Collectors Showcase CS00349 German Sd. Kfz. 251 Ausf. C Half-Track - Deutsches Afrika Korps (1:30 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 Stuka zu Fuss ("Stuka on foot"), 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.
Pictured here is a 1:30 scale replica of a German Sd. Kfz. 251 Ausf. C half-track that was attached to the Deutsches Afrika Korps during 1941.
Length: 8 inches
Width: 3.25 inches
Release Date: August 2009
Historical Account: "With the Fox" - The Afrika Korps was formed on February 19th, 1941, after the German Armed Forces High Command (OKW) had decided to send an expeditionary force to Libya to support the Italian army, which had been routed by an Allied counteroffensive, Operation Compass. The German expeditionary force, commanded by Erwin Rommel, at first consisted only of the 5. Panzer-Regiment and various other small units. These elements were organized into the 5. Leicht-Division when they arrived in Africa in February.
In the spring, the 5. Leicht-Division was joined by the 15. Panzer Division, though it did not arrive until Rommel had already re-taken most of Cyrenaica and gone back over to the defensive. At this time the
Afrika Korps consisted of the two divisions plus various smaller supporting units, and was officially subordinated to the Italian chain of command in Africa (though Rommel had conducted his offensive without any authorization).
On October 1st, 1941, the 5. Leicht-Division was redesignated as the 21. Panzer Division, although it was still attached to the
Afrika Korps. During the summer of 1941, the OKW invested more command structure in Africa by creating a new headquarters called Panzer Gruppe Afrika. On August 15th, Panzer Gruppe Afrika was formally activated with Rommel in charge, and command of the Afrika Korps was turned over to Ludwig Cruewell. The Panzer Gruppe controlled the Afrika Korps plus some additional German units that were sent to Africa, as well as two corps of Italian units. (A German "group" was approximately the equivalent of an army in other militaries, and in fact Panzer Gruppe Afrika was redesignated as Panzer Armee Afrika on January 30th, 1942.)