RODEN


1/72 Sd.Kfz.234/2 "Puma" Schwere Panzerspähwagen - Kit No.705


Review by James Blackwell


 


General

Combining a 90kph top speed, excellent 8 wheel steer manoeuvrability, 2 direction drive capability, sloped armour and respectable armament of a 5cm KwK 39/1 main gun with a 7.92mm coaxial MG-34, the German Sd.Kfz.234/2 "Puma" is regarded as perhaps the best heavy armoured car to come out of WWII. It perhaps can even be argued that its influence can still be felt in the look of the current US 8 wheel LAV-25 series in use today. As such it is a perennially popular subject for modellers, who until now have been pretty poorly served in small scale with only the old badly misproportioned 1/76 Matchbox clunker. Thankfully Roden has come to the rescue with an all new kit, which although not without its own minor short-comings, is a quantum leap over the former. With Hasegawa's new Puma also immanent for release, this important subject looks to be finally getting some long overdue attention.


History

Though a bit light-on for combat photos, currently the best reference around for this vehicle is Tom Jentz and Hilary Doyle's Museum Ordnance Special No.24 titled; "Schwerer Panzerspaehwagen (Sd.Kfz.234)" which covers the technical features, production and distribution to units. In it Jentz says only 100 (not 101 as is commonly quoted), 234/2 50mm Pumas were to be built from the order issued on Nov.3 1943, and then in April '44 50% of total 234 chassis production were to be completed as 234/1s. By May this is changed as the other marks are introduced to 13 234/1s for each 3 234/3.

He states on top of the 100 234/2s built, about 230 2cm 234/1s were completed by March 1945, about 90 Short 75mm 234/3s to Dec.'44, and about 90 long PaK 40 75mm 234/4s by April '45.

So, known units to get the 100 50mm 234/2 Pumas were:

Though a bit light-on for combat photos, currently the best reference around for this vehicle is Tom Jentz and Hilary Doyle's Museum Ordnance Special No.24 titled; "Schwerer Panzerspaehwagen (Sd.Kfz.234)" which covers the technical features, production and distribution to units. In it Jentz says only 100 (not 101 as is commonly quoted), 234/2 50mm Pumas were to be built from the order issued on Nov.3 1943, and then in April '44 50% of total 234 chassis production were to be completed as 234/1s. By May this is changed as the other marks are introduced to 13 234/1s for each 3 234/3.

He states on top of the 100 234/2s built, about 230 2cm 234/1s were completed by March 1945, about 90 Short 75mm 234/3s to Dec.'44, and about 90 long PaK 40 75mm 234/4s by April '45.

So known units to get the 100 50mm 234/2 Pumas were:

25 to 1.Kompanie/Pz.Afkl.Abt.130 of Panzer Lehr Div.
25 to 1.Kompanie /Pz.Afkl.Abt.2. of 2.Panzer Div.
16 to SS.Pz.Afkl.Abt.1 of 1.SS Pz.Div.
16 to Pz.Afkl.Abt.20 of 20.Pz.Div.
6 to 1.Kompanie/Pz.Afkl.7 of 7.Pz.Div.
The 12? remaining were thought to be issued to training units or Wa Pruef for testing. So this gives some scope for alternative marking options.


Whats in the box

2 Black Sprues of the Lower Hull/Running Gear parts (A Sprues = 27 Parts each)

1 Mushroom coloured sprue of Upper Hull parts (B Sprue = 31 Parts)

1 Mushroom coloured sprue of Turret parts (C Sprue = 8 Parts)

1 small decal sheet for 2 vehicles "415" & "1111" both in Normandy Summer 1944  (previously supplied in the Kagero 234 book)

11 Step instruction Sheet

Painting guides are provided for both vehicles in instruction sheet in b&w, while "1111" is shown in colour on the box top artwork and also in the coloured version of the painting guide on the back of the box too.

 At first glance the sprues look fairly sharp and well moulded, though some of the 93 parts appear perhaps a little heavy or simple in places with a tiny amount of flash here and there, but given the scale this is fairly excusable. Overall however, the detail and shape of the vehicle itself is very good which is perhaps the most important point. Detail can always be added or replaced, but its a major undertaking to correct major dimensional deficiencies, so thankfully Roden seems to have done a good job here.

 

Construction



Following the instruction sheet, the turret is assembled first. Fit of parts is reasonable, though there are gaps on the underside joins of both the turret ring plate and the mantlet plate with the turret itself, but as they are obviously hidden when the turret is on they are of no real importance. The attempt at an elevating gun with a ball joint is a little sloppy and is probably best just glued into place to ensure correct sit. The main gun muzzle brake needs to have its aperture drilled open, and theres a wafer of flash to remove from the LHS of the 'saukopf' mantlet itself. The raised ring around the coax MG opening is missing, while another small omission (like the larger 1/35th Italeri offering) is the oval gunner's sight hole on the LHS sloping face of the turret's mantlet plate which needs to be drilled in. The roof ventilator hole is also just moulded as a solid oval plate without its characteristic mesh grill. Sadly both the turret roof crew hatches are moulded shut, as are all hull visors thereby completely negating the basic interior included in Step 7 which is best bypassed altogether. However it indicates other family members are in the works, as do the rear turret bins for a 234/1 and the bike style seats from its turret basket which included but not for use. The 3 small curved lifting hooks on the turret sides are sadly not provided, nor are the square ones on the upper hull for that matter. The rear distance light under the rear LHS fender is also oddly absent.

The suspension is a bit fiddly due to the size of some small parts, but a fair effort has been made at allowing the 8 wheel steering to be workable which is a bonus. If choosing to depict it turned remember that following the Ackerman Principle the inner pair turn in a tighter radius to the first and last wheels. I found it easier to pre-attach parts 12 and 17A to the lower hull first than to try and keep the double wheel unit held together by them before attaching them to the side walls as suggested by the instructions. A nice touch is the first and last stowage bins being moulded with separate doors to display them open if so wished. The upper hull stowage and tool placement is straightforward with no problems encountered, though as I had selected "415" as the decal option I wished to do, from the only known photo of it, it is curiously without the 8 fender-mounted jerrycans, so these were thus left off on mine. The aerials are quite heavy and best redone in stretched sprue just keeping the base mounts.

The lower hull steering arms (parts 9A) didn't quite want to go where the sketch showed them sitting so they were placed as close as possible and hopefully won't be too visible under the chassis. The upper to lower hull fit was very good with no gaps or need to clamp, though I chose to do this before I fitted the fenders and I also added the fender stowage last after these were added to avoid damaging parts attached to them if done the way shown by the diagrams. The one area I did find needed some slight modification was the width of the under fender locker bins which I shaved down about a quarter mil on their inside faces to avoid them bowing the fenders out as they seemed a fraction wide, so best to dry-fit these and test carefully before gluing.

 
But otherwise no real problems were encountered. Overall the fit of parts was pretty good and it certainly looks like a Puma when its all together.

 

Painting and decaling


As mentioned 2 decal options are provided and both look fairly accurate for colour, size and shape. The first is "415 from an unknown unit in Normandy, though Stabskompanie of Pz.Rgt 33, of 9.Pz. has been strongly suggested by some as the uncredited recipient of perhaps 9 of the 12 missing Pumas from the list above - see http://www.network54.com/Forum/thread?forumid=47207&messageid=1017167346) for a fairly convincing argument. While the second is "1111" of Pz.Afkl.Abt.2. of 2.Panzer Div. also in Normandy mid 1944 - see http://www.network54.com/Forum/thread?forumid=47207&messageid=1063789037. Both appear to be in sprayed 3 colour schemes from the photos.

Conclusion

All up, despite its detail shortcomings, this is an enjoyable easy assembly job that can be knocked over in a lazy Sunday afternoon. While not a showstopper or a candidate for small scale kit of the year due to the odd omission or simplification covered, it is still a straightforward build that turns out a very well-proportioned and fairly well detailed 1/72 scale replica of the real thing. It is currently the best Puma on the market by far vs. the old Matchbox offering, though comparison with the new Hasegawa release should prove very interesting for fans of this vehicle in Braille scale. But judged on its own merits it is a very solid effort and I can recommend it without hesitation to those wishing to tackle this subject at the present time, and with a few tweaks and detail additions, it should prove to be a great little model of a quite futuristic looking vehicle for its day.

Parts not for use

A2x2, A8x2, A15x2, A20x1, A22x2, A24x2, B20x1

Many thanks to "Roden" for the review sample

Model and review © by James Blackwell


 

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