After working through information sources like the Bundesarchiv, “German armoured cars of World War Two”, some Squadron/Signal publications as well as search engines like Google and Duck Duck Go, I decided I needed to see what the definitive text “Encyclopaedia of German Tanks of World War Two” (Peter Chamberlain & Hilary Doyle with technical editor Thomas Jentz, 1999, Cassell:  London) could tell me about star/umbrella (some were called ‘crow’s foot’) aerials (as I knew some of the pictures included vehicles with these types of aerial).

The Panzerbefehlswagen mit 5cm KwK39 L/60 entry showed two different vehicles that both had an aerial with 4 clearly identifable prongs. The prongs all began where the main aerial ended and radiated out at a 135 degree angle. This is probably a ‘crow’s foot’ aerial.

The Artillerie-Panzerbeobachtungswagen (Panzerkampfwagen III) (Sd Kfz 143) had an identical aerial, clearly painted dunkelgelb.

The Sturmpanzer IV (Sd Kfz 166) had a very different arrangement. It had quite a tall aerial with at least three prongs. The aerial extended upwards quite a way beyond the short prongs…in fact, the prongs are probably about 1/3 of the way from the top of the aerial, and are probably only about 1/6 of the length of the main aerial.

Two different Panzerbefehlswagen mit 7.5cm KwK42 L/70 (Panther) vehicles has two diferent star aerials.  One was an aerial with 6 clearly identifable prongs. The prongs all began where the main aerial ended and radiated out at a 135 degree angle – a variation on the ‘crow’s foot’ aerial. The other was a tall aerial with 6 prongs, the prongs about 1/3 of the way from the top of the aerial, like that for the Sturmpanzer IV (Sd Kfz 166).

When I reached the section on semi-tracked vehicles, the types of star aerial I had seen most of prior to this research began to crop up. The Sd Kfz 250/3 without frame aerial had a star aerial with 6 prongs, the prongs beginning at the end of the main aerial. The Sd Kfz 250/5 leichte Beobachtungspanzerwagen had the same.

Armoured Cars – the S Pz Sp Wg (Fu) (Sd Kfz 232) 8-Rad had the same as the Sd Kfz 250s mentioned above.

The Panzerfunkwagen (Sd Kfz 263) 8-Rad had an aerial with 5 very long prongs radiating from the main aerial, but the main aerial continued upwards after the prongs for another foot, then had a thin vertical prong off it’s top. This seems to be the same as that star aerial photo I found in the Bundesarchiv and which I linked to in an earlier post.  “Encyclopaedia of German Tanks of World War Two” suggests that that particular vehicle may in fact be a Sd Kfz 247 Ausf B, by the way.

The photos in “Encyclopaedia of German Tanks of World War Two” are sometimes  more illustrative than those in “German armoured cars of World War Two”, as they are published showing the vehicle at a further distance from the camera – so you can see the whole aerial. This is certainly true of the photos of the Sd Kfz 234/2 Puma – you can see a 4-prong ‘crow’s foot’ aerial in the former text, whereas you have no idea it’s a star aerial at all in the latter.

A learned friend tells me that it’s extremely likely prongs could be folded out (as seen in the photos)  or folded back against the main aerial if circumstances required. Some prongs may even have ben able to be folded out to horizontal.

It’s best for me to conclude that there were a number of types of star aerials in use, with different main aerial lengths, different numbers of prongs and different prong lengths. Not all prongs were fixed, either. As long as you are consistent by giving all identical vehicles identical types of star aerials, that should satisfy most serious WWII buffs. I’ll be sure to do this with all my Pumas and with any other vehicles I decide  (or assembly instructions insist on or the texts indicate) will have star aerials.

Tankoberg has stopped assembling and is now just painting. The Pumas presented an interesting question – should I paint the sets of axles in dunkelgelb or just with bare metal?

I set out using Google and also a new search engine, Duck Duck Go, to see what I could find. Certainly, searching images turned up lots of beautifully painted model kits in a number of scales, but none clearly showed axles. Even walk-around photos of museum vehicles didn’t oblige! While diligently going through the first 20 pages of results for a search, I found step-by-step photos of a model kit WIP (work in progress) in 1:6 scale.  Egonzinc’s Sdkfz. 234/2 “Puma” *Building the Model” was very informative and I, like those who have already commented on that discussion board, also wish to congratulate him heartily for such fantastic work.

I elected to follow his example and paint my kits’ axles (and also the undercarriage) dunkelgelb, not base metal, just as Egonzinc had done.

Next day, still testing out Duck Duck Go, I did some more general searches about painting Sd.Kfz. 234/2s (or any of the 234 family, since I have a 234/3 and will be buying some 234/1s eventually). As with the searches discussed above, I found a lot of photos and text about how modellers were painting or had painted them – but that wasn’t what I wanted. I’d searched my historical books and had seen photos of actual combat vehicles in plain dunkelgelb, two-tone camouflage and also three-tone camouflage. The Hasegawa kit assembly instruction sheet and box that the kit came in has a painting guide for three-tone camouflage, for a vehicle in action. So, the paint scheme is dark yellow, red brown and olive green in a mottled pattern – and this vehicle is on the Western Front, in Normandy. I’m interested in Eastern Front!

More searches unsued. “German  armoured cars of World War Two” (Milsom & Chamberlain 1974, Arms and armour Press, London) was clearly showing me vehicles with different paint and camouflage schemes! So did Bundesarchiv. So did historical black and white photos from other websites.

An examination of one result hit the jackpot – an English translation of the web page Sd Kfz 234/2 by Francisco Javier Cabeza & Carlos Martín. It had everything I wanted – authoritative text and historical photographs in colour. The Combat Use section is most helpful. Paint schemes and camouflage schemes are discussed as thoroughly as sources allow, as well as markings and divisional insignia. Francisco and Carlos have referred to some texts I own and also some I don’t, but I consider what is on their web site to be accurate and their sources to be high quality – therefore I’m acting on the  information they present.

I noted that the SS Panzer Division used three-tone cammo’d Pumas (but then, SS units usually got the best quality equipment). I decided that since mine were to be Eastern Front, I’d leave them as dunkelgelb but with proper markings. I’ve got some Hetzer tank-hunters who will get a heavy three-tone camouflage scheme and I’m going to do my Panthers in three-tone camouflage too.

Painting has been done with more vigour since this historical research and very fortunate pair of discoveries! Research is a wonderful thing.