Book Review
Sd.Kfz 234 Series
Büssings's schwere Pz.Spähwagen Part 3: Sd.Kfz 234 and variants
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by: Carlos Martin [ VARANUSK ]


This 40th volume of the Nuts & Bolts series keeps the structure of the previous ones, with technical and historical information, contemporary photos, drawings, museum photos and models.

It has 208 A4 pages of gloss, good quality paper. The text is bilingual, in English and German.

The subject of the book is the Heavy Armoured Cars of the 234 series, vehicles that despite a relative short production are well known for most modellers or history fans.

The fact that only 460 units were built (of all variants) and they entered in service mostly in 1944 and 1945 may be the cause that photos are not so common like for other vehicles. Also, not a single complete vehicle is preserved today so a reference like this book is very welcome. Let's see now what it offers.

In detail

The first part of the book is mainly text and accounts for 52 pages. There are also some photos related to the text and tables with different data.

It starts with the development of the series, a sucesor of the Büssing-Nag GS chassis, and describing the four main variants chronologically. Other projects or field conversions are mentioned as well.

Then comes a detailed description of the chassis, transmission, steering, etc. While probably too technical for a modelling use, it shows the complexity of the vehicle and allows an interesting background of knowledge.
There are also detailed sections for the different turrets, weapons, radios and accessories carried by each version. Tables are used to show the production of each variant through the time.
Another interesting part is the tables of organization, described in the text and also in graphical form, with outlines of each vehicle in a Kompanie.

The authors have been able to identify all units that received the Sd.Kfz 234, when and which type. Although they reckon it could contain errors, the sources and research used produce an impressive result. There is also a very brief history of the unit, and a summary table with all deliveries (vehicles handed over between units are not included).
The markings, license plates and camouflage paints have their sections as well, explaining the different types found.

The book deals also with the evaluation of the vehicle performance, both from the German Army perspective and from the Allied, who had the chance to test captured vehicles in Great Britain.

The text part ends with some notes on the models currently available and specially the ones shown at the end of the book, plus a list of all kits, conversions and updates currently available. Part of this list is in German but it is not hard to understand.

Contemporary Photos
There are 53 pages with contemporary photos (apart from the ones mentioned in the first section). Each page has usually only two photos, or three in some cases, so they are quite large. They are grouped by variant, starting from the 234/1, then the 234/2 and so on.
Some of the photos are well known, but are reproduced in good size and high quality. Most of them however are new.
The general quality is from excellent to very good, although a few ones are not so crisp. I have been a fan of the 234 series for several years and reckon it is not easy to find images of them, so I can not blame the authors if a few ones are not as good as the rest -and in any case they are always worth to be seen.
There are photos from the engine, turret interiors of the 234/1 and 234/2, gun and sight of the 234/3 and other interesting details.
There are vehicles absolutely new, weathered and destroyed, being a good source of inspiration.
The 234/3 with the gun replaced by a Schwebelafette 3 is shown in two photos, and one of the 234/2 with a Luchs turret.

Drawings and profiles
The drawings are from Lieven E. De Coninck, and as usual on N&B series, are excellent. They show a minimum of 5 1/35 views of each variant (front, rear, top, right, left), including prototypes and projects, and four more perspectives for the four main variants. Note that there are different drawings for the early and late 234/1
There are 19 beautiful colour profiles, skilfully illustrated by Carlos de Diego Vaquerizo. Again all variants are represented, with a side view plus details like license plates or divisional/tactical markings. The original photo on which is based is shown also on a corner, with reference to the page with the full size image.
The final one is a five view representation of the standard camo used on several 234/4.

Preserved Vehicles
As said, there is no full vehicle of this series preserved in the world. The Tank Museum, Bovington, has a 234/3; and there is a 234/4 in Munster and another one in Fort Benning (USA). All of them suffer from incomplete interiors and in some cases poor restorations, with parts that do not resemble the originals.
The authors have done a good job here with what they have, offering 43 pages with three o four images per page of these vehicles.
The coverage is excellent, showing both outside and inside, suspension and undersides in general, detailed and close-up photos. The captions are quite helpful as they highlight details, point restoration mistakes and missing parts.
As no 234/1 turret is available, they have included photos from the one used in the 250/9, which was the same.
And although not installed on the vehicles, there is a nice selection of photos from the Tatra engine preserved, a 5cm kwk 39, different radio equipment and ammunition for all the guns of the 234 series.

The book closes with a collection of models over 14 pages, covering all produced variants including the field conversion with the Schwebelafette. Four of them have been built and painted by Tony Greenland and an Sd.Kfz 234/3 is by Vinnie Branigan.
Tony Greenland's models are presented almost as a gallery, with small captions.
The kit from Vinnie Branigan has more detailed explanations, but do not expect a step-by-step guide either.

This is the most complete reference I have seen for the Sd.Kfz.234 series. The text is comprehensive and covers both technical and operational aspects, there are more wartime photos than you can find elsewhere and a good collection of Museum photos with pertinent comments. Plus detailed technical drawings, and beautiful profiles and models.
For anyone building any variant of the Sd. Kfz.234 or with interest in these vehicles, I can only recommend to get this book.
Highs: Detailed information. Excellent photos and plenty of them, plus drawings and profiles.
Lows: None noticed
Verdict: Absolutely recommended comprehensive reference for the Sd.Kfz.234 series
  Scale: N/A
  PUBLISHED: Jun 19, 2018

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About Carlos Martin (varanusk)

My main interest is German vehicles and guns, and I like spending time researching the vehicle and the options for the camo once I have chosen a subject. Sometimes I go for specific and rare vehicles, of which only two or three photos are known so it takes me a lot of time to figure how everything w...

Copyright ©2021 text by Carlos Martin [ VARANUSK ]. All rights reserved.


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