The king of battle (artillery) is not well represented in this blog, and I plan to rectify this starting with the (relatively) recent Msta-S kit from Zvezda in 1/72. The 2S19 self-propelled howitzer was developed during the 1980s to replace the aging 2S3 “Akatsiya” SPG of the same caliber (and much shorter range + lower rate of fire). It uses a modified T-72 hull as well as torsion bars, wheels and track from T-80 to carry a large turret with a 7 meter long barrel. The resulting product finally brought the level of Soviet SPG up, nearer to the then-current M109 variants in NATO armies. An interesting feature at the back of the turret is an elevator for transporting shells and propellant charges from the ground up into the turret. This means the howitzer can be continuously fed from the ground instead of using up the ammo stored onboard. Zvezda has already produced an 1/35 kit which proved popular. Despite knowing the 1/72 kit is expected a year in advance and the official announcement came on June 1, 2019 – picking the actual article up was exciting.
The Panther is one of the most recognizable tanks of WWII, right up there with the slow and boxy but feared Tiger I. With ~6,000 examples per Wikipedia the Panther is the third most produced tracked German AFV after the Stug III (9,408 built), and the workhorse of Panzerwaffe, the Pz IV (8,298 made).
No wonder that number of kits on the market follows closely the other 2 vehicles. Naturally there are various renditions of the vehicle and its details, with the tracks varying from flat to highly detailed. Below are a few examples from 6 different kits:
a Zvezda Ausf D, which I’ve previously featured here and here.
a Zimmerit-clad Dragon Ausf G previously see here and here.
a late Ausf A again of DML pedigree.
a Trumpeter Late production Jagdpanther
an ESCI early Jagdpanther in Italeri box (the only one on the market with early engine deck)
Revell’s early/late Jagdpanther combo kit 03111
I’ve also included 2 resin sets for comparison: early and late tracks from OKB Grigorov. Here’s the full line up:
Cast – in order of appearance (left to right) and track width:
The BMPT (marketing callsign “Terminator”) is a Russian fighting vehicle, based off a T-72/T-90 chassis with a 5-man crew. It is intended as an urban warfare vehicle supporting main battle tanks and infantry. Armament consists of
4 Ataka ATGMs on the turret sides (up to 6km range),
two 30 mm 2A42 cannons (known from the BMP-2) in the center,
and a PKTM machine gun (7,62x54mm) at the top.
Two AGS-17 grenade launchers in the front sponsons further add to the firepower.
The machine is clad into reactive and bar armor from all sides, and the kit represents that very well. Not everyone “gets” the vehicle (even the Russian MoD hasn’t ordered any), so the only customer to date is Kazakhstan. Since I am tired of seeing the same 2 examples in reports from arms expos and the thing looks a bit too post-apocaliptic – I devised a scheme of my own. Markings come from Dragon Humvee set and a Space Marine set.
2 years later than the actual completion date I am finally uploading a gallery of my rendition. It was an absolute joy to build bar the tracks which can be easily broken when trying to bend them around the wheels.
The kit is built mostly OOB except
OKB Grigorov’s T-90 tracks,
copper cable for the lower rims of the fuel drums on the back,
decals from New Penguin’s Airborne Combat Vehicles Markings set 72002,
and 0,3mm brass rod antenna, which I bent numerous times during the first week. I got so angry I placed the model in a box so I don’t do it again.
Finishing media are my typical set of:
MM Gun Metal for the track base color,
GSI Creos Chrome Silver laquer for a few chips,
a mix of acrylic clear gloss with red and black for the IR light and sight lenses,
clear blue for vision blocks,
oils to highlight hundreds of plains of the various blocks on the machine,
The T-72 main battle tank is one of the most recognizable combat machines very much thanks to the mass of real-time broadcast conflicts it’s participated in during the past 3 decades. A lot of companies have released model kits, including in 1/72 scale.
Two types of roadwheels have been used during the 72’s production run: the “8-hole” (early) and the “6-hole” (late) types. They were identical in diameter and rim width – 750mm and 190mm respectively. This scales down to approx. 10,4 and 2,6mm in 1/72.
Perhaps the most available kit is the Revell kit of the T-72M1 export variant, which provides the modeler with options for both early and late wheels.
Both wheel types in the Revell kit are 10,4mm in diameter (spot on), and 2,1mm wide which is 0,5mm too narrow, mostly because of the massively beveled edge of the rubber bandage. The hubcap is too big with its plate too thick and very sketchy molded bolt detail. The indentations are shallow and feature squared-off edges. The rim edge on Revell’s wheel is too high (due to the beveling mentioned), and the rubber bandage is too thick. See below for comparison with OKB Grigorov early wheels:
The wheel profile is trapezoidal, meaning that the rear face of the wheel is slightly larger in diameter than it is at the front.
This is due to a technology limitation – it allows the part to be extracted from the mold.
The late type went on to serve on the T-72BM, popular as the T-90, so let’s look at those kits as well.
The 2013-2014 Revell T-90 kits (cast and welded turret) promised an updated 6-spoke wheel over the then-only ACE tooling of said tank. That did not quite happen. To add insult to the injury Revell was the first company to introduce ribbed detail on the surfaces of the rubber bandage. Apparently some people consider this a realistic representation of the ~2mm lines on the real thing. No, it isn’t and makes the tank look like a river steamer even in 1/35!
Then we have the Modelcollect kit range, which covers most production models of both T-72 and T-90. Naturally this means the wheel sprues are shared. I am the proud owner of a 2012 edition cast turret T-90, featuring the “thin-bandage” variety (as opposed to the overly thick-bandaged version similar to Revell apparently boxed in the years since).
While the wheels look much better proportioned than the Revell example at a glance, they are visibly larger on comparison – their diameter is 10,75mm, or 0,35mm too large. At 2,7mm wide they are just 0,1mm wider than needed.
The hubcap is much better shaped and notably thinner than the German offering, yet the bolts are hardly visible. The rim edge on this variant of the Modelcollect’s wheels is not represented at all, and the rubber bandage is too thin.
Unlike Revell’s wheel, where the mold halves join at the trear of the “dish”, the halves on this Modelcollect option meet at the middle of the bandage. This means it’s beveled from both ends, and as a result looks rather rounded in profile.
The next contender shares this fault, but to a much lesser degree (not as obvious).
When Zvezda released their “T-90 welded turret” in 2015 it was late to the party: Revell and Modelcollect each had both the welded and the cast turret models on the market. However Zvezda brought in a very strong contender with clever part breakdown, virtually free of flash and molding deficiencies, and allowed for true part finesse for the scale. The wheels are 10,25mm in diameter, and the rubber bandage is 2,5mm wide (“close enough”).
The details on the metal “dish” are significantly better than the rest of the other plastic kits available, yet similarly to the reviewed option by Modelcollect the bandage itself is too thin.
Last but not least are OKB Grigorov’s resin wheels, which are 10,35mm in diameter, and 2,55mm at the bandage.
The rim edge is noticeable, but not too pronounced, and the bandage is discernible without being too thick. There is no beveling on either side, and no mold parting line either – only the attachment to the casting block which can be cleaned with 800-grit sandpaper. The hubcaps are well defined, and the bolts are actually hexagonal. See the comparison of OKB’s late wheel in the image below:
The latest version of the T-90 has the indentations span the roadwheel diameter. You can see the OKB late T-90 wheels below and consider them for replacing those on Modelcollect’s T-90MS and T-72B3, B3M and B4 Tank Biathlon kits.
Strictly following the beaten path of releasing two opposing sets each time, Zvezda has provided a VVS ground crew to match the Luftwaffe set 6188.
There’s a reason the review is uploaded after the German crew – the kit has something special in it. Figures are made after the characters from the Soviet movie “Only Old Men Are Going to Battle” – a fragment is shown below:
Just have a look at these two (esp. the one on the left):
and you will understand what I mean.
Now… “Old men” is rather used for experienced ones rather than aged. In war where life expectancy on the battlefield was measured in hours and medals were presented for surviving 20 combat flights you could consider such a veteran the squadron’s old man. But I digress.
Two green sprues host 5 figures, a bunch of bases, a fuel drum with a manual pump on top, a pair of ammo crates and a bit crude FAB-50 bomb.
Again – natural poses, more detail than expected from mainstream figures this size.
With one exception the figures have faces, even the edges on the “pilotka” cap can be clearly discerned.
The instruction sheet is a bit crowded:
Overall the set will be a great addition to any WWII Soviet aircraft base – especially after the proper weathering 😉read more
In recent years Zvezda has released multiple snap-fit aircraft kits in 1/72 scale that include excellent pilot figures. They have now “gone full circle” by releasing ground crews to accompany these kits. First off – the Luftwaffe crew.
As shown on the now-standard box – there are 5 figures, a bomb trolley with a bomb, a fuel drum and a jerry can included. As with some other sets you can either use a single base for all the guys, or use individual ones.
Typical for the Art of tactic game series the plastic is light gray, parts are on 2 sprues.
Of note are not only the poses, but the quality of details on the figures. Yes, there is a certain softness on the clothing and kit, but Zvezda has molded human body detail I have yet to see provided by other mainstream manufacturers. You can see the fingers and the detail on the palm of a guy’s hand. In Braille scale.
or even see his face. That’s a bit different from the tubes most figures have molded as hands, etc.
Sorry – I didn’t delve much into the jerrycan and drum, but most of you already have resin ones anyway, so just two quick snaps of the bomb trolley parts.
I am sure Zvezda could have provided separate wheels and saved us some work without spending too much extra on molds, but oh well. Despite the price of 0,50 Euro per fig I still am pretty happy with the figures.
T-90 has been in the fantasies of a lot of Braille scale folk in the recent years. There was the ACE kit, then more recently the Revell cast and welded turret models. Tracks on all were on the underdetailed side. This set from OKB Grigorov solves the problem.
Now with the Zvezda T-90 out you’d imagine we have the definitive kit with great tracks. Alas, although Zvezda did create an impressive kit, the tracks supplied are extremely tense, and the entire running gear can be snapped away trying to put the track runs on.
This set saves the day by providing 6 lengths of track. Even if you do not intend to have any sag on your tracks – you will have enough length to not worry about breaking off anything, and to actually shoe up a much larger/longer vehicle (or 2 full tanks if you do not use the upper length.
In addition 😛 you get some seriously nice and refined detail, including simulated bolts in the end connectors, as well as the raised pattern. That would be very hard to get in molded plastic (or softer material for that matter).
The best thing – you can connect runs by simply gluing them together as they fit one after the other. As you can see the casting block gates are thing enough to be literally snapped off, flash is extremely thin and will only require a bit stiffer toothbrush to clean up.
Perhaps the biggest, most visible advantage – hollow guide teeth as on the Pz. III and IV tracks reviewed before, so you don’t have to drill them out, use PE or other time-consuming solution.
The Soviet union started the war with the F-22 and USV divisional guns as the mainstays of its artillery. In 1942 they were replaced by the lighter, faster-firing and more modern ZIS-3 design that was more suited to war time production and maintenance capabilities of the vast country. Over 45,000 guns were built during war years; many were towed, some served on anti-tank SPGs like the SU-76 and SU-76M.
Italeri and UM have already produced kits of the subject, the first one even included crew in winter uniform. My personal opinion is that either kit suffer from oversimplification, so the kit from Zvezda is a welcome addition to the market despite positioned as the wargaming piece that the Italeri rendition is.
The kit is molded in dark on two sprues, and includes a 3-man crew plus base.
However the model appears to be well-enough detailed for a no-glue assembly one, there is no mold shifting or flash. The detail on the gun shield is cleanly molded, as are the teeth of the elevation mechanism. The macro shots don’t actually do the molding justice.
No doubt the thickness of the shield is far from being to scale (~0.7mm). There are 2 storage boxes and a separate gun sight, elevation and traverse handwheels.
To be fair, I must admit that the greyish spots scare me a bit – that is despite being unable to feel them when touching the kit surfaces. Looks like the plastic got overcooked either on this shot or a previous one and the molds were dirty. Oddly enough they are mostly evident on the shield, gun barrel and sprues themselves – I did not observe spots on the crew.
The wheels are the same for the GAZ-AA truck, and good enough for an $3 wargame kit – note hexagonal bolt head detail.
Italeri, Heller, and more recently Roden and Dragon have released PAK-40 in 1/72. There have also been wargaming models in the scale.
Italeri’s crew are softer plastic than I like, Dragon’s “bundle” with the PAK-36 and 5 crewfigures is excellent, but hard to find and expensive. Preiser’s 5-member gun crew is similarly elusive, but tops all of them.
The cons above – along with aggressive pricing of about $3 – puts Zvezda’s new set at a very competitive position, despite the crew consisting of just 3 figures. The two sprues are molded in grey and reasonably well-detailed.
It’s still marketed as a part of Zvezda’s “Art of tactics” game system, but this time around there is no wargame card – you can download and print the card off the company’s website.
Let’s have a look at the gun and figures.
Our gun crew’s faces certainly bear the marks of war fatigue with seriously pronounced cheek bones and hard stare. They appear to be dressed and equipped in pre-1943 gear. Figures are suitably busy, and despite details on pockets and webbing being a tiny bit softer than I’d like them to be – they are still impressively well done for their market niche. The part breakdown has allowed for the poses to be nicely animated as opposed to one-piece figures we’re used to in the scale. You can see the field shovel and the Kar98 are also pretty nicely molded for parts that are under 1 cm.
The gun is not bad either.
The shield is relatively thin, with bolt and other details represented on either side. There is no attempt at simulating it being two-layer affair as on the real one, but it sill looks rather good. Some of you might want to replace the molded-on storage boxes with pieces of thin sprue to represent them as the cylinders that they were on the actual gun. The locating holes on the inside might be a bit big – we’ll see if the cradle and barrel assembly hides them when assembled. Note a part of the elevation mechanism is also represented.
The lower gun shield is deployed, which suggests the gun is only intended to be displayed in the firing position. Again there are hinge and bolt detail on either side, and a full-sized shovel is molded on its outer face. One of the main letdowns of the kit is the gun barrel, which becomes too thin before the muzzle brake. As another modeller put it this must be the 75/37mm squeeze-bore model…
Admittedly it will be very easy to replace the barrel with either a turned RB metal barrel, or one of the two spare barrels from your Dragon PAK-40 kit. This will also save you the required drilling out of the muzzle brake.
Same applies for the wheels – they look a bit cartoonish to me. The spokes appear fine, but the hub detail is non-existant, and the rubber bandage doesn’t seem to match the wheel type.
Anyway it still appears to be a great kit, and a recommended one.read more