Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale '39-'45 Series Kit No.6298; Sd.Kfz. 234/1 schwere Panzerspaehwagen; 532 parts (485 in grey styrene, 31 etched brass, 12 clear styrene, 4 turned brass); retail price estimated at US $38
Advantages: new, well detailed and very complete kit of this popular vehicle; complex driveline appears to be fully replicated
Disadvantages: 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
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: to all German armor and wheeled vehicle fans
F I R S T L O O K
Hot on the heels of their excellent Sd.Kfz. 234/4 is the new DML Sd.Kfz. 234/1 2 cm armed heavy reconnaissance car. This is a special release timed to coincide with "Dragon Expo '06" in California, and from the looks of it this should be a big hit.
As I noted with the "Stroke 4" 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 "Stroke 1" was built in the largest numbers and with its 2 cm gun was pretty much used as a reconnaissance car and not a mobile weapons platform like the "Stroke 3" and "Stroke 4." 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.
This kit shows a number of changes from the "Stroke 4" kit, combing a number of sprues from that one with the new 2 cm turret that debuted in the Sd.Kfz. 251/23 kit (No. 6293). They have "mixed and matched" but to add to modelers' confusion they are now carrying sprues as specific to a kit. Therefore the "C" sprue with the hull parts from the 234/4 is not provided but a new 234/1 "C" sprue is, just when you think you have them all figured out!
This one also includes some "standard" German sprues, namely the German Tools sprues TF (fender guides and poles) and TJ (jack) and weapons sprue WC (MG34 and MG42 machine guns.)
As with the "Stroke 4" the parts are somewhat generic and 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 te 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. I always liked the fact that this vehicle had eight wheel progressive steering, and was quite impressive to see when the wheels were cocked at an angle. (But having been the platoon sergeant to the US Army's biggest rolling headache, the M561 Gama Goat., which had front and rear axle steering, I am happy I never had to do maintenance on this one!)
The interior is provided and appears quite complete, but again the hull side doors are molded shut as once the turret is in place 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 the later style with four stowage bins per side, but alas they are also molded shut. The etched brass provides the inserts for the "jerry" can centers (the crimped seam on the actual cans), tool mounts, gun mantelet, the mesh covers for the turret, and an etched brass "Crow's Foot" long range HF antenna for the vehicle in place of the plastic one also provided.
The turret in this kit does not come with the lovely turned brass barrel provided in the Sd.Kfz. 251/23 kit, but it does come with two different 2 cm gun barrels of which the longer (J10) is shown to be used with the model. I am not sure why the difference in the barrels (it looks to be about 8mm) as both guns are listed as KwK 38 guns. The turret itself is very well detailed and covers most of the parts modelers like in plastic, but it also has alternate etched brass parts for the sights and the rear stowage bin flaps.
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. This kit also provides a spare wheel carrier mount at the rear of the hull for a ninth wheel.
Markings are provided on two decal sheets for two different vehicles, one in tricolor camouflage for the 6th Panzer Division in Austria (1945) and one for the 25th Panzer Division in Germany (1945) in whitewash. The kit comes with a "targeted" decal sheet for the two vehicles and also a "number jungle" set of license plates.
Overall this is a really nice kit and picks up where the "Stroke 4" and Sd.Kfz. 251/23 left off. Many German wheeled vehicle fans will now be eagerly awaiting the "Stroke 2" (Puma) and "Stroke 3" 7.5 cm L/24 close support gun.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.