Nuts & Bolts 35, Sd.Kfz.231 & Sd.Kfz.232

The whole 8 wheel Sd.Kfz.231 family can get a bit complicated. There’s the  Sd.Kfz.231 and 232, which both had different numbers at first, and then there’s also the Sd.Kfz.263 and Sd.Kfz.233 on the same chassis and a few  ballistic measuring vehicles as well. Let’s throw into the mix as well that there were 6 wheeled Sd.Kfz.231 and Sd.Kfz.232 vehicles as well! The 6 wheelers were produced up to 1937, the 8 wheelers after. The authors have split these various 8 wheeled vehicles up into 2 volumes and this volume covers the Sd.Kfz.231 and Sd.Kfz.232. The full title of the book is quite a mouthful: Volume 35: Büssing’s schwere Pz.Spähwagen Part 1: – schw.Pz.Spähwagen (SdKfz.231) & schw.Pz.Spähwagen (Fu) (SdKfz.232) (8-Rad).

As the cross-country performance of the 6-wheeled armoured cars was deemed insufficient, the Heer Ordnance department (WaPrw 6) signed a contract with Büssing-NAG to develop an eight-wheel armoured car with all-wheel-drive, all-wheel-steering and two driver positions at front and rear. Deutsche Werke in Kiel were contracted to design the armoured body. The armoured body looked somewhat similar to the 6-wheel predecessors. The turret in the 231/232 series was altered to a hexagonal shape for increased internal volume, it was equipped with a 2 cm KwK 30 cannon and a coaxial 7.92 mm MG 34 machine gun.

The Sd. Kfz.231, 232 and 263 were initially built on similar chassis slightly modified for their needs, from July 1942 they were all built on the same Einheitsfahrgestell chassis, which also had armour increased up to 30 mm. From September 1941, a more powerful engine was installed, providing 180 hp instead of 155 hp. From late 1940 Stand-off angled armour plates were mounted about 50 cm in front of the vehicles. This additional armour was retrofitted to older vehicles and dropped with introduction of the strengthened front armour in July 1942.

Sd. Kfz.231
This was the standard reconnaissance variant built from 1937 to 1941. From July 1941, any need for a 231 was fulfilled by producing a 232 without the additional radio equipment. The official name was Schwerer Panzerspähwagen Sd. Kfz. 231 (8-rad).

Sd. Kfz.232
The Sd. Kfz. 232 (8-Rad), which was produced from 1938 to 1943, was a 231 with additional medium-range radio sets and a large frame aerial. From 1942, a small Sternantenne (star aerial) replaced the frame aerial, a modification retrofitted to older models. The official name was schwerer Panzerspähwagen (Fu) Sd. Kfz. 232 (8-rad).

Enough of the background, now for the book. The book arrived safely from the publishers in a stout cardboard envelope and was wrapped internally in plastic.

The information about the book is:

  • Written by Holger Erdmann
  • published on November 23, 2015
  • soft cover
  • German & English texts
  • 200 pages
  • 311 photos (164 historic, 27 model, 120 modern)
  • 53 blueprints
  • 14 camouflage schemes, tactical markings, table of organisation (KStN)
  • only 29.90€ from the publisher

The book follows the same format as usual. The texts are in English and German with the English texts on the left of the page and the German on the right. All images and photographs have captions in both languages. The English translation is excellent. Now, let’s take a look inside the book to see what we get.

The book dives straight in with 2 images and annotations on the inside cover of a 1/35 Sd.Kfz.231 build. The page opposite contains the usual copyright, publishing and contributors information. The first real topic of the book starts on page 2 and covers the technical development and production of the vehicles over the following 12 pages. The story starts in the late 1920s and goes quickly through the various false starts in the development of a wheeled cross-country reconnaissance vehicle. The technical specifications are quite in depth and give a lot of information around the inner workings of the suspension etc. The first 13 pages give you all the mechanical background you could possibly need, including a large table of technical facts and figures over 1.5 pages. The various vehicle accessories are covered, as are modifications made during the production run. There were 5 production series, and the end of one and the start of the next was often very blurred with vehicles having components that identified with both series. In the text you will often find mention of the types of bolts on the turret as this is the easiest way to tell the series apart. Another tell tale is the shape of the mudguards. This section finishes with production details.

Pages 15-19 cover the organisation and structure of the reconnaissance companies, and how they changed during the war. This is followed by a brief history of each of the reconnaissance units over pages 20 to 52. The histories cover unit formation, where they were posted while in existence and final dissolution. Pages 53 to 56 cover the various camouflage schemes used throughout the war, unit markings and how the licence plate numbering system worked. The camouflage texts are quite clear on what colours and schemes are appropriate for what time periods. Pages 57 and 58 are a quick round up of the models available now and in the past. The Tamiya 1/48 Sd.Kfz232 seems to get missed, though. The text part of the book ends on page 60 with 19 references in the bibliography and a page of abbreviations. I wonder if the abbreviations might be better placed earlier in the book.

Pages 61 to 121 each contain two or three period photographs with excellent captions for all. These 152 photographs tell the story of the Sd.Kfz231 and Sd.Kfz.232 in pictures from a photo of the 2nd prototype to the wreck of a 4th/5th series  Sd.Kfz232 in Budapest after the war. These photographs are all clear, of good quality and all of them have obviously been carefully selected to tell something about the vehicles.

On page 122 we start the 1/35 line diagrams or blueprint section, and this continues to page140. The diagrams take us through from the early prototype and chassis, trial vehicles and then through each of the 5 production series.  If you want to check if your model has the bolts in the right places, this is the section for you. After this, we move to the colour profiles in pages 141 to 147 with 2 profiles on each page. Each profile also contains a small period photograph of the vehicle in question as well as any part views that might be needed. The profiles cover vehicles from the 3 colour pre-war camouflage right through to the end of the war, and also includes vehicles in Africa and whitewash.

The next section contains modern photographs of vehicles preserved in museums. Sadly there are only two Sd.Kfz.231 left, one in Koblenz, Germany and one in the Ahmednagar Tank Museum in India. The vehicle in Germany is a mixed vehicle with the hull of a Sd.Kfz.231 and the chassis of a Sd.Kfz.262 and the engine is also missing. There are also some fragments of a Sd.Kfz.232 in a private collection and parts of a turret in a German museum. The author has done a comprehensive walkaround of the Sd.Kfz.231 in Koblenz, Germany with almost 120 colour photographs, inside and out, all with excellent captions explaining exactly what you’re looking at. The section finishes with 3 photographs of the partial turret in Munster, Germany. For the modeller these are excellent photographs.

The final section of the book is for modellers and shows two 1/35 builds. The first is an AFV Club Sd.Kfz231 by Tony Greenland and then an AFV club Sd.Kfz232 by Vinnie Branigan. Tony’s model replaces the barrels with Aber products and he uses the hairspray technique for winter whitewash. Vinnie’s build is shown step by step in photographs with descriptions of what’s happening at each stage. This sections is similar to what you would find in a modelling magazine, but a little more photo heavy.

Firstly I am not aware of any other publication that devotes 200 pages to just these 2 vehicles. There are other smaller publications on these vehicles, but this volume has just become the definitive reference on the 8 wheel Sd.Kfz.231 and Sd.Kfz.232. The images are excellent, both the period and modern colour photographs. The technical details are detailed, in depth and clearly explained. There are plenty of colour profiles, histories and colour details to make sure you get your model built right. This book should b your go to reference for any Sd.Kfz.231 or Sd.Kfz.232 build or facts. I’m looking forward to volume 2 on this subject.

Many thanks to Nuts & Bolts for the review sample.

Paul Tosney – Editor
ModelBuilder International


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