The latest 15mm offering from the Plastic Soldier Company is the SdKfz 231 box set.
I say '231', but the set allows you to build any five vehicles from:
- the SdKfz 231 8-rad
- the SdKfz 232 (the one with the radiator aerial)
- the SdKfz 263 (command car, also with radiator aerial)
- the SdKfz 233 "Stummel" (the one with the gun)
Now I already have one SdKfz 231 8-rad (and a couple of 'obsolete' 6-rads) so what I was after was another two 231's and then three 232's to make up a six vehicle heavy armoured car platoon of the sort used in Poland in 1939.
Here's the five vehicles from the PSC box set:
Very nice models that are relatively easy to put together (see below for more).
One thing to note is that they are considerably shorter than a Battlefront SdKfz 231: about 0.5cm shorter, in fact. You don't really notice unless lined up next to each other and, anyway, my Battlefront 231 is a later model with the extra front and rear armour, so looks different anyway.
Putting Them Together
The assembly instructions come in the form of the usual picture-diagram guidelines. Below you will find a few extra hints that, let me assure you, will make your life a bit easier:
Part 3: Assemble Hub Top
I found that the turret knob didn't fit in the hole in the hull top, so I'd advise you to widen the hole a little bit before you glue it to the hull base. Just easier to do at this point than later.
I just stuck a knife in the hole and rotated it a few times!
Part 4: Assemble Lights etc
You can't really see this in the diagram, but the wider set of lights goes at the front i.e. in the plate with the pickaxe and axe on it. Makes a big difference, as it won't fit together if you get these the wrong way around!
Secondly, when you are clipping the plates from the sprue, make sure you clip or then carve the surface of the plate flush i.e. don't leave a little nubbin of plastic where you clipped it. The assembly at this point has zero tolerance for a not-properly-clipped plate. Zero!
Part 6: The Mudguards
The mudguards, the mudguards!
I am sure even the great Piers Brand now occasionally wakes from a fevered sleep shouting "the mudguards, the mudguards", as these are a complete pain to fit.
The basic problem is that the mudguard tabs fit onto an inclined surface, so if you try pressing them straight into place, the mudguard slips down the incline.
Okay, you think, I'll just glue them, then position them gently, then leave them to dry. Problem is, if you do that, then you generally get a loose mudguard: either at one or both ends or somewhere along the middle.
The trick is to turn the vehicle over. Where the star shape pipes are in between the wheel holders is the key to getting the mudguard to fit. That is a flat surface, albeit a small one, where you can hold the central bit of the mudguard in place for long enough for Superglue to bind.
So, put a little blob (little!) where the notch is at the end of each mudguard. Put a little blob of glue on each of the main tabs on the two main bodies of the mudguard. Put a blob of glue on the central bit, where you are about to apply pressure. Flip the vehicle, settle the mudguard in place, and hold the central bit in position, making sure the central tabs and ends of the mudguard are all lined up and flush too.
Now work out how to unglue your fingers from the assembly and you are done.
Note: leave the mudguards to fully dry before carrying on. If you don't, you'll only pop them off again when you are holding the vehicle in the later stages of assembly.
And yes, when you ignore me and they pop off...that is me saying "I told you so"!
Part 11: Aerial for the 232
Two things here. Firstly, the back aerial stand is the long legged one, not the short legged one. Small point, but worth making.
Secondly, if you are careful, you can build this so the turret still rotates.
Yes, you can!
I found that they key here is firstly to glue the tripod onto the turret. The diagram doesn't show this, but the side legs go just behind the widest part of the turret - literally just behind, I mean right just behind - and the front leg goes onto a little square etched into the centre of the top front of the turret.
Then glue the top of the back legs to the aerial. While the glue has some cohesion but is still drying, flip the radiator and glue the back legs to the front of the nubs on the rear hull. The diagram seems to have them on top of the nubs, but I couldn't get that to work, so fitted them just in front of them, resting on them in fact. Now just place the front hole on the aerial on top of the knob on top of the tripod, but don't glue it in place. You should then have a aerial that has solid back legs, but allows the turret to rotate.
I'm not sure how hardy this is going to prove to be, as the vehicles are yet to hit the tabletop, but they seem okay during the painting, basing, decal and varnish stages.
These are recommended. At effectively £20 for five vehicles, you can't go wrong, despite the sometimes annoying assembly.
I shall definitely be buying another box's worth to use as early Afrika Korps vehicles.