Roden 1/72 SdKfz 263





Three vehicles


Scott Van Aken




After adding to its armory the Sd.Kfz.231 (8-Rad) heavy armored car in 1937, the military command ordered a special modification of this car intended for service in advanced reconnaissance units. The primary tasks for this car were stable radio communication with general headquarters, and coordination of fighting units in action.

The distinctive features of the new armored car were an armored body with a fixed turret, and a long external radio aerial installed on the body. The bigger turret was justified by an increase of the crew to 5 persons, 2 of them being radio operators. The radio equipment consisted of the Funkgerat fur msttleren Pz.-Funktrupp "b" radio station and Kurbelmast "P" adjustable telescopic antenna.

The installation of radio equipment significantly decreased space inside the car. At the development stage it was decided not to install the cannon, leaving only the machine gun available for frontal defense; its ammunition was decreased from 1000 to 750 shells.
After the beginning of WWII, fighting experience proved that fast acting motorized units require coordinated command, and cars with radio communication equipment could provide the necessary liaison. At this time the Sd.Kfz.263 (8-Rad) cars started to be widely used in their new role as mobile command units. One of the first commanders to appreciate the advantages of the Sd.Kfz.263 was Major-General Erwin Rommel, the commander of the 7th Tank Division at the start of the war.

These armored cars were used in all theaters almost until the end of the war. However, in comparison with other versions of the eight-wheeled armored vehicles, a rather small number of them was produced - only 240, the last cars being produced in 1943. Such a small number was partly due to the high cost of this armored car: around 57000 reichsmarks, while the cost of the Sd.Kfz.231 was less than 50000 reichsmarks.

Later, during overhaul, some of the Sd.Kfz 263 (8-Rad) cars were converted to the cannon-equipped Sd.Kfz 233 specification. By the end of 1944, these command cars intended for offensive tactics were less useful, and only single Sd.Kfz.263 (8-Rad) vehicles served in fighting units by the end of war.

Historical section blatantly pinched from the Roden website.



As is the norm today, this kit is actually based on the earlier SdKfz 231. The major difference between them is that the 263 has a different turret and the radio antenna. The new sprue, shown on the lower left of the above image, is a direct replacement for the earlier version. In fact, since the 263 is basically a radio car, it is not expected to enter combat so the 'turret' is actually a solid construct that does not rotate. Only a machine gun is provided for self defense, should they have the misfortune of stumbling into a situation where people are actually shooting at them! In other respects, this kit builds exactly the same as the previous SdKfz 231.

Instructions are excellent and give all the info needed to build this version of the 8-wheeled reconnaissance vehicle. Just remember to mount all the fender stuff as close to the OUTSIDE of the fender as you can! Markings are provided for three vehicles:

  1. Sd.Kfz.263(8-Rad) of the 37th Panzer Grenadiere Division, Poland, September 1939.
  2. Sd.Kfz.263(8-Rad) of the 7 Panzer Division, France, 1940.
  3. Sd.Kfz.263(8-Rad) of the 5 Panzer Division, Deutsche Afrika Korps, Libya 1941.

The first two are in Panzer Grey while the third is in Desert Tan. The decals are well printed and have proven to be properly opaque.


I thoroughly enjoyed building the 231 and don't see any reason why this kit shouldn't be equally as much fun to build.

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