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Sd.Kfz.231 6 Rad Kit

Italeri 1/72 Sd.Kfz.231 6 Rad Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review May 2007 Manufacturer Italeri
Subject Sd.Kfz.231 6 Rad Scale 1/72
Kit Number 7046 Primary Media 59 parts in dark grey styrene
Pros Nice cleanly executed kit of this different subject Cons "One way" to build it; odd choice of items to fully detail and just simplify
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $12.50

During World War I almost all armored cars shared two features: they only had two axles and they were not really suited for cross country operations. Between the wars, heavier armored cars were introduced, and even on roads that required using at least three axles. The US, Soviet Union, and Germany all went with three axle designs, but none of them were truly successful. The reason for this was that the long gap between the front and first driving axle (all were basically 6 x 4 configuration types) caused the hull to "belly in" when crossing gaps. The Soviet solution – typically Soviet as it was simple and inexpensive – was to place stub axles on the sides of the body and fit them with the spare wheels, so in essence they turned into an 8 x 4 design. The Germans simply went to an 8 x 8 design.

The Sd.Kfz. 231 (6 rad) was their first heavy armored car and began development in 1929. Essentially it was based on a standard medium truck chassis, much in the same manner that the Soviet BA-3 was developed from the GAZ-AAA (Polutorka) chassis. Three companies produced them, namely Buessing-NAG, Magirus-Deutz, and Daimler Benz. It was therefore not standardized other than its external body, as each company's vehicle used its proprietary engine. Between 1932 and 1937 123 Sd.Kfz. 231 (6 rad) and externally similar Sd.Kfz. 232 (6 rad) standard armored cars and 28 Sd.Kfz. 263 (6 rad) heavy radio cars were produced. Their combat career was short as they had very limited off road performance.

Note that for some odd reason the Germans reused these same designators for the early 8-wheel cars as well but added (8 rad) after them to show which was which. The six-wheelers were reduced to police work and rear area units after 1940. (Note that later on some vehicles were fitted with a belly roller to try and prevent this, but all it did was reduce the ground clearance and prove more of a hindrance than a help.)

Still this vehicle has always been popular with modelers as it looks imposing, but until recently only the ancient Midori 1/40 scale wind-up model covered this subject. Now new kits are out in both 1/35 and 1/72 from Italeri. This is the smaller of the two, and it is a cleanly executed model of the basic vehicle. It comes on but a single sprue (the only variant being the aforementioned radio car, which only requires the "bedstead" antenna rack to be fitted to the standard car) but is relatively complete. Note that the kit does not offer the belly roller as an option.

The kit breakdown is similar to the old Airfix kits – upper and lower hull, separate fenders and engine assembly, and then the wheels and tires as single units. All are clean but the wheels suffer from sink marks in the center of the outer hubs of the outer wheels. This isn't so bad as the original vehicle was pretty simple and did not have a great deal of external bits either.

Some modelers will be disappointed as Italeri did skimp on some details as none of the crew hatches may be opened, and the spare tire with cover is molded directly to the rear hull plate. But all of the OVM are separate parts, as are the smoke candles and a four-piece antiaircraft machine gun mount with MG34 that goes on the top of the turret. The guns are fixed and the mantelet is part of the turret front.

Decals are provided for four vehicles: Unknown unit, Germany 1939; 2nd Panzer Division, France May 1940; Unknown unit, Germany 1938; Unknown unit, Poland 1939. All four come with number plates and specific markings. I do question the colors – the directions call for overall finishes in RLM 70 Schwarzgruen which is a very dark green and not the "Panzergrau" which was more common at the time. In point of fact, all of the artwork is in dark grey so think somebody messed up on the colors.

Overall, this is a nicely handled kit and as Italeri seems to be targeting the gap between wargamers and "small scale" fans it looks to make a good fit for all concerned.

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!