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Roden 1/72 scale SdKfz 263 (8 rad)

Kit: No. 708
Scale: 1/72
Manufacturer: Roden, available from Squadron Mail Order, 1115 Crowley Drive, Carrollton, TX 75011-5010, 979-242-8663, www.squadron.com
Price: $9.95
Comments: Injection-molded, 100 parts, decals
Pros: Good subject, simple build, one-color paint schemes
Cons: Difficult wheel alignment, small parts too thick for the scale, some small parts damaged, defective decals
The SdKfz 263 (8 rad) Panzerfunkwagen [special motorized vehicle 263 (8-wheel) armored radio car] served the Wehrmacht on all fronts throughout World War II. They were similar to their six-wheeled siblings, so their designation numbers were the same, except for the "6 rad" or "8 rad" added to distinguish one from the other. All eight wheels were powered, and a complex linkage system was used so all steered as well. The vehicle could also be driven in either direction by simply flipping over the position of the steering column and seat. The transmission had six gears in both forward and reverse. Early versions of this car featured a frame aerial.

Roden's SdKfz 263 reminds me of the old Matchbox kits; the hull pieces are molded in light gray, while the running gear parts are molded in black plastic. Detail seems a bit light, all of the hatches are molded closed, and no figures are included. Decals are provided for three different vehicles. The instructions consist of basic exploded diagrams, adequate for such a simple kit.

Usually I like to leave wheels off the suspension to make them easier to paint, but they would not align properly unless they were attached to the lower hull right away. With the cement still soft, I placed the assembled lower hull on a sheet of glass and made sure that all eight wheels were in contact while the glue set. Once the suspension had firmed up, all of the main hull pieces were added.

I followed the rest of the instructions step-by-step, detailing the fenders next. Pictures of SdKfz 263s show a lot of variations in fender storage. The hull grab handles (15F, 16F) were too thick for the scale. I drilled small holes into the hull to accept the headlight mounts.

I cleaned up the tubular-frame antenna and repaired a broken cross-piece while the antenna was still on the sprue. Cleanup distorts the proper round cross-section of the frame, so "corrective cleanup" was needed, too. One of the rear mounting posts was broken, and another was badly warped; I replaced them with styrene rods. The collapsible post antenna (1B) was too thick.

With main assembly finished, I sprayed my armored car with a mixture of 70-percent Tamiya XF-63 German gray and 30-percent XF-8 flat blue for a nice Panzer gray. I brushed the areas where the decals were to go with Future floor polish, but the decals shattered and I had to find replacements in my spares box.

After an airbrushed coat of Polly Scale clear flat, I applied a wash of black and burnt umber oils, then dry-brushed with Panzer gray enamel lightened with white oil paint to "pop out" the details.

The finished model measures close to the dimensions in Duncan Crow's Armored Fighting Vehicles of Germany (Arco). It looks OK, but dedicated small-scale armor builders would want replace the out-of-scale details and add more of their own. The simple construction and one-color camouflage scheme allowed me to build it in 10 hours.

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