Dragon DRA60488 German Sd. Kfz. 251/22 Half-Track with PaK40 75mm Anti-Tank Gun - 79.Panzer Artillerie Regiment, 7.Panzer Division, Gdynia, Eastern Pomerania, Poland, 1945 (1:72 Scale)
"We must do everything we can to promote anti-tank defense, and work just as hard to guarantee successful counter-attacks through the instrument of powerful tank forces of our own."
- Major-General Heinz Guderian, "Achtung Panzer!"
The Sonderkraftfahrzeug (Sd. Kfz.) 251 half-track had its origins in the same requirement as the smaller and lighter Sd. Kfz. 250. Intended as an armored personnel carrier, the Sd. Kfz. 251 entered service in 1939, and quickly became the standard means of transport for the panzergrenadiers. As it turned out, the Sd. Kfz. 251 was an especially useful vehicle, not only capable of keeping up with the newly formed panzer divisions but also providing invaluable support as well. All told, there were 22 special-purpose variants built, including the menacing-looking Stukavoss ("infantry Stuka"), which mounted a series of rocket launchers on the outer sides of the vehicle. Other variants included a flame-thrower, anti-tank, and communications vehicle, as well as an observation post, ambulance, and infra-red searchlight carrier. Despite suffering from early reliability problems, the Sd. Kfz. 251 was produced by the thousands, eventually becoming a trademark of the German panzertruppe on all fronts.
Towards the end of the war every available field gun was mounted atop a vehicle to produce a self-propelled anti-tank weapon. In the case of the Sd. Kfz. 251/22, a modified PaK 40 anti-tank gun was built with a trimmed shield so it could be mounted directly on the standard Sd. Kfz. 251 chassis. The gunner would sit on a folding wooden seat to the left of the gun while the rest of the crew served the weapon. Impressive to look at, the design had major shortcomings among them a limited left and right traverse due to the confining space in which the crew had to operate. Furthermore, an overloaded chassis and a structure not designed to handle the strain of the gun's recoil led to many mechanical breakdowns.
This particular Sd.Kfz.251/22 variant mounted a 7.5cm PaK40 gun in what was formerly the halftrack's troop compartment. Production commenced in December 1944, the aim being to increase as rapidly as possible Germany's inventory of self-propelled antitank guns. The mounted gun could traverse a total of 38, and elevate from -3 degrees to 22 degrees. Part of the roof was removed to accommodate the cannon, and there was also room for 22 ammo rounds in the rear. The Sd.Kfz.251/22 was operated by a crew of four men. This is Dragon Armor's first depiction of this impressive-looking weapon, and it is expected to be an extremely hot item in the 2011 collection. The fully built-up model is portrayed in the colors and markings of 79.Panzer Artillerie Regiment, a unit of the 7.Panzer Division. After magnificent successes under General Erwin Rommel in France, this famous 'Ghost Division' spent most of the war fighting on the Eastern Front. The actual vehicle the model is based on fought in Gdynia, Eastern Pomerania, in present-day Poland. Sold Out!
Length: 3 inches
Width: 1 inch
Release Date: October 2011
Historical Account: "The East is Red" - The East Pomeranian Strategic Offensive operation was an offensive by the Red Army in its fight against the German Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front (World War II). It took place in Pomerania and West Prussia, and officially lasted from February 24th, 1945 to April 4th, 1945.
The 2nd Belorussian Front, under Konstantin Rokossovsky, had initially been tasked with advancing westward north of the Vistula River towards Pomerania and the major port city of Danzig, with the primary aim of protecting the right flank of Zhukov's 1st Belorussian Front, which was pushing towards Berlin. During the East Prussian Offensive, however, Rokossovsky was ordered to wheel directly north towards Elbing. This left substantial German forces intact in Pomerania, where they threatened the right flank of Zhukov's formations.
As a result, once the initial phase of the East Prussian Offensive was over, the 2nd Belorussian Front was redeployed with the intention of attacking northwards into Pomerania, eliminating the possibility of a German counter-offensive (similarly, the parallel Silesian Offensives of Konev's 1st Ukrainian Front in the south were in part designed to protect the 1st Belorussian Front's left flank). The need to secure the flanks delayed the Soviets' final push towards Berlin, which was originally planned for February, until April.
Stalin's decision to delay the push towards Berlin from February to April has been a subject of some controversy among both the Soviet generals and military historians, with one side arguing that the Soviets had a chance of securing Berlin much quicker and with much lower losses in February, and the other arguing that the danger of leaving large German formations on the flanks could have resulted in a successful German counter-attack and prolonged the war further: the Germans did in fact mount a surprise counter-attack in Pomerania in mid-February, Operation Solstice. The delay did, however, allow the Soviets to occupy significant parts of Austria in the Vienna Offensive.