ARM: Review - Hong 1/35 scale ZSU-23-4M/MZ SPAAG

Kit Review: Hong 1/35 scale Kit No. H-5001; ZSU-23-4M/MZ Soviet Self-Propel led Anti-Aircraft Gun; 981 parts (576 in light brown styrene, 332 in dark g
reen styrene, 59 etched brass, 13 clear styrene, 1 twisted copper wire); re tail price US$55.00
Advantages: nice, new mold kit of this popular SPAAG; options for the mid p roduction (M) or late production (MZ) versions; simple but effective modeli ng of the gun mount
Disadvantages: separate teeth (two) for each track link is a tedious job to assemble; only interior provided is for the ammo bays (and NO ammunition!)
Rating: Highly Recommended (Recommended if you wanted an interior)
Recommendation: to all Soviet and third world "Duck Hunters"
    The Soviets began to experiment with self-propelled antiaircraft guns in t he 1930s but nothing ever really panned out. The first ones were mounted on trucks and during WWII they did manage to build a handful of ZSU-37 guns o n SU-76 chassis and prototypes of the T-90 light tank chassis with twin 12. 7mm DShKM guns. But it was not until the 1950s that they finally succeeded in getting them into production and service.
    The first one was Article 500, which was better known in service as the ZS U-57-2. This used two high-powered 57mm S-60 guns in a siamesed mounting an d was quite powerful. But it was not very effective against tactical aircra ft as it had no radar ranging/tracking and was slow to traverse.
    Two new prototypes were designed in the early 1960s: the ZSU-23-4 "Shilka" (Awl) with a quadruple 23mm gun system and an onboard radar, and the ZSU-3 7-2 "Yenisey" based on the chassis of the 2S3 "Akatisiya" howitzer. The 23- 4 was to handle tactical (regimental) air defense, and the Yenisey and the ZSU-57-2 divisional air defense. But newly introduced tactical surface-to-a ir missiles eliminated the need for the Yenisey and the 57-2 so only the Sh ilka got into production.
    Over the years a number of different versions appeared, but the most commo n ones were the ZSU-23-4M with the "Bereza" sighting system and the ZSU-23- 4MZ that added an IFF interrogator (Z stood for "Zaproshchik" or interrogat or).
    The Shilka can be a nasty customer within its engagement range of 2.5-1.5 kilometers as it can put forth a tremendous amount of firepower with bursts of 40 rounds at a time being normal. They are a combination of HE-FRAG and AP rounds to ensure damage. But the 1RL33 radar set (NATO GUN DISH) is a t racking radar and not very good at ranging, and also the sights and the rad ar are not fully integrated on the vehicle so all it does is tell the gunne r shoot here; it does not auto-track its target.
    About 20 years ago DML produced a styrene kit of the ZSU-23-4M and it was probably their best overall kit at that time; today with some work and afte rmarket accessories it can still be turned into a nice model. But it lacked a lot of things, especially on the gun mount, such as the cooling tubing f or the guns and the shell casing ejectors.          Now in short order not one but THREE kits of the ZSU-23-4M have been annou nced and are being released from Meng, one other (Trumpeter?) and this kit from Hong. Hong is another new company from China (no other information see ms to be available) and this is their first kit.
    On opening the box it is reminiscent of Panda Models both in the colors of plastic used and also the fact that the tracks all have two separate guide teeth on single link tracks, which is VERY tedious and annoying to have to assemble. Somebody needs to tell these people that with a few exceptions e very modeler will probably accept a bit less detailing to avoid 10-12 hours of busywork assembling the tracks.
    The kit is very nicely laid out and provides all panels and access hatches as separate parts which is good news; less good for detail fans is that ot her than the empty (!) ammunition bays there is no level of interior detail ing. For modelers who only like to build the external vehicle this is not a problem, and if you have an interior set from the after-market folks it co mes ready for installation at least.
    Nearly all of the lower hull details are separate items - suspension arms, arm bracket/torsion bar stops, bump stops, and panels and hatches. The fir st two steps cover these and Step 3 the wheels. All of the road wheels have inner and outer surfaces which is a standard touch these days.
    Step 4 is the tracks. Enough said.          The upper hull has all of its components provided as separate parts to inc lude all four fenders. The headlights assemble as on the actual vehicle (th e one at APG had an optional hornets' nest but that happily does not come w ith this kit!) The driver's hatch comes with the windshield from clear styr ene and separate inner and outer sections. Note that some of the steps are for the MZ variant but other than changes to the radar antenna assembly mos t are simply later production changes to the M vehicle.
    In Steps 8 and 9 note that since the exhaust and the exhaust from the turb ine APU blow straight onto the unditching log it needs a protective shield (PE12, PE20) on its inner side. Note that this vehicle is one of the few th at used "extraction cooling" for the engine and has no fan; the cooling air is drawn through the radiator by a vacuum created by the exhaust blowing o ut the rear of the vehicle and special ducting. The actual log (F21/23) is dead smooth and will need a bit of attention with a razor saw and sandpaper to look like, well, a log!
    Each of the 23mm guns consists of five parts and has a slide molded open m uzzle flash hider. As with the actual vehicle each pair of guns has its own cradle and shell casing ejector set.
    While all of the parts are there to connect the guns, one thing missing is the plate that goes under the barrels and is one of the few sections of ar mor plate on the actual vehicle. It is a plate that fits under the lower ba rrel set and is fixed in such a way that as the guns are elevated it protec ts the mechanisms from either shrapnel or incoming objects. Of course, it i s stamped "POD STVOLAMI NE STOYAT'" (don't stand under the barrels) in such a way that the only place to read it is...standing under the barrels. The good news is that it seems to not be installed on many later production veh icles (it does come on the Meng kit).
    The turret is nicely done but does not include the actual "Bereza" flip-up sight for the commander. This was a product-improved option that permitted the commander to aim the guns with his head out of the hatch for faster re action against tactical strike aircraft and helicopters. It does not make t he model wrong, but it would have been nice to include it.
    A separate set of finishing instructions is included and provides for six different options: Iraqi (sand overall and no markings); Iraqi (actually Af ghani from the markings) (three color patterned camouflage with side number 3-001); USSR (protective green with bort number 614); East Germany (green with lozenges and bort number diamond 361); USSR (protective green with bor t number 621); and Russia (protective green with "Rossiya" shields and bort number 181). A small sheet of decals is included for these options.
    Overall if you can find another set of tracks and do not care about the in terior this is a nicely done and reasonably priced kit.
Cookie Sewell
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