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Bronco Models
Sd.Kfz.221 Leichte Panzerspähwagen
(Chinese Army Version)

Bronco Models Kit No. CB-35022
1:35 Scale
Review by Terry Ashley

Bronco Models
Introduction:

The light armoured car Sd.Kfz.221 was developed in 1934 as a replacement for Kfz.13/14 and was based on standard heavy four-wheeled passenger car chassis (sPkw I Horch 801) with an armoured body with well sloped armour and small open top machine gun turret. Later models had the turret fitted with mesh wire covers for protection against hand grenades and shrapnel and was armed initially with the 7.92mm MG13 and later the 7.92mm MG34 machine gun.

Prior to Germany’s alliance with Japan a number of Sd.Kfz.221/222/223 vehicles were supplied to the Chinese Nationalist Army with the 221s being armed with the MG13 plus some local mods.

The Kit:

Following on from their initial release of the Sd.Kfz.221 Leichte Panzerspähwagen (kit #CB-35013) Bronco Models have released this earlier version as used by the Chinese Nationalist Army. This isn’t just the same kit with new decals but has the early style turret with slit vision ports as well as the earlier single driver’s and hull side vision port covers. Also included is a new set of early style tyres as used on the Sd.Kfz.221/222/223 series which are superbly done in “normal” plastic (more on these below).

As noted previously there were quite a few variations on the turret visor arrangements seen in photos, the initial prototype with four vision ports, some with unprotected vision slits, some with just two smaller visor covers on the side plates, with four smaller visor covers on the side and rear side plates (the kit configuration) and later types with four larger visor covers as used on the Sd.Kfz.222.

The kit consists of 212 parts in light grey plastic, 11 parts in clear plastic, 10 small springs (8 for the suspension and 2 for the gunner’s seat) and an etched fret with 40 parts as well as the colour instruction sheet and small decal sheet. The two formed brass fender width indicators from the first kit are not included in this kit.

Etched and metal parts
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Standard of plastic moulding is very good with clean crisp details and no flash present and only a few very small pin marks to contend with, there are the usual moulding seams to be removed and on some of the smaller parts this will need care.

Care will also be needed removing some parts from the sprues as the sprue attachment overlaps the part detail, this is especially noticeable on the hull doors where the sprue attachment overlaps the outer door lip recess and you have to take care removing this to not damage the lip. The smaller visors also have this overlap as do some other parts and this adds a bit of work to the cleanup process to ensure the parts are not damaged.

Example of overlapping sprue attachment
Bronco Models

Dimensionally the kit matches available data very well with the length, width and height equating to the dimensions shown in the Rayton Panzerspähwagen book to within fractions of millimetres and also matching the single side elevation 1:35 plan in the Panzer Tracts book to the same acceptable tolerances.

The kit includes interior detail for the driver’s station and Commander/gunner’s turret pedestal mounting as well as side wall storage to help fill out the insides if you leave the large hull side doors open.

Lower Hull:

The lower hull tub has internal floor tread plate and openings for the side entry doors and the lower engine detail included on the underside. The main chassis frames and all the suspension components are separate parts for good detail definition.

There are a few cross member parts to be added between the chassis frames and as these are fitted you also need to fit the upper suspension arm along with the chassis frames at each station but there is no need to glue these at this stage.

The front and rear transmission/differentials are in one piece that fits neatly in place without any trimming needed with separate steering arms and rods along with the four suspension units added, note these have two real springs for each unit that give an excellent appearance but take care not to loose these as they are quite small and slippery.

Leaving the upper suspension arms unglued as mentioned allows for easier fitting of the wheels at the later stages in construction with the overall appearance of the suspension units being very good, a pity the wheels hide most of this after assembly.

Other details added to the lower hull include the four tow hooks, the front tube bumper and the front and rear lower armour plates all of which fit without problems.

Included in the kit are five new early pattern tyres moulded in the same grey plastic as the kit and have the tyre tread section moulded as a single part. These are superbly done with very well defined early “chunky” tread pattern and apart from the sprue runner in the middle if the tyre there is no other cleanup required.

Added the tyre section is the separate main wheel rim/hub (with part of the tyre sidewall) as well as the inner mounting disc trapped in place by the rear tyre section, this allows the mounting disc to rotate freely so make sure you do not glue the inner disc. Detail on the wheel hub is very well defined if you choose not to add the triangular hub guards as seen on some vehicles.

Viewsw of the assembled wheels showing the excellent early tread pattern
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You should also note there are two different mounting plates (parts B4, B5) that go on opposing corners to mate properly with the steering arms so take care not to mix these up during assembly to avoid fitting problems with the wheels later.

There are different outer wheel rims for the opposing vehicle corners (parts G1, GA1) that go with the different mounting discs (B2/B4 and B3/B5) with the separate triangular hub cap for each wheel and these have thin mounting brackets with the hub detail still visible after the hub caps have been fitted.

A little care is needed when fitting the central wheel rim/hub into the tyre section to ensure the sidewall joins is as even as possible to reduce any sanding needed. I found it easier to glue the front section to the tyre first making sure the join is even and let the glue dry completely before added the rear section. This eliminates any tendency for the front rim/hub join being disturbed while fitting the rear section in place

Wheel assembly as per text
Bronco Models

A fifth spare wheel is also included with the same tread pattern as the main wheels and this is mounted on the right hull side.

Fitting the wheels will need a little care as you have to fit the upper and lower suspension arms onto the corresponding notches on the inner wheels hubs with the axle stub fitting into the wheel centre hole. The fit was a little loose with my wheels and you will have to make sure of the correct wheel alignment as the glue dries to avoid any problems.  

Still included in the kit are the later tread pattern wheels from the first kit but there are only enough rear tyre sections to make one set, the new early pattern or the originals so you don’t get a full set of spares.

Hull Interior:

As mentioned the interior floor has tread plate included and there is a separate rear engine bulkhead to blank off the engine compartment. The driver’s station is quite detailed with two part seat, four gear levers and the three driver’s foot pedals plus the angled steering wheel and for good measure the two floor mounted batteries are also included for a nicely filled out front compartment.

The two side bolted flanges are included as separate parts and there are also separate wall panels that hold a good selection of personal equipment such as stick grenades, meal tins, gas mask can, water bottles, 1 MP40 and a steel helmet. There is no ammo magazines included for the MG13 ammo and as the Sd.Kfz.221 carried 1000 x 7.92mm rounds these would have to be included.

The two side entry doors have additional internal latches and handles as well as separate outer hinges that allow the doors to be shown open if you wish to show off the interior details.

The upper hull shell has interior visor brackets, front driver’s instrument panel and some additional equipment added and the full interior should obviously be assembled and painted before proceeding to fit the upper and lower hulls parts together.

Upper Hull:

This is a large shell with openings for the front vision ports, turret ring and rear engine compartment access hatches and has subtle surface texturing and weld beads that should come up well with painting and weathering.

The rear top engine intake grill mesh is in two etched segments with the shape of the mesh matching photos of the actual mesh very well but there is a little work when adding these. The forward mesh segment just sits flush on top of the hull and lacks a little in depth perception while the rear mesh segment fits over the opening in hull top. This allows you to see right through into the hull insides and the actual vehicle mesh id hinged at the rear allowing this to be opened if required.

All the front and side visors are the earlier “flat” style, these also have separate rain guards for above the visors which incorporate the visor hinges and this allows you to position the visors open of closed as you wish. The side visors also have the small bullet splash guards underneath as separate parts while at the back all the engine access doors are separate parts that fit well to the hull openings. The two hull side hatches also have separate hinges allowing these to be positioned open although there is nothing inside but the option is there should we get an AM resin engine for the kit?

Before adding the remainder of the hull parts you join the upper and lower hulls together and there are small locating tabs on the inner edges of both to ensure proper alignment with the fit being very good without any trimming or filling required. There is a small lip between the two when joined but this should be there so don’t be tempted to smooth out.

Other hull details include the side turn indicators which are very fine and require care in handling and the rear mounted exhaust pipes made up of six parts each with just the fine join line between the muffler halves to be eliminated after gluing.

The front head lights are also separate and have alternate clear plastic lenses or solid blackout slit covers depending on your choice with the early round horn added to the left side light stalk. The large left side storage box is a single moulding with moulded on latches and while it does the job okay will probably be replaced in the inevitable etched detail sets to come for the kit and there is the external fire extinguisher mounted just behind the storage box.

The Jerry cans are still included from the first kit but are not used on the Chinese version so can be used as welcome spares for other projects.

The fenders are moulded with quite thin edges and don’t look over scale at all with the fit to the hull also good not requiring any trimming but ensure you get the fender contours between the upper and lower hull angles positioned correctly or it may seem there are gaps.

There are numerous etched parts added to the fenders for the underside support brackets, rear mud flaps and latches on the small storage boxes added to the rear of the front fenders. Other items added to the fenders are the fire extinguisher, two part jack with mounting brackets moulded on and the rear mounted boxes with the number plates and tail light.

The front pennant holder is an etched part and plastic width indicators for the front which are moulded quite thin and have the correct bend in the stalk. The small rear view mirror is added to the left stalk but note the Notek light was not fitted to the Chinese 221s.

All the pioneer tools provided have their mounting clips and brackets moulded on and again the inevitable etched sets will probably have these as separate items to add to the detail.

Turret:

This is a fairly simple affair with the upper turret shell with the correct 9 sides (not 7 as stated in some references) and a separate lower turret ring with the correctly proportioned turret side segments.

The two side vision slits are just engraved and opening these up fully may give a better appearance but make sure you don’t make them too wide in the process. There are also fine moulding seams around the slits that will need to be smoothed out.
The top mesh guards are provided as fine etched parts, if you show the mesh covers open there should be inner wire braces added which can be seen in any reference photos of the turret mesh.

Also included is the full turret pedestal mounting which includes the ammo feed box and five part seat with real springs for the seat. The large V mounting braces are also included and the MG mounting and I found it easier to glue the assembled pedestal to the turret ring before fully assembling the turret later to ensued it is aligned correctly. While the basics for the pedestal mounting are provided there are additional smaller fittings that can be added if you have the references for this with the Ryton book having some excellent shots of the pedestal mounting both attached and separate to the turret.

The fit of the turret shell to the lower ring is a little sloppy with some gaps but as these are hidden out of sight under the turret are not really an issue and the turret ring has two small notches that just “clip” over the hull turret ring to allow turret rotation. To remove the turret you just lightly press on one side of the turret and the clip pops out allowing the turret to be removed but take care as the pedestal and seat is a tight fit through the turret ring.

Another small issue is there is a small locating pin on the bottom of the pedestal that is supposed to fit into a corresponding indentation in the floor plate but this did not line up correctly on my kit although this is not really an issue as you can’t see this after assembly in any case. Just cut off the small locating pin on the bottom of the pedestal and the turret with pedestal sits neatly in place but slightly offset from the floor moulded ring.

Armament provided is a nicely moulded MG13 with separate magazine and rear stock and separate bipod if needed. The dimensions of the MG13 match available data and the barrel has fine indentations for the cooling holes. It also includes the flash suppressor cone fitted to some MG13s and this needs to be drilled out for a better appearance.

MG13 included
Bronco Models

Instructions:

These are in colour with conventional exploded view B&W line drawings and are very clear and easy to follow with the painting colour for some parts called out during the construction sequences. The steps are clearly laid out and are quite easy to follow but as normal you should carefully study the sequences before any gluing.

Decals:

The decal sheet is nicely printed with good colour register and carrier film cropped close to the printed image to reduce silvering and includes a selection of Chinese Nationalist stars and unit markings.

The sheet has markings for three vehicles all in overall German Grey but one option is for a German 221 and while the illustration shows to use the later visor covers from the first kit these are not actually included in the kit. You could make an early German 221 but no German decals are included although it wouldn’t be a problem finding these.
  • Option 1: Sd.Kfz.221 Chinese Army Version
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  • Option 2: Sd.Kfz.221 German Army Version
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  • Option 3: 48th Armoured reconnaissance battallion, Chinese Army, Nanjing, 1937
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Clear parts
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Conclusion:

This is another very well done kit of the earlier version of the Sd.Kfz.221 with good clean mouldings requiring little cleanup and excellent fit of the parts for a relatively easy build. The dimensions including turret are spot on leaving only very minor issues if any but of course as with any kit there is scope for the finer details to be added.

The interior has all the basics for the driver’s station and turret pedestal mounting even though it’s not easy to see after assembly it allows you to leave the hull side doors open in a diorama setting to show off the details.

The standout feature of the kit is the superbly done early pattern tyres which gives the vehicle a distinctive look from the “standard” later pattern wheels. These wheels will also be released as separate set #AB3518 shortly for those wanting to use these for an early 222 or 223 model.

Very highly recommended

See the Sd.Kfz.221/222/223 Subject page for reviews of other items for the 4Rad Series.

The Sprues:

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Detail Images
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References:
Book

Panzerspähwagen

Uwe Feist and Robert Johnson
Ryton Publications
ISBN: 1-930571-30-5

Hard Cover
150 pages

Squadron

Panzer Tracts No.13
Panzerspaehwagen Armored Cars Sd.Kfz.3 to Sd.Kfz.263

ISBN 0-9708407-4-8

Schiffer

German Light Reconnaissance Vehicles
By Horst Scheibert
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
ISBN 0-88740-522-3

Soft cover
48 pages black & white.

Book German 4 Wheeled Armoured Cars
Ground Power Magazine
#63 - 8/1999
GALILEO Publishing Co.,Ltd.

Thanks to Bronco Models for the review kit.




Page created July 2, 2009