DML 1/35 Sd.Kfz.234/4 Panzerspaehwagen Kit First Look
By Cookie Sewell
|Date of Review||March 2006||Manufacturer||DML|
|Kit Number||6221||Primary Media||536 parts (497 in grey styrene, 28 etched brass, 6 in clear styrene, 4 turned brass, 1 turned aluminum)|
|Pros||New, complete kit of this popular vehicle; complex driveline appears to be fully replicated||Cons||Side bins and lower hull access doors molded in closed positions; engine bay will be difficult to open up; some large ejection pin marks in the base of the hull interior|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$38.00|
The four major combat powers in WWII Europe - Germany, the USSR, Great Britain, and the United States – all made use of heavy armored cars during the course of the war. But whereas the Allies tended to use theirs primarily in simple scouting roles, the Germans also used their later models for heavy fire support as well, and provided many of them with the ability to deal with enemy armor.
The Germans continued their prewar designs throughout the war, and the Sd.Kfz.231 heavy eight-wheeled armored car series was replaced by the Sd.Kfz.234 series beginning in September 1943. Four different vehicles were produced in this series:
- Sd.Kfz.234/1 (Geraet 95): 200 built 2 cm cannon/7.92mm MG in open turret (built Jun 44 - Jan 45)
- Sd.Kfz.234/2 (Geraet 93): 101 built 5 cm gun/7.92mm MG in closed turret (also called the Puma) (built Sep 43 - Sep 44)
- Sd.Kfz.234/3 (Geraet 94): 88 built 7.5 cm L/24 in open mount (built Jun 44 - Dec 44)
- Sd.Kfz.234/4 (Geraet 96): 89 built 7.5 cm Pak 40 in open mount (built Dec 44 - Mar 45)
The first one to see service was the Puma, as it entered production nine months ahead of the other models. It was followed by the "stroke 1" and later the "stroke 3" and finally the "stroke 4." The latter was purely a heavy tank destroyer version, as by that time the Germans needed all of the heavy (75mm and up) antitank guns they could muster. Both the 3 and 4 were similar, with the exception of the heavier gun in the 4, and used the standard hull but with no turret and modified decking. A fifth version was planned, mounting the 7.5 cm AK 7B84 in a turret similar to the Puma, but the war ended before it could enter production.
The 234 series was fast (80 kph/48 mph) and had a long range (900 km/560 miles). Armor provided proof against small arms of 7.62mm caliber and shell fragments. Since its Tatra 103 engine was a 12-cylinder air-cooled diesel, it had a major advantage over other nations' armored cars.
DML has now started on the 234 family, and their first release is the "stroke 4" with the top half of DML's very nicely done PaK 40 included. 77 parts from this kit are included in the new package. Also, some new "standard" DML sprues are added here as well: German Tools sprues TF (fender guides and poles), TG (shovels and fire extinguishers), TH (jack and light kits) and TJ (jack).
Note that due to the fact the parts are to be used for all four vehicles through the run of these kits you have to check and open up some assembly and mounting holes before beginning construction, but as they are during the construction of the vehicle you have to look close in the somewhat busy directions.
The undercarriage of this model is amazing in the complexity with which DML has replicated it, and each suspension unit seems to require no less than five parts for each wheel (note that a choice in centers to replicate different numbers of cleanout holes is provided), 11 parts for each paired set of axles, and five parts for the tie rods plus six parts for the rocker springs. And I have to think that Airfix did it 40 years ago with only 28 parts for the entire assembly in 1/76!
The interior is provided and appears quite complete, but it is a shame that the hull side doors are molded shut as once the gun goes in it will be hard to see all of the details. Both driver's positions are provided as well as the top of the transfer case/transmission and the ammo bins with covers. Internal bracing is provided along with clear styrene blocks for the vision ports.
There are optional choices for the vents at the rear – open or closed – as well as for the view blocks.
The fenders are one style used on these vehicles with only two stowage bins between the wheel pairs, and alas they are also molded in place. These appear to be correct for the "stroke 4" but DML has also included a flyer for a cybe-hobby.com upgrade set with the earlier fender sets (four bins) and additional etched brass parts. The etched brass provided covers mostly the inserts for the "jerry" can centers (the crimped seam on the actual cans), tool mounts, and the moving part of the Pak 40's gun shield.
The wheels are two-part moldings with only light tread patterns, but as they are hard plastic many people will be happy as there is no hard-to-remove vinyl seam.
Markings are provided on two decal sheets for two different vehicles, both from unidentified units with one on the Western Front and the other in Prague in 1945. Both use the late-war red-brown/Panzerbraun/green scheme.
Overall this is a nice kit and seems to be a totally independent effort, not piggybacked off the Italeri kits. The other three 234s will follow over the course of the next year or so.
Thanks to DML for the review sample.