by: Darren Baker
ICM do try to get the most from their moulds and this release is most definitely in that vein. This offering from ICM offers the Panhard 178 in its life after the German occupation of France, the Panhard 178 being renamed the Panzerspähwagen P204 (F) and used in policing duties of occupied territories as well as in front line operations. There were 190 Panhard 178’s captured by German forces a number of these were also newly produced vehicles and reused by both the Wehrmacht and Waffen SS units, as such this opens up a lot of choices for the modeller. The Panhard 178 was considered one of the best armoured cars of its time and so it is of little surprise that the German forces made use of these vehicle, some were even used during Operation Barbarossa were they suffered heavy losses. In addition to the Panzerspähwagen P204 (F) ICM has also included their German Armoured Vehicle Crew 1941 – 1942, a figure set that is appropriate for this vehicle and its time.
The contents are provided in two re-sealable plastic bags with a third bag containing the tyres for the model packaged with the vehicle sprues. Examination of the parts reveals no obvious concerns as regards moulding issues; however the largest sprue has become bowed due to the method of packaging the sprues. There are some ejector pin marks that will need to be tackled depending on how you wish to display the model. Finally there are some flow marks present on some of the mouldings, but these do not look or feel to have caused any issues with the mouldings where present.
The Panzerspähwagen P204 (F)
The model is provided with a crew interior and engine bay by ICM. The engine bay is reasonably well detailed and with some added wiring and piping plus of course some well weathered painting will result in a pleasing aspect of the model. I only have one book covering the Panhard 178 and this does not show any interior images but does have a few schematics to look at. I also searched Google images and was surprised not to find any images of the interior there either. All I can say is that the engine looks good and is correctly placed and orientated according to my available reference.
The crew compartment of the vehicle is also correctly laid out, but again interior reference is like hens teeth to find. The floor has a nicely detailed anti-slip surface and matches schematic drawings of the interior, but these of course do not show physical detail. The vehicle did have a driving position at both ends of the vehicle and this has been correctly detailed in the model as regards position. The rest of the interior appears to be logically laid out, but I cannot comment on its accuracy one way or the other. I do like the detail provided in the form of ammunition storage for the main gun and a large number of drum magazines for the machine gun.
The exterior of the vehicle has a very nice level of detail that is supported as accurate by my reference. There is a host of rivet detail provided by ICM with this release and so far as I have been able to verify is correctly placed, no I did not count them before you start on me. I was able to see that some rivet detail is missing from the rear of the vehicle below the mudguard, but I believe this may be because the storage boxes are missing on my reference vehicle. I am particularly impressed with the vision hatch for the rear driving position which has been nicely detailed on both faces. I will say that ICM has failed to make it clear that this hatch can be displayed open if so desired. The drivers hatch at the front of the vehicle is also very well detailed inside and out and ICM has again failed to advise the modeller that it can be depicted open or closed.
I spent a good number of hours checking my reference against this exterior of this model and I am very impressed with what ICM has provided. I did manage to find some errors or more accurately potential issues with accuracy. On the left side front behind the mudguard ICM has you pace a flat blanking panel, but my reference shows a substantial ‘U’ shaped hoop that was provided in order to help the crew add branches to camouflage the vehicle, I was not however able to find any other examples of the bracket in place. The split vented engine access panel is missing the handles used to lift them, but these can easily be replicated with some wire. The front lights provided are shown in the combat position (parts A13 and 14).
The turret of the vehicle is very well detailed on the outside to the extent that I could not find fault with the exterior detail. The hooks on the rear of the turret sides need some refinement when checked against reference, but most people will never know. The rear access hatches of the turret can again be left open, but again ICM has not said anything about that aspect and on this occasion detail on the interior is minimal and will need to be improved. This is also true in my opinion of the turret interior where detail is restricted to the rear of the machine gun, main gun, seats for the crew and an unknown panel. Now I suppose that it is possible that no other detail is present here, but the interior portion of the periscopes should at least be present. The one detail I would really like to replace is the barrel of the main gun; it is accurate in look but the fact it is split in two halves is something that should be confined to history now.
The wheels of the model are accurate for the type that does not have the loops fitted for chains. The tyre tread is accurate for one of the Michelin styles used on the vehicle.
German Armoured Vehicle Crew 1941 – 1942
A look over the sprue covering the figures does not cause me any concerns at this time. The mouldings are all very clean, even the seam lines are all but invisible to the naked eye. The four crew figures supplied are for the most part very relaxed, but one of them drew the short straw and got the job of lugging round a jerry can, perhaps to top up the armoured car.
All of the figures are broken down in the usual manner of injection moulded figures; a torso with separate arms and legs, the figures in this set also all have separate heads. Each of the figures has also been provided with a holster for a side arm, this is nice to see included as it seems all too often to be forgotten.
ICM has listed these figures as early war period of 1941 – 1942, but I fail to see what ties them to this early war period. The side caps worn by the figures offered here were worn right through to the end of the war. The uniform was also worn for the duration of the war as far as I can see and so this set can be used for most settings during World War 2.
The crease detail present on the uniforms looks very natural for injection moulded plastic figures. The detail will be difficult to bring out during the painting process due to the dark monotone colour of the uniform, but with careful modulation of the colours these figures have a lot of promise. The facial details of these figures are again very good for injection moulded plastic, and while resin heads can be utilised it is not completely necessary. The hands are also worthy of praise, but it looks as if one of the figures stood upright with one hand on the other may have a cigarette in the hidden hand.
The stances presented to us by ICM with this offering hold a lot of appeal. The standing figure has perhaps the least appeal to me, but it does have uses. The figure carrying the jerry can is a nice inclusion even if it is not a unique pose. The figure depicted sitting in an open hatch will always be a popular offering due to the mix of possible uses. It is however the last figure that makes this set one to seek out; this is a seated figure leaning forward and playing with a cat, this is a fantastic figure for a story centre piece.
The Panzerspähwagen P204 (F) is an excellent model that offers a huge amount of detail for a very reasonable price. Careful examination against reference enabled me to find a few minor issues with the model, but I was unable to find any serious issues with the exterior of the model. The interior of the vehicle was an area where I am unable to verify most of the detail present beyond the location of major elements. The figures are an excellent inclusion with a lot of positive aspects for use on this vehicle. the stances provided allows all of the vehicles to be used together and tell little elements of a story or they will just attract the eyes of viewers to areas you want them to look at.