by: Vinnie Branigan [ ]
introduction The 234 series of vehicles, as most people know were ‘two-ended’, in that they had full driver’s stations at either end of the vehicle. This was as a result of the requirement for an integrated reconnaissance vehicle, these requirements having been drawn up in 1926/7 and calling for a vehicle that could be driven at speed both from the front and the rear. Although many different vehicles were produced, not all of them fulfilling all the requirements. The 234 which first appeared in 1944 was an attempt to rectify several areas that were seen as problems, one of which was the high silhouette of the Achtrad series as based on the Bussing-NAG GS chassis.
Four variants were produced, the 234/1 to 4. The 4 being the first release in the series form Dragon, this being the second. This variant has a low-sided, open turret, capable of being fully rotated, that housed a 2cm KwK 38 L/55 cannon, with a co-axial MG42. The vehicle had a crew of 4.
The kit I am at the stage now, where I know what to expect when I open a brand new kit from Dragon. It doesn’t stop me getting that little thrill though when I look at that Dragon Card on the top of all those lovely light grey sprues. This time around the card holds two photo etched frets, two decal sheets, two small transparent sprues, four brass width indicators, and a couple of weapons sprues. More on all of these later.
Also inside the box, as you’d expect you’ll find a comprehensive instruction booklet, two fairly large parts comprising the hull, 9 large sprues and 5 small sprues of light grey styrene, in addition to the two small sprues on the ‘card’ of course. Also as you’d expect these days with new Dragon products, there is of course, no flash whatsoever evident, and all parts appear beautifully detailed and moulded.
The two parts that make up the hull are from the 234/4 release, and exhibit some really incredible detail such as weld seams and something I didn’t notice on the original release, and had to go back to find….. on part of the hull that is moulded to represent a joined, bolted seam, Dragon have actually moulded the thickness of the two plates being joined…. Actually a seam running down the length to represent the two plates being joined…….incredible!
There is of course, like the 234/4 release, a full interior for this kit, which includes both driving stations, along with all the ammunition stowage necessary to this version.
Sprue B, of which there are three, is also the same as the earlier release, holding all the wheels, again showing some stunning detail, but yet again, slightly incorrect profile for the bottom wheel stabilizer. These sprues also offer a choice of hub, as in the 234/4 release. Again, as with the 234/4, all the wheels can be positioned with the removal of a small projection that keeps everything lined up correctly. Sprue D…..again the same, apart from the small projecting sprue on one end that held the Brackets that support the suspension slides. Dragon would have it that the 234/4 ones were riveted on whilst the 234/1 ones were welded on. I have scant references on this area, but in my opinion they were riveted on the 234/1 as well, so it will pay to seek out further references.
Sprue TF, a small one holding tools etc. is also the same, and apart from the decal sheet holding the ‘number jungle’ for the license plates, that’s where the similarity ends.
Both photo etched sheets contained in this kit are brand new. One hold inserts for the six jerry cans, a star antennae, and 10 hull lifting brackets. The other sheet holds the anti-grenade screens for the open turret, along with some other smaller details. The screens look really nicely done, although a little over-scale. New sprues include Sprue A, which hold a newly-tooled hull top and new fenders, which are the same ones offered in the 234/4 upgrade set from Cyber Hobby, i.e. the four-stowage bin type. The new hull top looks excellent, my only quibble being a slightly under-sized round cap on the left upper deck. This may be a fuel filler cap, I can’t discover just what it is exactly, but it’s not hard to replace with something the correct size.
The rest of the new sprues are of course, concerned with the turret and main armament. A small sprue J, containing the KwK 38 gun, and three other new sprues, C, holding various items for inside the crew compartment, K holding 2cm ammunition magazines and stowage racks for these which comes from an earlier 251 release, and sprue H which is the main one we’re interested in and hold the turret itself. Beautifully detailed, moulded commendably thin, this will build into a beautiful representation of the real thing.
This now brings to a major concern I have over this kit. Dragon have produced a beautiful turned brass barrel for the KwK 38, and include it in their Cyber Hobby release of the recent 251/23. Then to NOT include it in this kit, is to me, unfathomable. I can only conclude that it’s a matter of economics, and I really do hope that this is not a sign of things to come, whereby improved parts are produced and marketed separately from the main kit by the same manufacturer. We’ll see.
Marking Options There are two options provided for in the kit, both 1945, one in a winter scheme, Germany (25th Panzer Div.,) the other a 3-tone scheme, Austria, (6th Panzer Division.)
in conclusion This is probably the most wanted version of the 234 amongst modelers, and so Dragon have most likely produced another winner. Superbly moulded, full interior, the only thing it lacks is the turned brass barrel That Dragon have already produced for the Cyber Hobby 251/23 release. If they had included that it would have scored even higher. Recommended.
My thanks to Dragon for the review sample.