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Sd.Kfz.234/3 Kit

Italeri 1/72 Sd.Kfz.234/3 Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review November 2006 Manufacturer Italeri
Subject Sd.Kfz.234/3 Scale 1/72
Kit Number 7037 Primary Media 66 parts in light ochre styren
Pros Nice, clean kit of this vehicle; options for either detailed or simplified wargame version of the model Cons Somewhat simplistic parts will not be popular with current small-scale modelers
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $12.50

While some of the other companies now making kits in 1/72 and 1/76 scale have gone to great lengths to increase the accuracy and resolution of their kits, with some now numbering more parts and types of materials than some of the better 1/35 scale models, Italeri has taken a different tack and is now trying to appeal to both the small-scale modeler and the wargamer who wants a simple but accurate model to use with miniatures gaming rules. As such, their new kits provide different options, from either a 2-in-1 choice like this kit (either detailed or wargaming) to one of each type in the same box to two wargaming versions in one box.

This particular kit is based on the "Stroke 3" variant of the later model heavy armored car series. 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.

Italeri's new kit is of the "Stroke 3" with the L/24 7.5 cm howitzer and as noted comes with two build options which they call "Fast" or "Skillful" on the end of the box.

They both use the same parts but the difference is that the "fast" version leaves most of them out. The "Skillful" version takes 58 of the 66 parts on the single sprue whereas the "Fast" version only requires 26 and provides sturdy if inaccurate axles.

The kit comes with the main hull split in half lengthwise, four separate leaf springs and eight complete suspension units. It has a very spartan interior of only six pieces – base, two steering wheels, rear bulkhead, and two simplified ammo lockers (e.g. no openings for the rounds or round bases molded on them). The late-model four-bin fenders are each one unit and the mufflers attach at the rear of each unit.

A number of details are separate parts – jerry cans, fire extinguishers, jack, shovels, lights, and fender guide rods. But the gun consists of a main unit, a muzzle, light mount, MG42 machine gun, and a frame for the armor protection, all of which fit into a casemate base. These are very simplified, and I know that some modelers are going to squawk about that. However, they should realize that this kit is aimed at the wargamer and not the collector, and as such is designed to be easy to assemble in numbers, look great when done, and survive years of table top battles and the normal wear and tear of coming and going to wargame venues. The fact that it can be built as a normal model with the basics provided so that the hard-core modeler can upgrade it is a bonus – if you wonder what I mean, think back to the Edori PVC kits of about 30 years ago and you will find wargamer items that could not be brought up to collector's standards.

A nice sheet of basic markings is provided along with finishing options for four vehicles. Two are unknowns, one in Normandy and one on the Western front, one is 21st Panzer Division in Normandy, and one is the 116th Panzer Division in Normandy. Italeri calls them "A. A." vehicles which I assume was their stab at Aufklaerungsabteilung (reconnaissance battalion) or something like that. The ones on the direction are in black and white but there are color prints on the back of the box.

Overall, look at this kit as what the Airfix Sd.Kfz. 234/4 kit of 40 years ago SHOULD have been and you will be able to determine its overall worth. Molding is not bad and the kit should answer the mail for more than a few modelers.

Thanks to Bob Lewen of MRC for the review sample.