Following on from the release of the schwerer Panzerspäehwagen Sd.Kfz.231 (8-Rad) Early type (kit #AF 35231) late last year AFV Club have now released the schwere Panzerspäehwagen (Fu) Sd.Kfz.232 (8-Rad) Early type which is basically the same vehicle with the inclusion of the large frame antenna and a few other minor details. As such and the fact I never got to review the initial Sd.Kfz.231 due to time constraints I will review both kits together as they like the actual vehicles are the same apart from the inclusion of the frame antenna for the Sd.Kfz.232. Therefore all comments apply equally to both kits with additional comments on the Sd.Kfz.232 parts where applicable, I have also incorporated the new AFV Club Sd.Kfz.231/232 Barrel and clearance indicator pole set (#AG35035) to show what you get with this as well.
Both kits represent 1937 production 1.Serie Sd.Kfz.231/232 vehicles, actually designated Sd.Kfz.233 and Sd.Kfz.234 (Fu) in 1937 timeframe with the designations changing to Sd.Kfz.231 (8-Rad) and Sd.Kfz.232 (Fu)(8-Rad) in September 1940 but were the same vehicles, just the designations changed. The 1.Serie Sd.Kfz.231/232 vehicles had a few notable external differences from later production batches; these include the early style vision ports on the hull and turret, no armoured cowl over the rear engine hatch and no large Zusatzpanzer (additional armour) at the front. Another notable feature is the upper and lower hull join does not have the top hull overhang as with later vehicles and has a large folding anti-aircraft machine gun mounting on the left hull side, also all the hull and turret hatches sit proud of the hull/turret surfaces. All of these features are captured well in the kit with all overall dimensions also matching the 1:35 plans in Panzer Tracts No.13-2 book and Ground Power magazines listed below well within accepted tolerances with only a couple of very minor discrepancies. As we often see there are a couple of minor discrepancies between the plan dimensions but the overall hull/turret/wheel sizes are the same in both plan sets and hence also in the kit.
The fenders on the 1.Serie vehicles had a number of changes quite quickly in the production run, initially the front and rear fenders extended down over the steering armoured covers, these were then modified still with the extended fenders but an angled upward kink to clear the steering covers and finally the front/rear fenders were shortened with straight lower edges to clear the steering guards, this is the configuration depicted in the kit fenders.
According to Panzer Tracts the initial 1.Serie vehicles were fitted with the 2cm Kw.K.30 automatic cannon and co-axial 7.92mm MG.13 with this changing to the 7.92mm MG.34 in March 1938 with kit including the MG.34 as turret armament. While it’s perfectly feasible the MG.34 could be retrofitted the kit has all the other initial 1.Serie features and should also have the MG.13 included. Externally the differences between the MG.13 and MG.34 are the MG.13 has a longer barrel/cooling jacket and extends further out of the turret mantlet than the MG.34 and the muzzle fittings are different on the MG.34. Overall there aren’t a lot of visual differences when the receiver is hidden away inside the turret so this may be overlooked by some but does provide scope for aftermarket barrel producers.
Another point is the wheels on the initial production vehicles had six circular cut-outs in the rims and this changed to larger triangular cut-outs in later production wheels. The change to the triangular cut-outs appears from period photos to have taken place quite early in production as many photos of 1.Serie vehicles show the triangular cut-outs with some a mixture of triangular and round cut-outs so the all triangular cut-outs in the kit wheels is acceptable.
As mentioned both kits are identical in content apart from an extra 12 plastic (sprue K) and 19 etched parts in the new Sd.Kfz.232 kit as well as the decal sheet with the actual contents being:
- 431 Plastic parts (kit #AF35231), 443 plastic parts (kit #AF35232) in light beige plastic
- 13 clear plastic parts
- 24 etched parts (kit #AF35231), 43 etched parts (kit #AF35232)
- 16 black vinyl parts (8 tyres, 8 suspension parts)
- 1 decal sheet (per kit)
- 1 x 16 page instruction booklet (per kit)