Sd.Kfz.234/3 mit 7.5cm KwK
Dragon’s Sd.Kfz.234/3 is an excellent kit with crisp molding, full interior detail and while complicated, it goes together very well. This new Premium Edition is a reissue of Dragon’s 2007 kit #6257 including new fenders with photoetch storage bin covers & locks, and movable suspension that allows the wheels to be angled for turns.
The SdKfz 234/3 was the third in a series of heavy armored reconnaissance vehicles produced by Germany during WWII. It had an open-topped superstructure in which a short-barreled 7.5cm L/24 gun was installed. This gun, surplus from the upgrade of older Panzer IV tanks, was intended for use against "soft" targets. Eighty-eight of the 234/3s were produced by Buessing-Nag between June & December of 1944.
The vehicle had four-wheel steering and was able to quickly change direction thanks to a second rear-facing driver's seat. The transmission had six forward and reverse gears, with traction over the eight wheels. Power was provided by an air-cooled Tatra 103 diesel engine.
The kit comes packed in a thin corrugated cardboard box and includes five bags of gray plastic sprues, two bags of clear plastic sprues, and one bag with two photoetch frets, decals, and metal parts.
Instructions are on a 7-1/2 by13-1/2 inch folded paper with 28 assembly steps and three paint & marketing schemes. The instructions include a layout of the sprues for the identification of parts. Paint colors are identified in Aqueous Hobby Color, Mr. Color, and Model Master paints. The instructions do not include paint colors for the interior, and only very limited colors for the exterior.
Dragon does an excellent job molding the parts, as there is no flash and very crisp detail. Dragon does use quite a few molding plugs, which require a little bit more cleanup.
There are two options for the tires, a typical two-halve assembly or a six layer ‘sandwich’ tire assembly. The tread on the two part tires more closely resembles most of the online reference photos, but the sandwich tires have a very nice tread pattern. Oddly, Dragon only provides three of the sandwich style for a vehicle with eight wheels and a spare and doesn’t explain where they should be used.
Steps 1 through 3 are the assembly of the suspension system. The suspension is complicated and the illustration drawings are complex, but are clear, and the fit of the parts is excellent. In step number 2 take care to note the locations of the wheel hubs parts D18 and D19 so that they are oriented in the correct direction. In step number 3, the installation of the metal rods on the underside of the suspension, note whether the rods are above or below the leaf springs. The rods that pass over the top of the leaf springs required some additional bending to get them to fit.
In step number 4 there are many slightly raised ejection points on the underside of the body tub, which can easily be removed by a scraping with an X-Acto blade. Install subassembly B, the firewall, after subassembly A and part E26 to make sure they all fit correctly. There are also raised injection points on the underside of the access panel C13 that should be removed if the bottom of the completed vehicle will be viewable. Refer to the diagram after step 7 for the correct angle of the levers TF3, TF4 and TF10. After step 6 would be a good time to paint the interior of the vehicle. The interior of the vehicle has very nice detail but very little of it will be viewable after the model is completed. It’s strange that with all this detail Dragon does not provide an engine.
In step number 5, subassembly E, the seat brackets part H5 and H4 are mislabeled and should be reversed.
Step number 8 is the assembly of the steering components that allow the wheels to be turned, which is new to this Premier Edition of the kit. I think that Dragon has switched the sides for the steering control arms part Z2 & Z3 in this step. They seem to work much better when reversed side for side and connected with the tie rod part D5. The control arms parts Z1,Z2, and Z3 snap into the underside of the body tub. If there were a flexible hinge connection on each side of the tie rod part D5, the wheels on either side could turn in sync. There is still the problem of coordinating the turning of all four wheels on each side is they are not connected together. I wanted to display the kits with slightly turned wheels so I made an assumption on the alignment of the wheel hubs.
In step number 9, I think that Dragon has the brackets D16 and D17 reversed side-to-side also.
The interior wheels are installed in step number 10 and it’s the first chance to check the alignment of the suspension. All 8 of the wheels touched a level service at the same time. Very nicely done Dragon!
Steps 11,12, and 13 provide two options for the exterior turret ports, open or closed. There are also two options for the engine cover hatch louvers in step number 11, open or closed. I decided to leave the louvers and ports open to add some detail to the exterior. The decals shown in step 11 for the dashboard do not match the numbers on the decal sheet but are easy enough to figure out. After step 13 I painted the interior of the vehicle using Tamiya dark yellow XF64. Dragon does not provide any detail paint colors for the interior the vehicle, which would help a lot with finishing
Step 14 assembles the body top to the floor tub. Unfortunately Dragon does not include an engine or any detail in the engine compartment. The engine cover hatches are not openable, but it would be nice to have them openable if an engine were provided.
Step 14 also installs the fenders on each side, which include photoetch covers for the various equipment storage bins. This is the first step that presented some difficulty in assembly. Dragon includes photoetch parts for the storage bins on the fenders, which are new to the Premiere Edition of the kit. Each cover for the storage plan includes a recessed lock that includes four photoetch parts; the recessed box MB16, a pad lock and chain MB13, and two parts for the lock hasp MB14 and MB15. The recessed locks are quite difficult to assemble. On the first one I managed to get the two parts of the hasp aligned enough to slip the padlock on. For the remaining locks I only used to the larger hasp MB14 and abandoned MB15. This made it much easier to insert the padlock. The recessed locks add nice detail to the kid, but the chain appears to be a crumpled mess of photoetch. The photoetch bin covers fit very nicely into the recesses and the fit of the fenders to the body is excellent.
In step 15 there are two options for the bumper brackets, the kit plastic parts or photoetched parts. I used it the photoetch parts.
Step 16 offers two options for the spare tire bracket, with and without an attached tire. I installed the spare tire to add more detail to the kit.
In step 14 before gluing the top half of the body onto the lower tub, look forward to step 19 and drill the holes for the part number H11 on the upper turret deck.
Step 16 shows two options for the wheels on the spare tire. This is similar to the options shown in step 28 for all of the wheels. I don't know why there are options and it's not explained by the instructions.
In step 18 there is an option for the tiedowns to use either plastic parts B1 or photoetch parts. There are not enough photoetch parts MA2 to do all of the tiedown locations so a combination of photoetch and plastic is necessary. There are enough plastic parts to make nine jerry cans although only six are going to be mounted on the body and there are only six of the photoetch parts. Another mishmash of part quantities.
Step 20 includes options for the cannon breach without explaining the differences for the variations. In step 23 the periscope part G3 is a clear part for the lenses. Dragon uses many clear parts for the turret windows and the periscope on the gun, but does not provide a clear lens for the rearview mirror. I just used chrome paint for the mirror.
The model is finished with a dark yellow base and tricolor camouflage similar to the box cover art. The base color was airbrushed with Tamiya XF60 Dark Yellow, and next it received Mr. Color khaki green 54 and red brown 41 camouflage stripes. Dragon provides details provided by cartogram which are very good quality and went down without any problems
The kit could be improved with more detailed color callouts in the instructions and adding a detailed engine. It also seems possible that with some additional work the wheels could be connected so they turn together. The instructions could do a better job explaining the various options and the mistakes in the instructions could be corrected.
This is still a nice kit in spite of the few problems. The parts have very nice detail and the fit of the parts is excellent. It’s a complex kit to assemble but the instructions are clear, although with a few errors, and it builds into a great model. Nice kit Dragon, and thanks for providing the review sample.
As always, thanks to the wonderful IPMS review crew for letting me build the sample.