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Mike

Soviet SS-23 Spider Tactical Ballistic Missile 1:35

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Mike    10,464

Soviet SS-23 Spider Tactical Ballistic Missile
1:35 Hobby Boss


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Known by the Russians a Oka, the SS-23 Spider is NATO's codename for it, and the complete system was a definite threat to the West, which resulted in some controversy during the 90s, when its ability to strike quickly and without any viable means of defence against its warhead brought its existence into question during the disarmament treaty discussions. It ended up with Mr Gorbachev withdrawing them as a gesture of goodwill toward the west, although some were used by former Soviet states in a conventional role after this.

Based on the eight-wheeled BAZ-6944 amphibious launch platform made by Bryansk Automobile Plant, it replaced the ageing Scud Bs in the late 1970s, and could set up and launch a missile within five minutes. The missile was highly capable too, and could hit mobile as well as stationary targets, and at the time was impossible to defend against due to its trajectory and speed. Its 250 mile range was hotly disputed by the west, and all of the nuclear tipped warheads have been withdrawn, as have the conventionally equipped missiles. A few vehicles and dummy missiles still exist in museums, fortunately.

The Kit
The modelling manufacturers seem to have a bit of a thing for missiles and their transporters, with this just one of many announcements over the past months, and now we have it available in the UK from our friends at Creative. The box is a large one, and is quite heavy with good reason. Once you lift the lid, you see why, as there's a lot of styrene in there, in the shape of ten sprues in sand coloured styrene, six large parts on their own, plus two smaller cylindrical parts, all in the same coloured styrene. The wheels are black "rubber", there is a length of copper wire hidden in the bag for the cab part (watch out for that), there are two frets of Photo-Etch (PE) brass in a card backed bag, and a small decal sheet. A clear sprue contains the windows and lights, and then it's just the instruction booklet and a glossy full-colour printed painting and marking guide.

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Initial impressions are that you'll need a big shelf/cabinet/base to display the finished model, as it measures almost 34cm long before you deploy the missile for firing. Detail is good throughout, and you have the option of posing the missile in transport mode, where it is completely covered within the vehicle, or in firing mode with the missile deployed in a vertical position and stabilising legs dropped from the front and rear of the vehicle. Construction starts with the crew cab, which sits within a large "bathtub" that is later dropped into the front of the body before it is closed up. A separate dash with steering and missile control equipment is first in, followed by a set of gear and drive mode selection levers, two crew seats, and a pair of odd turrets that stand behind both seats. In the roof are more instrument boxes, and a rear bulkhead, with the glazing added to lips from the inside at the sides, and from the outside at the front. Two hatches are added to the roof, along with an intake that can be posed raised or lowered, a series of grab-handles around the sides, and three windscreen wipers for the faceted windscreen.

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The huge keel of the vehicle is a single part, and has lots of suspension detail and ribbing moulded in, onto which eight suspension units are built up with swing-arms and dampers, before adding the wheels, which have styrene hubs and "rubber" tyres that are very nicely detailed. The keel is then added to the lower hull, locating on a number of large tabs. A profusion of grab-handles and other small parts are added to the sides, and the rear sponson boxes are installed behind the last pair of wheels. Note here that both front wheel pairs steer, so remember to pose them accordingly if you are planning on showing them deflected to one side or other. You need to choose whether your missile will be on display about now, as that will determine whether the four large stabilising legs are deployed or stowed in the sponson end-boxes for transport. After installing the triangular shaped strengthening beams and fuel tanks on each side, the hull is flipped over, and yet more small fixings are added to the sides. A small recessed panel is added to the inside of a rectangular hole in the hull side, which is later covered by a fine PE mesh, and the cab interior that you made earlier is installed in the front. The little PE brackets on the sides have short lengths of the copper wire inserted through their holes, of which you have to make 21, so it would be an idea to make a basic jig to cut 1.3mm reliably.

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It's time to build the missile, and here you are helped by the bottom two sections being moulded as cylinders, with plenty of detail added using sliding moulds. Four exhaust nozzles are added, as are the four waffle-textured steering vanes on each quadrant, and into the top is inserted the tapering business end of the missile, which is split lengthways, so will need a little work to hide the seams. The launch rail is another large moulding, with two inserts for the attachment of the missile, which secures on two large lugs on the transition from cylindrical to tapering. The triple rams are added under the rail, and its bay is decked out with three hinged hydraulic cylinders into which the rams slide, and the launch rail is attached via two hinge-points, which should allow it to be raised or lowered if you are careful with the glue. The missile bay walls are busy with equipment as moulded, to which more is added before they are installed on the bay floor using a number of location tabs and slots. It is then time to build the roof of the bay, which takes up most of the length of the vehicle. The main part is one of the large mouldings that comes with a removable strengthening sprue binding the two sides together to prevent damaging flexing during transport. The front of the bay is added, as are a number of access panels on the sloping sides, and another eight of the little brackets with wire cross-pieces. The two assemblies are now brought together, with the bay mounting in the roof by six hidden slots and tabs. It might be good to brace this joint further with some rod to prevent gravity working its magic over time. There is an optional cover for the nose of the missile that can be added at this stage, which has a blunt nose, and two clam-shell doors in the upper half to allow the missile to rise out of the cover during erection (don't!). The long doors are added next, and these can be left to hinge to expose the interior if you wish, as long as you have glued the small hinge-points into the doors securely.

The finishing act involves installing the cab, roof, and the light-clusters, plus the grilles on the side, footstep under each door, and if you were sensible and left them off until now – the wing mirrors. With a little scratch-building work you could make the stabilising feet movable, so you could change your model's stance from transport to launch on a whim, as the doors and missile already have that capability.


Markings
Two options are available from the box, and neither have much in the way of decals if you ignore the instrument decals for the driver's controls. One is painted all-over light green (FS34102) with black lines wriggling over its surfaces as if someone was going to paint in camouflage, but forgot. The second is more flamboyant and has a dark grey and middle stone camouflage with black demarcation lines separating them. The decals are well printed, and all that will be placed outside are a pair of small unit markings for the front sides of the cab. The rest are in the cab, and should improve the detail there very well.

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Conclusion
A big mobile missile launcher is quite impressive to look at, and HB have done well in terms of the detail that will be on display here. My only complaint is the fixed nature of the legs, particularly when the rest of the model can have its pose changed at any time. Address that as you see fit, and it's a good thing.

Very highly recommended.

The first stock has sold out already, but they will be back, and in the meantime you could always pick up one with a damaged box here
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Review sample courtesy of
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Shar2    2,829

Cool kit of a rather disturbing weapon. Can't wait for mine to arrive.

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