German Sd.Kfz.222 Leichter Panzerspähwagen
2cm Mid Version

Tristar 1:35 Scale Kit No. 35043
Review by Terry Ashley

The Sd.Kfz.222 was a light 4-wheeled armoured car featuring 4-wheel drive and 4-wheel steering and was slightly larger than the Sd.Kfz.221 it followed into production.

Production began in 1936 with the Ausf.A powered by a 3.5 litre Horch V-8 gasoline engine with 75hp. This was followed by the Ausf.B with larger 3.8 litre Horch V-8 gasoline engine delivering 90hp.

The Sd.Kfz.222 had a crew of three, Commander/Loader, Gunner and Driver with the initial models armed with the 2cm KwK30 cannon and MG13 machine gun before switching to the improved 2cm KwK38 cannon and MG34 7.92mm machine gun, later in the war the MG42 was also fitted to some vehicles.

Initially the frontal armour was 8mm but this was increased to 14.5mm in 1938 and further to 30mm in 1942 and there four distinct sub types produced with different hull and fitting details as well as numerous local modifications.

The 1st hull sub-type had the large flat hull vision port covers with both the driver’s plate visors of the same size. It also had the turn indicators located mid hull and triangular guards on the wheel hubs.

This version had a flat roof without the raised section in front of the turret which was introduced from the 2nd hull type. The rear engine access louvers were also exposed without the cover added to later types.

The 1st sub-type with arrows pointing to distinguishing features

This was followed by the 2nd hull sub-type with the hull vision port covers changed to the cast type with the driver’s visors being larger than the smaller right side visor. The most noticeable feature of the visors was the hull side visors were asymmetrical with the right side visor set further back on the hull side than the left side visor. It also featured the introduction of the raised hull roof in front of the turret which remained for all subsequent versions as well as cast visor covers on the turret sides.

It still had the turn indicators located mid hull and the triangular guards on the wheel hubs were fitted to some vehicles but not others in this production series. The rear engine access louvers were covered with the armoured cover for better protection.

These two types are the most common seen in the early/mid war period, especially in Africa and Russia.

2nd sub-type, note offset visor covers.

The 3rd hull sub-type is similar to the second but the side hull cast visors were located symmetrically on both sides of the hull and had the turn indicators relocated to the front fenders and didn’t have the wheel hub guards fitted.

It also featured the rear engine access louver armoured cover as well as an additional panel separation line around the hull in front of the three engine access hatches. This is the version represented in this kit but is the least common type seen in the available period photos of Sd.Kfz.222s in the field.

3rd sub-type. Note the vehicle left has the jack on the right fender.
The vehicle right
is a restored example but shows the features of the type
Note the additional hull panel join on this version and the non-slip strip on the fender, common to all versions

The final hull sub-type had the side hull cast visors located symmetrically as well as the turn indicators on the front fenders and no wheel guards. An additional large storage box was added on the left hull between the original storage box and the rear fender, resulting in the jack being relocated on top of the right rear fender. A rack of six Czech produced smoke emitting canisters were also fitted to the front plate as well as cast visors on the turret sides.

Example of 4th sub-type showing all the later features
Photo credits as per the publication logo and listed in the references section below

As mentioned there are numerous local modifications carried out such as jerry can racks for the Africa vehicles as well as other mods which does allow some leeway but the basic hull characteristics remain for each sub-type.

The sub-types hull and feature differences shown here is not a definitive reference, only what I have gleamed from studying the many available photos of the Sd.Kfz.222 in action. Any additional info most welcome.

The Kit:
The kit represents the third main hull sub-type which features the larger driver’s visor with smaller visor on the right along with symmetrical side hull visor covers and the cover over the rear engine grills as well as the wheels without the triangular hub guards.

There are 268 parts in light beige plastic on 7 sprues, 6 parts in clear plastic, 16 etched parts on 2 small frets, 8 small metal springs, 4 black vinyl tyres plus the decal and instruction sheets.

Etched and metal parts
Clear parts
Vinyl tyres


Moulding quality is a bit less than what one would expect from a current generation kit, with some fine flash about, a few noticeable sink marks along with quite pronounced mould seam lines which will take some time and effort to remove. There are numerous small parts in the kit and removing the mould lines from these will require care to avoid damage and to not compromise the detail.

The level of part detail overall is very good with the main hull featuring weld seams along with other raised and engraved detail. All the hatches and access doors are separate parts allowing for good definition with multi-part sub-assemblies again for good detail definition.

Dimensionally the kits matches very well to the 1:35 plans in the  Panzer Tracts, Ground Power, Nuts & Bolts and Ryton books listed below in all areas such as hull and turret size, wheel sizes with any discrepancies within accepted tolerances. The only area of any real disagreement is the length of the 2cm KwK38 barrel with all plans showing different lengths.

There were different length barrels used on the KwK38 from the shorter L/50 to the L/55 and also the longer L/60 Flak38 barrel could be fitted as seen in some photos of the 222. More on this below.

The kit includes an extensive fighting compartment interior which can be seen if the large hull side doors are left open as well the full weapons pedestal and mounting in the turret which can be elevated for ground or AA targets. The 2cm KwK 38 cannon barrel also features textured handgrips on the tube which I believe is a first for plastic kit 2cm barrels as well as etched screens for the turret. All four wheels are articulated and with just a little work the full steering linkage system can be made workable as well.

The main chassis is made up of the two side chassis beams with the handbrake cabling moulded onto the sides plus seven individual cross beams and the front and rear differentials trapped between the sides. You have to carefully study this instructions to get the cross beams in the right position as it can be a little confusing with arrows pointing all over the place.

Each differential is made up of two halves with the full width axle trapped between them, but care is needed as the axles are not symmetrical with one axle shorter than the other. You have to position the axles with the shorter section with the round diff housing while the longer axle section on the flat side of the diff. The instructions don’t tell you this unfortunately and it’s easy to fit these the wrong way around resulting in the wheels not aligning with the chassis.

Assembly of the chassis is fairly straightforward but as mentioned there are considerable mould lines to be cleaned from the parts, especially the suspension arms (parts F-7 and F-8) and this can get a little time consuming.

Added to the chassis are the four suspension units with shock absorbers using the metal springs provided and these have the correct number of coils (5) to provide excellent detail definition to the suspension units.

Each of the wheels has five plastic parts for the rims and hubs that fit together without any problems and the vinyl tyre is then fitted over the rim. This is rather tight due to the fairly stiff vinyl but before fitting there is some excess vinyl that has to be cut from inside the tyre to fit snugly.

This will need a very sharp blade and you have to cut away all the excess otherwise the tyre won’t sit properly on the rim, so take care. The tread pattern is well defined but around the centre line on some wheels there is a little vinyl flash to be removed.

Once fitted there is the steering linkages in nine parts to add, those on the front and rear axles (parts F-11, F13) have pins large enough to allow these to be heat bonded for a workable join but on the others the pin is too small for this.

You can make the entire steering system workable by adding larger pins and then melting the ends of the pins with a heated screwdriver head to make the movable joins. This allows both the front and rear wheels to move if you wanted to add some animation to the final kit.

You can just glue the linkages together if you didn’t want the steerable linkages to make assembly easier if you wished.

Hull Interior:
The kit provides an extensive interior starting with the main floor plate which lacks any tread plate texturing unfortunately and rear engine bulkhead with moulded in mesh screen.

The hull front has driver’s gear levers as well as the three foot pedals and two part seat that has crisply moulded rear seat springs. There is also the steering column as well as the battery stowage and 2cm ammo box.

Added to the sidewalls are the two rear bolted sectional flanges (similar to those on the Sd.Kfz.251) and a selection of personal equipment such as water bottle, meal tin, gas mask canister, P38 holster and MG34 spare barrel case and folded bipod. All these items don’t have any actual racks just the gear as worn and I guess the inevitable etched sets will include the equipment racks to dress up the interior more.

There are racks on both walls for stick grenades as well as the actual grenades along with some small pioneers tools (wire cutters, axe) that have the clips moulded on.

Inside the upper hull is additional personal gear as well as the inner visor mountings for the four front hull visors, these consist of the port frame, opening handle and the clear plastic visor block that attaches to the back of the outer visor cover.

Also added under the hull front plate is the driver’s instrument panel with raised bezel outlines and decals for the instrument dials plus the canted steering wheel to finish off the interior nicely.

There is of course additional detail that can be added to enhance this further if you wish to display the interior through the open hatches.

Weapons/Pedestal Mounting:
This is nicely detailed but there are again the mould seam lines to be removed from the numerous parts before assembly and this cleanup took nearly as long as the actual assembly given the number of parts.

The lower pedestal includes the two part gunner’s seat and foot firing pedals as well as the traverse hand wheel and providing care is taken there shouldn’t be any problems with the assembly.

The gun mounting has more finer parts but fitted together well after cleanup other than I had to trim the inner edge of the MG34 spent shell bag to clear the lower mounting to allow the gun to sit level.

Moving to the weapons these are nicely detailed for plastic weapons as with previous Tristar kits and has the 2cm KwK38 cannon in five parts, the main receiver and barrel in one piece with separate top cylinder, flap for the shell ejection chute, the small T fitting on the stock and a 10 round magazine.

The MG34 is in two parts, the receiver and perforated barrel in one plus the separate feed cover and the cooling jacket has the usual indentations for the holes as do most plastic MG34s, the muzzle is solid and drilling this out will improve the appearance.

Both weapons have the mould lines to be removed and care is needed not to damage the detail in the process

The plans in the Panzer Tracts book show the correct 2cm length for the shorter L/50 barrel and the kit barrel matches these plans perfectly as does the gun receiver for a perfectly sized 2cm KwK38 cannon with short barrel.

As mentioned the barrel tube includes the textured hand grips as well as having the flash suppressor partially hollowed out but just with indentations for the rows of cone and collar holes. The detail on the suppressor cone is also compromised by quite substantial mould lines but if you were to carefully hollow out the full cone and drill out the holes a respectable cone could result.

The weapons can be improved by replacing the barrels with available metal barrels and I have used here the Griffon Models 2cm KwK38 (set #LB35019) which also matches the barrel length in the Panzer Tracts book. The MG34 barrel has been replaced with the excellent ABER barrel (set #35 L-70) which also includes the smaller barrel sight fittings as well as a very thin flash suppressor cone.

Additional smaller details have been updated using etched parts from the Lion Roar and Voyager Sd.Kfz.222 update sets designed for the Tamiya kit but there will undoubtable be sets released specifically for this kit very soon.

These two sub-assemblies are joined by the two gun mounts (parts E-5, E-6)  which allows the gun mounting to elevate freely with the fine teeth on the lower elevation crescent (part E-3) and elevation wheel (part E-32) meshing snugly which allows the gun to sit at any elevation you wish even with the metal barrels fitted.

There is only one issue with the mounting in that the elevation support cylinder is fixed to the lower pedestal mounting and the separate thin piston attached to the top mounting that moves as the gun elevates.

This results in the piston being out of alignment when the gun is level and aligned correctly when elevated at about 45 degrees. To represent this correctly the cylinder should be movable on its mount to move along with the piston angle keeping everything aligned, but as this is inside the hull after assembly may not be an issue for most.

The assembled pedestal mounting fits to the mounting post on the lower hull but you can leave this off until after the upper hull has been attached as it will fit through the turret ring opening easily.

Hull Exterior:
The full upper hull has some excellent surface details such as the various weld seams but there is also a noticeable sink mark in the middle of the upper front plate due to the locating lugs for the instrument panel on the underside of the panel.

The size of the sink mark may vary from kit to kit but on my sample was not very deep and could be sanded smooth with fairly light sanding without the need for filler taking care not to damage the surrounding welds.

If this blemish requires filler on your kit it still should be possible to sand this without damaging the welds but it’s really not the thing you would expect to have to deal with on a current generation kit.

Another minor issue is there should be a panel line around the rear hull just in front of the three engine compartment doors which can easily be added using a scribing tool. This panel line is shown on the 1:35 plans in the Panzer Tracts, Ground Power and Ryton books as well as photos of the actual vehicle. Note, this panel line only appears on the hull type with the symmetrical side vision ports as depicted in the kit but not on the other hull types.

The front and back fenders are moulded in one main part with the front fenders having the storage compartment lid and underside wall as separate parts; this allows you to position the door open if you wish.

Added to the front fenders are the turning indicators with the rear view mirror on the left side as well as the width indicator stalks and the Notek light with separate base also on the left fender.

There is a separate hull front plate fitted to the hull front as well as the two headlights with separate clear plastic “glass” and early style round horn again added to the left head light stalk. There are also the two mud guards added to the rear of the fenders and these could be thinned or replaced for a better appearance.

The rear fenders include the forward step with the seven part jack added to the left side and wire rope rack to the right fender. The rear fenders correctly have the thin non-slip strip along the top outer edge which shows good attention to detail. On each is a small rear fender storage boxes is the convoy and tail light, although the small tail light on the right fender doesn’t have the wire guard often fitted over the light.

Added to the lower rear hull are the two exhaust mufflers which have the pipes and hull fairing cover added after the two hull halves are glued together along with the two small towing hooks. Also added the rear hull is the engine louver cover with a separate bottom plate as well as two small circular plates and the three engine compartment doors provided as separate parts. The fit of the doors is good and this allows them to be shown open to fit an aftermarket engine should you wish.

The large storage box on the left side has the door as a separate part with the latch detail on the box and door crisply rendered and there is also the two smaller storage boxes fitted to the hull side entry doors. These doors have detail on both sides and are free of pin marks with additional round signal flag containers on the inside, the doors can easily be fitted in the open position to show off the interior if you wish.

The four front cast visor covers have additional inner brackets and the clear vision block added which allows you to position the visor covers open if required along with the L rain guards over the side visors and the longer rain guard over the front visors. The two front visors correctly depict the larger driver’s visor and smaller visor on the tight which is applicable for this 222 version.

On the hull top the rear etched mesh cover has nice detail relief plus the correct mesh pattern and this fits over the open panel to give a good appearance. The panel behind the mesh is solid with just the central radiator filler cap along with a two part aerial base.

The final parts added to the hull are the right side covered spare wheel and the large shovel with moulded on tool clips added to the left side.

After joining the upper and lower hull halves together there is the correct narrow lip overhang along the hull join so don’t be tempted the trim the join smooth as this overhang is correct. The assembled hull fits easily to the lower chassis to complete the hull assembly.

The ten sided turret measures up well against the 1:35 plans as above with any discrepancies being very minor and has a separate lower turret ring as well as separate side visor flaps.

Detail on the turret sees weld seams on the plate joins although the sides are a little thick if you want to get picky. The fit of the turret ring is very loose to say the least but the gaps are hidden after assembly so not really a big deal.

Added inside the turret ring a small crew seat and four part radio and rack with the main feature of the turret being the mesh covers.

These are supplied with the frames separate and thinner etched mesh to add inside the frames which require bending to the correct shape.

As the frames are in thicker brass you will need to use a good quality etched bending tool as the frame are only about 2mm wide with bends down the middle. Annealing the brass by running through a flame will make bending easier but care is then needed as the metal will also bend more easily unintended.

When bending the frames the edges give a good guide to getting the side angles correct because when bent to line up evenly it gives the correct angle and its best to solder the frame joins for greater strength.

The thinner mesh screens are then spot soldered inside the frames to finish off the screens. On test fitting I found the screens required a minor twist to sit evenly on the turret lip and this is where soldering the joins pays off, if glued with cyanoacrylate this twisting would just snap the join.

Added to the screens are the top grab handles from thin plastic and care is needed when cleaning the mould seam. The handles themselves are slightly over scale and replacing with thinner wire using the kit handles as templates would improve the appearance.

The screens can be fitted in the closed or open position but if posed open you will have to add the support arm which is missing for the kit. The assembled turret attaches to the hull by way of conventional tabs and notches allowing this to be rotated.

The small decal sheet is well printed with markings for three vehicles that include the number plates, unit insignia and two style of balkenkreuz plus the instrument panel dials.

The three marking options are;

These are the conventional exploded view drawings showing the assembly sequences and will require careful study before gluing due to the number of parts which can become a little confusing in some steps.

But with care there shouldn’t be any problems putting the kit together.

This long awaited kit from Tristar delivers on the accuracy and detail stakes but the production quality slips a little with quite a bit of cleanup required due to some flash and sink marks but mostly the prominent mould seam lines.

Despite the additional work involved with the cleanup the kit will build into a very detailed and accurate model of the mid/later Sd.Kfz.222 while leaving scope for super detailing for a standout model.

This kit is a vast improvement over the aging Tamiya model with detail such as the metal suspension springs, accurate 2cm KwK38 cannon if used from the kit as well as the extensive interior, but be prepared for a little extra assembly work along the way.

Highly recommended.

Also see the Sd.Kfz.221/222 subject page for addition kit and accessory set reviews

The Sprues:

Click on thumbnails for larger view
Detail Images
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Panzer Tracts No.13
Panzerspäehwagen Armored Cars
Sd.Kfz.3 to Sd.Kfz.263

Panzer Tracts
Tank Power Vol.XCVI
Wydawnictwo Militaria No.339
Tankograd Special No.4014
Sd.Kfz.222 & 223
Nuts & Bolts Vol.04
Toadman's Sd.Kfz.222
Photo Detail CD
Toadman CD
Ryton Publications
German Light Reconnaissance Vehicles
Schiffer Publishing
Ground Power Magazine
#63 - 8/1999


Thanks to Tristar Models for the review kit.

Page created November 25, 2009