ARM: Review - Eastern Express 1/35 scale 82mm 2B9 Vasilyek and 2F54 Transport Vehicle (GAZ-66)

Kit Review: Eastern Express 1/35 Scale Kit No. 35136; 82mm 2B9 ?Vasilyek ? Mortar with 2F54 Transport Vehicle (GAZ-66); 247 parts (234 in grey sty rene, 8 clear styrene, 5 vinyl tires); price between $20-28

Advantages: reasonably good truck kit, nicely done execution of the Vasilye k mortar

Disadvantages: Ejection pin marks, some annoying mold sinks or incomplete p lastic injection; instructions for the gun are nearly indecipherable

Rating: Recommended

Recommendation: for all modern warriors, artillery fans, and diorama artist s

When the Soviets went into Afghanistan they quickly found themselves in a war for which they were physically unprepared; their weapons had been optim ized to fight NATO forces in northern Europe and were not suited for mounta inous combat in a high desert as they found in that unhappy country. So the y began to research and field new weapons, such as the BMP-2 with a 30mm au tomatic cannon capable of high elevation fire and the AGS-17 ?Plamya? a utomatic grenade launcher.

Artillery support was another problem. Mountain guns were essentially obso lete in the Soviet Army, and even the 122mm D-30 was too heavy and bulky to move into position in the higher elevations. So back to the drawing board.

But during the 1970s the Soviets had developed dual purpose mortars that c ould function in both high angle and direct fire mode. The first one develo ped, the 82mm 2B9 Vasilyek (cornflower), also had one other trick: it was f ully automatic and fired from four-round breech-loaded clips. This made up in volume what it lacked in size, and could easily put 20-30 rounds a minut e on target at ranges of up to 4,700 meters. Weighing only a scant 630 kilo grams, it was easily moved behind a GAZ-66 truck. While no true designated mounts were added to the GAZ-66, once designated for use with the 2B9 it be came the 2F54 system under the GRAU designation system.

The 2B9 remains in Russian service as a light artillery piece and based on Afghan experience was mounted on the roof of BTR-D and MT-LB vehicles for higher mobility.

Eastern Express took over the Scale Ltd. GAZ-66 kit molds many years ago, and then added many of their own elements to it to make new kits such as a ZU-23-2 mount (Kit No. 35132) and a vacuformed R-142N body (Kit No. 35134). This one combines a new mold 2S9 sprue with the trusty GAZ-66 to make the new variant.

I first reviewed the basic GAZ-66 kit some thirteen years ago, and some of the comments from that review are still pertinent. Both kits are complete but as noted there are no chocks for the 2B9 inside the vehicle body nor ar e there any on the mortar sprue. The directions for the 2B9 are truly dread ful ? tone paintings or CAD drawings which are apparently about fourth ge neration Xerox ? but they do show ammo lockers going on top of the wheel wells and folded seats due to the presence of the mortar. Two loading chann els are included but that is about it (the mortar loads trails first and si ts with the barrel sticking out over the tailgate). Note that the kit shows the side rails removed along with the seat, but then again it does not pro vide a canvas tarp as shown on the box art which would use these parts and top bows.

The truck has a nice engine but suffers from ejection pin marks and a big sinkhole in the middle of the detailed part of the air filter. The cab tilt s to show the engine, and problems like those found on the ICM Ural-4320 ar e avoided by having the windshield and frame molded in clear as one piece. Masking may prove tricky, but it does guarantee a good fit with the windows . The tires are solid molded vinyl similar with good tread and very small f lash on them.

The cab has some interesting details such as a complete heater assembly (p arts D35-36-37) but no pedals for the driver?s side and some other detail s are skimpy. The spare tire mount consists of 11 parts and sits behind the cab. Running gear is pretty complete and the engine has promise with some details. Details of how to attach the Pittman arm (part B125) to the left f ront wheel on the axle (B124-B105) are not very clear at all. As noted, the directions are poor which is a shame, as the kit is better than the direct ions.

The kit comes with a wide variety of marking and decals, including one UN set, one Russian Army, and two MVD Internal Troops , one of which is colorf ully marked for Chechnya. One of the latter is called out on the finishing instructions which indicates a basic ?protective green? khaki color and the MVD meatballs on the doors.

Overall, this is a nice kit and with work and a few references such as the ?Wings and Wheels? series and add-ons like Eduard Set 35220 for the GA Z will produce an attractive model.

Cookie Sewell

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