|DRAGON: Sd.Kfz.234/2 Puma|
At last....the Puma from Dragon!
The third in the range of 234 kits released by Dragon, is the Sd.Kfz.234/2 Puma, which seems to be the one everybody has been waiting for. This vehicle was an attempt to produce a vehicle mounting a Leopard 5cm gun turret onto the basic 234 series hull, and was actually put into production before the 234/1.
As with the two previously released 2324 series kits, the kit is immaculately presented. The usual Dragon 'card' is there, in this case holding two decal sheets, one of which is the generic license plate number sheet from the 251 series of kits, the other being fairly extensive. Also attached to the card are three small sprues of transparent plastic, consisting of vision blocks etc. There are four brass width indicators, and a photo etched fret which hold inserts for the jerry cans, a star antennae, and some other small brackets.
The hull top and bottom are packed separately into their own plastic bags for protection, and there are a further nine large sprues of grey styrene, and five small sprues of grey styrene.
The kit is obviously similar to what is provided in the earlier two releases, with the addition of a new sprue C that holds the new turret required for this version. The turret itself is moulded as a one-piece shell that sits over the base-plate after the gun and breech assembly has been completed and of course, it's all to dragon's usual standard of moulding! The Gun mantlet has the correct seam along either side, with a good cast texture, there are smoke discharger's included on the same sprue, along with a slide-moulded, two-piece brake which should leave no seam to fix, and appropriate hatches, all holding internal detail should you wish to leave them opened of course. The inside of the turret is a bit sparse compared to photographs of the real thing, but even with the hatches open, little will be seen and it will look 'busy' enough. Of course if figures are to positioned as well then nothing will be seen of this.
The running gear is extremely complex, so very careful following of the instructions will be necessary to ensure everything is fitted correctly. There is a small pip on each wheel which can be removed and will allow you to pose the wheels steered, but again, due to the complexity of the steering arrangement on this vehicle, careful examination of references will be necessary. Each tyre is in two halves, as on the other releases, with good tread detail, and although there is a noticeable gap when fitted together, this gap is supposed to be there, so don't try and remove it! I've seen at least one modeller go to great lengths to do this!
The lower hull is moulded as one large piece which then sits on the chassis, which itself is very narrow. This is highly detailed, the only thing I would have liked is separate escape hatches so that could have been modelled opened. There is a very fine pattern on the inside of the hull floor where appropriate, and the only thing missing from the inside of the hull are the ammunition stowage racks again, which may be released later by a certain aftermarket company! The upper hull fits over the lower like a glove, with the join being along the real weld seam, and this leaves no gap whatsoever, if the correct method is used to join them. Just hold them together, run some super-thin styrene cement into the gap and maintain the pressure until set. The detail inside the hull is excellent, apart from the ammunition racks of course, and the front hatch which is again detailed on the inside can be left open and the busy looking interior will look good, with full steering controls, both front and rear included. Decals are provided for the dash, but these will be almost invisible on the completed model. Also new to this kit is a new ammunition container for the fender, and a new fender stowage box. The ammunition box even has photo etched brackets included. The Cooling flaps over the engine are again provided in the open or closed position. The long fender stowage box can also be posed open but due to the thickness of the plastic, this will look completely over scale and is probably best left closed.
As in some of the 'Super' kits, some of the OV tools are supplied with and without clasps, and yet no photo etched clasps are supplied, so if you decide to use these you'll have to source them yourself, no big hardship, and a nice touch to have the option provided.
Four marking options are provided for in the kit:
The one everybody has been waiting for, and it lives up to expectations. An accurate, modern representation of a Sd.Kfz.234/2 Puma. Highly recommended.
My thanks to Dragon Models Ltd for the review sample.