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"The Ubiquitous ROCO Schwere SWS half-track " Topic

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Thortrains20 May 2018 5:32 p.m. PST

Here is an entertaining article on the ROCO German half track that was a paradox for hobbyists. It was the only small-scale half-track available to most of us from 1961 to the mid-70s. A throwback to the days when scale was relative and historical accuracy was a luxury.

(If you are under the age of 50, you might not get it.)


Enjoy and please share feel free to share.

ZULUPAUL Supporting Member of TMP20 May 2018 6:38 p.m. PST

I remember buying these in the 60's.

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP20 May 2018 7:09 p.m. PST

I have a few of these still in my 1/87 gaming collection.

They do look cool!

randy51 Supporting Member of TMP20 May 2018 8:33 p.m. PST

I remember occasionally being frustrated when piling my airfix Germans on top of them that the half tracks were smaller than the figures. I bought about a half dozen of them in the winter of 63/64 to go along with all my other Roco panzer forces. The games were simple and nothing was ever painted but I've never had more fun since!

Bunkermeister Supporting Member of TMP20 May 2018 8:34 p.m. PST

I still have a few in my gaming collection too. And by a few I mean a lot.


Since then Paul Heiser Models and later Trident in plastic have helped out with the SdKfz 251 problem.

Mike Bunkermeister Creek
Bunker Talk blog

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2018 5:54 a.m. PST

What a GREAT trip down memory lane. Many thanks for posting this. And Mike thanks for posting your "horde".

Hornswoggler21 May 2018 6:01 a.m. PST

I am of a vintage (cough cough) that means I once upon a time had German forces heavily reliant on this classic ROCO piece for their transport. IIRC they were gradually relegated to the role of artillery prime movers when the Fujimi and later Matchbox 251s came on the scene.

And while reading this, I also recalled that the sWS was the designated ride for Charles Grant's motorised Airfix Russians in "Battle!".


What an awesome collection !

mysteron Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2018 6:27 a.m. PST

Yes those were the days. Its not to dissimilar with me using Matchbox Comets instead of Cromwells as that is all you could get at that time.

For some reason the hobby was far more enjoyable back then . Nobody cared too much about historical accuracy then . Well our gaming group didn't anyway. The opposite seems to be true these days and I think some of that innocent fun has sadly disappeared.

VCarter Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2018 6:45 a.m. PST

I still have a few.

If you cut out the upper decking on the fully enclosed model and add some bench seating and a mg mounted on a shield….

Eclaireur21 May 2018 6:59 a.m. PST

Bunkermeister – I suspect you have more there than were ever actually produced!

Legion 421 May 2018 7:38 a.m. PST

Had a bunch too … waaaay back then …

Fred Cartwright21 May 2018 8:00 a.m. PST

The enclosed SWS with the rockets was a good stand in for the Maultier. The arrival of Matchbox, Nitto and Fujimi was a great boon to 20mm WW2 gamers. Proper Panzer II's and III's, motorcycle and sidecars, Valentines, Hetzers, 250 and 251 halftracks etc.
Yes Charles Grant's halftracks in Battle were the SWS. It was a mix of Russian, US and German kit, but was always designated as "Red" and those of his son using Airfix German infantry and ROCO Panzer IV's as "Black" in the book. Charles Grant had some great looking units. Always remember his guns which were the lovely ROCO US 105's towed by ROCO US Deuce and a half trucks.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2018 8:05 a.m. PST

I also had them in my German forces as a teenager in the 1960s. A nice trip down memory lane.


Micman Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2018 8:37 a.m. PST

I think I might still have 1 or 2 in my ROCO box.

genew4921 May 2018 8:52 a.m. PST

We had them also in the 60's and yes the early Airfix figures were too big for them. Used them together anyway. My brother and I had loads of fun playing with them.

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2018 9:08 a.m. PST

What is amazing is that these are in production today by a company called Herpa, and they are about 14 euros apiece.

I pay that for 1/32 scale!!

Jeffers Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2018 9:47 a.m. PST

Matchbox Comets with Airfix Churchill turrets were even better!

Jeigheff21 May 2018 4:43 p.m. PST

Great memories. My brother and I had at least four of these to go along with our Airfix figures.

Mark 121 May 2018 5:52 p.m. PST

These were the SdKfz (or as we called ‘em: Skid-fizz) 250 and 251 half-tracks.


No no no. It's not a Skid-fizz. It's a Sid-Kaffitz.


But … it does raise the question which I have posed before -- how DO you vocalize SdKfz?

Really … I have never heard a gamer (or mil history buff) say "sonderkratfahrzeug" in casual conversation. And you might say "250" or "251", but what would you call that vehicle towing your 88s? Just a 7? Never heard anyone say that.

(aka: Mk 1)

Thortrains21 May 2018 6:16 p.m. PST

You bring up an important point. I have never heard anyone say "sonderkraftfarhzeug", either. I am sure there are other carefully-crafted pronunciations beyond Skid-fizz, Sid-kafitz and Stik-fiz (s'dik-fiz). They all sound like something a person might contract after swimming in stagnant water.

Lion in the Stars21 May 2018 10:30 p.m. PST

But … it does raise the question which I have posed before -- how DO you vocalize SdKfz?


mysteron Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2018 4:21 a.m. PST


Just curious as to what you did with the Churchill hulls ?

IIRC The Airfix Churchill was a fiddly beast to build, with all of those individual wheel bogies , so I am guessing the hulls were consigned to the spares box ?

Dexter Ward22 May 2018 6:39 a.m. PST

I'm glad I'm not the only one who used Churchill turret on Comet hulls to make Cromwells. It's actually a pretty good match.
As to what you did with the Churchill hulls you used them as Churchills. The turrets just sit in a hole in the hull, so they come off and be easily swapped between tanks.
You can do the same trick to make a Panzer III N – borrow a turret from an early war Panzer IV.
Very few battles feature Churchills and Cromwells, and if they do, you just hold your nose and use the Comet turrets!

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2018 12:40 p.m. PST

@ Mysteron

The trick with the Airfix Churchill wheels is to glue them, and the bogies together **before** cutting them off the sprue. They are spaced identically so that you can do this. They then line up perfectly and don't look all wobbly.

As a piece of kit design by Airfix, this was up there with aligning the mould seams on the 54mm figures' limbs with where piping should go so that you could use the mould lines as guides for painting. They did this on the Polish Lancer, the hussar and a couple of others…

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2018 8:41 p.m. PST

how DO you vocalize SdKfz?


Bunkermeister Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2018 9:31 p.m. PST

I may have had more than the Germans had for the SWS but my goal is to have more Shermans and T34s than the US and Russians had too, so it evens out.

Actually Herpa had a marketing agreement with Roco to market Roco under the Herpa name but that has expired and only selling off old stock. Roco is now selling Roco under the Roco name as god intended.

As an aside, TMP advertiser Fidelis Models has extended their sale on ArsenalM resin and plastic HO scale vehicles until the end of the month if you use the code ArsenalM20 at checkout.

They sell Roco also.

Mike Bunkermeister Creek

Thomas Thomas23 May 2018 3:11 p.m. PST

Remember than very fondly – tired to use plastic sheet to make them look more like SPW 251 (by the way the Germans often used "SPW" instead of SdKfz – its the equivalent of APC in English).

Still have a few SWS around but rarely see the table now a days.

Thomas J. Thomas
Fame and Glory Games

Footslogger23 May 2018 3:33 p.m. PST

Thankfully, the Matchbox Hannomag appeared when I needed it. Never needed the ROCO stuff.

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP24 May 2018 11:29 a.m. PST

Got to love this thread. Ah yes Thomas, trying to cobble together various vehicles. My master try, and failure, was to take one of their Mobelwagens and one of their 150 artillery pieces, along with some plastic, and put together an acceptable Hummel.

Another reason to love this thread. Where else can we use the word "ubiquitous"?

Grumble8710629 May 2018 5:18 p.m. PST

Oh, yes. All my Afrika Korps halftracks from 1965 on were SWS until Eidai and then ESCI and later Matchbox made the SdKfz 251. A hobby shop in Athens, GA had an overstock of ESCI halftracks and sold them really cheap. I snatched up a bunch of them. Eidai was always harder to find. One of my units is still equipped with these (slightly refined by making the nose plate a single sloping piece so as to portray the D model instead of the A, B and C models).

Waiting for someone to make an SdKfz 250 model commercially, I converted at least one SWS into a passable version of this. I even redid the tracks to reduce the number of wheels by one. Of course the model was too big for scale. But, as Thortrains said, in those days scale was relative and historical accuracy was a luxury.

The most use I got out of converting SWS was that the covered ones (that came with searchlight or listening device) could be made into passable Marmon-Herrington armoured cars (the earlier marks). I did about 4-5 of these with plastic sheeting and scratch built turrets. Ironically, one of them had the captured Italian Breda mounted on it, and this was modeled from one of the AA guns that the open SWS carried.

Grumble8710629 May 2018 5:24 p.m. PST

By the way, I call these vehicles "ess-dee-kay-eff-ZEE".

But then, it was only last year that I finally paid enough attention to the spelling of Panzerbuchse to stop calling it "Panzerbush". grin

Thomas Thomas30 May 2018 10:06 a.m. PST

Also remember my first Eidai box set with a "real" 251. Solid treads and no MG gun shield and a odd looking AT gun but still it seemed amazing after having only SWS. Mini-tank choices always odd -many rare vehicles while ignoring common stuff.

Still have the odd Eidai stuff and use to have the box around somewhere – it costs a $1. USD

Still using 20mm to this day and designed a whole game so I could keep doing so. Hope to see all at NashCon for some great 20mm gaming.


wargamingUSA21 Sep 2018 10:19 a.m. PST

The other great thing about the Eidai halftracks, well all their kits, durability. You could throw them against a wall and the wall would be the loser!

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