ARM: Review - 5 Star Models (Jadar) 1/35 scale 2S6M Tunguska

Kit Review: 5-Star Models (Jadar) 1/35 Scale Resin Kit Number 35001;
2S6M "Tunguska" Soviet SP Air Defense System; 263 parts (203 parts
in hard tan resin, 58 etched brass, 2 sections of heavy twisted steel
wire); price (via Jadar's website) US $143.66 plus shipping (only 75
to be produced, this was number 28 out of 75)
Advantages: first kit of this vehicle anywhere; nicely captures the
size and proportions of the Tunguska and its heavy cannon and missile
Disadvantages: hard resin always suspect for toxic effects; directions
relatively unhelpful in assembly or identification of parts
Rating: Recommended
Recommendation: to all Soviet/Russian fans and "Duck Hunters"
When the first glimmer of an advanced Soviet self-propelled
antiaircraft gun showed up in the series of glossy "Soviet Military
Power" publications from the US Department of Defense in the 1980s,
it was scary, as it showed a large turret with twin 30-35mm cannon on a
T-72 chassis. This bugaboo played its part in war games up until the
late 1980s when a new Soviet vehicle began showing up in East Germany
and attracted the attention of Western intelligence analysts and
organizations like BRIXMIS and the US Military Liaison Mission.
Photos soon showed a very large vehicle with a monstrous turret and
apparently two separate radar sets and at least two guns plus other
structures, which were always tarped when moved. Speculation varied in
the NATO intelligence community to whether the new system had two guns
- or two twin-barrel units, similar to the ones used on the Soviet
aircraft in 23mm and 30mm variants. I had the singular privilege at the
time of scratchbuilding a model of this beast for USAREUR training
posters, as we eventually figured out it also carried at least four
surface-to-air missiles and either one big 30mm gun with gas operation
or two twin-barrel 30mm guns powered by electric motors (so I left the
model as sort of ambiguous on that score).
We now know that it was the first fielding of the Tunguska (named for
a river in Siberia) replacement for the venerable ZSU-23-4 Shilka
SPAAG. And it was an impressive system, far more sophisticated than
first thought. Now, according to sales brochures and Russian military
writers, we have a pretty good picture of this beast.
The 2S6 Tunguska gun/missile troop-level air defense system consists
of two 2A38 twin 30mm electrically driven cannon and carries eight
9M311 "Triugol'nik" (triangle) surface-to-air missiles. The guns
are mounted on either side of a long, narrow armored turret with the
missile outboard of the guns in a 2 over 2 arrangement on each side. A
search/acquisition radar is at the rear of the turret and a fire
control radar is at the front.
The Tunguska does lots of tricks, too. The suspension can be
controlled hydraulicly, and
varies from a movement position of around 450mm ground clearance to
about 100mm when in firing position. The vehicle has a powerful onboard
computer system that automatically tracks targets and selects the best
method of engagement: usually missiles at 4-8 km range and guns inside
4 km. It has a crew of four (commander, two gunner-operators, and
The guns are scary to watch, for each round is quite large and
powerful. Since the gun is electrically operated, the breech tends to
open before the round is completely out the barrel and firing a burst
of 9-10 rounds per gun (4-5 rounds per barrel) is spectacular as flames
leap about a meter out of each ejector chute on the side of the gun
mount. The inboard barrel has a muzzle velocity mensuration device at
the tip that evaluates muzzle velocity and then corrects the point of
aim to adjust for more or less than standard.
The Tunguska got its baptism of fire in Chechnya, but unfortunately it
is not well suited for ground target use and three of the first six
were destroyed in a matter of minutes, five within 24 hours of
commitment. Still, used correctly it is a powerful and dangerous
weapons system.
Jadar has now released a series of deluxe kits under the name "5
Star Models" of which this is their first kit. Having actually
scratchbuilt a Tunguska,, and having good references on the beastie, I
can say that they have done a first rate job on the kit itself. It
comes in three main parts - lower hull, upper hull, and turret -
and 200 plus add-on bits in resin (most of which seem to be either
wheels or track sections) plus a nice sheet of etched brass from Part
and two tow cables from Karaya.
Parts that I checked matched up well with the scratchbuilt and further
information. Suffice it to say that it is a good quality resin kit with
fairly nominal plugs to remove from most of the parts. However, it is a
harder resin that most of those used outside of Eastern Europe so I
have to point out that it must be trimmed with caution and a dust mask
is recommended.
Where the kit tends to fall down is its directions. Most are of the
"stick here" picture type and as a result, unless you are really
familiar with armored vehicles and Soviet/Russian air defense radars
and missile systems, it can be highly confusing as to what parts are
included and where they go. Resin parts are not identified, only etched
brass ones, and you are given no idea of what the parts are, how many
there are, or in some cases, how and where they go. There is only one
black and white photo on the box top of a finished kit, which is
unfortunate. There are more low resolution shots on Jadar's web site,
but this is not a good way to present a "premiere" kit nor any way
to win over customers.
Jadar needs to redo its directions, provide a parts list (one pace of
the four provided as directions comes instead with a list of kits, not
parts) and give the builder at least a set of 1/72 scale plans of the
finished model to see what it supposed to look like. No decals or
finishing suggestions came with this kit, which considering most of
them are in an attractive three-color camouflage scheme (dark green,
black and sand) it is a shame.
Thanks to Steve Zaloga for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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