ARM: Review - DML 1/35 Scale Sd.Kfz. 234/4 Armored Car

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale '39-'45 Series Kit No.
6221; Sd.Kfz. 234/4 Panzerspaehwagen; 536 parts (497 in grey styrene,
28 etched brass, 6 in clear styrene, 4 turned brass, 1 turned
aluminum); estimated retail price US $38
Advantages: new, 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
The four major combat powers in WWII Europe - Germany, the USSR, Great
Britain, and the United States - all made use of heavy armored cars
during the course of the war. But whereas the Allies tended to use
theirs primarily in simple scouting roles, the Germans also used their
later models for heavy fire support as well, and provided many of them
with the ability to deal with enemy armor.
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
(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. A fifth version was planned, mounting the 7.5 cm AK
7B84 in a turret similar to the Puma, but the war ended before it could
enter production.
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.
DML has now started on the 234 family, and their first release is the
"stroke 4" with the top half of DML's very nicely done PaK 40
included. 77 parts from this kit are included in the new package. Also,
some new "standard" DML sprues are added here as well: German Tools
sprues TF (fender guides and poles), TG (shovels and fire
extinguishers), TH (jack and light kits) and TJ (jack).
Note that due to the fact the parts are to be used for all four
vehicles through the run of these kits 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 (note 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. And I have to think that Airfix did it 40
years ago with only 28 parts for the entire assembly in 1/76!
The interior is provided and appears quite complete, but it is a shame
that the hull side doors are molded shut as once the gun goes in 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 one style used on these vehicles with only two stowage
bins between the wheel pairs, and alas they are also molded in place.
These appear to be correct for the "stroke 4" but DML has also
included a flyer for a upgrade set with the earlier
fender sets (four bins) and additional etched brass parts. The etched
brass provided covers mostly the inserts for the "jerry" can
centers (the crimped seam on the actual cans), tool mounts, and the
moving part of the Pak 40's gun shield.
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.
Markings are provided on two decal sheets for two different vehicles,
both from unidentified units with one on the Western Front and the
other in Prague in 1945. Both use the late-war
red-brown/Panzerbraun/green scheme.
Overall this is a nice kit and seems to be a totally independent
effort, not piggybacked off the Italeri kits. The other three 234s will
follow over the course of the next year or so.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
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How do they compare with the Italeri kits ?
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The kit appears to be far more detailed and accurate than the older efforts from Italeri. True, their Pak 40 was a good kit in its day and in some cases better than the competing Tamiya one (they were both released about the same time) and it was used in their /4 kit. But DML has dotted most of the i's and crossed their t's on this one.
Cookie Sewell
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Damn , more expense then ,I've got all the Italeri ones with only the 234/3 built though. Still trying to get the Dragon Flak 37 ( meaning justify it to the minister for finances and war )
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