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Mike

SU-76M Self-Propelled Gun w/crew - 1:35 MiniArt

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SU-76M Self-Propelled Gun with Crew

1:35 MiniArt

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The SU-76 was one of the most widely used AFVs of WWII by the Russians, and was based upon an enlarged version of the T-70 Light Tank chassis, adding width and an extra roadwheel to the length of the vehicle. Although the T-70 wasn't particularly effective or well liked, this much changed and improved development of its basic running gear was, because of its simple agricultural design, which made it easy to maintain, and forgiving in combat conditions. Initial problems with the drive-train were soon cured, and the SU-76M was the result, with the armoured roof of the casemate removed for ease of service and repair of the 76.2mm ZiS-3 gun.

 

Production went on to reach almost 14,000 units before war's end, and although production of the SU-76 ceased, a further development continued production in the form of the ZSU-37, the first dedicated anti-aircraft tank in Soviet service.

 

The Kit

MiniArt are a growing force within the AFV world, and have a good reputation for their diorama bases and figure sets. Their toolings are more traditional in style, but an element of slide-moulding is starting to creep in, making for better detail on the parts. The kit arrives in a top opening grey box with a vignette painting of an SU-76M on grassy terrain. Inside are five sprues of mid-grey styrene, a single hull "tub", 16 sprue ladders of track links, a tiny sprue of clear parts, and a simple decal sheet printed by Begemot. The instruction booklet is printed in black and white on good stock, while the colour and decaling sheet is printed in full colour, and includes painting call-outs for the included figures.

 

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The first thing that is immediately apparent is that the hull of this tank is rather small. One of its nicknames was "bare a**ed Ferdinand", which referred to its similar layout but diminutive size when compared to the giant German design. The tub struggles to make 5" in length, but detail on the outer hull is good, with rivets, panel lines and raised detail in good supply. There is also detail inside the hull toward the rear where it will be visible due to its open top. Whether you will need to remove the large injection moulding lump that sits in the middle of the hull bottom is questionable, especially as there is a panel placed between it and the viewer during later construction.

 

Unusually for a tank, the gun and its support-work are first to be built up, and there are plenty of parts to make this a well detailed section of the model. The barrel is supplied in two halves, so the more aftermarket conscious amongst us might want to source a replacement, but with some careful seam-work, the kit part should suffice, particularly as it has a 2-piece flash-hider that is added after the barrel is pushed through the mantlet, giving the impression of a hollow barrel. Careful assembly and judicious use of glue should permit you to retain the ability to traverse and raise the barrel, which is of use to retain until you have chosen the final position of the gun, at which time it can be fixed by freezing the pivot points with liquid glue.

 

Once the gun is completed, the chassis makes an appearance, and each side takes six keyed suspension arms, onto which a roadwheel is glued. A triplet of return rollers fix further up the side of the hull on axles, and the idler wheel attaches at the very rear of the vehicle, almost as an afterthought trailing behind. The drive sprockets are mounted to the front on their final drive housings, the edge of which stand proud of the glacis plate once complete. The front of the chassis is boxed in with armour plate at this stage, and various shackles and detail parts are added to the forward and aft bulkheads. There are two hatches on the glacis plate, one for access to the gearbox and the other for the driver, which has a domed armoured surface that has a nice cast texture moulded in.

 

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The tracks are separate links that are provided on ladder-like sprues with only small stubs of sprue between each link and no outer runners. Detail is excellent throughout, and they should clip together with no glue, which is backed up by a symbol in the instruction. Each link has three sprue gates sensibly placed, and no ejector pin marks – these have been cleverly left on the sprue stubs between each link. Clean-up and construction of each track of 92 links should proceed relatively quickly as a result of these positives, and there are 8 links spare in case of broken pins. The slide-moulded fenders are then mounted with five bracing brackets on each side, along with some small details and stowage areas. A driving light is placed on the port fender, which has a clear lens piece, so the rear of the part will need painting silver to represent the reflector. On the rear of the starboard fender is a large box containing the radiator and the twin exhaust pipes. The open face of the radiator has moulded baffles that expand the surface area, which are neatly moulded, and the exhausts are made up from two halves with an exhaust pipe stub which will need drilling out to add a little realism. The upper hull is then covered with pioneer tools, while the fenders receive more stowage boxes, and the towing cable is bend into a C-shape for mounting on the glacis plate. My sample had already sheared where the two cooling wavefronts of styrene had met and cooled too quickly to mix, so the single-piece rope would be of no use. However, MiniArt have sensibly included an extra pair of towing eyes without rope moulded to them in case you want to make your own. As usual with my armour builds, I will be using a length of RB Models braided cable, because nothing looks quite like braided cable other than braided cable!

 

At this stage the gun is installed onto a hub moulded into the rear of the top deck, and secured in place from the underside with a pin, which will take some very careful gluing to retain the ability to traverse. A basic floor piece is added, which has some treadplate detail moulded in, plus the aforementioned doors into the inner hull that blank off the moulding pip on the lower hull. A series of parts then build up into the rest of the cladding of the fighting compartment, blocking off the view into the rest of the chassis. Five palettes of shells are built up for the interior, containing a mixture of blunt nosed shells and more pointed armour piercing in each. These are sited around the crew compartment, making for a very loud bang indeed if it received a direct hit.

 

The casemate is next to be built up, and is constructed from three individual sides, each of which is detailed up before installation. Painting the interior in stages is likely to be a necessity with this kit due to its open top and close confines. Fortunately, the casemate panels all meet the hull at an angle, so could be installed completely painted onto the model. A rear bulkhead is then added with a small door that simply eases the step over the back of the hull. Corner stiffener plates are added to the casemate, an aerial onto the starboard side, and safety "roll-cage" to the rear. Curiously, the exhaust pipes from the engine to the mufflers/silencers are almost the last parts to be added, disappearing into an angular box on the top of the hull.

 

A set of five crew figures are included with this kit as a bonus item, and they are contained on the fifth sprue. There are three figures holding shells, one appearing to lean forward to operate the sighting mechanism of the gun, while the final figure would be the commander figure, who is looking through a pair of binoculars. The commander and one shell carrier are wearing heavy greatcoats, while the remaining three wear quilted Soviet tankers uniform. All the figures are wearing the protective leather helmets used by soviet tank crew, which are separate parts on the sprue. The figures are nicely moulded and the greatcoat wearers have separate lowers to their coats, to give a more realistic appearance to them. Some of the crew have separate hands where appropriate, while all have separate arms and legs. The legs are moulded separately and joined at the crotch to give better detail to the inseam area, and all the heads are separate parts. Some small personal items are included for the figures' belts, and eight shells are provided for the chaps to hold (the set is also sold separately as a figure set).

 

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The decals are printed by Begemot as mentioned earlier, and have a creamy tint to the white lettering. That shouldn't really notice on the dark background, but should in fact help them not to look too stark.  Surprisingly from such a small sheet you can build one of five vehicles, which share the same Russian Green scheme, which is of course no surprise.

 

  • SPG Artillery Division 11th Guard Army, Eastern Prussia, 1944
  • Unknown Slef-Propelled Regiment, Eastern Prussia, 1945
  • 1238th SPG Regiment, Poland, March 1945
  • 1448th SPG Artillery Regiment, 9th Krasnodar Kozak Division, Poland, 1944
  • 1223rd SPG Artillery Regiment, 5th Guard Tank Army, 3rd Belorussian front, Vilnus, July 1944

 

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Colour call-outs are provided from Vallejo, Testors, Tamiya, Humbrol, Revell and Mr Color. Colour names are also supplied, as well as a column of something unintelligible (to me) in Cyrillic. The same table applies to the crew figures who are surrounded by a cloud of arrows and legends.

 

Conclusion

A detailed kit of this diminutive but powerful Self-Propelled Gun, which grew from a mediocre lineage to become an important tank during WWII. The inclusion of five crew figures and individual workable track links makes it a very generous package, and should appeal to many.

 

Highly recommended.

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Review sample courtesy of

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Just been given one of these so the review is really useful :D

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