First to Fight


Kit #: PL1939-048
Preview by Rob Haelterman


I've been waiting for a very long time to get a 1/72 Sd.Kfz.221 in plastic. I can only assume I am not the only one, so here it is.

1. The parts

The parts lay-out clearly anounced the later Sd.Kfz.222 and 223 kits.

Small decal sheet for two vehicles.

Instructions are found on the back of the box.

Booklet (in Polish).


2. Construction

The first thing to note when building this kit is that the plastic is rather soft, to the extent that sanding and cutting doesn't always result in sharp edges or surfaces and possibly causing disastrous results when applying glue overzealously.

I started building this kit before the Dan Taylor update set was released. I decided to drill out the turret mesh and the mesh at the rear of the fighting compartment and actually got halfway through the process when the set was announced, which resulted in a bucket load of profanities and an order for the set.

While waiting for the update set to arrive, I started enhancing the interior a little bit. I only focused on the areas that would be visible through the turret hatches. This is what I did:

  • I removed the central "chimney" that serves as a support for the two hull halves.
  • I added an engine firewall.
  • I filled in the hollow doors in the side of the hull.
  • I added some personal equipment without firm reference to its actual use:
    • grenade box (from Al.By I think),
    • ammo box (from Esci, I think),
    • jerry can (from MK72, I think),
    and some equipment that was documented in my references:
    • gasmask containers (from Preiser),
    • bread bags (from Preiser).
  • The canteens were replaced with Preiser items, as they were too flat.
  • I filled in the side of the box below the MG.
  • I offset the gunner's seat to the left and opened up the support for the backrest.


The exterior was modified as follows:

  • I removed some plastic from the lower edge of the spade, as the molding technology of this kit doesn't allow undercuts.
  • I removed the extinguisher from the right front fender, as I was unable to find pictures of this item in this position. Removing it resulted in some damage to the plastic that I kept as battle damage.
  • I modified the shape of the box to the rear of the fender, as it seemed slightly different at the bottom from the real thing. This is, again, probably due to molding limitations.
  • I filled in the voids on the bottom of the fenders.
  • The boxes at the rear of the rear fenders didn't look at all like the real thing, so I modified these as well.
  • The Dan Taylor update set has new hubcaps, and while they would be an improvement, I was convinced that I couldn't safely remove the molded on hubcaps from the kit parts. I had already ruined the hub of the spare wheel, just by cleaning it up. Fortunately this could be hidden under a typical tarp used on said wheel, but I decided to cut my losses then and there and left the other wheels well alone.
  • The edges of the top engine hatch were serrated, and due to the softness of the plastic, cleaning this up was frustrating. Furthermore, I did not find any pictures of a pre-Barbarossa Sd.Kfz.221 with the box on that hatch (as the kit provides), so this was left off and the positioning holes filled in. Not being quite happy with the way the hatch ended up looking, I decided to add a tarp from the spares box (source long forgotten).
  • I added two jerrycans from the spares box to the nose. Pre-Barbarossa vehicles typically carried little stowage, so my vehicle (in a France 1940 setting) would probably not have carried it, but it added a personal touch to my vehicle. In all honesty, I found a picture of a vehicle with a very similar layout on the internet during an Ebay auction, in what seems like Western Europe. For copyright reasons, unfortunately, I am unable to share it.
  • The headlights are a fiddly fit, unless they are meant to be glued to the two small stubs low on the side of the nose, in which case they would end up too low. In the end, I replaced them with spare items that were hollow, so lenses could be made. (Hollowing the parts out in a concave shape was beyond me.) Alternatively, the kit parts can just be given a slit with a hot screwdriver.
  • The mudflaps were removed, thinned down and reapplied.
  • The width indicators were replaced with butterfly pins.

PE parts from the Dan Taylor set that were not used are:

  • Threadplates in front of the rear fenders (because I felt that the kit parts were ok).
  • Armor plates for the hubcaps (for reasons mentioned above)
  • Lids for the small boxes at the rear of the front fenders (as I felt I was unable to do justice to these parts).

The color scheme used was the typical 2/3 grey + 1/3 brown from the Polish and French Campaign, while the decals came from the following sources:

  • Licence plate from this kit, and they are very good. Note that the higher placed licence plate at the front is a personal touch (due to the jerrycans), but sometimes seen on actual vehicles.
  • Tactical marking for recce unit from the S-Model Kfz.13.
  • 7 Pz.Div marking from Decal Details.
  • Balkenkreuz on the side from a long forgotten source.

Note that the position of most markings varied considerably between vehicles. I had planned on using a decal for the rear engine hatch, but found no decal that would snuggle sufficiently well into the subtle relief. I ended up masking and spraying it as well as I could. (Note that the hatch was left otherwise unpainted to keep the detail as crisp as possible.)

To fit in with my diorama, I added a helmet and canteen (both from Preiser) to my vehicle. A note on the helmet: the right shield was removed in March 40, but I really wanted to try the Aleran decals, so I imagined AFV crews (who exposed their helmets less often to hostile fire than the infantry) might not have bothered removing it very urgently. Note that these decals are really tiny and almost invisible in the pictures.

For those who like their markings a bit more exotic: note that 18 of these vehicles were exported to China.



The kit has flat visors on the hull (which is typical for 1. and 2. Series vehicles), but domed visors on the turret (introduced in the 3. Series). By itself, this is already an incompatible feature, but starting from the 2. Series the turret had 4 visors, while the kit only has two. (No 221 had turrets with two domed visors.)
Dan Taylor only gives two flat replacement visors, so we are basically forced to build the vehicle as a late 1. Series specimen, possibly with some retrofits. (The front fenders need to be modified for an early 1. Series.)
For more info on the evolution of these vehicles, you can check this article.

For those of us looking for something more exotic: at least one vehicle was converted as a turretless command version.



Incorrect features that can be caught with the naked eye, apart from those already mentioned are:

  • Lateral engine hatches that are too narrow (they should be more rectangular).
  • Mufflers that are angled incorrectly (they are angled at 45° while they should be almost horizontal).
  • A turret that should be slightly more pointy at the nose.

Compared to [1], the kit scales out as follows.

1/35 1/1 1/72
[1] from [1] from [1] kit actual scale compared to [1]
  mm mm mm mm 1/x
overall length 134,5 4707,5 65,4 65,4 72,0
overall width 55,7 1949,5 27,1 26,4 73,8
overall height 50,0 1750,0 24,3 26,8 65,3
length of turret
(at the base)
36,0 1260,0 17,5 15,9 79,2
width of turret
(at the base)
30,8 1078,0 15,0 13,7 78,7
width of top plate 30,8 1078,0 15,0 15,6 69,1
length of top plate 67,2 2352,0 32,7 31,4 74,9
diameter of wheels 25,7 899,5 12,5 12,4 72,5


It is clear that the vehicle is too high, but to the naked eye this is not that obvious. The size of the turret, however, is. Being too small, it doesn't reach the edge of the hull (while in reality, there was a very slight overhang). It doesn't help that the hull is slightly too wide at the top.



Overall, not a bad effort from FtF at all, especially when you take into account that these kits are meant for wargamers and are intentionally kept simple. The size of the turret is something we shall have to live with, but the dimensional issues are nowhere as bad as with their earlier Kfz.13 for instance.



[1] Panzer Tracts No.13-1, leichter Panzerspaehwagen (Sd.Kfz.221,222, and 223) and kleiner Panzerfunkwagen (Sd.Kfz.260 and 261), T.L. Jentz & H.L. Doyle, Panzer Tracts

[2] Panzerspähwagen Sd.Kfz.221/222/223, M. Zöllner, Tankograd Publishing


Preview sample purchased by the author.

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Article Last Updated: 25 November 2018