The Sd.Kfz 234 series of 8 wheel armored cars was an improvement on the previous sd.kfz 232 series of 8 wheel heavy reconnaissance cars that had been used in the invasion of Poland and France. Ordered in 1940, they began to appear in 1943, first armed with a 5cm gun in an enclosed turret. With the war situation rapidly changing, two new variants of the armored car were ordered, the first, 234/1, armed with a 2cm Kwk 30 cannon and MG34 in an open topped turret, and the second, 234/3, armed with the 7,5cm K51 L24 in similar fashion to that seen on the sd.kfz 233, installed on the forward hull top in a fixed position. This provided fairly heavy firepower-enough to hit hard if the vehicle found trouble or provided limited fire support, but by June of 1944, when the vehicle was introduced, Germany was in desperate need of guns that could knock out allied tanks. The 234/3 remained in limited production until December of 1944, with 88 vehicles produced. They were sent to stabskompanie (staff company) in allocations of 3 234/3 and accompanied by 234/1 in deliveries, to be used for support of reconnaissance units, and likely employed in every conceivable fashion by the retreating German armies. In December 1944 the 234/4, armed with the 7,5cm pak 40 L/48 went into production.
have now released a premium edition boxing of the 234/3 with some new enhancements to more accurately represent this vehicle. Here is a look at what is in the box.
The kit comes in a large, top opening box with artwork by Filip Zierfuss shoing the subject vehicle stopped on a rural road, one crew member looking at a stray cat that has approached the vehicle. While it may make for an interesting diorama, neither the figure nor the cat are included in the box. While this is slightly disappointing, the kit contents should make up for it.
The sprues are all packaged carefully, grouped and placed in plastic pouches to protect the contents during shipping. The box is full, but not so much that the box can't be closed again after the sprues are examined. A careful examination of the plastic parts shows very high attention to detail, with small items, such as bolt and rivet heads, and fixtures such as the headlights and width indicator poles being very carefully molded. There are seam lines present, but they are fine. I did not see any sink marks or molding issues. There is a slight texture to the surface of the vehicle body to represent the roughened surface of heat treated armor plate.
Examining the parts from the ground up, so to speak, there are 9 production tires with tread pattern, in what I have read is called, the zigzag pattern and provided in conventional form, meaning two halves that are placed over a central hub. The wheel parts can be painted prior to assembly with only slight touch up required at the seam line. There are also three spare tires with a road pattern provided in sandwich style sections, which allows for better representation of the tread depth. These can be used as spares to provide for some variety, such as is shown on the box art, where the third wheel back is a replacement. The sidewalls of both tire sets are bare.
These wheels are attached to a fairly complex suspension that has new molded parts to allow for the hub base to be positioned turning the wheels. There is not a steering tie rod to connect the wheel/axle assemblies, so each set of wheels will have to be carefully aligned by hand. A note here is that the instructions do not show specifically how to position the wheels. At that point in the assembly process (step 2), parts D18 and D19 will have to be placed in the desired position. It appears that with careful use of glue the parts may be moveable but I won’t know for sure until the actual assembly. The front two pairs turned in the intended direction, and the rear pairs turned in the opposite direction, decreasing the turning radius and saving on tread wear. An additional nice touch is the inclusion of pre-formed wire for brake lines to each wheel. Without counting, it appears that the suspension takes up half or more of the total parts in the kit.
There is a separate transmission housing section that runs along the length of the bottom of the hull, and attaches to the lower hull piece. Dry fitting of these two parts was a perfect fit. Raised detail on them is very crisp and well done.
The interior of the lower hull receives additions to the floor, engine and transmission, a well detailed steering compartment including decals for the instrument panel and very well molded seats for the driver, front and rear. Pedals are included at the driver's position. 6 ready rounds are provided for the ammunition rack. I have read that 50 rounds were carried for the main gun, but can't find any reference as to where or how the rest of the ammunition was carried.
The upper portion of the hull interior receives a radio, vision ports with armored covers that can be posed open or closed (with lots of care they can be operable, I believe) and a stowed MP40. The radio needs some added wiring and headphones provided by the modeler.
Outside the biggest addition to the kit is the new fenders with photo etched doors for the stowage bins that can be posed open or closed. There are photo etched brackets and chains with locks for the closed position. Also provided are 9 jerry cans with etch insert for the weld seam that held the two halves together. There is no lettering for the cans, but there is a separate pour spout lid and handles. The straps that hold them to the vehicle are provided in styrene and are a little thick, but are probably easier to manage for most than photo etched straps would be. The box art shows a jerry can missing and the straps hanging slack. It will be challenging to depict that as very careful thinning of the kit parts will be required. All outer hull attachments are very well molded. The tools are a mix, with some having molded on clamp detail that is very basic and some having no molded on detail. The spare wheel can be mounted with or without the tire. The engine vents are provided in two options-open or closed.
The whole point of this particular kit, the 7,5cm gun, is very well detailed. You can choose from the original kit release breech or the breech from the newer Pz. IV kits, which is also the source for the new barrel with hollowed out muzzle and rifling visible down the barrel. The breech block can be posed open or closed. The armored superstructure that surrounds the open topped fighting compartment is carefully molded, and taken fairly close to the limits of plastic injection molding. There is a flexible mount for the provided MG42, but no ammunition for the gun.
The clear parts sprues has vision blocks and from one (it looks like the clear sprue set from the Jagdpanzer IV) only the periscope is used.
The photo etched parts are well done, with optional brass tie downs to replace the styrene items that go on the sides of the armored shield. For a Premium Edition kit, brass is kept to a minimum.
The instructions are in fold out pamphlet style with CAD line drawings showing assembly. Important details are printed in blue ink. There are a number of small drop boxes showing small sub-assemblies. They are very busy, and careful attention will be needed during the build to make certain you have completed each step. Dragon Models
has a well deserved reputation for high quality of the plastic in their kits, but they share that with an equally well deserved reputation for problematic instructions. Having not built this yet, I don't know if there are any errors or not, but this is certainly not a kit for a beginner. Painting of specific parts is called out during the build process and paints are provided in a chart by number from the GSI Creos, Aqueous Hobby and Mr. Color brands, as well as Testors Model Master enamel paints.
Decals are printed by Cartograff and are very clear, in register and on very fine carrier film. In addition to the instrument dials, two types of balkenkruz are provided, one with thicker white outline than the other, as well as tactical and unit markings and number plates. Generic numbers are provided for the number plates so you can reference your own vehicle. The instructions provide paint schemes for three vehicles.
- 226. Aufklarungs Abt., 116.Pz. Div, Normandy, 1944, dark yellow base with broad overspray camouflage pattern of dark green and red brown
- Div. “Ullrich von Hutten”, Germany, 1945, white 1 on the armor shield and an identical camouflage pattern to the first vehicle
- Unidentified unit, Normandy, 1944, dark yellow base with mottled camouflage pattern of dark green and red brown
This appears to be another very well designed model kit from Dragon Models
, with the open stowage bins, wheels that can be posed for steering and brake lines being great additions. There is a lot of detail and care will be required for assembly, so this is not a beginner’s kit, but it does show a very high level of kit engineering. I am not an expert on the vehicle and don't have measurements for the vehicle dimensions. All I can say is that it looks very much like the 234/3. The instructions will need careful study, as to be expected with any kit of this complexity. Dragon Models
have the added difficulty of a deserved reputation for issues with their instructions, but as a disclaimer, not having built the kit, I cannot say that there is any issue with these. I realize that with only 88 vehicles produced, there is not a lot of reference material available, but it would have been nice to see more variety in the selected options. I did read through an extended list of allocations for this vehicle at Feldgrau.net. It was assigned to a large number of units, usually in groups of 3. Research and reference material will be your best friend here. There are plenty of jerry cans, but no other stowage is provided, so you will need to source your own. Even the provided MG42 has no ammo.
With all of the above in mind, I will state that out of the box the kit appears to be excellent. I am hesitant to provide a percentage for ranking the kit as I haven't assembled it yet but the bare plastic sprues make it look well worth getting. A build log will follow in the future.