Hey, it’s everybody’s favourite dinky WW2 recce vehicle, and while I had one of the smaller SdKfz 221s it was high time I built up these two plastic kits I’ve had on the shelf gathering dust.
The SdKfz 222
If you’re reading this blog you’re probably familiar with the vehicle already. Unfortunately the Germans weren’t very keen on giving their recce vehicles snappy names, so this iconic machine is stuck with a name that looks as if the cat has just walked across your keyboard.
Armoured recce was never an afterthought to the Wehrmacht, and when they started to re-arm in the 1930s they knew that the new panzer arm would be useless without its eyes, the armoured recce battalions. Their first attempt was to simply slap an open-topped armoured body on the civilian Adler car, and while that was better than nothing they needed a dedicated 4WD military vehicle.
The result in 1932 was the SdKfz 221, and it was then followed three years later by its bigger, better armed and more powerful brother, the SdKfz 222. The 222 took the 221 as an obvious starting point, but was a new design with a revised body shape. The earlier MG got dropped in favour of a 20mm autocannon. Although limited to only 15-round box magazines the new gun would give the vehicle much more range and allow it to destroy enemy recce vehicles and softskins. A coaxial MG was fitted for protection against infantry. Both guns were mounted in a rotating mount bolted to the vehicle floor. Rotating the mount rotated the small open-topped turret (and not vice versa as on most vehicles). This meant that the pedestal mount took up a lot of internal space but gave some advantages, keeping the turret profile very low and allowing the 20mm to elevate very high and be used against aircraft.
The rear-mounted petrol engine kicked the 4 tonne vehicle along at a sprightly 80km/h on road and the 4WD gave good off-road performance. Crew was three men: driver at the front, gunner and commander in the turret.
222s could be found wherever the panzer divisions fought, although towards the end of the war they were phased out in favour of the SdKfz 250 which had better off-road mobility. They could still be found in front-line units right up to the end of the war, but were increasingly relegated to route security and anti-partisan duties.
The 1/48 ICM Kit
ICM seem to be a Ukrainian company, and you can pick these 1/48 SdKfz 222 kits up fairly cheaply online. As expected, it’s on the fiddly side compared to wargaming models, but there wasn’t anything in the build that set my teeth on edge. You should have no problem building one up in an evening even if you take it slowly.
Why would you buy a display model instead of a “wargaming” one for this vehicle? In a word: the screens on the turret. This kit includes photoetched brass screens for the turret and the air intakes on the rear deck. A resin wargaming model such as Warlord‘s one will have solid (metal?) screens that you can sort of paint to look like mesh, but the photoetched parts on this kit are much, much better looking. Plus, it’s cheaper. So for the sake of a little bit extra build time you get a better result for less money.
What I would advise doing though is reinforcing that brass mesh. Obviously its quite soft, so I cut out some clear plastic from an old blister pack and, using the brass part as a template, cut and bent a piece of plastic to reinforce the thin brass.
I actually already had one turret made up and painted, I built it ages ago so that I could make an SdKfz 250/9. So I built another one and both hulls. Both have plenty of detail on them, especially the automotive gubbins underneath, but it’s done with very few parts so isn’t a hassle. Fitting the twin exhausts was slightly fiddly, as was assembly of the gun, mount and turret, but nothing too serious. I’d strongly suggest painting everything inside the turret before assembling it. You’ll never get in there afterwards.
The kit doesn’t include any crew. I grabbed a couple of torsos from an old Warlord plastics sprue and slapped some heads wearing caps on them. A bit of cutting and filing later I managed to squeeze them into the turret, and you can’t even tell that they’ve only got one arm between the two of them. Sorry lads, but there just isn’t enough room in there for an arm each! The other turret I built earlier will have to do without, I’d never be able to shoehorn them in now.
All up I was very impressed with the quality of the kit from ICM. I only removed one tiny bit of flash from the muzzle of the 20mm, and everything fit together nicely. I was less impressed with the decals included in the kit. While you get lots of choice they are, to be blunt, crap. They’re very soft and tore easily when trying to place them. I normally don’t struggle at all with decals, so it’s not me being hamfisted. I ended up using decals from other kits for many of them.
I also seem to have robbed the headlights from the sprues for the SdKfz 221 I built a while back, so one hasn’t got any. Not to worry, it’s always easy to conceal that sort of thing on vehicles, just slap on cam nets or foliage! I haven’t done foliage for a while, so I added some sprigs of seafoam dipped in flock.
Painting was my usual recipe: spray basecoat in the basic colour, paint camo and other details, stick on the decals, black ink pinwash followed by an all-over wash with Army Painter Strong Tone ink to dirty them up and apply some shading. Then drybrush highlight in a much lighter tone to pick out all the edges, before weathering with paints and the excellent Tamiya weathering powders. I didn’t go too mad with stowage on these, most photos I’d seen showed fairly unencumbered vehicles.