- Published on Friday, 25 May 2012 00:01 Nick Mayhew
1:35 Schwere Panzerspähwagen Sd.kfz.232 (8 Rad) Early Type
Catalogue # AF35232
$41.99 from LuckyModel
AFV Club have just sent us their second German 8 wheeled armoured car, the Sd.Kfz.232. It is essentially their initial Sd.Kfz.231 kit #AF35231, with the addition of a new sprue for the 'bedstead' aerial and some new photo-etch parts. Because the kit contents are largely identical, much of this review is taken from my look at their earlier kit. I will of course examine what is new, and also try to take a look at some of the aftermarket options you might wish to consider when making this kit.
Background to the Sd.Kfz.232
Here is a brief overview of the development and nomenclature of the early 8-Rad armoured cars. Having completed the trial programme, the Inspectorate for Motorization In 6 announced that the schwerer Panzerspähwagen (Sd.Kfz.233) and schwerer Panzerspähwagen (Fu) (Sd.Kfz.234) were to be accepted into service with the German Army. By September 1940, the schwerer Panzerspähwagen were officially renamed as s.Pz.Sp.Wg. (Sd.Kfz.231) 8 Rad and s.Pz.Sp.Wg. (Fu) (Sd.Kfz.232) 8 Rad. However, in Army correspondence, these descriptions had been shortened to simply Sd.Kfz.231 and Sd.Kfz.232 as early as March 1940. A fuller explanation can be found in Jentz & Doyle's Panzer Tracts No.13-2, which I consider the essential volume for this vehicle.
The finished article [AFV Club]
The schwerer Panzerspähwagen did not have minor changes identified by a model letter, or Ausfürung; so the best way to identify these changes is by looking at which chassis number (Fargestell of Fgst.Nr.) batch the vehicle comes from, and the time of manufacture. The chassis that Büssing-NAG were initially contracted to develop in answer to the Army's requirements were given the code letters GS, and this GS chassis remained basically unaltered throughout the whole family of vehicles. However, five distinct series are identified by Jentz & Doyle, beginning in 1936 and continuing until 1943, when production ceased.
AFV Club describe the kit as 'Early Type': more precisely it represents a schwerer Panzerspähwagen (Fu) (Sd.Kfz.234) vehicle from the first series; these were Fgst.Nr.59902 to 60080. As noted above, the Sd.Kfz.234 designation was changed to Sd.Kfz.232 officially in September 1940, and in practice even earlier that year. To avoid confusion with later model 234s, and for the sake of consistency, I will refer to the subject of our kit henceforth as Sd.Kfz.232.
In terms of production numbers, the 1.Serie totalled 179 vehicles, manufactured from 1936 to July 1939. This 179 consisted 100 Pz.Fu.Wg. or Panzerfunkwagen Sd.Kfz.263 – a designated command and control vehicle, with a different superstructure and no turret; and of 79 s.Pz.Sp.Wg. About half of these 79 were completed as Sd.Kfz.232, which is our kit. The 2.Serie (Fgst.Nr. 60601-60699) was produced from May 1939 to August 1941, and comprised 99 vehicles, 53 of which were 232s.
The kit is dimensionally accurate, as measured against the 1/35 plans in Panzer Tracts - more on this later. The features of the first series vehicles are accurately captured; there is one minor oddity, but correcting this will be very easy (see the 'Turret' section for details). The kit comes with an interior for the turret and fighting compartment, but no engine is provided. The interior is a 'start', but is by no means complete, and at the time of writing no interior aftermarket sets have come to light. All of the crew access hatches, engine hatches and stowage bins can be posed open.
The majority of the kits' parts come on five main sprues; the upper hull comes in two main sections and the chassis is moulded as one piece, and comes in its own protective case.
There are a large number of very small and delicate parts, the details of which are very sharp. There was some flash, however, on a few of the larger parts, but nothing that can't be cleaned with ease. Whereas the chassis in my 231 kit showed slight warping, there were no such issues in this kit. Once again the chassis comes in its own protective case.
The wheels are the 'rubber' type, and one piece. There is a fret of photo-etch metal (PE) which is new and slightly larger than in the previous kit. The highlights of the fret are two beautiful mesh exhaust guards, but sadly some of the other new parts were damaged in my review sample (more later). One sprue of poly caps and one of clear parts complete the line-up. The cannon and machine gun barrels are moulded in plastic only, rather than being turned metal. The instructions are AFV Club's usual line drawing type - construction is described in 37 steps. Markings are provided for two vehicles.
The new and slightly larger fret of photo-etch; the headlight guards were damaged in my sample
In terms of outline the hull conforms pretty closely to the plans in Panzer Tracts, with panel breaks and hatches correctly aligned.
The forward section of hull is an excellent match to plans [Panzer Tracts No.13-2 by Jentz and Doyle p9]
The rear section is an equally good match [Panzer Tracts No.13-2 by Jentz and Doyle p9]
The upper and lower sections of the hull were butt welded and on close inspection you can see a small weld bead simulated at the edge of the kit parts.
Close-up of the weld beading
Over the third wheel on the left side, there is a swinging mount for an anti-aircraft machine gun; the order for this to be dropped was given on 18th November 1938, with troops ordered to comply by 1st February 1939. If the vehicle you wish to model does not have this feature, the bracket to which the mount was fixed can be sanded from the hull, but I think you will need to replace some rivet detail which should be simple enough.
The shape of the hull roof has been captured perfectly by AFV Club [Panzer Tracts No.13-2 by Jentz and Doyle p9]
Bullet splash guards on the hull roof (both forward and rear of the turret) and on the glacis in front of the driver's hatch were seen on 1.Serie vehicles, but these were only added in 1938; the kit does not have these features. This is not an omission, just a characteristic of early / mid 1.Serie vehicles. If you want to add these splash guards, you could either use very thin strip styrene or use an aftermarket solution: Voyager have just released a mixed etch and resin set specifically for both this and 231 kit.
Lack of bullet deflectors in front driver's hatch; correct for vehicles produced before 1938
The four vision ports or Sehklappen for both driver and co-driver are of the initial type, which had double slits; later Serie.1 vehicles saw these replaced with one long slit (change made in 1938). Ports on later Production Serie also lack the apex rain guards seen in the kit. Adjacent to the vision ports are various lifting eyes which are now available as photo-etch in addition to the original plastic parts.
If you were looking to convert this kit to a 2.Serie vehicle, the three main obstacles I can see are these single slit vision ports – they look the same at first glance, but their shape around the slit itself is different when you study closely; the need for a guard rail protecting the turn signals on either side; and finally the need for different vision ports on the turret (see Turret section).
The distinctive additional armour (Zusatzpanzer) added to the front of the 8-Rad was not brought in until 22 July 1940 (2.Serie), but they were back fitted to earlier models in the Summer of 1940. Parts for the Zusatzpanzer are not included, but are provided in the Voyager set listed above, as well as being available via other sets intended for the Tamiya kit.
The armoured cowl protecting the engine louvers on the rear of the hull were not a feature until the Serie 3. It is curious that although the louvers are moulded as one part, and therefore one cannot see through into the engine compartment, we do an elementary fan belt assembly and rear facing engine 'façade'. This will certainly be useful if an etch or fine resin replacement comes about for this rear panel.
Engine louvers did not have an armoured cowl at this stage of production
The fenders are moulded individually, and there four pieces are probably the most complicated shapes in the whole kit because of all the various angles and panels. When compared to the plans in Panzer Tracts, there were some very minor discrepancies, but we are talking less a millimetre here and there. The angled storage lockers can be displayed open or closed, which is big leap forward from the old Tamiya kit where a lot of cutting would be required. If we are being really picky they are perhaps not sloped forward quite enough, but I emphasize I doubt you could spot this when eyeing the completed kit. All things considered, the AFV Club parts seem a very good representation.
The fenders match the plans in Panzer Tracts No.13-2, but this was difficult to capture, hence I have used the opposing fender for illustrative purposes
As noted in Panzer Tracts, there were a number of interim changes made to the lower edge of the front and rear fenders before the shape was standardized. Initial production vehicles had the lower edge of the front fenders extending lower than the steering guard, necessitating the inside lower edge to be angled upwards, as shown in the picture below.
Kit parts have squared off fenders at front and rear; the plans from Panzer Tracts show initial type with angled cut-off [Panzer Tracts No.13-2 by Jentz and Doyle p9]
Kit part compared to plans from Panzer Tracts of 1.Serie fenders post Fgst.Nr.59918 – the width is pretty much spot on [Panzer Tracts No.13-2 by Jentz and Doyle p23]
However, I must admit that my initial reading of Panzer Tracts misinterpreted the information. The inside lower edge of the front and rear fenders were raised to be level with the top of the steering guard by Fgst.Nr.59918, which was completed in 1937. As a result, this kit (and indeed AF35231) can be dated as being Fgst.Nr.59918 onwards, rather than preceding it as I incorrectly stated in the 231 review. I apologise for my error, and hopefully this clears things up.
The fenders have excellent detail
On the front of each fender are triangular stowage drums, which were secured in their racks by straps; these are very well moulded but I still think would be better represented in PE. There are resin drums and PE straps in the Voyager set mentioned above.
The straps securing stowage on the front fenders are very well rendered for plastic, but will probably look better with a PE upgrade.
There is a Fahnenstage or flag staff on the front left fender, which is listed as optional in the instructions; it was dropped by the start of the Second Production Serie (Fgst.Nr. 6061 onwards). Whilst this part (#D23) is finely moulded, it would still be better in PE.
The headlights are standard 'car type' - the Notek shielded lights did not appear until Serie 2 – but we do have the addition of some PE mesh guards for the lenses. These guards were seen on some vehicles, and are also listed as optional in the instructions. Sadly, in my review sample three out of the four guards were damaged – the PE mesh is exceptionally fine and if 'scuffed', they will break.
Other notable details on the fenders are the width indicators. These are moulded most creditably in the kit, but you may wish to turn to AFV Club's own upgrade set which contains width indicators and also a Kwk 30 barrel (see Turret section for more about the barrel). The advantage if this set, as opposed to some generic sets that are out there, is that it successfully captures the subtle differences between the front and rear indicators. Only a small thing, but a nice touch I think.
The turret shell is moulded as a single part, and in outline is a very good match to the plans in Panzer Tracts where the width of the front and rear plates are concerned. It is approximately a millimetre too narrow across the middle of the turret. I am not sure if this really shows up in the picture shown, and you certainly can't notice it if the part is viewed independently of the plans.
The turret is a little too narrow across the middle [Panzer Tracts No.13-2 by Jentz and Doyle p9]
By May 1939 (the start of 2.Serie production at Fgst.Nr.60601), the large square vision ports on the turret were replaced with standard vision ports, as seen on half tracks such as the Sd.Kfz.250 etc. The ports have nice internal detail. The hatches on the top and rear of the turret are nicely detailed and can be posed open if desired. The correct early gun mantlet is provided.
Early style front of turret
The Sd.Kfz.232 was armed with a KwK 30 2cm cannon and a co-axially mounted 7.92mm machine gun. 180 rounds of 2cm ammunition were carried in 10 round magazines, and 1125 rounds were carried for the machine gun. The KwK 30 is a good representation for a plastic part, complete with slightly hollowed-out muzzle, but will look a lot better with a turned metal barrel combined with the kit breech. AFV Club have produced their own upgrade set (#AG3505, mentioned above) which contains a barrel, in addition to alternatives from both Passion Models / LionMarc and RB Model.
Kit gun barrels – it is difficult for injection moulded plastic to compete with turned brass in this area, but they look ok
The machine gun used was initially a MG13, and then following the In 6 order of 10th March 1938, the MG34. Just to muddy the waters, on 2nd April 1938 it was reported that the MG13 could in fact be retained by armoured car units in Auflklarung-Abteilung (mot), or motorized reconnaissance battalions. Either way, the gun in the kit is a MG34 and not a MG13. The kit part is ok, but any air-cooled machine gun with small perforations along the jacket will be much better represented by a turned brass barrel. Adler's Nest make a nice metal MG13 (part ref #35021), whilst there a number of good MG34s out there.
Both barrels have hollowed-out muzzles; note gun on right is a MG34, when this vehicle perhaps carried a MG13
The bullet splash guard moulded on the turret roof protecting the small signal port / periscope hatch is present on the 2.Serie but not shown on the 1.Serie plans. However, this feature is evident on a 1.Serie Sd.Kfz.232 pictured on p21 of Panzer Tracts. On that basis I suppose you can leave it there unless you have photographic evidence to the contrary?
Turret roof showing bullet deflector in front of signal port; in Panzer Tracts No.13-2, it is not shown in plans of 1.Serie Sd.Kfz.233, but is shown on a 2.Serie Sd.Kfz.234 completed in 1939
The periscope itself was not introduced until the order on 7th July 1941, so I would be inclined not to use clear part #H6 unless modelling a later vehicle (the small hatch was initially used as an opening for signal flags).
Fu 11 SE 100 Aerial
Radio sets were not initially installed in Sd.Kfz.213s, only the Sd.Kfz.232. Internally, the 232 was equipped with the 100 Watt Sender (transmitter) coupled with the Tornisterempfänger b receiver. As a combination this was known as Fu 11 SE 100 (Funkgerät 11, Sender Empfanger 100 watt).
The new sprue with aerial frame parts
Externally, what gave the Sd.Kfz.232 its unique and instantly identifiable appearance was the frame antenna for this radio. Often dubbed 'bedstead aerial', it was a large metal frame that extended above the rear of the vehicle, all the forward to the front of the turret. The frame was supported by wooden rather than metal poles in order to insulate the aerial. The turret remained fully operational, able to rotate underneath the fixed aerial by means of a special joint.
The radio set was connected to the aerial via a wire from the rear deck of the vehicle – just forward of the louvers – and trailed up the starboard rear support / wooden pole. At he point at where the wire emanates from the hull, it is insulated by a small circular plug (I believe this may have been ceramic, but am not sure).
A comparison with plans shows overall dimensions are a good match, but the rear most cross bar is too far forward [Panzer Tracts No.13-2 by Jentz and Doyle p23]
The aerial and its supports are provided by a new sprue in our kit, #K. The frame's overall dimensions match the plans in Panzer Tracts fairly closely – it may be a millimetre or so short. The rear most cross bar is too far forward by some 4 or 5mm. I am not sure you would notice this on the built up model, but it is easy to spot when compared to 1/35 plans. The supports are nicely detailed, although they did have some minor flash. The main frame is moulded as a single part, and although it is protected by the sprue surround, it is understandably delicate.
The 'bedstead' frame
Given the chassis comes in its own plastic case, I would have thought this part warrants similar treatment, but perhaps it was not practical to do so? There are also two sets of rods (parts #K8 and #K9) on this sprue, which are affixed to the hull sides, which I think were additional aerial masts.
The supports for the frame
The one disappointment with these new parts is that the insulating plug is not provided in the kit. The wire is shown on the box art, but at an angle which conveniently obscures the area where the plug would be (coincidence?). The wire itself is also not provided, but should be pretty easy to source. The absence of the plug is disappointing.
As mentioned above, the tyres are of the rubber type.
The quality of moulding is excellent: there are no seams visible whatsoever, and the odd bit of flash is present only on the inside of the tyres, which will be covered up by the rim assembly. The tyres have "Continental" moulded on both sides in tiny writing. There were a number of different tread patterns used on early 8-Rads; the pattern on the kit wheels is shown quite clearly on a 1.Serie Sd.Kfz.234 on page 21 of Panzer Tracts – they look a precise match to my eye.
Close-up of tread pattern; there are no seams visible on the outer surfaces as far as I could see
The wheels have six scalloped shaped holes per rim, and fit perfectly into the rubber tyres. At the start of production, the wheels had six smaller round holes, but were changed to the scalloped rims early in 1.Serie. No spare wheel is provided, as Pz.Sp.Wg. tyres had bullet proof inner tubes until their production ceased in February 1943. The kit rims have the correct bolt detail, but perhaps the scallop hole is rather too round when compared to the plans in Jentz and Doyle; the difference is very subtle though, and the kit wheels are more than ok.
The plastic hub fits snugly into the rubber tyre
If you want an alternative tread pattern, or just do not like rubber tyres on your models, there are some alternatives. There are two different tread patterns offered by Hussar Productions and Panzer Art, whilst if you want a straight replacement, then Hussar Productions make these. I have not measured these for accuracy or fit to the AFV Club kit, but all three are new and I assume made for this kit rather than the old Tamiya one etc.
Hub detail is nicely done
Chassis & Suspension
The main spars of the chassis are moulded as one part, which comes in its own clear plastic case for protection. My part showed very mild warping, but with some very gentle pressure and once the various bracing parts are glued in between the main spars, this issue should resolve itself.
The chassis is superbly detailed and will show full drive train when viewed from underneath. You will need to add brake lines and so on, but the foundations really are there to go town if you want to superdetail. The best book I have found for pictures of the chassis, suspension, engine and interior is "Military Vehicles in Detail SdKfz231/234 8-rad 8x8 Armoured Car" by Terry J. Gander. The instructions indicate that the suspension and steering should be fully workable. The parts are very nicely detailed with but there is a rather tedious seam line down the middle of the leaf springs.
Interior detail is provided for the fighting compartment and drivers' stations, but not for the engine. As the pictures from the Tokyo Hobby Show late last year show, the kit interior will appear "busy" when viewed through an open hatch, but it is not complete. Some of the things are quite apparent from my references, such as the commander's seat in the turret, firing pedals for both guns and additional detail on the turret floor.There are a number of square and rectangular areas outlined on the hull interior - as if to indicate placement of detail parts – but none of these parts are provided in the kit, or have been announced by AFV Club yet.
Hull plate shown from inside – note raised lines indicating part placement, but these interior detail parts are not provided in the kit; hopefully an indication of a future upgrade set from AFV Club?
No ammunition beyond one magazine that slots into the side of KwK30 is provided. Panzer Tracts tells us what, how much and in what form it was stored, but exactly where you put it all is a little more tricky.
Detailed hull floor
No engine is provided: part B8 represents what I think you would see of the engine block from underneath, but it is only 'half' a part, and completely hollow. Whilst there some fan belt details, that's pretty much it. I am not sure if anyone makes a resin Büssing-NAG GS180 V8 engine, or maybe AFV Club plan to sell it separately? Either way it would be a most welcome addition.
The engine block will be (just) visible from below through all the suspension assembly; it is an empty shell on the side away from camera
Markings are provided for two vehicles, both of which are in standard RAL 7021, or 'Panzer grey'. The first has the city name "Wiesbaden" on both sides in large red lettering with white surround; no details given other than 'Germany, Spring 1940'. I believe this vehicle was part of Aufklärungs-Abteilung (mot.) 4; if anyone could confirm, please contact me.
The second option has no other markings apart from its WH 248405 plates, and I have not been able to pinpoint this machine. I understand that Echelon Fine Details will be bringing out a set of decals for this and the 231 kit in the near future.
So What Do We Think?
I think this is an excellent kit: it is accurate in external shape and features and is nicely detailed with correct features. The interior is limited but correct in as far as it goes. The new parts added for the Sd.Kfz.232 are very well done, save for the omission of the insulating plug on the hull, but in the grand scheme of things that is a minor point in an otherwise superb, and reasonably priced, kit.
With thanks to the team at AFV Club for the review sample.
AFV Club kits can be purchased at LuckyModel and most good retail hobby outlets.
- Panzer Tracts No.13-2 schwerer Panzerspaehwagen & Panzerfunkwagen development and production from 1935 to 1943
- Military Vehicles in Detail SdKfz231/234 8-rad 8x8 Armoured Car by Terry J. Gander
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