1:76 Matchbox Hanomag Sd.Kfz 251 Ausf B Converted to Ausf C

I have a ton of Matchbox Hanomags I made as part of the old arms race days during high school, at least 12.  The Matchbox kit is an Ausf B and I wanted some Ausf Cs, typified by the flat front nose, and some other detail changes, to compliment the single ESCI Ausf C kit I had.  Now when ESCI re-released their 251/1, a local hobby store had one up for offering, but unfortunately a comrade got to the store before I did (Now who the hell was that?).  That got my brain thinking and when it came time to fix up the paint job on some Hanomags for a recent game, I took the plunge.

Lloyd Nicholas did something similar and gives a much more detailed description on his web site.  I proceeded in a similar fashion, with a couple of differences and probably not to the same level of detail Lloyd has gone into...  and I was able refer to Lloyd's fine work a couple of times when I was stuck on how to interpret various photos I used for reference.

Finished Hanomags

I performed the conversions on 5 of my Hanomags.  I started off  soaking them in oven cleaner and rinsing in water to remove the old paint.  A toothbrush coaxed some of the more stubborn flakes off as well as various little bits and on two occasions I had to disassemble the sink drain trap to rescue wheels and other parts that had come off and gone down the drain.

A lot of the original assembly was very poorly done (I seem to recall being in some kind of rush, or maybe it was extreme boredom putting together 10 or 15 of the same model all at once) and had to be taken apart and refitted to eliminate gaps and so on.  The side storage bins came off without too much protest, thank goodness - I must have been low on my tube of glue.  The louvres covering the engine exhaust/intakes on the side were usually much more firmly affixed and required considerable cutting and sanding.

This picture shows two of the completed conversions.  The one on the foreground shows a good view of the front wheel cast from high temperature glue gun glue.  I was pretty pleased with the way the German crosses I'd scrounged from old decals from several ESCI Sd.Kfz 250 (the light half-track) kits had taken to the sides of these conversions when completed.  However, once I'd sprayed the works with Testors dull coat, I was horrified to see the crosses and some of the registration plates (the white ones with WH-123456 sort of thing) start to crinkle up and fold over onto themselves!  The horror!

More pictures of the finished models are below.

As I mention above, I followed the same sort of procedure as did Lloyd.  Except with the nose piece, I used a Dremel type tool to bring the front of the nose back almost half way through the existing air intake grill on the Matchbox model. I felt the end of the nose in the existing spot for the Matchbox model gave too narrow a front for the Ausf C.  I didn't measure anything, just eyeballed it.

Actually, I didn't use a Dremel, though I have one.  The brand name is Clarke and it is much less expensive than Dremel, just as good for house handyman type projects.  It came with a heck of a lot more bits and accessories, such as the long flex attachment which is itself about $50 for the Dremel - I paid less than that, total, for the whole Clarke set.

This is a shot of one of the Hanomags, complete with rubber band, forcing the sides together from their original, 25 year old, improper fit.

The new nose piece is in place as is lots of putty (I use an autobody putty called "Stop a Gap", as recommended by the local plastic modellers.  The model's forward air intake grill is covered over and plenty of gaps from the result of poor assembly (from years ago) as are gaps from the new louvres which are cut from thick plastic card and Dremelled (or, I should say, "Clarked") into shape.

This shot also shows the converging lines of the top of the forward part of the vehicle - if I had not sanded back as far as I did, I found the pieces I cut for the nose piece simply didn't look right to me - not wide enough on top.

Later added here was the round cap for the engine starter crank.  The stowage bins have been glued into place to the rear of the fenders over the tracks.

Not visible here are an extension to the muffler on the left side (see the first picture at the top or some of the others below) made with squeezed narrow plastic dowel.

I cut off the notek lights and headlamps that came with the Matchbox model, fully intending to put these back on the model.  You can also see where the forward fenders have been considerably trimmed back and putty fills a pock on the right fender of this model where the headlamp was reluctant to break loose!  Anyway, I got lazy and didn't bother with putting the light fixtures back on again.  I rationalized my laziness by recalling plenty of photos where these don't seem to be on the vehicle....

Here's an overall shot of things in progress on my extremely cluttered work bench.  I'm blessed with ample space in a small room nearby my wargame/display room and this picture goes to prove the axiom that regardless of size, all space available to any modeller becomes cluttered...

The figures who were brutalized for crew are shown, stuck in the orange plastercine form I used to create an extra front wheel.  You may recognize, from left to right, a Matchbox German officer with hand to head - he has a helmeted head replacing his original with officer's cap, a Matchbox Afrika Korps guy tossing a grenade - his right arm has been bent to look like he's operating the forward MG (and grenade removed, of course), and finally an Airfix standing rifleman, rifle removed, arms twisted about to operate the front MG.

Scattered around are the "wreckage" from various parts removed from the Matchbox models.  The panzer grey with sand camo Hanomags to the left and right are the Matchbox model as built from the box.  I will keep these and some others as the Ausf B kit they are, though I do need to revisit the paint jobs and gaps in these!

In the rear, to the left, is my ESCI Ausf C Hanomag.  It's interesting that the ESCI model has the top of the louvres below the top edge of the engine deck which you can just see here if you strain your eyes a wee bit.  However, every bit of photographic evidence I've seen has them flush.  I chose to do the latter.

To the right of the ESCI half track, in the centre, is one of Keir's Dragon Panther Gs, which comes from Dragon painted to an excellent display standard which I was trying to equal with the Revell Panther on the right.  My finished Revell Panther and two of the converted Hanomags described here are on my main page for the WWII section.

Of the 5, I did three with crew figures and copped out for the other two and tarped over the tops so I wouldn't have to paint too many figures.  For some reason, I just wasn't in the mood...

This picture shows two Hanomags, painted dark yellow and airbrushed dark green camo.  This matches them with the existing ESCI model which is also dark green over yellow.  Like Lloyd, I "colour camoed" my vehicles to indicate platoon.  Of course I need more than 3 vehicles for a platoon, so until I get some more ESCI Hanomags or convert more, the the 4th vehicle will be an ESCI Sd.Kfz 250.  Not technically correct, but close enough for government work!

The stays were cut from .010 inch by .001 inch plastic strips and were a devil to glue into place - they kept spring out!  Different photos show anywhere from 2 to 3 of these stays and not always in exactly the same place.  Because I usually put a loose figure in an APC to indicate if the Crossfire squad is mounted, I wanted to make sure there was enough room in the back to easily put one in and take it out, without damaging the stay.

For the same reason, the tarped vehicle is only half covered - again, I have loads of pictures of such use of the Hanomag tarp.  What I wasn't 100% sure of was the colour of the canvas.  After consulting with the guys at TMP, I decided field grey, very heavily weathered was appropriate.  I used tissue soaked with Scenic Cement from Woodland Scenics and dry brushed the hell out of it and then gave a very heavy wash of Windsor Newton Peat Brown ink.

This shot shows the other three Hanomags of the "other" platoon (again, for now, the 4th Hanomag will be a similarly painted ESCI 250), painted as above with  light earth air brushed for the third camo colour.  One Hanomag has no stays at all.  As in the preceding photo, you can see, unlike the intricate interior detailing Lloyd did, I just added back rests with a strip of plastic with three triangles at the back.  I didn't even bother with these for the tarped vehicles.

Anyway, as much as I may have been remiss, the result is far, far better looking than the original result I got 25 years or more ago!