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Book Review

Puma Sdkfz 234/1 and Sdkfz 234/2 Heavy Armoured Cars

By Al Crawford - Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA


Basic Item Information


Puma Sdkfz 234/1 and Sdkfz 234/2 Heavy Armoured Cars: German Army, Waffen SS and Luftwaffe Units, Western and Eastern Fronts, 1944-1945 

Author Illustrator

Dennis Oliver 


Pen & Sword 

ISBN Number



Sdkfz 234/1 & 234/2 Armored Cars 


Paperback Book 

Text Language


Retail Price

$29.95 USD 


Al Crawford 

Review Date

August 2, 2023 




Dennis Oliver’s first volume on the Sd.Kfz.234 family, released last year, covered the later 75mm equipped 234/3 and 234/4, and was an excellent modeler’s resource for those two versions of the last German 8-rad armored car of WWII.  This second volume covers the first two variants of the vehicle in similar fashion, providing a concise but satisfying account of their operational history, with unit histories, a very nice selection of color profiles, illustrations of factory-applied standard camouflage, and the structure of the reconnaissance units in which they served.

The story begins - rather surprisingly for me, I have to admit - with the Sd.Kfz.234/2 Puma, probably the best known variant in the family, with a 50mm PaK in a closed turret.  The surprise for me was that, despite the version numbering, this was the first variant built, in the late summer of 1943, and that production didn’t switch to the 234/1, with a 20mm KwK 38 in a standardized Hăngelafette 38 open turret until the summer of 1944.  While this may seem like a backwards step, the vehicle’s recon role and the resulting high attrition, which Oliver references as a factor in the lack of in-action photos when compared to photos of disabled or destroyed vehicles, may well have resulted in the switch to the open turret due to increased situational awareness and the adoption of the 20mm turret across a number of wheeled, half-tracked and fully tracked vehicles.

However, enough speculating, back to the book, which covers the two variants’ service with both Heer and Waffen-SS units on Eastern, then Western fronts.  This takes us back to the attrition problem, as the unit histories paint a picture of an army permanently on the defensive, which really isn’t an ideal situation for recon vehicles, and of depleted units being periodically topped up or operated in mixed units with earlier scout cars, like the Sd.Kfz. 222, and recon half-tracks.  The later shift towards using the chassis as a stop-gap platform for heavier guns is documented in the previous volume.

As with that book, this is really a historical rather than a detailed technical reference - you’ll need to hunt down Nuts & Bolts 40 for that.  However, it does provide a couple of nice labeled photos of the Hăngelafette 38, some detail photos of the Puma turret, and some useful pictures of the various wheel types.  The real meat is in the historical data - a detailed production and allocation table and organizational diagrams for a selection of units during 1943 and 1944.  As with all Oliver titles, there is no shortage of color vehicle profiles.  The period of operation does rule out any particularly esoteric schemes - the twenty profiles are split between field applied three color mottles and a couple of factory applied hard-edged three color schemes, with the exception of a solitary whitewashed vehicle.  The profiles also include a field modified vehicle fitted with a Luchs turret, for those who want to try something a bit different.

The modeling section provides 20+ color pages covering kits in 1/35, 1/48 and 1/76, ranging from older kits like the Pumas from Tamiya and Matchbox (which I still remember building at age ten) to the most recent kits, with those by Italeri somewhere in the middle.  Photos include in-progress builds, which serve to illustrate some of what’s on offer in the way of aftermarket photo-etch and more inspirational finished builds, which serve to remind me that even if I get dug into the stash, the end result still won’t be even close to the beautiful builds shown.

In summary, this is a well-researched title that covers a lesser known type and that manages to squeeze a heck of a lot into 64 pages.  As is usual for TankCraft books, you can buy it as an A4 print title in card covers or as a digital book on the Kindle.

Highly Recommended.

Thanks to Casemate Publishers for the Review Sample.
Copyright: Al Crawford- August 2023