|KIT:||Roden 1/72 Sd.Kfz 234/4|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The heavy eight wheeled armored car, the Sd.Kfz.234/2 «Puma», was one of the finest technical developments of World War II. Apart from the basic model, intended in the first place for conducting forward reconnaissance, and also for infantry support, various other versions of this armored car were designed. The final model of this armored car to be put into series production was the Sd.Kfz.234/4.
In 1944 the German Army found itself on the verge of catastrophe. The War's victory laurels had long since turned to thorns for the Third Reich, and the main objectives of the Germans became those of defense. In order to counter the Soviet armies' numerical advantage in armored cars, it was decided to set the PaK-40 75 mm cannon, which had a formidable combat reputation, onto a few of the most suitable chassis for it, including that of the Sd.Kfz.234. The wheels were removed for this purpose, and the cannon was fitted into the open upper part of the car's armored body.
In tests the Sd.Kfz.234/4 showed an insufficient ability to conduct an effective fight - first of all for its too narrow sector of fire, and then for its limited number of rounds (there were only 36); but in general this particular model appeared to be mobile enough, and it was decided to begin series production at the Büssing-NAG plant at the end of 1944. By April 1945, when Germany's arms industry appeared on the verge of complete collapse because of continuous Allied bombing raids, only 89 of the Sd.Kfz.234/4 had been produced.
In conditions of growing chaos at the front line new armored cars were passed to newly formed military units, which immediately started the fight for the 'defense of the Vaterland'. Some Sd.Kfz.234/4s were passed to the First Division of the Russian Liberation Army under the command of General Vlasov. In May 1945, in the last days of war in Europe, this military formation took part in the struggle for Prague.
At least one example of the Sd.Kfz.234/4 was saved, and today it is exhibited in the Deutsches Panzermuseum in Münster.
This is the fourth variant of the Sd.Kfz234 series to be done by Roden. In that light, much of what was true of the earlier kits is the same with this one as the majority of the kit is identical between the different variants. Only what is plunked atop the hull is different. The two smaller sprues are unique to this variant.
Roden is on the verge of joining the 'big boys' in terms of the way that it molds its parts. It is like seeing Eduard kits of several years back. the detailing is very good and while not up to the level of Dragon in this scale, is sufficient for the tastes of most builders. No flash, only a few sink areas and those concentrated on the interior floor section. Ejector towers and marks are only on the larger pieces and are either easily removed or hidden during construction.
I should point out that there are really two black suspension sprues, but I only show one. If Roden needs to do anything to improve their kits, it would be to dispel with the two-piece wheels and mold them as a single unit. Of course, they may have trouble with sink areas in thick plastic or with mold mismatch and that is why they are molded as such, but if they could do separate full wheels and separate hubs, it would be super.
The major new piece on this kit is the Pak 40 cannon, a most fortuitous addition as they do a separate Pak 40 kit! Of course, you don't get the full gun as the mount is quite different for the 234 and those bits are nicely done as well.
The small decal sheet provides markings for two vehicles from the last month of the war, both in panzer yellow, green and brown stripes. Instructions are well done and provide detail drawings for areas that may otherwise be confusing. I've had fair luck with Roden decals and since these are small and few in number, I see no problems with them.
I have built several Roden small scale armor kits and have found them to be well done and with care in construction, build into very nice models. I'm sure you will find things to be the same with this one.
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