ARM: Review - Miniart 1/35 scale SU-122 Initial Production

Kit Review: Miniart 1/35 scale Kit No. 35175; SU-122 Initial Production; 90 9 parts (795 part in grey styrene,110 etched brass, 14 clear styrene); reta
il price US$79.95
Advantages: new mold kit of this seminal SP gun; full interior from front t o rear; lots of options for the various assemblies
Disadvantages: some dodgy assembly points; some variations from the factory blueprints
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all SP and Soviet ?34" fans
    Recently I received a copy of ?Sverdlovskiye SUshki? which is the factory history of Soviet SP guns starting with the SU-122. It reco unts how the Urals Factory for Heavy Transport Machinery Construction (UZTM in Russian) only came up in conversation as a possible tank factory in the late 1930s. Up until that point it had only worked on heavy construction e quipment. But with the assignment of L.S. Vladimirov as director (who had w orked closely on the BT-2 tank at Kharkov) things began to change.
    With B.G. Muzrukov taking over in 1939, the factory began to move to the f ore and was first tasked to make KV-1 hulls in 1941; then later it was refo cused on T-34 hulls. While they initially decided to make T-34 tanks, in No vember 1941 they were ordered to coordinate with Plant No. 9 (artillery) to work on artillery tanks for the Red Army. L.I. Gorlitskiy was assigned as the chief designer of this class of weapons.
    While initially the plant did start on KV hulls, that function was transfe rred to Factory No. 200 which was a satellite of the new combined facility at Chelyabinsk. After perfecting a method of using chilled steel molds to c ast KV turrets, in November 1942 the factory was once more reprofiled to wo rk on T-34 tank hulls.
    But while this was all going on, in August 1941 the VGK in Moscow and the Artillery Directorate asked if UZTM could design and build assault artiller y. They acknowledged they could and immediately began to work on a platform for the 122mm U-11 howitzer. But this was an assault gun version of the KV -1 (later KV-9) and was not accepted for service.          While involved with all of these prototypes, another project, the SG-122, did go forward with prototypes arriving for test in May 1942. This showed p romise but needed work. In October 1942 contracts were signed with the Main Artillery Directorate (GAU) and work commenced in earnest on a T-34 chassi s with a 122mm howitzer. This emerged a month later as the SU-35 (service d esignation SU-122).
    The SU-122 was a lighter vehicle than the T-34, but used the same armor pr otection basis of 45mm all around with a casemate at the front. The 122mm M -30 howitzer was mounted on a pedestal at the front of the casemate and fit ted with an armored shroud. Production began in December 1942 and continued until ? with improvements (like all T-34 based vehicles) being int roduced as they were created. A total of 638 SU-122s of all versions were b uilt.
    The vehicle was a big success, able to keep up with infantry and tanks and with its useful 122mm HE-FRAG round able to level any typical enemy strong points in front of the vehicle.
    Roughly 40 years ago Tamiya introduced the only kit of the SU-122 that was available in styrene, but it shared a poor chassis with their T-34 tank ki ts of the day. Now the resurgent Miniart has released two kits of the vehic le (initial production with a full interior and mid production without one) of which this is the former. And it is quite impressive.
    The model seems to match up reasonably well with the blueprints with some differences in the spring tower locations and the firewall, but none of the se seem to have a major impact on the overall accuracy of the kit (especial ly if the hull is cemented together and only hatches are left open for view ing the cramped interior!) Note that the kit is typical of recent Miniart e fforts with the kit on some 65 sprues and one fret of etched brass.
    The directions are as with all recent Miniart kits a handsome booklet with clear locations called out for all parts.
    Assembly starts with the V-2 engine (shared with the T-44/T-44M kits) but with the use of the earlier V-2 parts and not the later V-44 series ones. O nly the injector tubing seems missing from the engine as it comes with all of the other items including radiator balance pipes and fittings.
    The transmission includes the shift linkages and all accessories such as t he generator/starter. The brakes have a correct ?ribbon? fr om etched brass and the proper actuating gear. However, all of the control rods are molded to the belly plate (B2) and not separate; considering they are on the floor of the hull this is not a big whoop.
    This vehicle has the ?Tsiklon? air cleaners and the kit do es a nice job of representing them to include etched brass latches. Some mo dification needs to be made to the intake tubes (Da1/Da2) due to this parti cular air cleaner setup (as shown in the directions).
    Each spring tower has a separate spring and adjustment mechanism inside it . While the road wheel arms have the same round pins for mounting which mad e the SU-76M kit a pain to assemble, these also have locks on one end (F5) and fit into the springs to lock them in place so a pretty positive fit and result. The front spring mounts are quite complete and each one consists o f some five parts.
    Step 41 basically completes the lower hull, and then the construction swit ches to the M30 howitzer. If assembled correctly the gun will elevate and t raverse within the limited arc that the original SU-122 possessed. Also not e the main item of the interior is ammunition - the kit provides the author ized 36 complete rounds plus some other elements stowed inside the rather c ramped interior. (Realize the original had a crew of five inside there with the gun and all of that ammunition...)          The last parts of assembly cover the rear upper hull and fenders as well a s the engine deck. They provide both a complete etched radiator exhaust gri lle (the big one at the rear of the engine deck) or a single part ? quickie? solid styrene one. When completed the rest of the model is then assembled to include mudguards and external items such as the auxilia ry fuel tanks.
    Finishing instructions cover a total of six SU-122s, one each from the fir st two units to receive the SU-122 and four others: Bort 918, 1433rd SP Art y Regiment, Volkhov Front March 1943 (whitewash over 4BO green, red stars a nd numbers); Bort 908, 1434th SP Arty Regiment, Leningrad Front December 19 43 (whitewash over 4BO green, red numbers with shadow stars and numbers und er the whitewash, red circle air mark); Probable 5th Guards Tank Corps, Vor onezh Front, August 1943 (4BO green, white bort number 5234); Unidentified unit, 1943 (4BO green, white bort 32-S); Unidentified unit, 1943-44 (4BO gr een, white bort 32 in four places); Captured gun, Eastern Front 1943 (4BO g reen with faded bort number 1614, white Greek crosses on sides, front and r ear). A good-sized decal sheet is provided for these markings.
    Overall this is a beautiful kit chock full of details - it almost is a sha me to complete as is and seal up all of that detail inside it! (If you can ?t stand the thought, that is why they release the ?non-int erior? version of the kit!)
Cookie Sewell
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