by: Tom Cromwell [ ]
Produced between 1932 and 1937, the 231 and 232 6 Rad armoured cars served to rebuild the German army in the run-up to the Second World War. In the fashion of the time, these were based on available truck chassis from three companies – Magirus, Büssig-NAG, and Daimler-Benz. The basic frame and running gear had an armoured “coffin shape” body attached that was of welded design. To aid extraction from difficult situations, a second driver’s station was added at the rear of the crew cabin, but running a front-steering truck at speed in reverse must have been a real test even for a fork-lift driver!
The vehicle had three axles: the front was unpowered, and provided steering. The two rear axles were driven from a single prop shaft, and suspended from a single leaf spring on each side in a sort of see-saw set-up. These gave it a decent on-road performance and adequate hard-terrain capabilities, but the long gap in the middle, coupled with the unpowered front axle, limited the off-road performance on soft or deeply rutted ground. Attempts to fit a roller in the gap to prevent grounding were less than ideal.
Armament consisted of a 2cm KwK 30 L55 cannon, and a co-axial MG34 in a revolving turret. The 231 variant was a gun car, while the 232 version had a radio fitted for communication with headquarters. The aerial took the form of a distinctive “bedstead” frame mounted over the top of the vehicle, with a swivel joint over the turret so as not to limit traverse.
When war broke out the 6-wheelers were used in the invasion of Poland in 1939, and France in 1940. Afterwards they were withdrawn from front-line duties and reassigned to training units and internal policing forces in occupied countries.
Inside the box are 4 sprues with a total of 161 parts moulded in dark grey plastic. The moulding is good, with no flash and only a few sink marks or ejector pin marks to deal with. Unfortunately all of the lenses for the marker lamps have dimples in them that will need to be filled.
The hull is made up of two main castings onto which other details are added. The underside of the hull is solid, even around the moulded-on engine sump, but once the frame rails are added, this won’t be obvious. None of the edges has any weld detail, which is unfortunate, given the way these vehicles were made. But then there is little evidence in grainy period photos for the visibility of the necessary welds. The hull has two scribed joints that effectively divide the vehicle into three sections on either side of the turret– these are not really visible in photos, so may be a tad overdone. A thin bead of 0.010” plastic rod should make them shallow enough to be more realistic.
Underneath, the suspension and drive-train are effectively modelled. The real things were driven by the two rear axles only, as is the kit. The front wheels were mounted on a rigid beam axle, and Italeri has managed to make the steering workable! Given the complexity of multi-axle suspension, it would be advisable to get the three axles mounted with wheels added in one session so the whole thing can be stood on a flat surface to level before the glue sets. The wheels themselves represent the early version with two holes, while the tyres are very nicely-detailed with decent tread and raised side lettering. The only thing missing are valve stems.
The tools and other stowage are reasonable, but lack crisp detail, especially the clips. This is unfortunate, as Italeri have demonstrated elsewhere that they can do much better. And while the company gets points for modelling the spare tyre with its cover, they left it open-backed.
All of the hatches are separate parts, so in theory they could all be left open, but aside from gun breeches in the turret, there is nothing to see inside. Italeri released the same kit with supplemental resin parts to make up the interior as kit number 6445, but it retails for nearly double the cost. Most of the hatches have the complete hinge moulded on in the “closed” position, so some delicate surgery would be required to alter them to display in the open position. Also many of them have no detail on the inner face, especially the vision port visors. Besides, opening the hatches would reveal the over-thick walls of the kit– the real thing had no more than 15mm of armour at its thickest on the front, and only 8mm on the sides!
The main armament barrel is adequate, but could benefit from replacement with a turned metal one. The barrel of the machine gun is somewhat better. Both weapons have reasonable receivers to give detail to the turret interior, but neither has any ammunition. The resin interior set in kit #6445 does not appear to include any form of turret basket, which limits the accuracy if hatches are open.
Note that both Eduard and Voyager make photo-etch upgrade sets for the 6Rad that will certainly improve the hinges and visors.
Decals & Painting
Markings are provided for four vehicles – two in France in 1940, one in Poland in 1939, and a pre-war training vehicle. Given that these vehicles went to internal policing assignments after being removed from front-line duty in 1940, it would have been nice to have some markings for those versions.
This is the only game in town, and is actually not bad from the outside. The later release with the resin interior details is preferable if you are looking to buy, but as I found mine by chance, I had no choice in the matter. This kit is a must for the collector of 1:35 German vehicles.