by: Jan Etal [ ]
Originally published on:
Designed as a replacement for the Sd.Kfz. 221, the Sd.Kfz. 223 was a reconnaissance vehicle based on the Sd.Kfz. 222 chassis and equipped with a long range FuG 10 radio. In the 223, the 222’s 2 cm cannon turret was replaced by a smaller version armed with a single MG-34. Mounted on the upper hull and projecting above the turret was a collapsible tubular frame antenna for the long range radio.
The four-wheel drive vehicle had a crew of three, was lightly armoured and weighed 4.3 tons. It was powered by an eight-cylinder engine producing between 75 and 85 horsepower. Top speed was approximately 50 mph (80 km/h) with a range of 175 miles (300 km). The vehicle was issued to the Panzerspähwagen squadrons of light, Panzer, and motorized infantry divisions.
Dragon Models have released a 1/72 Armor Pro 1 1 Sd.Kfz 223 Leichte Panzerspähwagen kit #7420.
The box contains two complete kits. Four sprues of styrene plastic, moulded in the standard Dragon light grey colour, are present. Two moderate-sized sprues are to be used to build one model. A Dragon accessory card carries a small sheet of Cartograph decals and two small PE frets, each containing the turret top anti-grenade screens. Also present is a six sided instruction card containing one page of sprue parts layout and four pages of build diagrams in the form of exploded view line drawings. The last page provides painting and marking options for three vehicles.
Looking over the sprues, one will see that the parts are moulded with extremely crisp and fine detail. There are no sink holes, and ejector pin marks are only present on areas that will be hidden after assembly. Flash is virtually non-existent, and the majority of moulding seam lines are light and should be easily removed with a scraping of a sharp hobby knife.
While an improvement in the size of sprue connection points (gates) is evident when compared to older kits, it’s still not universal with the parts in this kit. Many of the smaller parts have equally small gates to them. However, some parts, such as the radiator cover and the small turret, have larger connectors—and at awkward locations— that will require careful clean-up.
With only a couple of exceptions, the tools and external stowage are all moulded as individual pieces. Unfortunately, while separate pieces, the driver’s doors have no internal detail and possess a rectangular depression where a moulded-on storage box is present. The fighting compartment and turret vision ports, and the engine compartment hatches are all moulded-on. Other than a minimal amount of internal turret detail (seats and their supporting framework), there is no other interior detailing.
A total of 26 parts from the two ‘A’ sprues are unused, and relate to the 222 version of the vehicle. Included in this count are a pair of fabulously-moulded 2 cm cannon and their accompanying MG-34 coaxial machine guns.
painting & decals
The options for painting and markings are:
A Field Grey vehicle on the Eastern Front 1940 from an un identified unit
A Sand-coloured vehicle of the 21st Panzer Division, North Africa 1941
A Sand-coloured vehicle in North Africa 1942 (unidentified unit)
A full set of water-slide decals is provided for the Eastern Front vehicle. Unfortunately, while a good selection of decals is provided, markings for a second vehicle will prove frustrating for the majority of modellers. These others are provided for with blank white license plates and individual numbers and letters to make up your own. These are absolutely tiny and will prove awkward to place and line-up in this scale. I think that while one or two modellers will love this, more will find it very frustrating and look for an alternative option.
The colour references provided are for the GSI Creos Corp Aqueous Hobby Color, the same company’s Mr. Color and Model Master enamels.
What had, on first glance, appeared to be a simple and uncomplicated kit, proved instead to be quite troublesome. As with any kit, the builder should review the instructions thoroughly before starting construction.
In Step 1, a highly-detailed drive train (A5) is to be attached the hull bottom. The fit and positioning of this piece was absolutely perfect. The second part to fit was a tie-rod (A22) that has no features to assist in its proper positioning. Each end fits onto two fine lugs or pins, and care will be needed to achieve proper positioning. The last part in this step is a rear plate (A19) that, again, has no locating features. The builder will need to survey the drawings in the instructions to determine the final orientation of this part. For these types of parts, I used a gel type tube glue.
Step 2 sees further parts added to the lower hull. These include the hull doors, spare tire, various suspension arms and the wheels. It is here that the first anomaly in the instructions appears: the wheels are referenced as part A1 for the right side and A2 for the left. On the ‘A’ sprue, the wheels are numbered 1-4. It appears that all the wheels are identical and could be attached in any order or position.
During Step 3, the rear hull tow-hooks (A10, A11) and lower mufflers halves (A20, A21) are to be attached. Shallow depressions in the hull signify locations for the tow-hooks and, as they are very small, care will need to be taken with their handling. Attaching the mufflers during this step could lead to problems as they are meant to align and join with their moulded-on upper halves after the hull halves are joined. Waiting for their attachment until later still presents another problem: while there is a slightly raised line of plastic on the hull to show the muffler positioning, there is no other positive attachment feature to assist the builder with the exact location.
In Step 4, parts are attached to the front lower hull. These are the front bumper (A23), tow-hooks (A12, A 13) and a front plate (A18). As with the positioning of the rear hull plate earlier, the front bumper has no positive positioning feature.
Step 5 has the builder attach the upper hull to the lower, and then add various external details to the upper part. It is during this step that a significant error in the instructions occurs: there are no holes for attaching the frame antenna supports in the upper hull. Indeed, it isn’t until step 10 that the builder is shown that these holes should be drilled out from the inside. If one had already joined the hull pieces, then there would be a major problem, so do remember to drill them out first.
The fenders, lights and other external details are added to the hull in Steps 6, 7 and 8. It was during Step 6 that I attached the mufflers and other external details. Care will need to be taken with positioning certain parts as locating features (holes, pins, lugs etc.) are either very faint & shallow or nonexistent. It is during this step that the front Jerry can rack is attached. This rack is set far too high on the front plate. After checking a few sources, most images of 223 vehicles show this, or a similar rack, positioned lower and closer to the front bumper.
Construction of the turret is the focus of Step 9. To the purist, the turret interior is wrong and obviously an afterthought for the use of parts from the previous 222 kit. The 222 interior has two seats mounted on a somewhat central support that attaches to a crossbar piece running through the lower turret. The real 223 interior has only one bicycle-type saddle/seat mounted behind a turret-centred pillar. For the builder of this kit, the main problem is that the instructions are unclear as to how the interior should attach to the rest of the turret. Unfortunately, this author did not discover the issue until after greatly modifying these pieces to fit within the given space. In this kit the builder will find that the turret does not possess the “notch and tab” mounting feature of most Dragon turrets. Several small vertical ribs around the turret ring base act to create a press fit.
Construction concludes with Step 10 and the attachment of the anti-grenade screens and assembly of the frame antenna. The screens are photo-etched and can be assembled in the open or closed position. The frame antenna is a delicate, but finely-moulded five piece affair. Unfortunately, there is no provision made to depict the antenna in the folded or stowed position.
Construction of the antenna proved to be an exercise in patience. While the instructions show attaching the frame supports to the main antenna body and then to the vehicle, I chose a different course. I first worked on getting all the support arms to fit snugly in the upper hull. The holes that I previously drilled were not appropriate for the two front pieces. They required a more oblong shape to accept their mounting lugs. Careful trimming and shaping of each hole was required to get the proper fit and positioning. Avoid gluing these parts until everything appears correct.
This kit should produce a very nice model of the Sd.Kfz 223 reconnaissance vehicle. The fit of certain parts was as good as one would expect from Dragon. Having said that, the same cannot be said about the instructions. These are amongst some of the poorest that I can recall from this company, clearly a re-work of the 222 ones. Not just errors in numbering and part number anomalies, but the construction sequence opens up the potential for significant problems for the inexperienced if they don't read through the instructions thoroughly enough.
For an experienced modeller, these errors may not be too bad, but for those new to modelling or this scale, these are the sort of difficulties which won't help them enjoy the building experience. Even for a moderately-skilled builder, these issues could cause frustration. The assembly instructions could have done with some definite proof reading and testing by someone actually building the model from them, such as we've seen in this review. So while I am unimpressed by these instructions and lack of certain part locating features, I will still recommend this model of a rather unique subject.