Saturday, 11 June 2016

Zvezda SU100


The Zvezda SU100 is one of two new Soviet assault gun kits to be released recently, the other being the SU152
The SU100 was based on the T34 chassis, it was designed as an improvement on the SU85 and entered mass production in September 1944, seeing extensive service, between then and the end of the war. It remained on the frontline strength of the Red Army until 1957 and was widely exported. Fidel Castro commanded the Cuban forces at the Bay of Pigs from an SU100, it's parked outside the Revolutionary Museum in Havana. For those of you with "Fate of a Nation" forces the SU100 appears in the UAR army lists, and others ended up in Angola and China

The SU100 kit is a 15 piece kit and comes on two sprues in green plastic. Mass production is pretty simple and I completed 4 in less than half an hour. painting is obviously a whole different ball game

The detailing is pretty good, Zvezda are really improving the detailing on their kits. The fighting compartment side on the left has a saw whilst on the right it is flat - but that is the same as the Battlefront plastic and resin versions too

There are 6 steps to construction, and a paper bilingual instruction booklet is included. The steps  are illustrated in the attached photographs. The only issue I had with the sprues are that the underbelly piece is connected to the sprue via the “prongs” that are used to fit the tracks so care is needed when cutting the piece away, make sure you leave enough of the “prong” to subsequently attach the tracks

The kit snaps together very well, and doesn’t need glue, except for two places , and it is a big except in the first instance it's the gun and mantlet assembly. Zvezda appear to be obsessed with having guns that elevate (I’ve recently made the M3 Lee and the ZSU-23-4 which both have elevating guns), where there isn’t really a need. The gun fits through the glacis plate and is supposedly secured by the mantlet piece. I found that it doesn’t secure it very well, and leaves the model with the gun in a quite elevated position, so on second and subsequent kits I glued it in place, this allows a horizontal barrel to be modelled . The second exception is the 4 additional external fuel tanks which are very loose fitting and unless glued in place will just keep coming off

Fighting compartment assembly
before the glacis and gun are added
glacis and gun
the fiddly bit
fitting the glacis and roof
fighting compartment complete
hull assembly
hull and fighting compartment together
fuel tanks and mantlet
As you can see the kit is very nicely sized when compared with the Battlefront plastic SU100, and when placed next to each other there is little to tell them apart dimensions wise
Battlefront on the left

The Zvezda kit has some slight differences, the hatches are less pronounced on the hull roof, and the radiator grille on the engine deck is also less pronounced

finished article

, the mantlet is bulged on the left of the gun (which appears more in keeping with the original than the BF model), but also appears to be pierced for a co-ax MG, I can’t find any details of any SU100 production model (even the later export ones) having a Co-Ax MG. Also the armour cover to the mantlet is much bigger on the Zvezda kit and the gun is a bit more "beefy" on the Battlefront kit. All things being equal once they are painted up I think you'll struggle to spot the difference unless you pick them up off the table and bring them to eye level

Battlefront top
Personally I find the Medium Self Propelled Artillery List to be the hardest of the Self Propelled lists to use, but for giving cheap access to a unit of cat killers or for those wanting to try out the Medium SP list on the cheap this is a really good kit. If the gun assembly was less fiddly I’d go as far as to say excellent
Battlefront left

Platoon shot

Zvezda SU152


The Box
The Zvezda SU152 is one of two new Soviet assault gun kits to be released recently, the other being the SU100. Originally entering service in 1943 the SU152 arrived at the front just in time to see action at Kursk, where their ability to destroy Panthers and tigers by literally blowing off the turrets led them to be nicknamed Zveroboy ("Beast Slayer")
Based on the KV tank chassis the SU152 was the last vehicle of the KV series to remain in production, and production continued until December 1943. After service with every Soviet front the SU152 remained on the strength of the Red Army until 1954

The SU152 kit is a 13 piece kit and comes on two sprues in green plastic

The Sprue
The detailing is very good in places, and disappointing in others, Zvezda are really trying to improve the detailing on their kits, I have a couple of their T35s and the flat slab sides are a major let down on that kit. The detailing on the roof and engine top of the chassis on the SU152 is actually very good, but again the fighting compartment sides are very flat and undetailed - this can be remedied by attaching spare track lengths or stowage of course

The assembly instructions are printed on the rear of the box, there is no separate instruction booklet. However the build is fairly intuitive and not difficult. The steps I took are illustrated in the attached photographs. There are no “with care” issues in relation to removing the pieces from the sprue (unlike on the SU100 model)

The kit snaps together very well, and doesn’t need glue. The gun is attached through the front of the glacis and has an oddly angled fitting, so do try a “dry fit” if you are planning to use glue on your model. Unlike the SU100 kit where the external fuel tanks need gluing the external tanks on this kit fit snugly on without glue. To give the model a bit of additional weight I glued a couple of small, low value foreign coins onto the inside of the underbelly casting and the inside of the upper hull casting and that works quite well in giving a nice “feel” to the kit

Lower hull parts and ballast 
Hull assembled
Fighting compartment and gun
As you can see the kit is very nicely sized when compared with the Battlefront metal and resin SU152, it is slightly smaller in both length and height but not so much as to be noticeable on the tabletop. There are slight modelling differences to the hatches. In terms of ease of assembly it’s easier than the Su100, but unlike the SU100 there is a slight (and I do mean slight) size difference when compared to the Battlefront comparitor. in respect of detail, the Zvezda model actually has more detail on than the Battlefront one. The fighting compartment roof is riveted and the front two hatches have slightly more detail. On the roof of the engine compartment the rear two engine access hatches are more raised than on the Battlefront model

Battlefront on the bottom for comparison

Battlefront on the left

slab sides, but these can be covered up

doesn't look out of place

Personally I found this a really really nice kit, it doesn’t look out of place next to my two existing Battlefront SU152s, it goes together really nicely and the detailing is excellent, so I’ve added 7 of the Zvezda kits to my existing Battlefront 2 for use in an SU152 based Heavy Self Propelled Artillery Regiment, giving me 9 hulls rather than the 6 that I tend to end up with in the ISU based Regiment

7 is better than 1 !

Final Group Shot