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  1. BM-21 ‘Grad’ (72707) 1:72 ICM via H G Hannants Ltd The URAL-4320 on which this vehicle is based originally entered into Soviet service in the late 70s, and as it is still in production, they and their derivatives are almost ubiquitous in Eastern Europe. It is in use with the Ukrainian Armed Forces today, where its off-road capabilities are essential, bouncing over rutted and turned-over terrain where tanks and shell holes have ruined the surface over the course of the last year. The invader has also donated some additional trucks that have been left behind, which is helpful. The vehicles are painted in a striking digital camouflage over their basic green colour to help hide them in built-up areas. Keep up the good work! The BM-21 Grad Multi-Launch Rocket System (MLRS) began development in the 1960s, reaching production in the middle of the decade, initially mounted on a different vehicle chassis, the system consisting of forty 122mm independently released rockets in a rectangular pack of launch tubes mounted on the rear of the vehicle, with elevation and rotation allowing it to home in on its target after parking up in a suitable location. The nickname grad means hail or hailstorm in English, which is entirely appropriate, as it is capable of launching various types of munitions up to around 30 miles at a rate of two rockets per second up to the maximum full complement of forty rockets. It can fire high-explosive, fragmentation, incendiary, cluster and even smoke or flares, which are loaded manually by the crew in between salvos, preferably with a move in between launch and reload to avoid the enemy homing in on their location. It has been involved in many conflicts since it entered service with predominantly former Soviet aligned or friendly states, and most recently in the Ukraine, where its flexibility and destructive power is well-used, launching either from the cab or by using a long wired remote if the situation calls for it. The Kit This is a reboxing of a kit that has its heritage in the late 1990s, although the first boxing of this variant was released in 2005 with new parts. The kit arrives in a small top-opening box with captive lid to the lower tray, and inside are three sprues and cab part in grey styrene, another larger sprue in black, a small clear sprue, a large decal sheet and the instruction booklet on glossy paper with colour profiles on the rear. Due to the age of the kit there are bound to be some minor issues with flash, but compared to previous editions it seems to have been reduced substantially for this boxing, and a quick scrape with the edge of a blade will see it disappear in moments. The cab part is slide-moulded, and a modicum of flash is just visible around the edges where the mould sections meet, probably as a result of the age of the mould. Construction begins with the chassis, which is predominantly moulded in black, as per the finished colour of the underside, which is helpful to the beginner and expert alike. The three axles, drive-shafts, cross-members, exhaust and a representation of the underside of the drive-train are all added to the ladder chassis, and the axles are tipped with six two-part wheels plus separate hub inserts. The cab interior is relatively simple, and is made from a sled-like floor to which the twin-seats and gear shifter are fitted, while the dash is given a steering wheel on the left side, and a grab rail on the right for the co-driver to stabilise himself when traversing rough terrain. These sub-assemblies are inserted into the cab from below after the numerous windows are fitted from within, adding radiator and inner arches inside the engine bay, and two crew steps are fixed under the side doors, plus lights and door mirrors to complete the cab, which is then put to the side while the load bed and rocket package are made. The rocket tubes are made from four layers with the tube-shapes moulded-in, locked together by four pins and recesses between the layers, and a rear section depicting the back end of the tubes. The palette on which the package sits is made from three parts including an elevation rack, with the turntable made from a further two layers that have additional parts fixed in place, which is then lowered onto the rear deck with the mudguards moulded into the sides. The deck is applied to the back of the chassis with actuator rams, and the front stowage area added in front after detailing with a variety of stowage boxes and detail parts. The spare tyre is made up from different parts, and is inserted into its frame between the cab and load area along with several other details and pioneer tools, then the cab is detailed with additional mirrors, search lamps, and a front bumper bar with a pair of towing hooks. A perforated panel fits between the two portions of the aft deck to finish the build. Markings There are two options included on the decal sheet, but with four number plates, that’s really four with two camouflage colour options. The base colour remains the same, adding either subdued digital camouflage decals, or the brighter yellow and brown option, which you may recognise if you have one of the other recent boxings, as it’s the same sheet. It’s entirely up to you and/or your references which combination you go for. From the box you can build one of the following: Armed Forces of Ukraine Armed Forces of Ukraine, Camouflage Version from 2021 Decals are by ICM’s usual partners, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion It’s not a brand new kit, so a little work tidying up the parts will pay dividends, but it’s an example of a Ukrainian workhorse that’s capable of supporting its soldiers with a barrage of around 720 missiles from a battalion to decimate their target with only three minutes of set-up during this terrible war. Highly recommended. Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  2. 9A52-2 SMERCH-M 1/35th scale Trumpeter 01020 Hmmmm! Now, here is the dilema??? Two at Once? This is a dilema many of us come across, especially these days with competition as it is - MENG or Trumpeter, Trumpeter or MENG - which one shall I build? Well, the £20 difference in basic costs does make a certain statement and as I already have the Trumpeter Scud-B on the back burner I decided on economy. A lot fewer sprues but much larger and, without sitting down for several hours to count them, the number of parts would look to be similar quantity. Costs in at £79.99 RRP Section 1 and 49 parts. Construction of the main chassis - right side At 322mm long and 20mm/35mm across this is the most important part of the chassis All jigged up on my Picador Blocks, the chassis is square and true. Section 2 and a further 25 parts complete phase 2 of the main chassis At this point, everything fits in extremely well with no surprises. So far, all parts are well engineered. The left side-member is not yet glued but is held in place with tape to ensure the cross-members dry correctly. A few more bits still to add. Next Time: Remaining Chassis & Engine
  3. TOS-1A Multiple Rocket Launcher Trumpeter 1:35 History Although looking like and classed as a Multiple Launch Rocket System the TOS-1 can also be classed as a heavy flamethrower system. It is intended for direct fire support of advancing infantry and main battle tanks, and moves in their combat orders. Designed to engage military personnel, fortifications and light armoured vehicles. The heavy flamethrower system is generally similar to multiple launch rocket systems, however fires different types of rockets and has shorter firing range. The TOS-1 was developed in the early 1980s and was successfully used by the Soviet Army in Afghanistan and later by the Russian forces in Chechnya. It is nicknamed the 'Buratino'. It seems that the original TOS-1 heavy flamethrower system was used only for trials and evaluation; however it was not accepted to service with the Russian Army. Also there is no information that this heavy flamethrower system was exported. The TOS-1 fires 220-mm rockets. There are two types of warheads - incendiary and fuel-air explosive. The fuel-air explosive weapons are also called as vacuum or thermobaric. This type of munitions releases a large cloud of flammable gas and causes massive explosions. It is used to clear out bunkers and other fortifications. The TOS-1 heavy flamethrower system has a relatively short maximum firing range of only 3.5 km. Minimum range is 400 meters. This heavy flamethrower system launches a single rocket or a pair of two rockets within 0.5 s. Full salvo duration is 7.5 or 15 seconds. A full salvo of this flamethrower system covers area of 200 by 400 meters. The TOS-1 is fitted with a modern fire control system. All guidance and firing procedures are made from the inside of the vehicle without exposing crew to enemy fire. Vehicle can stop and fire at a visible target within 90 seconds from traveling. This flamethrower system is operated by a crew of three, including commander, gunner and driver. This heavy flamethrower system is mounted on the modified T-72 main battle tank chassis. It is powered by the V-84-1 diesel engine, developing 840 horsepower. Vehicle is fitted with a self-entrenching blade. Its armour protection is similar to that of the T-72 main battle tank. Reloading is assisted by a TZM reloading vehicle, which also uses chassis of the T-72 main battle tank. It is used to transport and reload rockets. It is equipped with a crane and carries a set of reload rockets. Reloading vehicle is also operated by a crew of three. Some sources claim that there is also a reloading vehicle built on the chassis of a cross-country truck. TOS-1A is the latest variant of the original heavy flamethrower system. It was accepted to service with the Russian Army in 2001. The BM-1 launch vehicle uses longer 220-mm rockets. Also a number of launching tubes was reduced from 30 to 24. New launching tubes are longer in comparison with the previous system. Maximum range of fire was increased to 6 000 m. This heavy flamethrower is supported by a new TZM-T reloading vehicle. It carries two units for 12 rockets each. A crane is mounted between these units. Reloading vehicle also carries 400 litres of fuel for the launch vehicle. The Model This large “tank” arrives in the standard sturdy top opening box with an artists rendition of the vehicle in service rolling along a battlefield with other in the distance firing there rockets. Inside, there are nineteen sprues of light grey styrene, separate lower hull, plus separate upper and lower rocket launcher parts. There are also eight sprues of brown styrene for the individual track links, one of clear, two small frets of etched brass, a sprue of rather odd rubbery material, a sprue of sixteen poly caps and a small sheet of decals. The moulded details are up to Trumpeters usual high standards when it comes to their armoured kits. Everything is very crisp, flash and imperfection free. The parts count is quite high, and there are quite a lot of fiddly parts so the patience factor should be turned up to eleven, particularly for the tracks. The build begins the assembly of all the drive and road wheels, each of which are provided as in inn and outer parts which are joined together, sandwiching a poly cap in between. This is followed with the fitting out of the lower hull in preparation for the suspension to be attached. This includes the main drive and idler wheel mounts, torsion beam bump stops, additional tie rod fittings for the front two and one rear torsion bars on each side. The lower glacis plate is also fitted at this point along witht eh side plate attachment points. With several smaller items and what looks like a dozer blade mounting fixture are attached the torsion arms can be fitted, followed by the drive sprockets, road wheels and idler wheels. This assembly is now put to one side until later in the build. The upper hull panel is now fitted out. This begins with the drivers vision port, fitted from the inside while two strengthening beams are fitted to the upper glacis plate. There plenty of smaller parts to be fitted on to the front of the upper hull, including four sensors, towing hooks, PE brackets and the drivers two piece hatch. These are followed by the headlights and their associated protective cages, four smoke discharger barrels and four more PE brackets. The upper hull plate can now be attached to the lower hull assembly completed above. Work now turns to the engine deck. This separate area is well detailed with fine moulding for the radiators. To this several hinges and PE grilles are fitted along with the separate intercooler radiator part and its associated PE grilles, as well as a couple of addition hinges. The engine cover is fitted first, forward of the radiator mounting which can then be attached. On the rear of the tank, attached to the rear bulkhead is a large steadying plate with two hydraulically driven round foot plates. The parts that make up this are also nicely detailed and can be assembled to be posed in either stowed or in the firing position. Two spare track links are also fitted to the rear bulkhead, between the two spades. At this point the tracks are to be assembled, so it’s about time you took your medication and fill up with patience. The individual links ate attached to the sprue at two points, with a further two moulding pips attached. With 166 links required they will take a fair amount of time to clean up. That said, at least they don’t have any ejector pin marks on the track faces. Each link is fitted with a separate guide horn, which is, a) rather annoying, increasing the parts count for no valid reason, and , blooming fiddly. Once the guide horns are attached Trumpeter have at least been kind enough to provide a moulded track building template to help with the construction. How the modeller builds the tracks is entirely up to them as everyone has their own method, I would make up lengths of track and treat them as I would link and length found in other armour kits and fit them at the end of the build. With the tracks out of the way it’s onto the assembly of the track guards. Each guard is assembled from a single main part, onto which the support beams are fitted, followed by the external fuel tanks. To the track guard the side plates are fitted along with three support straps. The appears to be two different styles of side plates, so ensure you use the correct one for your intended subject. To the outside edge of each side plate thirteen PE brackets are attached. The completed track guard/side plate assemblies are then fitted to the hull, followed by the firing plate actuators. The unditching log, made from the rather unusual rubber material is fitted with PE clamps and attached to the outside of the starboard side plate. Further PE straps, with their associated IM hinges are fitted along the length of both track guards. Further parts of the dozer blade mounting plate are assembled and fitted into position. With the hull now complete, the build moves on to the main reason for this vehicles being, the rocket launch box and turret mounting. The low circular turret is moulded in two pieces, the upper part, once the various hatches sights and elevation arm mounting points are attached is cemented to the lower turret ring. The elevation actuator rod is fitted through the upper turret armour and into the inner mounted actuator tube. The rocket box consists of four parts, upper, lower and the two end pieces with the rocket end moulded into them. The elevation hinge support base is assembled using seven parts, which include the two large support beams, mounting plate and hinge points. This is then fitted to the underside of the rocket box along with the optionally posed rear hinged panel and elevation actuator attachment point. The front of the box also has an armoured cover which can be posed in closed or firing position. The large elevation arm mounting beams are assembled from inner and outer parts and fitted with the outer bearing covers, before being attached to the rear of the rocket box. The turret mounted structure, to which the rocket box is attached is assembled from upper and lower sections and fitted out with various ancillary parts, such as motors, aerial mount, elevation stops and the elevation rams. This is then attached to the turret top. The rocket box is now fitted to the turret mounting and the rams and actuators attached to their respective points. The completed turret is then mounted on the hull and the modeller has the option of fitting the rocket box traveling rods which also completes the build. Decals The small decal sheet has decals for two machines. One in a three colour camouflage of green, tan and black, with the Red Star Crest on the rocket box, the other in an overall green scheme with the types Russian designation and nickname on the rocket box. There are also a selection of numbers in white for specific vehicles, which will require some research. Conclusion Having been seen in the news recently on exercise and alleged operations within the Ukraine it is interesting to have this vehicle in model form. The kit is well up to Trumpeters usual standard, with plenty of detail, which will satisfy all but the most ardent superdetailing modellers. The downside is the complexity of those darn tracks, which wouldn’t be so bad if they were a click fit, but they’re not and each link has to be glued to place from the beginning. I realise the guide horns would have been difficult to mould, being open, but they certainly add to the time taken to build this kit. That said, they should look good when all is assembled. Despite the obvious awkward bits, this should build into an interesting and certainly unusual model for any collection, but perhaps not for beginners. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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