I want to build a clean, early version, so I won’t be using the Zerschellerplatte. I also won’t be using the pennant mounted on the mudguard or the width-sensing antenna as these often weren’t fitted and the versions provided with the kit are way too bulky.
I generally start any armour kit build by drilling out the main gun, but there is no need for this here as the slide-moulding technique allows the tiny bore for the KwK L/55 autocannon to be moulded open – hurrah!
Construction begins with the assembly of the parts of the turret and fit is very good indeed – no filler is needed at all.
Then it’s on to the drive, suspension and steering parts on the underside. These are very detailed and it’s a pity most of this won’t be seen on the finished model. The instructions are generally helpful, but it makes sense that you do a dry fit first. Essentially, you’re building two, four-wheel bogies, each with its own leaf-spring suspension, drive and differentials.
I painted everything before assembly, just because actually getting at some of these tiny areas later will be a problem. It actually takes a couple of tries to get the assembly right. I found the right order was to fit the leaf springs and connecting rods first, then the main suspension arms with differentials and prop-shafts, then the steering arms. It’s important to get the main suspension arm assemblies the right way round – there are tiny holes near each hub where the steering arms fit. On the forward bogie, these must face backwards and on the rear bogie they must face forward. It’s possible to assemble these 180˚ out of position – guess how I know that?
There is nice detail here, but I haven’t spent a great deal of time on painting because unfortunately, most of it won’t be seen when the model is done. I’m leaving the wheels off for the moment as I want to paint these before fitting.
Painting the tyres is the usual pain – the cocktail stick method is easiest, but as ever, it’s fiddly. I want to actually finish painting the wheels at this stage because they’ll be partly covered by the mudguards when assembled. Once the tyres are painted, the wheels get a coat of clear varnish before I apply some acrylic wash to represent dust on the wheels and tyre treads. I also paint the lower hull using Vallejo Panzer Grey, where it will be hidden by the mudguards.
I fit the wheels and I’m delighted that these sit nicely, with no gaps and no wheels in the air. However, the fit of the wheels on to the spindles is loose, so some care is needed while the glue is setting to make sure everything is aligned and straight.
Next, the mudguards. I have filled the holes for the width antenna and the pennant with Tamiya putty but otherwise it’s just a case of assembling as per the instructions. I also paint the mudguards and the various boxes and other items on the mudguards before assembly, just because this is easier before they are attached to the hull.
I then attached the various vision slots and other stuff to the upper hull before joining this to the lower hull. Either the upper or lower hull is slightly warped and the parts have to be clamped while the glue sets, but the final fit is very good. Then I attach the frames to the upper and lower hull. This is really fiddly and not made easier by the fact that the two holes on the left-hand upper hull just aren’t there. I didn’t notice until I started assembly, and I had to drill these out to get everything to fit. The tiny lamps and the rectangular plates that fit in the same area are also very, very tiny and I lost one of the lamps to the carpet monster.
When basic assembly is done, everything gets a coat of Vallejo Panzer Grey. I think the colour of this paint is good, with just the right amount of blue, but it has a tendency to separate once a small quantity is placed on a palette. If you don’t constantly re-mix, you get a streaky finish. This paint also seems to be very soft – any handling at all, even when it’s completely dry, takes the paint off high spots.
Then I add some fairly subtle highlights to small items that would catch the light with a lightened mix of the base grey. Then I add the two decals to the hull and to the number plates. Once this is dry, everything gets a coat of matte clear varnish and then it’s on to adding some depth to the shadows using Abteilung Oils Dark Mud, a dark grey. However, I’m not happy with the result, so I try again, this time with an even darker Prussian Blue oil for shadows and a lighter colour to give some streaks to the hull.
And here’s the finished result.
After Action Report
This was a fiddly build. The model itself is tiny and there are lots of very small parts and getting all these in position and aligned takes time. Most of the detail (and almost the majority of parts!) are unfortunately on the underside of the vehicle where they won’t be seen.
However, the quality of moulding and the fit of parts is very good indeed. No filler was needed anywhere and the only minor issue I found was that the mounting holes for the sidebars were missing on the upper hull on one side. Overall, this is a very high-quality kit that builds into a decent representation of this iconic armoured car. If I have one small reservation it is that the tyres are moulded completely circular, and I can’t help feel that they would look better if they were moulded with a flat spot at the bottom, as done on many current aircraft kits.
There are other options available in 1/72 and I haven’t tried any of those but I can’t imagine that they are materially better than this. If you want to model an Sd. Kfz. 231 in this scale, I can strongly recommend this kit.