Reconnaissance has always played an important role in any military success. The German High Command was always aware of the critical role that intelligence played on the battlefield. Because of its importance they determined quite early after the end of the First World War and the formation of the Reichswehr that a highly mobile reconnaissance, preferably under armor, would be a requirement on any future battlefield.
The Reichswehr went through a long teething process before they settled on a purpose built solution to the reconnaissance problem. Planning began in earnest around 1926-27 and finally came to fruition in 1933 with the Kfz. 13. The Kfz. 13 was never intended as anything other than an interim vehicle, as was the follow up vehicle series the Sdkfz 221/222/223 and the six wheeled Sdkfz. 231/232/263. It was not until the Bussing-NAG designed Sdkfz 231 (8 Rad), or 8 wheeled, series of vehicles appeared that the problem of a heavy vehicle for reconnaissance was solved. The designation is a bit of a paradox, both the 6 wheeled and the 8 wheeled reconnaissance vehicles carry the same designation, Sdkfz 231, yet they are completely different vehicles, having only the reconnaissance role in common. In order to make it somewhat easier to understand the extra designation of (8 Rad) was added.
The Sdkfz 231 (8 Rad) design was clearly a successful one, particularly during the early parts of the war. The German war industry used the chassis for a series of different vehicles and versions that remained in production up until the January 1945. Throughout that long process the chassis, armored hull, armament, and radio suite underwent numerous changes. Most changes were intended to meet the challenges of the increasing lethality on the modern battlefield but the efficacy of the design is borne out in the long and generally successful combat history of the German reconnaissance arm.
the kit AFV Club
has tackled the issue of reconnaissance with one of their latest releases in 1:35 scale; the Schwere Panzerspahwagen Sd. Kfz. 231 (8 Rad), early type. This is the first of what many hope will be a long series of models from our friends over in Taiwan. As is always the case, AFV Club has not skimped at all on detail and even the most rivet conscience among us should be happy. If you would like to see a video review of the kit please check out Jim Starkweather’s fine effort from back in December when the kit first began to hit our shores: Cracking the Box
I have always been a fan of the ‘recce’ bunch so when I was offered the chance to build the kit I jumped at the chance. I hope what follows will help to point out some of the issues and high points of the kit and the build. The build has been supplemented by my in-progress photography, but I’m not a real consistent photographic chronicler so some parts of the build are a bit short of visual backup; so before we get started let me apologize for that right up front!
The kit comes packaged in a standard opening two part box that is typical of AFV Club. The instructions are provided in a 16 page booklet that is for the most part well done with only a few issues of unclear parts placement, which I will point out as we get to them in the build. The kit consists of 6 full tan sprues, one small sprue with the upper hull. One separately packaged frame, a clear sprue for lights and periscopes, one small photo-etch sheet, a well printed decal sheet, 8 rubber tires, and a small vinyl sprue with the boots for the axles. All in all a well packaged set of what looks to be a beautifully molded kit! For a better look, really check out Jim’s video, it beats my still photography hands down.