Italeri 1/48 Sd.Kfz 234/2 "Puma"

KIT #: 6601
PRICE: 14.00 Euros
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Pierre-André Boillat
NOTES: A welcome “first” in that scale


The Sd. Kfz. 234 family of eight-wheeled armoured vehicles were the successors of the previous, successful 232 series, with improvements in matters of armour, motorization and ease of production. The resulting series would turn out to be WWII’s finest reconnaissance armoured vehicles and would inspire similar designs in many countries, until our days.

 The series consisted of the reconnaissance Sd.Kfz. 234/1 (the most numerous), equipped with a “Hängelafette” open turret and a 20mm cannon, the open-topped 234/3 infantry support armed with a short 75mm gun, the (equally open-topped) 234/4 tank hunter with its PAK 40 AT gun, and the most famous of the lot, today’s subject, the 234/2 “Puma”.

 The Puma’s most recognizable feature is its turret, taken from the cancelled VK 1602 “Leopard” light tank, which itself should have been a successor to the “Luchs” (lynx) reconnaissance tank, but proved too complicated and expensive to produce for too little an improvement.

 This well-designed, streamlined turret was armed with a 50mm KwK 39/1 L/60 high-velocity gun that was more than enough to deal with enemy light tanks and could hurt much heavier foes. Add the Puma’s sloped armour and whooping top speed of 85 Km/h (53 mph) – in forward and reverse gear, as it had two driver positions – and you got an armoured vehicle that had to be taken seriously by any adversary.

 Only 101 Sd. Kfz.234/2 Pumas were produced between September 1943 and September 1944 (the other versions were easier to produce, though less effective in the vehicle’s intended scouting role), to the chagrin of the shrinking Panzer divisions which could never get enough. As a result, the few, precious existing ones were treated with utmost care and did distinguished service until War’s end.


This is Italeri’s third military vehicle kit in 1/48, and the very first Puma in that scale. As the company had produced nice 1/35 models of the whole 234 series during the eighties, my impression is that this one is a scaled-down version of its larger ancestors.

 When you open the box, you’ll first be surprised by the size of the thing. The Puma was not a small vehicle – in fact, it was larger than many medium tanks. Once finished, it makes a rather majestic impression even in quarter scale.

 Moulding is crisp with almost no flash to speak of, and the presence of basic interior detail (which isn’t needed here) shows that the rest of the family is likely to follow some day. Surface detail and small parts are a tad below Tamiya standards, but decent enough in my opinion (by the way, the famous Japanese company is going to release it under its own name). Part count is reasonable, fit is more than OK, the result being a beautiful kit that assembles in one week-end if you wish so.

 Decals are provided for four vehicles which sport different camo options, one being plain sand yellow (which is good if you have no airbrush).


As said above, fit is good and no putty was necessary, though the rather soft plastic required the lager parts to be taped together while the glue dried. As usual, I built the kit in sub-assemblies (wheels, body, turret) to facilitate painting, and left the small gear (jerry cans, tools, rear-view mirrors etc) for the end. The wheels are plastic, not rubber (good idea!), no metal parts are included, and the kit also lacks figures.  A commander could have been nice, but it’s a matter of taste, and at the kit’s rather low price (at least in Europe), one cannot complain. The inner details being left aside (in fact, I put them in, unpainted), construction went very quickly and in one afternoon, the Puma was ready for painting.


Of the four proposed schemes, I chose the one I found the most original (with a “low viz” individual number left in black outlines only), representing a vehicle of 20th Panzer Division in Czechoslovakia, 1945. A mix of Vallejo (basic sand yellow) and Tamiya acrylics (olive and reddish brown camo) were used. Decals are of excellent quality and went on without problems. Then, I applied a dark brown oil wash, which was later worked on with a soft brush and white spirit.


 The many jerry cans, board tools and other fiddly bits were pre-painted and added last, then got a light wash of thinned enamels to “blend into the picture”.  A light post-shading was made to give the paint job additional life, followed by some powdered pastels to represent the dust, dirt and rust. A method I like is to spray random drops of water over the pastels, which gives the impression of faded, stained paint. Lastly, I added tiny re-touches of paint with a small brush, the result looking a bit exaggerated under the flashlight and the magnifying glass-effect of the camera lens, but very convincing when looked at under normal light.


 This easy and well-made kit perfectly recaptures the sleek, aggressive shape of this beautiful vehicle, and will provide any modeller with a rewarding experience. It’s a perfect “first project” for those who’d like to try an armour kit, but fear tracks.

 Highly recommended to all.

 PS: Where I live, though it was first released in January, I haven’t seen the Italeri 1/48 Puma anywhere yet (mine was ordered from an online shop), so this “Achtrad” made quite an impression when I showed it at my latest club meeting. Apparently, it’s not been produced in large quantities, so check your favourite hobby shops – or wait for the Tamiya release. As for myself, I’m looking forward to the other 234’s.


 TNT (Trucks and Tanks Magazine) special # 7 : Les véhicules de reconnaissance de l’Axe.

Waffen Arsenal # 96 : Puma und andere Panzerspähwagen der ARK-Reihe.

Various internet research.

  Pierre-André Boillat

June 2011

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