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Type 903 Staff Car

Plus Model 1/35 Skoda Type 903 Staff Car Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review June 2005 Manufacturer Plus Model
Subject Skoda Type 903 Staff Car Scale 1/35
Kit Number 105 Primary Media Resin, Photo-Etch
Pros Beautiful Detailing Cons  
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $147.50

First Look

Type 903 Staff Car
Type 903 Staff Car
Type 903 Staff Car
Type 903 Staff Car
Type 903 Staff Car

Many modelers may not be aware of the Skoda Works of Czechoslovakia or its contributions into the war efforts, and many of their staff and liaison vehicles may appear familiar but not significant. To put the record into perspective, the Skoda Works was one of Czechoslovakia's prime producers of military vehicles, including the LT-35 and LT-38 tanks.

When the Germans seized the Czech territories in the late 1930s, its industries were pressed into Nazi service. In the case of the Skoda Works, the LT-35 and LT-38 tanks would become the more familiar PzKpfw 35(t) and PzKpfw 38(t) (respectively) and serve as the chassis for such vehicles as the Marder and Hetzer.

In the early 1940s, the Skoda Works developed the Type 903 Staff Car for use by Army. Adapted from its civilian automotive designs, the Type 903 was conscripted into Wehrmacht service and was well suited to moving staff officers around areas that had little in the way of reliable roads.

The folks at Plus Model continue to amaze me with their craftsmanship. This latest offering, the Skoda Type 903, is the closest thing I've seen to an injection-molded plastic kit that is still resin-based. The one-piece body, complete with windshield frame, is something I'm used to seeing in a plastic kit but I've never seen this done in resin before. The molding and detailing are as crisp and finely scribed as ever.

The same is true with the other resin parts in this kit. There is a load of detail under the hood, including a six-cylinder engine nicely cast in resin with a photo-etched radiator fan. The radiator and grille assembly is also a beautiful combination of resin and photo-etch.

Construction of the kit is very straightforward, with only a minimum of cutting and sanding to remove the resin parts from their mold-sprues. Despite the natural tendency to think this is a plastic kit, assembly will require the exclusive use of cyno-based adhesives.

The completed staff car can be posed with the convertible top up or down. In the down position, there is a resin part that represents the stowed top. In the up position, a vacuformed top is provided to accurately portray the thickness and look of the fabric top.

Markings are also provided for some of the detail under the hood, the instrument cluster on the dash board and for marking the vehicle in service. Two sets of Wehrmacht markings are provided, one of which was in an overall yellow finish and the other in an overall panzer gray finish.

This is an amazing bit of resin-cast engineering. The modeler interested in the German WW2 era will want to take a closer look at this kit as there are no other kits of these staff cars in existence.

As a sidebar to this review, Plus Model packages their kits very nicely and I've yet to see one arrive here in damaged condition, even though it is shipped via standard mail from the Czech Republic. The problem is that once you've removed the kit from the original box, you'll never get it back in there the same way again. I've solved the problem through recycling! I take an empty cigar box, transfer the contents of the kit (including the bubble wrap packaging) into the box, and tape the kit label from the original box onto the lid of the cigar box for future identification. I do this with other delicate kits and this method gives me a safe, robust and stackable storage solution.

If you're wanting some unique subjects to build or you're wanting an authentic command car to park next to your Hetzer, then this is the kit for you. This kit is recommended!

For more information about this set and the other releases from Plus Model, visit their website at www.plusmodel.cz.

My sincere thanks to Plus Model for this review sample!

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