ARM: Review - Revell Germany (ICM) 1/35 scale ZIL-131 Cargo Truck

Kit Review: Revell Germany 1/35 scale Kit No. 03245 (ICM 1/35 scale Kit No. 35515); ZiL-131; 232 parts (208 parts in tan styrene, 16 clear styrene, 8
black vinyl tires); retail price US$37.95
Advantages: first kit of this important truck in this scale in styrene; reb oxing will ensure wider distribution
Disadvantages: no etched brass
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all modern Soviet/Russian and softskin fans
    During WWII when the US shipped thousands of GMC and Studebaker trucks to the USSR, the Russian designers were embarrassed. The best they could do at the time in the medium truck class was the ZIS-5/6 truck which had only re ar wheel drive (and only brakes on the rear wheels) and a very crude drivel ine. The US trucks had either 6 x 4 or 6 x 6 options, two-range transfer ca ses, and a far more sophisticated driveline and level of finish. And they w ere also better suited to the poor Soviet roads and the "Rasputitsa" in whi ch the thaw turned all roads into mud.
    Immediately after the war the Soviets used the American trucks as a basis for the ZIS-151 which was also now a 6 x 4/6 x 6 truck with transfer case a nd better design. It was followed later by the ZIL-157 which had big single tires and later on introduced adjustable air pressure in the tires for san d and soft ground.
    But when the Soviets went to replace the ZIL-157 they went for a more mode rn design. They now used the later Reo M34 6 x 6 truck as their prototype a nd began development of the new design in 1956. Its biggest advantage was a new design V-8 gasoline engine of 125 HP that was expected to carry out it s duties. But it took 11 years of development before the new truck was read y for production, and it did not go into production and enter service until 1967.
    The ZIL-131 (ZIL - Moscow "Likhachev" Automotive Factory) was a 3.5 metric ton rated 6 x 6 truck with a 150 HP V-8 engine using a 5-speed transmissio n and two-speed transfer case that gave it a highway range of 660-850 kilom eters. Just under one million ZIL-131 trucks of all types (cargo, box bodie d, radio command, tankers, etc.) were built up through 1990.
    ICM introduced this kit about a year ago but now Revell Germany is reboxin g it and offering it under its aegis. It is a neatly molded modern kit and presents nicely for a basic version of the truck. It is likely that ICM wil l do some of the other variants such as the radio trucks, radar vans and ta nkers in the future.
    This is highlighted by the breakdown of the kit's parts which makes for si mple replacement of sprues with all of the cab and chassis parts contained on all but one of the sprues in the kit. While no etched brass is included in the kit, most of the parts of this vehicle - like the M34 - are designed to be "soldier-proof" or extremely sturdy so it is not a big problem. The tires are neatly pressed vinyl but do have a center mold seam, still they r un along the intersection of the tread pattern and are not too annoying.
    Assembly is straightforward and starts with the multi-piece chassis and ru nning gear. The wheels are not designed to roll nor can the front axle easi ly have the steering turned. They are simple and very sturdy assemblies how ever and make for faster assembly.
    The cab interior appears to be complete with all pedals and levers and ref lects the "civilian" style dashboard used by the original. All of the light s are included as clear styrene parst such as the three marker lights on th e cab roof and others around the vehicle.
    The troop carrier cargo body comes with optional position troop seats (but no braces and I do not have any information if it needs them - US troop be nches have metal struts that fold down for support). The tail gate is only shown in the "up" position but should be easy to install in down or folded down configurations with some work. The top bows are only shown in the stow ed position at the front of the body, but all of these may be cut off if th e modeler wished to use the chassis for a self-propelled ZU-23 mount with a suitable twin gun mounting.
    Four finishing options are provided: East German NVA, 1980 (dark green ove r black with markings); Group of Soviet Forces Germany 1980 (dark green ove r black with markings); Russian Army 2000 (dark green over black with regis tration plates); or 40th Army Afghanistan 1980 (two-color grey/green camouf lage with black registration numbers). A small sheet of decals is included.
    Overall, while cargo trucks can be a bit dull they are a good "blank canva s" for using asd a centerpiece or supplemental item in a diorama and will b e great with figures and cargo for any scene over the past 40 years.
Cookie Sewell
Sprue Layout:
A    91    Chassis, engine, driveline, fuel tanks B    31    Cab C    27    Cargo body D    45    Cab details, exhaust system E1    7x2    Wheels and inflation tubes E2    4x2    Vinyl tires F    16    Clear styrene
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