251/1 ausf C may very well be the reference used to design the 1/48 AFV Club kit. Overall, it is commendably accurate, but there is one serious error. The bins below the seats have two problems: first, they are too high by several scale inches; second, they are closer to the bins for the ‘251 ausf D. They are not accurate for the ausf C. I have changed the right seat and bin to what they should be. Note the difference from the unaltered bin and seat on the left. Sorry, I don’t have Photoshop.
Below, I’ll show various seats and interior details so you can see what the accurate interior for the ausf C looks like, and the seating differences with the later ausf D. A word of explanation here: I think the reason some restorers in Europe have gotten this wrong when doing ausf C replicas is that most of the ausf C models didn't survive to the end of the war. The ausf Ds, and the OT-810s derived from the ausf D, all had the ausf D pattern stowage bins. Since the ausf D/OT-810 bins were similar to the ausf C bins, most people assumed they were the same. Also, most of the restorations of OT-810s have been done as '251 ausf Ds, so there hasn't been a push to do the ausf C really correctly. Until now.
This is the Aberdeen ‘251/1 ausf C being shipped from North Africa to the USA. At this point, it was a very complete vehicle with an intact interior. Note the leather covered seats and the stowage bins. Aberdeen also has the SdKfz 10 1-ton tractor next to the ‘251.
Above is the SdKfz 251/1 ausf C drivers’ forward area, from the German vehicle manual. Note the seat spring design. The open frame at the upper right is for the FuSpr “F” vehicle radio. This was the standard placement for the radio in later ausf Bs and all standard ausf C and D models. Special purpose versions often had the radio moved to a more convenient location, depending on the vehicle modifications required. Compare this to the color artwork that has the added stowage of equipment.
In this photo, note the hinges at the bases of the tubular frames for the seats (inside the red circles). These allowed the seats to be swung up and inward to access the stowed MG34s (or MG42s) below the rifle bins. The fitting next to the steering wheel to the left is the gas mask holder for the driver. This is molded in place with the gas mask in the AFV Club kit.
From the German SdKfz 251 manual, these two shots illustrate the interior layout of the ausf C. Although these are high views, note how low the floor stowage bins are. The tops to these bins were not hinged but could be lifted off to access the bin contents. Note also the travel position of the MG34 on the long bracket below the rifle stowage bin. To the rear of the MG bracket were two brackets for spare barrel containers. Almost all of the normal internal stowage found in the ‘251/1 is included in the AFV Club kit.
Below are two sketches I did eons ago for the Airfix Modelling Annual. Note the raised and lowered positions of the seats, and how the frame is designed to allow the seats to be raised and lowered. The seats were raised on road marches for crew comfort. The springs shown in the first sketch supported the horsehair-filled leather cushions. They were left off the second sketch for clarity. The top part of the bin front was hinged to open.
The first picture below is of the sole surviving seat in the APG ausf C; the second photo is from the ‘251/7 ausf D formerly at Ft. Knox and now at Muenster in Germany. Note the wooden seat in front; this vehicle had wooden front seats and metal tube rear seats. Both of the metal tube seats on this page are in the lowered position.
Another view of the ex-Ft. Knox ‘251/7 ausf D shows the two rear seats are metal tube framed, And here the seats show both raised and lowered positions, an excellent example.
This view from the lubrication section of the vehicle manual shows the whole interior. Note the low height of the floor-mounted bins, and the seats all in the lowered position.
Finally, two views of the elusive MG34 stowage brackets in the ‘251/1 ausf C. The red circle marks the rear cradle, for the lugs behind the trigger group, the red square marks the clamp that held the gun on the bracket, all similar to fittings on the heavy MG tripod.