Sd.Kfz 234/1

Kit # 7244 Preview by Rob Haelterman - heman_148(at)

1. Packaging

Flimsy side-opening cardboard box with individual zipper-type plastic bags (organised per subassembly, but without part numbers).


2. Type of kit

Resin kit with interior, but without decals and with limited painting suggestions (except for the picture on the box-top and some indications in the manual). Tulle provided for turret mesh.
For the sprues and preview click here.


3. Quality of casting

The casting quality is very good, with next to no air bubbles, warpage or other annoying discrepancies. Only one small, fragile part was broken on the sprues. The detail is quite crisp.

Most of the larger parts come with substantial molding carrots, which are sometimes hard to carve away, especially on the insides of the wheels. The latter require a major effort. Incidentally, Attack and Armory have both also released resin wheels, with casting blocks that are far easier to remove, but are still in a somewhat annoying location.
The turret mesh is also a lesser part of the kit, as you are supposed to make the mesh from a piece of tulle that is included with the kit. I found the latter quite difficult to cut, glue and paint, and ended up using the Modell Trans PE set (MTX7201, which is the PE sprue included in the SdKfz251/23 kit.). That said, the Hasegawa kit is even worse in that respect as it has the mesh molded as a solid piece of plastic, i.e. integral with the frames.

A very nice thing about this kit is that it allows you to open most hatches and visors.

Until a couple of years ago, this kit was the only high quality offering of this important AFV. Today (2011 AD) we have releases of the Sd.Kfz 234 by Roden, Italeri and Hasegawa, and a host of aftermarket parts. (See the Sd.Kfz. 234 article for more details.)
Apart from the work on the wheels, I feel this kit is still better than the Italeri kit (they don't do a /1 yet, but the chassis can be compared), and competitive with the Hasegawa kit in quality, but not in price. Then again, few resin kits can compete with injection plastic kits in the field of economics.
(Note that I haven't seen the Roden kit first hand, so I cannot comment on that one.)


4. Version

As most readers with a passing interest in the Sd.Kfz.234 will know, four main versions of this vehicle existed, the /1, /2, /3 and /4. Some might even know that a very limited number were fitted with a Schwebelafette or a Luchs turret (both currently available from Modell Trans.).

Production of the 4 main variants can be summarized as follows:
/1: From 06/44 to 03/45; 220 built. (I've seen a start date of 12/43 mentioned as well, somewhere.)
/2: From 12/43 to 06/45; 100 built. (I've seen a start date of 09/43 and an end date of 09/44 mentioned somewhere as well.)
/3: From 06/44 to 12/44; 90 built.
/4: From 12/44 to 04/45; 90 built.

MarS has released the 234/1 and 234/2, which logically share many components. The hull of the /2 is a solid piece, i.e. without interior, though.

The Sd.Kfz.234 underwent some minor changes during the production run:

  • The mud guards evolved from a type with 5 bins, to a type with 4 bins (which was the most widespread) and eventually to a type with only 2 bins, hinged at the top. It seems only the /2 was ever fitted with the 5 bin type, and then only rarely. The 2-bin type was apparently never fitted to that same subvariant.
    The 4-bin type that MarS provides is correct for most /1s.
  • The exhaust evolved from a horizontal half-cylinder type (i.e. where the axis of the cilinder was that was horizontal) to a vertical model. In the early (horizontal) model both exhausts pointed to the left when seen from the rear. This model was seemingly the only one fitted to early /1s and /3s. The Mars kit has the exhausts pointing straight back.
  • At least 4 types of tyres and 2 types of hubcaps have been identified. The hubcaps are the early type (domed with 2 ventilation holes and 8 bolts) and the later type (flat with 5 ventilation holes and 10 bolts).
  • Only the early Sd.Kfz.234/2 was fitted with two headlights; all other vehicles only had one headlight on the left fender. It seems I am not the only modeler who has overlooked this detail. Note that a (post-war ?) movie appears to show an Sd.Kfz.234/1 with two headlights, though.

5. Instruction sheet:

The instructions consist of hand drawn "exploded" sketches, which are not always 100% clear. The lack of numbering on the kit parts (which are very numerous) does not make it any easier. Because the parts are packaged according to their subassembly you can eventually figure out where everything goes... at least, I believe I did.
Painting instructions are limited to the advice that most parts must be painted "German Sand Gelb - 187", except for those marked on the instruction sheet. The latter probably refers to the numbers "11", "34", "85", "110" "186" etc. and "27004" on the instruction sheet. While not mentioned, the former are most likely Humbrol colors, while the latter remains a mystery, but just might be black or dark grey.

6. Construction

Preliminary note: I built this kit over multiple "sessions" and moved house two times during its protracted construction. It is therefore possible I lost some notes or lost some memories, if not parts.

I suggest one starts with removing the huge carrots from the rear of the wheels, and I hope one has a motor tool at one's disposal for that. Even then, it will be difficult to obtain a flat rear side of the wheel. (This will be partially visible on the completed model.) After that, everything is smooth sailing !
The upside is that the nice thread pattern is preserved. Hub detail is equally well done.
Incidentally, the spare wheel is infinitely easier to clean up. I fail to see why a similar engineering approach was not chosen for the main wheels.
Note that you will have to mount the wheels with a slight V-stance (w.r.t. the vertical) if you want to mimic the real thing.
The steering mechanism is also provided by MarS.

An almost complete interior is provided for the hull and turret, but there are so many parts that some interfere with one another. For instance, some of the turret parts interfere with hull parts, impeding full turret rotation, and the steering wheel interferes with the gear levers. I also feel the steering wheel should be mounted more to the left to be in-line with the driver's seat.

Not a lot needs to be added or altered on the kit in my opinion. I added a pin to the front bumper, made the antenna base from scratch (because I lost the original piece...), glued a Modell Trans Sternantenna to the top of the antenna and drilled out the lift and tow hooks on the hull. Some of the latter broke during this operation, so that I ended up making some from scratch.
The main gun was replaced with one of the many 20mm gun barrels I have lying in my spare's box and the turret mesh was taken from Modell Trans. It is not a perfect fit as it is meant for the Hasegawa kit, but this is not noticeable when the mesh is placed in the open position.

A nice thing about this kit is that all visors can be positioned open. Detail for the opening mechanism is not provided, though. Also nice are the separate tools, but I don't think the handle for the fire extinguishers was ever fitted to the real one. Talking about handles: the jerrycans lack their trademark middle handlebars, which I think is a real shame.
Fit of the hull is quite good, but that of the box on the right rear fender less so. The weld seam on the hull is nicely rendered.

I followed MarS in gluing the two headlights, while my references told me (afterwards) that only one was fitted to the /1, on the left fender. Occasionally a horn was fitted close to that headlight.
I didn't follow MarS's instructions when it came to the width indicator on the right front fender, as I believe it should not have a rear view mirror. (Only the left width indicator needs one.) I can't quite remember if I used the kit parts, but I believe I did.

I haven't measured the kit, but Doug Chaltry claims that the rear hull plate is too vertical.

I also believe the nose hatch should have been flush with the nose armor, not raised as the kit shows. It is also my impression that the turret is a tad too wide, as it shows a limited amount of overhang, which I don't think it should.
It's a pity that the fender bins are closed.


7. Decals and painting options:

No decals or specific painting instructions are included, except for those mentioned in §5.
According to my sources the Sd.Kfz.234/1 was issued to the 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 25 and 116 Panzer Divisions, Panzer Lehr, 2SS and 9SS Panzer Division, Division Müncheberg and Division Brandenburg, but don't take my word for it.

I opted for a vehicle from 116PD, with decals coming from the following sources
- 116PD Greyhound: Esci
- Tactical marking: Peddinghaus
- Data stencil: Italeri
- Licence plates: Hasegawa
- Crosses: Almark
The choice of decals had more to do with my artistic preferences than any historical accuracy.

I painted the floor an olive green, but it might have actually been red oxide in late versions of this vehicle.

PS: I totally agree that not all the wheels touch the ground on the finished kit, but that's because of the gentle slope of the diorama it will eventually reside in. (Don't we all use that excuse... ?)

8. General Impression:

Until recently this was by far the best Sd.Kfz.234/1 in this scale. It is not cheap, takes some care and attention to build and has a poor turret mesh; but at least you can build it with all visors open !


9. References

[1] Die Gepanzerte Radfahrzeuge des Deutschen Heeres 1909-1945, W.J. Spielberger. Band 4 der Reihe "Militärgahrzeuge" , Motorbuch Verlag

[2] Panzer Tracts No. 13 - Panzerspähwagen, by Jentz and Doyle

[3] Sd.Kfz.234, Kagero Photosniper 20

[4] German Armoured Cars and Reconnaissance Half-tracks 1939-1945, B. Perret, New Vanguard 29, Osprey Publishing
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Article Last Updated: 02 June 2011

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