Kit Preview : 1/76 MMS SdKfz 253

About the manufacturer
MMS is the leading 1/76 white metal model brand. The quality of casting and level of detail are comparable to traditional plastic kits, albeit without etched metal detailing. Smaller details such as mirrors are often omitted , and the running gear of tracked vehicles is usually a simplified one piece casting where the guide teeth are backed by a solid metal strengthening strip.
Due to the tight packaging in unprotected plastic bags, parts often come bent or one might say, with pre-built battle damage. Care must be taken to straighten things out lest parts be broken. Most MMS models I have seen are accurate, the only exception being the Shermans which have too short tracks, too much ground clearance and a too short transmission cover.

About the vehicle
The SdKfz 253 actually predated the 250. It was a closed artillery observation vehicle. It was attached to StuG units and begun operations in France. It was later replaced by standard 250 models though some soldiered on until the end of the war.
Here is what Wikipedia has to say and here is a beautiful 1/35 model.
About the kit
The kit is the same as the 250 save for a different upper hull and interior pieces.

The lower hull is flattened out. It is a generic issue with the 250 series kits. I have 4 and they all have the same problem. The difficulty is to adjust it to the upper hull without losing the symmetry on both sides.
The interior is nicely detailed even though the engine cover between the two front seats is still missing. Even with open hatches I think the radio and the seats are wasted as they won't be seen.
There seems to be 2 extra roadwheels.
Here is a link to the 250 preview for comparison.

Oct. 3rd, 2009
I built the kit in 3 days. Here is the model ready for a coat of alcohol degreasing wash and gray primer. I will build the base while the primer dries. These metal kits are the reason why I started basing vehicles. I was tired of touching the paint up whenever I picked one of those heavy models up. You just cannot do it delicately as thay are so heavy. Moreover the wheels would start to flare outwards under the weight after several months like those cartoon cars.
Extra caution is needed to to align the upper and lower hull so that the join is at a crisp angle, not leaving any gap. The good thing is that the metal is very soft and malleable. The bad thing is also that the metal is very soft and malleable. Do not use your nails to press down or you will have instant battle damage.
The antenna gutter is the same as with the MMS Panzer IVs. This is wrong for the 253 as the antenna is not attached to the hull wall so the joint is inappropriate. I built one using 2 pieces of plastic strip. The hatch covers needed some cushion pads. The turn indicators were replaced with strip. The size indicators on the front fenders are from 8thou brass. The little balls are from CA gel., applied in several coats. I skipped the interior completely and all of it went into the spares box. The track assembly was cleaned up between the sprocket and the first roadwheel as the space is visible. The rest is hidden by the two extra roadwheels. The figure is from the MMS DAK tank commander set. I needed one to hide the bare interior.

Overall a very nice kit. It will join my miniature Afrika Korps.