ARM: Review - HobbyBoss 1/35 scale Soviet SS-23 Spider Tactical Ballistic Missile

Kit Review: HobbyBoss 1/35 scale Kit No. 85505; Soviet SS-23 Spider Tactica
l Ballistic Missile; 684 parts (496 parts in tan styrene, 168 etched brass,
11 clear styrene, 8 black vinyl, 1 length of copper wire); retail price US
Advantages: first kit of this vehicle in this scale; full interior in the c
ab and missile bays, optional position hatches and bay doors; missile launc
h arm elevates and depresses
Disadvantages: nothing major noted other than a lot of tiny etched brass de
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all Cold War SRBM buffs and missile fans
For many years one of the major headaches facing NATO in Europe were Sovie
t mobile tactical missiles. Starting in the late 1950s the Soviets fielded
"tactical" (division level) and "operational-tactical" (army and force grou
ping/front level) missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
The best known of these were the "Luna" (FROG 2/3/4/5) and "Luna-M" (FROG-
7) battlefield heavy rockets and the 9K72 "Ehl'brus" (SS-1c SCUD B) operati
onal-tactical missiles. The former came three or four to a battalion and ha
d a maximum delivery range of 70 kilometers with the FROG-7. The latter cam
e in brigades of 9 to 12 (later 18 and even 27 at force grouping/front leve
l) and had a maximum delivery range of 300 kilometers. Both could deliver p
oint nuclear weapons (10 kilotons) or area nuclear weapons (100, 200, 300 a
nd later 500 kilotons for the SCUD B) deep into NATO rear areas.
But accuracy was not great, and in the case of the SCUD B it took about an
hour once a target was selected and the launcher moved into position befor
e it could fire. NATO had figured out ways to locate them, as doctrine requ
ired they be no more than 1/3 of their maximum range back from the line of
contact. Both factors impacted Soviet thinking and planning for their use.

In 1980 the situation changed when the Soviets began to field the 9K79 "To
chka" (SS-21 SCARAB) guided missile system into GSFG opposite the US forces
in Germany. Unlike the first two - the FROG-7 relied on spin for accuracy
and the SCUD B, whose guidance was based on the V-2, only had guidance for
up to 68 seconds of its flight path - the Tochka used aerodynamic "paddles"
for guidance throughout its entire flight path. Accuracy was cited as from
10 to 30 meters with a maximum miss of no more than 150 meters.
The Tochka initially offered a range of 90 kilometers - more than the FROG
-7, but still it meant that the missiles had to be only about 30 kilometers
behind the lines. Later they increased this to 120 and perhaps 150 kilomet
ers, but it still was only a tactical missile.
In 1987 NATO intelligence detected that the 11th Army Missile Brigade of t
he 8th Guards Army, GSFG, had quietly reequipped with the new 9K714 "Oka" (
SS-23 SPIDER) operational-tactical missile. Designed by the same design bur
eau that created the Tochka (KBM under S.P. Nepobednimyy) it was essentiall
y a Tochka "on steroids" as it was the same design but larger. This missile
had two nuclear payloads as well - AA-60 and AA-75, which were probably th
e 10 and 200 kiloton yield weapons, an improved conventional munition ("clu
ster") warhead option, and a unitary HE warhead; throw weight was about 450
kilograms or about the same as the Tochka. But the Oka could range 400 to
500 kilometers depending on the warhead used, which meant it could sit abou
t 130-170 kilometers back from the front and be relatively invulnerable to
detection and counterattack. The three battalion/four launcher structure of
the brigade was changed to four battalions of four launchers each or a bri
gade of 16.
But before other armies could receive the new missiles, Mikhail Gorbachev
offered to remove and scrap them as part of the theater missile treaty in 1
987. The launchers were soon withdrawn but later the Soviets had to admit t
hey had provided four to six launchers each to the CSSR, GDR, and Bulgaria
along with 120 missiles. These were also later scrapped. One museum example
each is known to exist in Russia and the Czech Republic.
The Oka is very similar in design to the Tochka, but it uses a much larger
BAZ-6944 four axle amphibious launcher than the smaller BAZ-5921 three-axl
e launcher based on the 9A33 "Osa" (SA-8 GECKO) vehicle. Both missiles use
guidance "paddles" that are used to control airflow and divert the missile
onto its proper course. But unlike the SCUD B which needed a crew of seven
the Oka can be launched by a crew of three in the cab.
HobbyBoss has now released a totally new kit of the Oka and it is quite im
pressive. The model comes with a complete interior in the cab and the missi
le bay and a nicely done missile. It even includes the heating shroud for t
he warhead which is necessary with the nuclear warhead options. The bay doo
rs are hinged and snap in place, and the launch arm elevates. Based on phot
os that I have seen, I suspect a lot of the wiring and hydraulic tubing ins
ide the missile bay is missing and modelers who want to super-detail this m
issile seek out a source for reference. But from what I can see what is pro
vided is quite accurate, so that part is good to go.
Be prepared for the fact this is a big model - 330+ mm or over 13" long, s
o it will take some planning to build. Step 1 covers the cab interior, and
the only decals provided in the kit are for the instrument panel and the co
mputer screen for the vehicle commander (part C6). Step 2 continues with th
e missile checkout equipment at the rear of the cab and the cab interior wi
ndows and external hatches. Steps 3 and 4 cover the hydrojets for water pro
The suspension begins in Step 6. While the tires are vinyl they did not ap
pear to have massive seams but a bit of sanding/trimming will give them a m
ore "used" look. The suspension on this vehicle is exposed as the chassis i
s underneath the hull and not inside it like with the Tochka launcher. As a
result there are a lot of parts used to assemble the eight axle and suspen
sion fittings. The parts are all very similar in appearance so I suggest ta
king your time and not removing all of them from the sprues at once.
In Step 14 you are given an option on the jacks; there are four with the v
ehicle and in the case of the preserved vehicles they show the launcher com
pletely off the ground when the jacks are used. If not, the jack plates (pa
rts B20) simply cement to the bottom of the lower hull.
Step 15 is rather tedious, as you have to make a large number (up to 48) e
tched metal brackets which appear to go with a storage tarpaulin and need a
small length of copper wire (or sprue or rod) inserted in them.
Step 16 covers the missile itself; if you want the missile ready for launc
h the four guidance "paddles" (parts B38 and PE brackets) should be mounted
at 90 degrees to the missile airframe; they are only folded when stored in
the missile bay.
In Step 19 the interior is assembled using the two side panels, details an
d the previously assembled missile bay and launch arm with missile. While a
s noted there are probably some hoses and wires that can be added here, rea
lize that the Soviets tried to "soldier-proof" critical systems like this a
nd did not leave a lot of bits around to use as "convenient" steps or handh
Step 20 covers the rear upper hull and rear plate. The hinged parts A36 ar
e work steps for the crew when ensuring the missile is ready to erect and o
pen the paddles or fold them up for retraction.
Step 21 is the heating shroud for the warhead, which may be left closed or
open for missile launch.
The big bay doors come in Steps 22 and 23, and are pretty straightforward.
The rest of the steps 24-27 are final assembly of all of the components.

There are no decals for the outside of the launcher ("bort" numbers or oth
er markings) and two variations are offered: overall Soviet Khaki #2 or a k
haki/grey scheme. Since the launchers were just starting to enter service t
hey did not have much of a chance to get fully integrated into their new un
its. As of this writing there have not been any photos of the Oka in servic
e that have been published, only those in museums or awaiting destruction.
(A probable scheme for the 11th Missile Brigade should have been something
like 111, 112, 121, 122, 231, 232, 241, 242, 351, 352, 361, 362, 471, 472,
481 and 482 had they been so marked).
Overall this is a gorgeous kit of a very short-lived piece of Cold War his
tory, but in the next year we are also promised new kits of the 9K79 Tochka
and 9K72 Ehl'brus so a good year for short-range missile fans!
Thanks to Wes from the Bel Air Hobby Works for ordering the kit for me.
Cookie Sewell
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