Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale '39-'45 Series Kit No.6256; Sd.Kfz. 234/4 Puma; 529 parts (485 in grey styrene, 24 etched brass, 16 clear styrene, 4 turned brass); US price estimated at $38
Advantages: new, well detailed and very complete kit of this popular vehicle follows the "Stroke 1" and "Stroke 4"; complex driveline appears to be fully replicated; includes partial turret interior
Disadvantages: side bins and lower hull access doors molded in closed positions; engine bay will be difficult to open up; interior detail will be mostly hidden
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: to all German armor and wheeled vehicle fans
F I R S T L O O K
Three months after releasing their Sd.Kfz. 234/1 2cm heavy armored car kit (No. 6298) and six months after their Sd.Kfz. 234/4 kit (No. 6221) DML now drops the card out of four with the very popular "Puma" 5cm heavy armored car kit. This is one of the kits due to debut at Dragon Expo 06 Europe very shortly, and it should be a big hit.
As per the first two, 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 September1943. 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 2" was the only one to receive an actual name and fit in with the service models of many other vehicles in the late war period
- the tracked Luchs reconnaissance tank, the Panther medium tank, and the Tiger I and II heavy tanks. Fast (80 kph/48 mph), well armed with the Pak 38 5 cm derived gun, 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.
Again, the kit shows changes from the "Stroke 4" and "Stroke 1" kits. They have "mixed and matched" but to add to modelers' confusion they are now carrying sprues as specific to a kit. Oddly, as if DML's directions aren't confusing and distracting enough, this kit has both the 234/1 "C" sprue (basic interior frames and components) and a NEW "C" sprue with the entire turret assembly for the Puma on it. Go figure.
This one also includes some "standard" German sprues, namely the German Tools sprues TF (fender guides and poles), TG (shovels and fire extinguishers), TH (headlights and jack) and TJ (jack). For some odd reason there is no machine gun for the turret provided, only a muzzle tip to install in the mantelet.
As with the "Strokes 1 and 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. (There is a cyber-hobby.com add-on kit for the "Stroke 1" to permit these to turn, which should also work for this version as well.)
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. But once the turret is in place, there is no way to see much at all of the interior!
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 remaino 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 a turned metal barrel, but it has a three-part muzzle brake that is partially "Slide Molded" to get depth to the finished assembly. There is a relatively complete breech assembly for the 5cm gun but as noted no coaxial machine gun. Clear styrene viewers and periscopes are provided, as is hatch interior detail, but most of the rest of the turret detail is absent. This is not such a bad thing, however, as the hatches are small and the gun is far forward so very little is actually visible. Some detailing at the back and seats would possibly have been a good idea, however.
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 Cartograf decal sheets (targeted and a "number jungle" for the license plates) for four different vehicles: 20th Panzer Division, Bohemia 1945 (tricolor); Unidentified unit, France 1944 (dark green over sand); 2nd Panzer Division, France1944 (green squiggles over sand); and Panzerlehr Division, Normandy 1944 (tricolor.) The latter three do not seem to have license plates shown.
Overall, again DML has nailed their mark, and now I am sure most German fans will wait for the "Stroke 3" 7.5 cm L/24 close support gun to complete their four "aces!"
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.