Sd.Kfz.223 German light radio communications vehicle, leichter Panzerspähwagen (Fu)

Sd.Kfz.261 German radio communications vehicle, kleiner Panzerfunkwagen

Kit # 72421 & 72441 Preview by Stephen Brezinski  - sbrez(at)
Edited by Rob Haelterman

Vehicle Description and History For the Modeler

Before I get on this review, I give great thanks to ICM for releasing these interesting models that I expected I would only see perhaps in resin. In the above very nice box art we see the Sd.Kfz.223 armored car armed with a single machine gun and in early WW2 dark gray color. Though having the turret of the Sd.Kfz.221 armored car, the Sd.Kfz.223 leichter Panzerspähwagen (and the Sd.Kfz.260 and 261) was based on the chassis and body of the Sd.Kfz.222 armored car. We cannot make an Sd.Kfz.221 just by removing the 223’s frame antenna.
If modeling an interior then be aware that the 221 and 223 did not have a typical turret on a ball bearing race, but was supported by a pedestal mounted on the vehicle floor. The 223 carried a crew of 3, a frame antenna, and a FuG10 radio for long-range communication with armored car and panzer units.

The box art of the Sd.Kfz.261 shows the vehicle in dark gray and the frame antenna extended. The 260 and 261 were externally very similar so a review of the 261 would also cover the Sd.Kfz.260. The 260 had a rod antenna for a FuG7 radio for communicating with aircraft, while the 261 had a large frame antenna for a FuG12 radio for communicating with different army headquarters. The Sd.Kfz.260 and 261 carried no armament except for machine pistols, had a crew of 4 and had no turret.
The 222, 223, 260 and the 261 were all released in two versions: the Ausführung A (or Ausf.A) and the Ausf.B but I’ve found no clear explanation of the difference. I surmise the difference between the Ausf. A and Ausf. B were a change in the visors to those similar to the Sd.Kfz.251 halftrack, a more powerful engine and change from an MG13 machine gun to an MG34 for the 222 and 223. (Ed. Note: for more information: check the article about the the evolution of the Sd.Kfz.222.) Based on the visors I believe that ICM’s Sd.Kfz.222, 223, 260 and 261 are all late, Ausf.B versions. Produced from 1936 to 1944 and used to the war’s end, these vehicles can be modeled in either dark gray or panzer yellow with camouflage patterns.


The kits

ICM’s Sd.Kfz.223 leichter Panzerspähwagen (Fu) model contains 57 injection molded polystyrene plastic parts and two etched brass parts. The kit instructions are clear and are broken down into seven steps and substeps A though L. The side doors are molded separate so we can model them open but, alas, there is no interior detail. Assembly has the frame antenna extended up so there will need to be some surgery on the support frames to lay the antenna down.

Here is part of the kit instructions for ICM’s Sd.Kfz.261; we can see the only difference from the Sd.Kfz.260 is the change from a frame antenna to a rod antenna, no turret and a different screen over the crew compartment. The chassis and hull assemble the same as in the Sd.Kfz.223 instructions above. No interior parts are included.

This sprue A is common to all the ICM leichter Panzerspähwagen kits: the Sd.Kfz.222, 223, 260 and 261. Molding is crisp, detail appears good and reasonably accurate. The ICM suspension and detail is superior to that of Airfix’s veteran Sd.Kfz.222 kit (a kit now mistakenly sold as 1/72).

At the left is sprue B for ICM’s Sd.Kfz.223 armored car with the vehicle roof, the MG 34 machine gun and turret. Interior parts for the turret visors may be scratchbuilt. The rear of the car roof was actually open with a mesh screen though ICM molded it filled in, blanked off under their etched brass screen. In the middle is sprue C with the frame antenna, a sprue common to both the 223 and 261 kits. At the right is the water slide decal sheet of markings common to all four of the ICM leichter Panzerspähwagen kits.

The etched brass fret at far left is the screen for the open compartment of the Sd.Kfz.260 and 261 cars. The etching looks well done. In the center is the roof of the Sd.Kfz.260 and 261 (with the rod antenna used only with the Sd.Kfz.260). German antennas were hollow copper rods and should not be modeled like Allied flexible whip antennas.
I hope ICM makes the small changes needed to the hull and releases a Sd.Kfz.221 armored car kit in 1/72 scale next.

This model was purchased through a local hobby shop and I have no connection with ICM or any model distributor.

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Article Last Updated: 10 August 2009