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Russian BM-13N "Katyusha" Rocket Launcher 1:35

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Russian BM-13N "Katyusha" Rocket Launcher
1:35 HobbyBoss


Stalin's Organ as it was known in WWII was a truck chassis with cab where the flatbed had been replaced by a rack of rocket launch tubes that contained various diameter rockets over the years, as well as differing numbers of tubes, range and explosive power of the rockets. They were useful at delivering a lot or ordnance to a location rapidly, but suffered somewhat in accuracy due to their unguided nature and the variability of their propellant efficiency. Their ability to relocate between salvos was a plus, giving them the ability to hit fast and hard, then escape retribution by relocating, which offset their long reload time.

The BM-13 was a WWII variant, although they continued in service long after cessation of hostilities in various guises, using various chassis. They were often built on lend-lease trucks such as the Studebaker US6 or post war the indigenous ZiS-151 (a rough US6 copy), and fired 13.2cm rockets weighing in at 42kg each from eight launch rails.

The Kit
This is a new tooling from HobbyBoss, and represents the post WWII BM-13N mounted on a Zis-151 that bears a striking resemblance to the Studebaker chassis, having some minor differences around the engine cowling at the front. Even the engine was copied to a large extent, much of which is replicated in the kit. If you are planning on building a WWII Katyusha, this kit won't be strictly accurate to the time period, but a great many folks won't know it wasn't produced until 1948.









Inside the standard HB box are ten sprues, two truck parts off sprues, plus eight launch rails all in sand coloured styrene, a clear sprue, twelve flexible styrene tyres, two sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a decal sheet, markings guide on glossy colour stock, and the instruction booklet in black and white. On unpacking the sprues from the myriad of bags that protect every part of the kit, detail is good, with lots of small parts, some very nicely moulded larger parts that take full advantage of the available modern moulding techniques such as slide-moulding. The cab body is a single piece, as is the shroud that flips down for firing, and the launch rails have detail on all sides, including the lightening holes on the sides.

Construction begins with another set of rails however, which are the chassis rails, because you get an almost full rendition of the vehicle inside the box. Cross-braces, transfer boxes and drive couplings are added first, with exhaust and suspension details after, including some lovely leaf-springs and hubs, onto which the wheels are placed. Each wheel has a two-part hub that fits inside a nicely done tyre that even has maker's mark and specification moulded into the sidewalls, as well an aggressive V-tread on the contact surface. The two rear axles are doubled-up by the use of handed hubs, while the single-width steering wheels are installed on a through-axle with steering gear and a transmission shaft added along the way.


The engine is built up from a large number of parts, and should look impressive painted and weathered with oil and dirt. The engine and radiator assembly are added to the front of the chassis, while the battery box and fuel tank are fixed to the outside of the chassis rail along with some perforated crew steps on sturdy brackets. The cab is then built up on a floor panel, including; foot pedals, steering column and gear stick; instrument panel with accompanying dial decals; and a full-width bench seat for the crew. It is inserted into the underside of the cab, with the addition of glazing front and rear, with additional clear parts added between the inner and outer cab door skins. Separate windscreen wipers are installed in the top frame of the windscreen, and the bonnet/hood is then built up from a finely moulded set of panels, the sides for which have perforated louvers in their sides. The radiator grille is multi-layered, and includes the Cyrillic manufacturer's mark on the front for good measure, with large swooping fenders added over the front wheels.

The flatbed consists of a floor panel that includes the rear fenders with light-clusters, plus several stowage boxes and a pair of spare wheels in a large and well detailed bracket that holds them vertically behind the cab. The rocket launch assembly is next to be constructed, beginning with the base, onto which the upstands and substantial tubular frame are built up over a series of steps. The eight launch rails and their rockets are constructed and linked together by three rods that hold them together, resting on cut-outs in the top of the support frame, which are glued in place with small shaped covers. The sighting equipment is then attached to the left side and the whole assembly dropped onto the rear of the truck, with a choice of travel mode or firing mode, by using a shorter or longer brace at the front of the supports. In firing mode a single-piece armoured cover is placed over the top of the cab to protect the windows and occupants from the hot exhaust gases, but this isn't shown in a stowed position for the travel option. These seem to vary in design somewhat according to available information, so check your references before you decide how to portray it.

The single-pages guide shows only one example, wearing Russian Green and a red star on each door, but as you can see from the decal sheet, there are other Soviet nations included on the decal sheet for your use if you feel the urge, although the Polish checkerboard looks a little out of proportion, so you'll need to check that too. Decals are usual HB, with reasonable register (looks like blue is out a fraction), slight stepping in some places, but usable.


A nice kit that needs to be set properly in a time-period, as I suspect some might think buy it thinking they're building a WWII era kit. Detail is excellent, and the use of PE is nicely done, but the decals are a bit of a damp squib overall.



Review sample courtesy of

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I've got the earlier version by Zvezda which I understand is a tricky build. This looks good though.

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Should be fairly straight forward, although I've just noticed that according to the box it has a wingspan! :lol:

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well, rockets could be interpreted as flying machines...

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Should be fairly straight forward, although I've just noticed that according to the box it has a wingspan! :lol:


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