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Trumpeter 1/35-scale Russia SAM-6 anti-aircraft missile (00361)

by Steve Zaloga

Trumpeter's latest 1/35-scale kit is an excellent rendition of the transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) of what Western intelligence agencies call the SA-6 Gainful. The actual Soviet designation for this vehicle is the 2P25, and it is a core element of the 2K12 Kub (Cube) and 2K12E Kvadrat (Quadrant) air defense missile system. Kub is the Soviet army system, Kvadrat is the export version. The 2P25 consists of the GM-578 tracked transporter and the 9P12 three-rail erector/launcher and was built by the Ulyanovsk Mechanical Plant. The transporter bears a great deal of family resemblance to the ZSU-23-4 Shilka, as both chassis were developed by the same OKB-40 in Mytischi, now part of Metrovagonmash; the Shilka chassis is the GM-575. This is of some interest to modelers as some aftermarket items such as tracks can be used on the Trumpeter kit. The kit represents the later 2P25M1 or 2P25M2 version. The baseline 2P25 used a forged glacis plate while the later production versions used a flat plate. The main changes between the 2P25M1 and ˆM2 were in the electronics associated with the Kub-M1 and Kub-M3 upgrades. Besides the electronic upgrades, the later vehicles manufactured after 1969 had the V-6R1 engine instead of the earlier V-6R.

The kit is very well researched and matched up well to photos I have of the 2P25. There are no measured plans of the 2P25 that I know about to make any judgments about precise dimensions. But reliable drawings I have of the related GM-575 Shilka chassis suggest that the overall dimensions on the kit are excellent. There are the usual sorts of simplifications found in most kits of modern AFVs due to the sheer complexity of these vehicles, and some parts are a little thick, especially those representing stamped steel metal parts. So for example, the folding transport rest assembly on the rear deck is chunky on many of its small assemblies, and it lacks some small components such as the rear lock. The rain gutters on the upper hull vent covers are thick. The various periscopes in the front are molded solid along with the wind-shield wipers. In spite of these simplifications, I found the assembly to be excellent with very few fit problems.

Aside from the inevitable simplifications, I did find a number of goofs in the kit, but they are mostly minor. The depiction of the forward portion of the launch rail (A17/A18) is overly simplified. The opening in the engine deck blast cover (part C-40) has the separation point too far forward but this probably only matters to modelers planning to open up the cover to show the vehicle in travel mode. The blast cover is opened during travel since it covers the engine‚s radiator opening.

The track is link-and-length and is nicely detailed. Model Kasten has a set of aftermarket tracks and wheels to upgrade the DML Shilka kit, but it costs more than the Trumpeter kit and is a somewhat dubious improvement. Although the Model Kasten tracks have some guide horn detail that the Trumpeter kit lacks, the tracks are a bit thick due to their working feature and the Trumpeter tracks are more delicate in this respect. There are in fact several casting variations on these tracks, including a simple style guide horn with a thin "U"- shaped trim, and a very elaborate style with a delicate U nestled inside the outer trim. The Model Kasten track attempts the more elaborate style but doesn‚t really carry it off. I replicated the simpler style by using a burr in my Dremel Mini-mite to carve in a little depression into the links after the tracks were assembled. This is one of those sort of kits that offers almost unlimited opportunities for super-detail fans to go wild adding many small details such as latches, hinge detail, and small fittings. On the other hand, the kit is very well detailed and assembles into a very attractive model straight out-of-the box.

There are several other opportunities for improving the kit such as opening up the travel ports on the front hatches. These hatches have two openings; the kit provides the entire door as a separate piece to permit it to be left open as it would when the crew is entering or leaving the vehicle. However, during travel, the hatch is usually closed and the center part of the hatch is opened which has a transparent liner to prevent dust from entering the driving compartment. This could be cut open but it would take a fair amount of work. The kit decal sheet is fairly sparse and covers a couple of post-1991 ex-Warsaw Pact vehicles. It lacks any of the warning stencils such as those on the datalink antenna (part C54). Incidentally, the vertical surfaces of the data-link antenna should be painted in a pale tan or grey color as this is di-electric material and not painted in the usual camouflage colors.

The only weak part of the kit is its depiction of the 3M9 missiles. The kit shows the later 3M9M3; the earlier baseline 3M9 missiles had exposed interferometer antennas and a bulkier cuff on the rear fins. I do not have a factory drawings of the missile, but the generally accepted dimensions from reliable Russian sources is a length of 5.841m and a fuselage diameter of 0.336m which translates into 9.6mm diameter and 167mm length in 1/35 scale. The kit diameter is about 6% small at 9.0mm and about 3% too long at 172mm. The missiles certainly look too long and skinny, and hopefully one of the Russian hobby magazines will provide us with some better information in the future. Another problem with the missiles is the complete lack of surface detail. There are a number of small access ports, and the fins should have the usual reinforcing and attachment bolt detail. All these details are lacking which suggests to me that Trumpeter had access to a TEL, but not to a real missile. Likewise, the decal sheet is adequate for the TEL, but there are no markings at all for the missile. The missile should have a large amount of stenciling near the access ports, and also the usual stripes which show how the missile lines up when carried on the transloader and on the TEL launch rails. These come in various color combinations depending on the customer. The Soviet and Warsaw Pact warloads were finished in the usual Soviet dark green with the radome in medium grey or light tan. There is also a tropicalized version of the paint scheme used on 3M9M1 and 3M9M3 missiles exported to countries in the Mid-East such as Iraq and Egypt. These missiles are finished in overall semi-gloss white with light tan radomes. The temperate paint scheme had stenciling on older 3M9 and 3M9M1 missiles in white, while on newer 3M9M1 and 3M9M3 missiles the access panel markings are black and the warning markings and location stripes are yellow. On the tropicalized missiles, all the markings are in black. Many photos show these missiles in bright colors such as red or blue nosecones. However, these are not war-loads, but rather are training missiles or parade dummies.

In spite of these problems, this is an excellent kit and a great value for money.