ARM: Review - Eastern Express 2S9 "Nona-S"

Kit Review: Eastern Express 1/35 scale kit No. 35187; 120mm SPG 2S9 "Nona-S";

372 parts in grey styrene; price varies between $24-28

Advantages: nicely done exterior kit of standard Soviet and Russian multipurpose airborne artillery vehicle; one-piece hull is new for eastern European kits

Disadvantages: some crude parts; needs photo etch to correctly complete the model

Rating: Highly Recommended

Recommendation: for all Soviet/Russian and airborne fans


Even from its first days in combat at Vyazma early in WWII, the Soviet airborne realized that it would need to have artillery to survive. At that time light 50mm and even 82mm mortars were not capable of doing the job, and only pitiful antitank means like RPTS and RPTD rifles were provided for antitank work. After WWII, some attempts were made to provide the VDV with artillery, but the major weapons fielded ? the ASU-57 and ASU-85 ? were either too light and flimsy or too big and bulky to do the job right. As a point of fact, the ASU-85 was more of an "Air Landing" weapon than an airdroppable one.

When General Margelov got his wish in 1965 with the development of the BMD-1 airborne infantry combat vehicle, it soon became apparent that an airborne artillery piece of some use could be produced for supporting the VDV. Their first effort, the 122mm 2S2 "Fialka," made the attempt to mount a D-30 howitzer in an open barbette mounting on a lengthened BMD chassis, but was not a success.

Later, in the late 1970s, a new type of weapon was created. This weapon, dubbed the 2B16 "Nona" in its intial form, was essentially a long tube breech-loaded mortar. But as it was breech-loaded, it could also be used to fire heavier projectiles in a direct-fire mode and thus, thanks to HEAT ammunition, could also be used as an effective antitank means. A new version was designed to be an SP weapon, using the BTR-D/2S2 extended BMD chassis, but this time the chassis was fitted with a high two-man enclosed turret. While Western sources heard of the use of what was termed a "toy tank" in Afghanistan, it was 1985 before photos of the new vehicle appeared in the west.

The 2S9 "Nona-S" was the first member of this family of weapons to go into service. Capable of being airdropped, being amphibious, and having a basic load of 25 rounds of mixed ammunition types (HE-FRAG, HEAT, and also a 120mm guided projectile for use with a laser designator) the 2S9 met all of the needs of the VDV, and also those of the VMF Naval Infantry, who also adopted the vehicle. With a range of over 8,850 meters, the weapon meets all basic initial needs of the VDV. It has been joined by the 2B16 "Nona-B" and the 2S23 "Nona-SVK" on a BTR-80 chassis. (Note: S - self-propelled; B - towed; SVK ? self-propelled, high-mobility, wheeled.)

In line with its other three BMD based kits (BMD-1, BMD-2, BTR-D) the 2S9 "Nona-S" shares all but one sprue with the BTR-D airborne APC ? common wheel and detail sprues, and the upper hull details. All are very accurate but very spartan.

Like the BTR-D, this kit provides only the external shell of the 2S9 ? no interior and no parts to the 120mm weapon (it's not a mortar, not a howitzer, and not a gun, so the Soviets simply called it an "oruzhiye" ? a weapon.) Only the external auxiliary fuel tanks are included (Parts 8M, 9M, 29M and


Construction other than the turret is like the BTR-D. The one-piece hull tub is new for an eastern European company, and the details show that this is not a "flat" kit where all parts and details must be built up from zip. The wheels are well done, and the track links ? all 224 of them ? are petite and crisp. I am sure people will squawk about these though as they are basically about 1/72 scale size parts and will be "airborne" at mostly inopportune moments if the builder is inattentive!

The hatches are absolutely smooth inside, but well done outside, and the commander's cupola is separate so that it may be mounted as the modeler chooses.

There is a positive suspension lock on this model to prevent the suspension arms from sagging during assembly. These are "square pegs" for "square holes" and fit fine. (NOTE: the suspension on all BMD based chassis is hydropneumatic and can be raised from 100mm to 480mm of ground clearance.)

Decals are included for four different schemes: the 7 November 1988 Red Square parade; one celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Soviet/Russian VDV; one from the Russian Naval Infantry's Baltic Flotilla in August 2001; and one from Soviet days. Based on past experience, with a coat of Future these decals will work fine.

Alas, like the BTR-D the vehicle is missing a number of external fittings like headlight guards and will need a set of etched brass to complete it.

Overall, this a great base kit to start with. But this one begs for a resin interior to show off its quality. Note that "M-Khobbi" magazine selected this model as its "Kit of the Year" for 2003.

Cookie Sewell

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