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Mike

Soviet 1K17 Szhatie 1:35

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Soviet 1K17 Szhatie
1:35 Trumpeter


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This one is truly from the Buck Rogers side of things, as it is a laser tank. I kid you not. It was a dead-end development by the Soviet bloc in the 1970s and 1980s that rides on the chassis of the 2S19 Msta 152mm self-propelled Howitzer, which is in turn based on a combination of a T-80 hull and a T-72's diesel engine, making the Szhatie a true mongrel. It was cancelled due to the immaturity of laser technology and the sheer cost of producing the laser units. Each one used a reflective spiral and a huge quantity of artificial rubies to focus the beam with enough energy to disable either incoming missiles, or enemy vehicles.

Once the West found out about it, they assigned the code Stiletto, but on the collapse of the Soviet Union the project was abandoned with only two prototypes having been constructed. One was scrapped, and the other sent to a museum bereft of its expensive laser units. Twelve lasers were housed in the box-shaped turret, and their power was derived from an auxiliary generator as well as from a bank of batteries. For close-in work it was equipped with a turret mounted NSV machine-gun next to the top hatch.


The Kit
With the Msta already kitted by Trumpeter it makes sense to reuse the chassis component of the kit, and if you know Trumpeter, they are always ready to reap the benefits of reducing tooling outlay. With only two ever built, it was probably the only way it was going to happen, and that's got to be a good thing. The Szhatie (which means "Compression", or "pressure" in Russian) is an unusual vehicle, and on first look you would think it some kind of Multi-Launch Rocket System (MLRS) or missile launcher, but with the lens caps opened the reddish hue of the lenses gives more of a clue. The box is standard Trumpeter with a small divider glued inside to protect the hull and turret parts. There are fourteen sprues plus two hull and one turret part in mid-grey styrene, four sprues in brown for the tracks, a clear sprue, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a length of braided wire, decal sheet and of course the instruction booklet with separate painting guide on glossy A4.

hull.jpg

turret.jpg

sprue1.jpg

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The lower hull, suspension and drive units are constructed first, with a number of steps due to their complexity, after which the rear bulkhead and three part road wheels are added. The drive sprocket is made of three parts, and the idler wheel two, and these are added to the final drive housing and track adjustment axle respectively, while the self-entrenching tool slides into rails on the underside of the glacis plate. The upper hull is detailed with hatches, vision blocks, shackles and tie-downs, after which the fording bow-wave deflector, light-clusters and PE mesh grille covers on the engine deck are glued in place. The hull is joined together, while the fenders and side-skirts are built up as separate assemblies complete with copious storage boxes of various shapes. There is another pair of grilles added to the very rear of the vehicle overhanging the rear of the bulkhead above the two-part unditching log that is carried on two circular mounts.

detail-wheels.jpg

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The fenders are added after the tracks have been created, using the supplied jigs that take up one side of each track sprue. The links are individual and have three sprue gates each that are placed on the link edges, so pretty easy to clean up. I've constructed a few as a test of the process, and the centre section is a definite weak point during clean-up, so watch how you go. Gluing the tracks together is also a bit of a delicate operation, as if you flood the links they will stick to the jig, which is of course made from the same material. The separate guide-horns are mated along a small surface, and it is important that you have a flat spot where they meet, or they will not sit well. Once glued they remain malleable for a period, so you'll need to wrap them round the wheels while they're still flexible and hold them in place with tape and packing until they set up.

The turret is based on that of the Msta-S, so there is a degree of common parts, and there's even an unused barrel on one of the shared sprues. The turret body is different in shape and number of hatches, and where there was a mantlet on the other kit, there is box containing the lenses projecting forward from the turret. Additional skin parts are added to the turret's body, and the lenses are added from inside their surround in two rows of six and one with four additional lenses of various sizes. Separate covers are supplied for the banks of six that can be left open or closed, but the smaller row in the centre aren't shown in any state but closed. The 12.7mm NSV machine-gun and mount are built up on the front section of the circular hatch, with ammo box and searchlight on either side. Various grab handles are added all over the turret, as are the smoke dischargers, after which the turret is placed loosely on the hull ring.

Markings
Only one markings choice has been included with the kit, which is a green/sand/black camouflage similar to the NATO scheme. Almost all pictures show it in this colour, although there are couple online that show a single colour scheme that is likely Russian Green. The decal sheet contains a host of generic serials in white and red, with the actual 827 codes worn by the museum example printed as separate decals. The CCCP wreath & flag are also printed, but don't appear to be used in the scheme, all of which leaves the "what-if" potential wide open.

decals.jpg


Conclusion
A niche subject that has come to pass because of the pre-existing Msta kit from Trumpeter's range. It's an unusual beast that will look good in your cabinet, and you'll need to think how best to portray those pink/red lenses best. I'd also give some thought to replacing the tracks with aftermarket items that are a little stronger, but that's perhaps down to my ham-fistedness or lack of skill.

Highly recommended.



Review sample courtesy of
logo.gifUK Distributors for logo.jpg

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It might be worth pointing out that this kit has the same errors in parts of the suspension as the MSTA. These wont be a problem if you fit the side skirts but will be noticeable if you don't. See here for further details:

http://panzer35.ru/forum/45-12727-3

HTH
Andy

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