The 234 was the final model in the 8-rad series of German Armoured reconnaissance vehicles, and the 234/4 armed with the 7.5 cm Pak 40 L/60 was essentially a Tank Hunter, rather than a vehicle used purely for defense in a reconnaissance role.
Although the box art is not up to Dragon's usual standards, the contents are! Firstly the 'Dragon Card', which usually has all the 'goodies' attached to it, and is no exception in this new kit! On it you'll find a small styrene sprue, containing Bosch headlights and jacks, a small photo-etched fret which holds Jerry can inserts, a small sliding shield insert for the PaK 40 Shield, and assorted brackets, and a choice of rings for the muzzle brake. There is also a small clear bag containing 4 brass width indicator poles in two lengths, 3 decal sheets, and of course, an aluminium barrel.
Underneath the 'Dragon Card' you'll find 13 sprues in Dragon's usual light grey styrene, and a small clear sprue, plus a two-part lower hull. The sprue containing the parts for the PaK 40 gun and breech mechanism (B) are the sprue from Dragon's earlier PaK 40 (#6250), as is the styrene 2-part shield (D), and the ammunition sprue (C). Everything else appears to be brand new.
Sprue A contains the upper hull moulding and fenders, which have no central storage lockers, although a conversion set for an early type with the central lockers is available through Cyber-Hobby. The moulding on the upper hull is, as expected, immaculate. All hatches and vision slots are moulded separately, apart from the engine access hatches, although the ventilation louvres can be modelled opened or closed. The Driver's hatch opening even has bolt detail moulded around it's edge.... on the inside! Since this cannot be seen, even by the most dedicated contortionist, it just goes to show Dragon's attention to detail with their latest releases.
Sprue B contains the axle assembly's and wheels, and jerry cans. The wheel hubs are done nicely, and also allow for two different variants or even a mixture of the two types, which is farly common in photographs of the type. All the eight wheels are fully postionable, which is extremely useful for placing the vehicle in a diorama setting. As mentioned earlier, there are separate PE inserts for the Jerry cans, although only 6 of these are provided, when there are 9 styrene Jerry cans included, so it would have been nice had Dragon included the extra 3 etched inserts on the fret.
Sprue C holds an assortment of parts, but mainly contains parts for the hull superstruture, and a newly tooled PaK 40 mount, plus assorted ammuniton lockers, brackets and fittings for inside the vehicle. The main ammunition locker can be shown closed or open with a full load of ammunition
Sprue D is also associated with the running gear. The construction of this looks highly complicated, and it is........ but works beautifully! I assembled all the running gear, mainly due to the fact that it looks so different when compared to the earlier Tamiya offering of yesteryear. It does, as I've said, work beautifully, however, the profile of the lower suspension unit arm looks slightly simplified, and there is some bolt detail missing, however, I'm sure this will be easy to add with a punch and die set. This sprue also contains the driver's seats, which exhibit rear sprung detail, in much the same way as the 251 Dragon kits.
Sprue E also contains an assrtment of parts for different areas of the vehicle. There are for example MP40's with brackets for inside the vehicle, a newly-tooled MG42, engine louvres, open or closed, and highly-detailed steering wheel assembly's. There are also a lot of fittings for inside the vehicle, including a nicely moulded transmission for the crew compartment floor. Even the driver's foot pedals, either end of the crew compartment are well done, and possibly the best I've seen in injected styrene.
There is also a small sprue (W) of clear styrene, containing parts for the spare vision blocks and the vision slot mechanism themselves.
The 'other' sprue B conating all the parts for the PaK 40, has a choice of muzzle brakes, as with the original PaK 40 release, and the breech can be positioned open with a shell partly inserted. unlike the instructions for the original PaK40, the instructions now show how to correctly assemble the gunslide mechanism!
Since the vehicle is open-topped, most of the inside will be visible. Although I have no doubt that aftermarket sets will become available, straight out of the box there is plenty already supplied to make it look busy. The escape hatches on the lower hull sides could have been supplied separatley without too much trouble..... but there's not too much left wanting with this one.
There are 3 small decal sheets supplied in the kit. The first is the generic number plate sheet from Dragon's 251 kits, with which it should be possible to make up virtually any combination of wermacht license plates. the second is a nice set of decals for the PaK 40 ammunition cases, again seen before in the PaK 40 kits. The third and smallest sheet contains two balkencreuz, and a set of number plates, along with dial decals for the dashboard. There is also a 'Blucher' with a small shamrock, which are needed for one of the two options offered, both unidentified units, one from the Western front, the other from Prague, both 1945. The Western front example represented in a two-tone camouflage scheme of red brown and dark yellow, with the 'Prague' scheme represented as a three-tone scheme of red brown, dark green and dark yellow.
I can highly recomend this kit! It's a beautifully tooled kit, that will look magnificent even built straight out of the box!
Many Thanks to Dragon
for the review sample Dragon Models Limited