Soviet kits, reviews 1961-91
FROM RUSSIA WITHOUT LOVE
Once upon a time any aircraft with a red star on it was news with a capital "N". Indeed, so saleable was anything concerning Russian military aviation that, lacking factual detail, some enterprising gentlemen on both sides of the Atlantic began to design their own "Russian" aircraft, and such was the state of mind in the West in the early 'fifties that anything was credible. A thriving business was conducted from Germany in faked photographs of spurious Russian aircraft, these being of far lower quality than that purporting to depict the MiG-23 Flipper and which so recently was given credence by one of our contemporaries not usually noted for its gullibility, and innumerable artists' "impressions" found their way into print. Among the latter was a twin-jet fighter referred to as the "Super-MiG" and which, according to one U.S. publication, had been identified by the U.S.A.F. over Korea as the "flat" MiG, this same publication saying, with reference to this type which resembled the offspring of an affair between a MiG-9 and an F-86D, "The first of the Reds' self-styled 'killer jets' has been committed to battle!" The origins of the "Super-MiG" are obscure to say the least—they were certainly a long way outside the borders of the Soviet Union.
Why are we resurrecting this matter? For the simple reason that when the Soviet Union decided to enter the plastic aircraft model field recently the chosen offering was . . . yes . . . you guessed in one—that same old non-existent "Super-MiG"! Some years ago this curiosity appeared in the catalogue of the Lindberg company, Artem I. Mikoyan being awarded the parentage and the "designation "MiG-19" being applied, apparently to give the imaginative creation some substance. For some extraordinary reason, possibly connected with the activities of Russian counter-intelligence, the State Trading Company has produced a copy of Lind berg's kit, although they have evidently not dared to take Mikoyan's name in vain at such close range, and have simply labelled this object of western imagination as "An Aeroplane" which, we suppose, is accurate ... at least, up to a point!
The first page of the little leaflet which accompanies the kit attributes the model to "The Moscow City Council of National Economy—Factory of Metal and Plastic Toys", and the kit is readily available in most of the communist countries where there would seem to be a widespread belief that the model depicts the experimental Sukhoi Su-15. Our readers in these countries may rest assured, however, that apart from a vague similarity of general configuration, there is no relationship between the mythical "Super-MiG" and the factual Su-15 (see accompanying sketches). Pressed in virtually transparent plastic with a thin admixture of silver dust, the model would certainly look quite ethereal with a small electric bulb inside the fuselage, and an ideal decoration for the top of the Christmas Tree. After all, the "Super-MiG" owes as much to imagination as does the traditional fairy! Incidentally, for some time we have been running a private contest in the office for the world's worst plastic aircraft kit. and we now unhesitatingly award this dubious honour to this product of the Moscow City Council of National Economy's Factory of Metal and Plastic Toys!
Flying Review International, Vol.19 No.7, March 1964
MODELS FROM THE EAST
We have, we believe, reported on every aircraft kit so far issued in Eastern Europe, and. sad to say, our reviews of such kits have hardly been noteworthy for the praise that they contained. We are happy to report, however, that standards on the other side of the "curtain" are rising, if kits received recently from several East European manufacturers are any guide.
In this column in Vol 19 No 7 we poked a good deal of well-justified fun at the first Russian-made plastic aircraft kit, and by coincidence, the aircraft that this kit was widely believed to represent, the Sukhoi Su-15, is described elsewhere in this issue. The second effort of the Moscow City Council of National Economy's Factory of Metal and Plastic Toys is a major improvement on its predecessor in that it depicts a genuine Russian aircraft, the Ilyushin Il-62, and, what is more, represents it with some degree of accuracy insofar as outline goes. However, from the viewpoint of quality, this 1 120th scale model is quite appalling, yet, strange to say, this varies within the kit! The fuselage is quite nicely pressed in good jquality white plastic, but the flying surfaces and the engines are manufactured in the specifically Russian variation of the most cheap and nasty plastic—clear styrene with the admixture of about a tea-spoonful of aluminium powder per pound! Undercarriage and transparencies are non-existent, and the transfers, which are printed with their faces to the backing paper, worthless. The faces of a few Muscovite comrades in a certain factory should be coloured something akin to that of the national flag. However, the Il-62 is a worthy addition to any collection of airliner models and, thanks to its outline accuracy, this kit is worth obtaining by the modeller possessing adequate measures of skill, time and enthusiasm.
Flying Review International, Vol.21, no.8, April 1966
New and in View
SOVIET STATE FACTORY
Such few Russian kits as we have seen so far have been very poor, but the 1/40th scale YAK-18P, which is the latest release from the Moscow factory, demonstrates a considerable improvement. Pressed in good-quality white plastic, it is accurate and finely-detailed. The fit of the parts is, however, by no means good, and no undercarriage or cockpit detail is given. It is, however, possible to add thisfand an interesting and unusual model will result. This kit may be obtained by exchange with a 'member in Eastern Europe.
The IPMS Magazine, Vol.3, no.7, July 1966
A YAK FROM THE USSR
Such Russian kits as we have been able to review so far have given us little cause for praise, and so we are particularly pleased to report that the latest Soviet effort, a I/40th scale Yak-l8P, shows a marked improvement over previous efforts. It is accurate in outline; the quality of the white plastic from which it is pressed is good, and the detail is fine. This does not mean to say that it is faultless, for the fit of some component parts leaves a great deal to be desired; no undercarriage or cockpit detail is provided, and in the kit that we received there were no transfers, although their absence may have been due to somewhat heavy-handed examination by HM Customs and Excise. Despite these faults, the kit may be assembled into a very acceptable model of one of the most widely used Russian club aircraft, and we congratulate the Moscow factory on raising its production standards so quickly.
Flying Review International, Vol.22, no.2, October 1966
New and in View
SOVIET STATE FACTORY. (M.C.C.N.E.) Mil Mi-10 helicopter. 1/100 scale. Price: unkown.
Russian-made models are few and far between, nor are they noted for high quality, and it is therefore with pleasure that we can report that this kit reaches quite respectable standards.
It is accurate in outline and detail is fine, though not as plentiful as it might be on the fuselage. On the other hand, the rotor head and blades are really well detailed. The parts are quite neatly moulded and there is little flash, but their fit could be better; in particular, the fuselage halves of our review sample suffered from severe longitudual distortion, which rendered them very difficult to assemble. Three colours of plastic are used, silver-grey, light blue and black, and the material is of good quality.
The Kit's worst fault is that it includes no transparencies, and this lack presents the modeller with a difficult problem, as the Mi-10's pilots' cabin is of complex shape and its portholes bulged.
The colour scheme on the box lid is resonably accurate, except that the areas shown as blue should be light grey. The transfer sheet is quite well printed but owing to lack of information, it is not possible to comment on its accuracy. An Mi-10 finished as described is registered СССР—04102.
For the helicopter enthusiast this kit is well worth having.
SOVIET STATE FACTORY. (M.C.C.N.E.) Autonov An-24. 1/156 scale. Price unkown.
In contrast to the Mi-10, this is a very poor kit indeed. It is crudely made and inaccurate, and is pressed in a material resembling yellow polythene. As the very much better V.E.B. kit of the same aircraft is fairly readily available, it does not seem worth members' while going to the trouble to obtain this model.
The IPMS Magazine, Vol.5, no.11, November 1968
New and in View
SOVIET STATE FACTORY. Mil Mi-8 helicopter. 1/50 scale. Price not known.
This latest issue from Moscow shows definete signs of improvement over previous kits from the same source, and we hope that the Russians will develop their standards in the same way that their East German colleagues have done.
It is accurate in outline except that the motor blades are 3/4" too short. Luckily, the additional length is required at the narrow inner ends of the blades, and is therefore not difficult to provide.
The parts fit together well. There is some flash, but this is easily removed. Detail on the fuselage is sparse, but what there is is fine; in contrast, Rotor head and blade detail is very good. The transparencies are quite good, but some filling is required round the nose one to make it fit properly. A reasonable amount of cokpit detail is provided, but the pilot figures are appalling and should be thrown away. The engine intakes and exhausts are rather crude; filing is needed round the former, while the latter should be replaced.
The decal sheet is completely worthless, and should also be thrown away. The model represents a cleaned-up version of the helicopter with faired undercarriage legs and wheel spats (most Mi—8's do not have these) and a very attractively finished machine of this type, registered СССР—06181, was illustrated in colour on page 71 of Flying Review International, October 1965 issue. The same scheme is illustrated, somewhat inaccurately, on the box lid.
Helicopter enthusiasts will certainly want this kit, as with fairly minor modifications, it will assemble into a good model of an important Soviet type.
SOVIET STATE FACTORY. Mil Mi-6. 1/100 scale. Price not known.
As with the real aircraft, this model has a number of parts, including the complete rotor assembly, in common with the Mi—10 kit reviewed in our November 1968 issue. Much more surprisingly, the rotor head and decal sheet are the same as those in the Mi—8 kit reviewed above. We all know about tooling costs, but this is really cheating!
This model is an altogether cruder affair than the Mi—8. It has no transparencies, the fit of the parts is not so good, and there is even less surface detail. It is, however, accurate in outline. As with the Mi—8, the decal sheet is useless and Members are recommended to refer to the same page of Flying Review International as for the Mi—8, whereon appears an excellent photograph of Mi—6 СССР—06174 in a most unusual white, black and mauve colour scheme.
Unlike the Mi—8 there is another and much better kit of the Mi—6 available, that issued in 1/85 scale by VEB. The only grounds for choosing the Russian model in preference to this are those of its scale.
NOTE: The Mi—6, —8 and —10 are all large helicopters, whose rotor blades droop markedly when at rest. The appearance of any of these models will be greatly improved if their rotor blades are heated and gently bent downwards.
SOVIET STATE FACTORY. Yakovlev Yak-18P. 1/40 scale.
First reviewed in our July 1966 issue, this kit has recently been re-issued with greatly improved surface detail. In other respects it is as before.
The IPMS Magazine, Vol.6, no.5, May 1969
New and in View
SOVIET STATE FACTORY. MiG-21. 1/50 scale. Price unknown.
The Russians are gradually learning how to make plastic models, and this latest product, though far from reaching Western standards is a good deal better than anything they have made so far.
Representing the standard MiG-21 F (Fishbed C) Day fighter, it is accurate in outline. The parts, which fit together well are moulded in silver plastic of quite good quality. Surface detail is of the straight — line type, and though on the heavy side, is quite acceptable. Unfortunately, the control-surface hinge-lines are also raised, and so, quite incredibly, are the positions of the national insignia. Why this should be done we simply cannot understand - fortunately, the markings are not difficult to file away. Another very serious feature is the blocking up of most of the area of the jet exhaust with a moulded bulkhead. The canopy is somewhat cloudy, but is accurate in shape.
The kits worst fault is the wing section, which is sharp at the leading edge and rounded at the trailing edge! This can be corrected, as the section is quite thick, but to do so necessitates a good deal of tedious filing.
There are no decals, and these will have to be provided from one of the proprietary sets available.
For the modeller who prefers a larger scale than 1/72, this kit will be quite acceptable.
The IPMS Magazine, Vol.6, no.6, June 1969
NEW to YOU?
reviewed by Harry Woodman
SОМЕ years ago HELLER issued a kit entitled Cuirasse Maine. The model inside the box bore little resemblance to the famous American battleship which blew up in Havana harbour in 1898 precipitating the Spanish American War.
The kit did, however, have a slight resemblance to the U.S.S. Olympia, Admiral Dewey's flagship at Manila Bay but the model was crude and very heavily moulded and was suitable only for Junior to play with in the bath. The kit was, to put it bluntly, a complete swizz and readers are warned that it appears that a few of these Heller 'Maines' are still being distributed, especially at Christmas time when all kinds of old kits reappear, frequently in new boxes and sometimes under different names. Spies have informed the writer that a few of the old Heller Maines were seen last Christmas not a million miles from a famous toy shop in Regent Street under the pyro label so ship fanciers should tread warily.
After all this, it was with some trepidation that the writer approached a large box in a Parisian shop recently which bore the title Cuirasse Potemkin. The box painting looked slightly familiar and the period was almost right but the item inside was not the Maine with a Russian flag hoisted on the sternmast but a well moulded, accurate representation of the other ship which occupies a niche in history because of a mutiny which took place on board.
Hellers second attempt at a pre-dreadnought battleship is vastly different from the first. The manufacturers claim that the model was scaled from original plans, and that the co-operation of the Soviet Naval Authorities was enlisted to ensure authenticity. A check with all the material available confirms that the model is indeed authentic.
The box is rather large for such a small model, for the Potemkin is in 1:400 scale which gives it an overall length of 11 1/4inches. The price in Paris is about 45/- which means that it will be somewhat expensive here but it is a kit for the connoisseur in any case. The scale precludes some of the finer detail but the parts are well moulded and the assembly straightforward. The only faults are those which a manufacturer can hardly avoid, e.g. too thick components such as lifeboat perimeters, bulkheads and bridge railings.
Heller have included a pair of small boats complete with davits to be mounted on either side of the forepeak and it is quite likely that the original design of the ship included these items. The few photographs of the ship in service indicate that this boat gear was removed, probably because it cluttered up the fore deck in front of the turret. This space was rather limited and some of it was already taken up by the anchor gear, including two large goosenecks. These latter items were, in reality, quite substantial, being about half the size of the main boatdeck goosenecks. The kit items are the same size as the boat davits so that these should be replaced by scratchbuilt members.
A small decal sheet is supplied which consists of a number of poorly shaped black rectangles which are meant to represent the windows of the wheelhouse. The idea is not bad but it is recommended that pieces of black decal from the scrapbox be used or characters from Letraset. The other items on the decal sheet are the nameplates POTEMKIN in Russian characters, to be mounted on either side of the stern. These are somewhat doubtful for although the ship has become famous, mainly because of Eisenstein's masterful film classic, as 'Battleship Potemkin', the full name would be carried and this was Kniaz Potemkin Tavritcheskii.
The colour scheme of black, buff and white, as shown on the box lid painting, is accurate and if the builder does not wish to adorn his model with the crimson flags of Bolshevism, he can fit the Imperial Russian naval ensign to the stern mast. This was usually of large proportions and consisted of a pale blue cross of St. Andrew on a white background. Possibly in deference to the feelings of the Soviet Authorities who provided the data, and possibly because Heller might be considering exporting the kit to the Soviet Union the Imperial Russian Eagle badge which adorned the forepeak of the original ship is omitted from the model.
The Heller Potemkin is moulded as a 'full hull' model, as are almost all ship kits, and is intended to be mounted on trestles. Large scale models of the type seen in museums which have a length of five to six feet look impressive when the full hull is seen. However small models, warship models in particular look best built up as water-line models when the superstructure is not minimised by the bulk of the underhull. A few manufacturers have produced kits where the model can be built up either way, but most still avoid doing this, possibly it is easier and cheaper to produce full hulls. The Potemkin will look infinitely better if converted to a waterline configuration, although this requires some tricky work with a fretsaw and lots of elbow grease for the final sanding. However, the reader might be prepared to do this, for the fact that he is reading this magazine indicates that he is a plastic modeller and not just an assembler of plastic kits.
Scale Models, Vol.1, no.3, December 1969
NEW to YOU?
SOVIET STATE FACTORY: Antonov An-10A. 1/150 scale. Price not known.
Like most Soviet kits, this is a crude model. It has no undercarriage or transparencies while the airscrews are represented by clear plastic discs! No decals are provided either, the colour scheme being moulded into the plastic parts. Surface detail is acceptable — just — on the fuselage but is very coarse on the wings. The parts are moulded in white polystyrene in quite good quality and their fit is reasonable, though not particularly good.
Despite all these faults, however, this kit has two inestimable virtues which render it acceptable to the Western airlines enthusiast: it is accurate in outline and its scale is near enough to 1/144 for it to take its place among a collection of such models without looking out of place. For these reasons it is worth searching out though it is by no means easy to obtain, even in Eastern Europe.
The IPMS Magazine, Vol.7, no.5, May 1970
NEW to YOU?
Heller ship kit
reviewed by Bob Jones (IPMS) and assiciates
Ship model by HELLER received from Richard Kohnstam Ltd., who are now distributing these kits, is a 1:100 scale model of the 'Porquoi Pas'? (Why not?), so named because the ship is inextricably bound to the name of Dr. Jean-Baptiste Charcot, who, when faced with his father's objection to his son's wish to become a sailor, replied: 'Why not?' Charcot is to France what Capt. Scott is to England, for he, too, was an explorer and died in tragic circumstances in the cold waters of the Arctic. The ship foundered two miles out of Iceland on 16th September, 1936, there was only one survivor.
The ship, like Scott's DISCOVERY, was a sailing ship with a steam auxiliary engine, in fact, she was a three-masted barge and as such has more interesting lines. The Heller model is a very faithful reproduction and extremely well moulded in solid black. There are. however, some interesting features about the kit. Generally speaking. sailing ships are probably the best of all plastic kits; with care, they can be made into superb models, but a long time and considerable effort is needed to complete them. Almost without exception, in the writer's experience, the ratlines have always been supplied as plastic mouldings and in probably everyone's experience who has ever tackled a sailing ship model these plastic lines are unsuitable. In the first place, they are inaccurate, for the vertical lines of the real thing were of a stouter and thicker rope than the horizontal pieces. In the moulded item they are of the same thickness. The other great snag is the difficulty in applying them and keeping them taut without dissolving one piece, so that all the rest start to curl. The plastic has little 'give' and the writer has yet to see a plastic model ship where these have been satisfactorily fitted. Heller have recognised this problem in a most seamanlike manner and have supplied a frame so that the ratlines can be made from cord in the true manner. It will take longer, but is infinitely superior. All plank surface detail is very carefully reproduced and if it at first seems a little overdone it should be remembered that being black it will require at least two coats of paint, this filling in the depth a little and resulting in an authentic finish (fiendishly clever, these French!). Being in a comparatively large scale, a considerable amount of detail is included, also a good length of chain. Full instruction in English with excellent, clear diagrams (four large sheets) and the usual moulded sails in thin plastic card, including the flags, which is an improvement on paper folded ones. Unfortunately the kit does not include blocks. Ideally, it is supposed that a reviewer should build a kit before describing it. This is feasible enough for a 1/72 scale aircraft or tank kit, which can be assembled in a couple of nights. To try to assemble the 'Porquoi Pas' in a short time would not only be impossible but a crime, for it is the type of model on which one should lavish months of work. It has a rugged beauty, reflecting the fact that it was designed for exploration in dangerous seas, and would grace any living room suitably mounted in a glass or perspex case. Whilst Mum or the wife might object to her dresser being festooned with small aircraft or a tank adorning her mantelpiece, she could not object to a fine model of a fully rigged ship. As usual, the Heller box art is excellent and fully reveals the colour scheme, which is in any case completely described in the instruction sheets.
The kit retails at £3.99.
Scale Models, Vol.2, no.7, July 1971
NEW to YOU?
Recent releases reviewed by Scale Models' staff and I.P.M.S. members
A 'GENUINE" Russian T34 tank kit is a rare item, to say the least, and the arrival of a sample from Czechoslovakia of the 'Flame' Moscow Toy and Model Plastics Factory product was a striking surprise. Packaging lacks the refinement of a competitive market and a red and green notice announces the contents as a 1/35th scale tank.
When the box is opened, the first impression is of the thickness of the sprues, mostly 5/16th inch thick, and the heavy duty plastic bags containing the various parts.
Moulding is satisfactory, and a lot of attention is paid to bolt heads and minor fittings; but a moulded-in tow rope is only a vague outline, the mudguards at the front are rounded JSIII fashion, but we can find no photos showing this. Compared to other 1/35th T34s the turret is very oversize, and the gun appears nearly twice as thick as it should be, but if one ignores the comparisons, it still looks like a T34. Roadwheels are moulded with dummy holes and no ribs of any kind. The tracks are well detailed and moulded in a light blue, which is a change. A very strong, plastic smell is given off by the track material. The basic kit is moulded in a green plastic and appears a good match for Russian green.
The transfer numbers and badly-printed stars appear to be the old stick-on type with 'goldsize' or modern equivalent where the facing paper is soaked off when the transfer is secure. Our patience was soon exhausted - hence the unembsllished model in the photographs.
Axles as such are only plastic pins and would not stand heavy handling. There does not seem to be any intention to motorise in the future as the hull is not moulded with any motor locations.
The long range fuel tanks are quite well moulded, but the driver's vizor slot would allow a large shell to enter the tank.
In general, this is a tank kit that provides something different. The Russians have a lot to learn on plastic model tank construction, but at least interest is being shown.
The kit is simple and caters adequately for the remotely located enthusiast who has no other standards by which to compare the product. Print order on the Instruction Sheet is 40,000, which is a mere splash in the U.S., Japanese or British production field. The T34 may, however, lead to other subjects, the SU100 for a start, plus other derivatives, and then maybe some of the Soviet Navy subjects - or is this too much to hope?
Finally, we must emphasise that these new Russian kits are NOT generally available, but we have no doubt that membership of the International Plastic Modellers Society will provide the contacts for exchange with modellers in Soviet countries.
Scale Models, Vol.3, no.3, March 1972
"Vasha" Yakovlev's minimus
The Soviet Union has so far gained little renown in the field of plastic aircraft kits, and such few Soviet kits as there are have few pretensions to quality. Every now and again, however, a new kit emerges from Moscow's Factory of Metal and Plastic Toys revealing an improvement in standards, and although it would be an exaggeration to suggest that this concern's most recent offering, a Yak-3 to l/5Oth scale, comes within an ace of achieving international standard in so far as quality is concerned, it is certainly superior to anything that has appeared in the Soviet Union hitherto.
One of thesmallest fighter, monoplanes to be manufactured in quantity during WW II — a total of 4,848 being built during 1943-6 — and one of the most important combat aircraft to serve the V-VS during the so-called "Great Patriotic War", the Yak-3 is an excellent choice of subject, and this kit has two inestimable virtues; it is essentually accurate and is finely detailed. There is, incidentally, no detail at all on the wings, but although odd in appearance, this is perfectly correct as the Yak-3's wings had smooth plywood skinning to which a thick coating of polish was applied. The cockpit canopy is a little on the shallow side, and omission of an undercarriage (even the outline of this is not indicated) and cockpit detail is a pity, but any modeller with a modicum of skill should at least be able to scratch-build the former.
The component parts are quite neatly moulded in good-quality grey styrene, and fit together well, although some fitting is required at the wing roots, and as the kit consists of only 14 parts assembly is the essence of simplicity. The decal sheet, providing six badly-printed red stars of identical size, can be consigned to the trashcan, the box art is rudimentary, and the instructions are in Russian only, but shortcomings notwithstanding, this kit is well worth the trouble of obtaining by exchange, and particularly so as it is the only kit of the Yak-3 so far produced.
AIR ENTHUSIAST, MAY 1972
MODEL ON THE COVER
REVIEWS A UNIQUE RUSSIAN KIT
ТАНК КВ-85 by ОГОНЕК
A RARE experience came our way recently, with the arrival on the editorial desk, of a scale model AFV kit made in the USSR, by ОГОНЕК. The kit is based on the 'KV.85' tank, a not very well-known variant of the 'KV heavy tank of W.W.II.
The 'KV series of tanks date back to 1938 when Kotin, Dukhov and a group of engineers at the Kirov-Zavod tank factory in Leningrad began design and development, at Stalin's instigation, of a new heavy tank to replace the obsolescent T.35. Various prototypes were built, with one-, two- and three-turret configurations, before a final decision was made on a single-turret design with 76.2 mm. gun. This tank was the first of the 'KV series (named after the Red Army General Klementi Voroshilov) and the prototype was completed by September 1938.
The design incorporated a rear-mounted V-12 cylinder 500 b.h.p. diesel engine, torsion bar and trailing arm suspension for the six road wheels each side, and 28 in. wide tracks, supported on their top run by three return rollers. The road wheels were of an interesting pattern, used on several Russian tank designs, with a resilient band of rubber sandwiched between a steel wheel rim and tyre. Tank weight was 43 tons, with armour plating up to 75 mm. thickness on the hull. Overall dimensions were 23 ft. 10 in. long (excluding gun barrel), 11 ft. 6 in. wide, and 9 ft. 3 in. high (excluding radio antenna). Production started in December 1939 at the Kirov factory and early examples saw service on the Finnish/Russian front.
By 1943 the 'KV had been extensively developed and modified, the engine now developing 600 b.h.p., with speed and weight increased to 25 m.p.h. and 47 tons respectively. In 1943 the 'KV was fitted with a new cast-steel turret, mounting a special tank version of the 85 mm. anti-aircraft gun. The turret was also fitted with a 7.62 mm. machine gun in its rear face, supplementary to the forward-facing one mounted in the hull beside the driver. This new version was classified 'KV.85' and although the 85 mm. gun gave increased fire power, by the end of 1943 the 'KV.85' was taken out of service, to be replaced by the 'IS' (losef Staun) tank, initially in 85 mm. gun (IS.85) and later 100 mm. gun (IS.100) forms. The 100 mm. gun was, in its turn, changed to a 122 mm. one in mid-1944 (IS.122). Development of the series was continued, and in fact continues still, as derivatives of the 'KV remain in current service with Soviet Bloc countries.
The 'KV.85' kit is claimed to be to 1/30th scale (although I think the scale is really 1/32nd) and appears to be reasonably accurate, although very much simpler than the latest offerings at this scale range from the leading Japanese and American manufacturers. The parts are moulded in dark green plastic and comprise approximately 134 separate components. The instruction sheet is written in Russian and is laid out to show assembly of the kit in three main stages - lower hull, upper hull, and turret. The road wheel suspension arms are moulded into the hull side plates, eliminating alignment problems but preventing any articulation if the model is placed on uneven surfaces. The tracks are moulded as one-piece in grey/silver flexible plastic, and are rather too short, thus preventing the correct amount of slack on the top run. The tracks could perhaps be stretched, although having tried it we found that after a short period they seemed to return to their original length. The upper hull and related components assembly is again simple.
The brackets between the hull and track top guards are of open-work construction in photographs of the 'KV tanks, but on the kit six of the eight are moulded as solid triangular gussets. This is easily changed on the model, of course. When the upper and lower hull sections are assembled, a gap is left between them at the turret ring, although this is covered by the tracks when they are fitted. The third stage is turret assembly, which again is straightforward. The turret hatches are arranged to open, but no interior detail is included in the kit. The tow ropes included with the kit, of moulded plastic, were not very convincing, so were discarded and replaced with new ones made from plastic string/cord from the spares box. The complete vehicle was painted matt green (Humbrol HB.8), although bearing in mind that the 'KV.85' saw service only during the latter half of 1943, it is probable that the majority were over-painted in winter white colouring. Water-slide transfers of poor quality were included with the kit, but were discarded.
As will be seen from the photographs, the model is finished to more or less ex-factory condition with only slight age and wear effects added. This model of the 'KV.85' tank was very simple to build and if available in this country would be an interesting addition to the still limited range of Russian tank kits. There are, however, at present 1/76th scale kits of the KV.I and KV.II by Fujimi on the market and these can be used as a basis for the building of a 'KV.85' model, with the addition of a scratch-built turret. The accompanying scale drawings of the turret will be of assistance in building this, and further information will be found in 'Airfix Magazine' Vol. XI, issue 12, and Vol. XII, issues 1, 3, 4 and 6. Other sources include T34 - Russian Armour' by Douglas Orgill (Purnell's History of the World War II series) and The Design and Development of Fighting Vehicles' by R. M. Ogorkiewicz (MacDonald).
- Views of the completed model show a surprisingly accurate version of this little known tank.
- Spread of parts at left are fairly typical of most other AFV kits of similar scale. Although not having the wealth of fine line detailing we've come to expect from western manufacturers, the Russians have shown that they learn very quickly and who knows what shape their models may take a few years from now?
Scale Models, Vol.5, no.60, September 1974
I read with interest Alan Young's review of the Russian model of the KV-85 in the September issue of Scale Models.
Having spent over a month in the Soviet Union during March/April of this year on an educational exchange visit, I had ample time to view the Russian modelling scene.
In the AFV field, as well as the KV-85, there is available a JSU-152 (I returned to England with both the KV-85 and the JSU-152) together with a T-34/85 which is also available in motor-ised form. The same comments concerning detail, etc., made by Alan Young with regard to the KV-85 can be made also about the JSU-152. Both these models retail at approx. 1 rouble 45 kopeks, whilst the motorised T-34 retails for just over 3 roubles (1 rouble = 55 pence).
Having evinced an interest in modelling I was taken by a Russian student in Leningrad to the 'Young Engineer' shop which caters for all types of modelling and hobby activity. In evidence were the relatively well known aircraft series produced by the Russian state model factories, and having purchased a M1L-8 helicopter, all I can say (as was said in the article on the KV-85), is that the AFV models offer a quite considerable advance in quality and accuracy in Russian plastic models.
Marine models seemed to be sadly lacking, although the ships Potemkin and Aurora (as in Heller range) were seen. On the non-plastic side, a balsa model was offered of a Kashin class missile vessel for just over a rouble.
Finally, should any other reader have the opportunity of visiting Leningrad, I would recommend a visit to the artillery Museum near the Peter and Paul fortress. This contains full size artillery pieces used by the Red Army right up to the latest field artillery pieces (e.g. 122mm, 130mm as well as 203mm guns). In the statin display in front of the Museum there is also a SAM-2.
I hope this letter has been of interest.
M. P Healey.
Scale Models, Vol.5, no.62, November 1974
NEW to YOU?
OTOHEK ISU-122 Russian Tank 1/30th scale.
THIS is an entirely new Russian tank kit, the ISU-122 and the latest in a series of World War II Russian armour kits. These unique. AFV's are a rarity in the West and most armour fans regard them as collector's items but before taking a look at the ISU-122, perhaps AFV modellers would appreciate a look at Russian AFV kit manufacturing achievements since the release of the T-34 several years ago.
To date, two magazine articles have appeared describing Russian armour kits. In the U.K., SCALE MODELS reviewed the KV-85 and the U.S. Military Modeler reviewed the ISU-152. Both articles suggested that the scale was not as indicated on the Russian instructions, that is 1/30th. SCALE MODELS stated the scale was 1/32nd and Military Modeler said it was 1/35th but does it matter what the correct scale is? What counts is that an aesthetically pleasing model can be built of an armoured vehicle that is unique and additionally not readily available in the West. The kits being usually obtained from pen-pals and friends in eastern Europe.
Construction of all these kits is straightforward even though the written instructions are in Russian. The leaflet gives isometric drawings showing postion of all parts broken down, bottom hull and running gear, top hull and accessories assemblies, etc. The instructions should be studied carefully so the assembly does not leave any doubt in one's mind. Then reach for that tube of glue and the rest of the paraphernalia th-at is required for model building.
The T-34, standard workhorse of the Russian Army, was the first kit issued. It was. crude by western standards but this statement should not be considered harsh in the context that it was their first attempt. Also the manufacturing of plastic kits is not big business as in the West and the Russians work under different economic priorities. Quality improved in the KV-85 but reached a plateau in the ISU-152, IS-111 and IS-122 as the chassis is the same for all kits. All releases so far have been moulded in green plastic. The mouldings are smooth and lack the cast iron appearance commonly found in western armour kits. Flash is at a minimum with detail best described as minimal and could be improved. The tracks however, are well moulded and detailed. The photo shows that, with the kit's limitations, an exceptionally pleasing model can be made. The plastic is a little brittle and a
hot knife or fine saw is recommended to remove the parts as they can fracture if not removed properly from the tree. Most of the plastic model cements work quite well in construction.
If quality is not what it could be, one thing in favour of the Russian manufacturers is the choice of their other release, the KV-85. The same chassis and running gear is used in all of these later releases. The exception would be the curved glacis plate on the IS-111 where, to be accurate, the KV hull would not be useable. In this case, the IS-111 bottom hull and top have been separately moulded to conform with the IS-111 configuration. As Russian ingenuity has shown in war, there are a good many miles left on the KV chassis and they will no doubt use this as a basis for their next kit release. Only time will tell. To those scratch building fans, there are many variants that can be built on the same chassis.
The new ISU-122 is similar in configuration to the ISU-152 assault gun. The only change in the kit is thatthe longer gun barrel with a muzzle brake is included instead of the short gun barrel used on the ISU-152. The kit is quite similar to what the AFV modeller would expect from a kit of western origin except that the road wheels and drive sprockets, etc, are mounted on separate side plates which are then attached to the hull bottom. A full-size sheet with an exploded view makes this assembly easy to follow. Small isometric drawings show the hatch, gun barrel and mantlet assemblies and a plan view shows the placement of all other accessories on the vehicle. The photo shows the model constructed from the "box" following the Russian, instructions.
Painting and finish are the criteria which can make or break a kit, good or bad. As with differences in kit quality, so it is that differences in finishing are the final evaluator of a model. It is this builder's view that a litttle personalization is required to give a model that difference which is the hallmark of the individual model builder.
The tank was painted Humbrol matt brown overall with a brush rather than air-brushing. The strokes can be made to look crude and help simulate a rough surface on the smooth plastic. The treads were painted a wash mixture of silver, gunmetal and graphite. The vents, radiators and road wheels were, for lack of a better discription, "dirtied" with the same wash that was used on the treads. The machine gun was painted Pactra Hot Rod primer and then rubbed down with graphite. Decals were obtained from the scrap box and replaced those of the kit as these were not suitable. The antenna was also replaced by a stretched sprue one as the kit antenna was heavier looking than would be required.
The reader must consider whether or not the ISU-122 is a pleasing model and if it is worth the effort to try to obtain this or other Russian manufactured armour kits. Personally, we look forward to future releases. Preferences would be "modern" armour, e.g. PT-76 or T-62. Also their modern armoured cars would be interesting in kit form. To the management of the Russian concern OTOHEK, AVF modellers are looking forward to more interesting Russian manufactured Russian armour kits. The western AFV enthusiast is also hoping that these kits will be more readily available in their model shops.
Scale Models, Vol.7, no.86, November 1976