Takom 1/35 Skoda PA-II 'Turtle'
KIT #: 2024
PRICE: $34.95 SRP
DECALS: Five options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: New tool kit.


Although the chassis was roughly identical to the experimental PA-I, the armored body of the PA-II was entirely new. It had unusually curved shapes, which seemed like an Art Deco essay, but were dictated by cold considerations of maximal protection effectiveness. Instead of casting the armor, only possible for large thicknesses, the plates were hammer-shaped, 5.5 mm (0.22 in) at the thickest. This was the same process by which the bodywork artists tailored cars for the rich and famous, these skills being present at Skoda as well, descended from a long tradition going back to the master craftsmen shaping knight armor by hand.

All the parts were then riveted on a steel frame built above the chassis. The latter was perfectly symmetrical, with the double drive pioneered by the PA-I. The two drivers sat in centrally at either end, and had a twin-fold armored shutter and lateral armored shutters. Access was granted by central doors in the fighting compartment. There was also a provision for four machine guns. These were of the heavy liquid-cooled Schwarzlose MG.08 type, having 6250 rounds. They were mounted in ball-mounts, having some limited elevation/depression and traverse. They were served by the two gunners.

A small cupola could be opened for the commander to direct fire from the roof. The engine was a Skoda, 4 cylinder, 9730 cc, 70 hp, placed in the center, right below the fighting compartment. It gave a maximum top speed, on road, of 70 km/h (44 mph), which was acceptable given the weight of the vehicle. Field performance showed it could ford 1.50 m deep of water, a 30 cm vertical obstacle or cross a trench 45 cm wide. The suspensions and tires were not ideal for cross-country rides, but at least there was a four wheel drive. The chassis had the serial numbers from NIX58 to NIX69.

When the vehicles were presented to the Czechoslovak army, which had ordered them in 1925, they were tested and eventually refused. They were bulky, heavy and not very agile, with poor ground clearance that forbade off-road rides and an internal fighting compartment that was too cramped. Instead, Skoda sold three of them to Vienna's police forces in 1927, as a compensation for a batch of OA vz.27 that were never delivered. The remaining nine were purchased by the Czech police ten years after, actively showcased in parades and exercises in the meantime.

Another Skoda armored car, the Obrněnư Automobil vz. 27, was instead chosen by the Army for active service. The Austrian vehicles saw action in the repression of the Nazi coup in 1934. At some point, two vehicles were incorporated in the Austrian-Croatian border police force, notably the 16th Company, when the riots erupted. A number of Czech vehicles were seized and incorporated into the Wehrmacht after 1939, modified to use a radio, as radio relay vehicles. Their operational capabilities were rather limited, but they seem to have been used until 1945.


Based on the positive experience I had with their Siege Gun kit, I picked up this interesting and unsuccessful armored car kit at the local hobby shop. The molding is really first rate with a one piece body. Thanks to the symmetry of the vehicle, there are basically two sprues of everything aside from the body and the light lenses. The chassis is made up of two sections, each with a differential/suspension assembly that in itself is a mini-model. There is an option to make the wheels steerable, though you can model it fixed if you wish and this is shown in the instructions. The two chassis sections interlock and are partially held together with horizontal straps. Takom has provided rubber tires for this one and these have short axle shafts trapped in the wheel halves to allow them to rotate.

Like the chassis, the upper body section is molded in halves and each side gets a crew entry hatch and a pair of machine guns (though these can be cut off for the unarmed variant. Light assemblies are attached to both ends of the body and the gun section is then attached to the body. Turning the body over, there are inner fender wells to glue in place. Then the completed body is simply glued to the ready chassis. If building the German radio car, the large antenna array is then attached to the upper body. I did not see any engine exhaust nor any specific item on the underside that looked like an engine oil pan. I have to assume that the 9.7 liter six cylinder engine was in the middle of the vehicle. One can see the small exhaust pipe behind the right wheel. 

Instructions are provided in a nice thick paper booklet that provides CAD style assembly instructions. Separate from this is another thick paper foldout that provided five markings options. Four of these are the multi-color camouflage used by various Czech units and one panzer grey version used early in the war by the Germans. Five views are provided for all of this and color information is done using Mig paints (not very useful for most of us). The decal sheet provided is nicely printed and includes what few markings these vehicles carried. 

For those of you into either armored cars, 1920s/30s military vehicles or those who just like something a bit different, this is one you should seriously consider. If it builds like other TAKOM kits, it will be a pleasure.



August 2015

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