ARM: Review - ICM 1/35 scale BM-13-16

Kit Review: ICM 1/35 scale kit No. 35512; BM-13-16N WWII Soviet
Multiple Launch Rocket System; 311 parts (305 in grey styrene, 6 clear
styrene); retail price US$59.95
Advantages: combines the BM-13 rocket launcher with the Studebaker
chassis; corrects tire pattern from earlier kit
Disadvantages: launcher assembly based on old Italeri kit is fiddly
and rocket fins thick
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all WWII US and Soviet truck fans
From the first review I did of the US6 truck kit, as the US began to
ramp up for WWII, the major automotive manufactures in the US ceased
production of passenger cars early in 1942 and turned their efforts
into producing military vehicles. These included GMC, Ford, Dodge/
Fargo, White, Diamond T, Mack, International Harvester (IHC), and
Studebaker. Of these companies, GMC, IHC and Studebaker concentrated
their efforts on all wheel drive (6 x 6) trucks in the 2 =BD ton
capacity range.
The Studebaker truck, the US6, was only used by stateside US units.
However, the Studebaker was produced by both Studebaker and Reo for
provision to other nations via Lend-Lease, and as such became one of
the most popular and widespread of all of the American trucks. There
were more than 193,000 US6 models built by Studebaker as well as
22,000 more by Reo.
Most of the trucks provided to the Soviets were the Studebaker US6
design. As such, they were somewhat humbling to the Soviets, whose own
trucks of the period were about 10-15 years behind the US ones. The
Studebaker came with all wheel brakes, three driven axles, a 320 cid
Hercules JXD engine producing 87 HP, and a five-speed transmission
with dual range. (The Soviets adopted this design in their postwar
ZIS-151 and ZIL-157 series trucks.)
While the Soviets had come up with the RS-8 and RS-13 rocket
projectiles on their own, and built launchers on the ZIS-6 4 x 6 truck
chassis for them, it was not an ideal marriage. Only 456 ZIS-6
launchers for the RS-13 were built after which the Soviets searched
for a better platform. Ultimately the Studebaker US6, which the
Soviets were receiving in quantity, was selected as the best all
around choice. The new vehicle, dubbed the BM-13-16N (N being for
=93Normalized=94 =96 standard chassis) was converted in large numbers. Afte=
r
the war, the new Soviet ZIS-151 6 x 6 truck was used =96 basically a
=93Russianized=94 copy of the US6.
ICM=92s kit of the Studebaker was a welcome surprise when it came out,
even though they did not get the tires right and several modelers
commented loudly on their disappointment. As a result (and to their
credit) ICM went back and revised the wheels, correcting the tread
pattern. Later on, they added a complete BM-13-16 launcher package to
the kit, which is the one now under review here.
The breakdown of the kit is very similar to the Italeri ZIS-151
(BM-13 =93Katyusha=94) kit with a few twists. While the chassis comes in
multiple parts (rails and braces are all separate parts) the complete
driveline with axles comes as a single unit; this obviates having to
assemble and align the various drive shafts and universal joints,
which does make assembly a lot easier. Ejection pin marks are still
with us, but are either small or easily removed so quality is far
better. The kit comes with a complete engine as well as a cab
interior.
The launcher assembly is patterned directly on the old Italeri one
and as a result shares some of its pluses and minuses. They tend to be
finicky to assemble and fragile once done, so making them =93work=94 is an
iffy thing. It does come with the correct wartime =93smooth=94 pattern to
the fender tops (Italeri=92s is corregated) and the rockets are single
piece body units (apparently how to dodge copyright violations) but
the assembly uses the same fin design. Considering the rockets are not
all that big this is probably a matter of simplifying assembly, as
trying to attach 64 little scale thickness fins would drive most
modelers to boredom.
The kit also provides the flip-over windshield blast covers and roof
protection needed for use with the launcher.
Finishing instructions and decals are provided for four different
vehicles: Unidentified Unit, Poland 1944 (green with white trim,
Sh-50-033); Unidentified Unit, 1944 (green, white B-9-02-14 with
artillery cannon); Germany, Spring 1945 (green with Guards and Order
of the Red Banner door markings); and Unidentified Unit, Victory
Parade, Moscow, May 1945 (green with Guards insignia). The decals are
in pretty good register but the red color is far too orange.
Overall this is a great effort from ICM and alleviates pulled that
old Italeri BM-13 kit out of the closet to make a wartime =93Katyusha.=94
Cookie Sewell
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AMPSOne
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