ARM: Review - SDV Model 1/87 Scale MT-LB with D-44 85mm Gun

Kit Review: SDV Model 1/87 Scale Military Series Kit No. 87 048; Obrneny Transporter MT-LB s 85 mm Diviznim Kanonem D-44 (MT-LB Armored
Transporter with 85mm D-44 Divisional Gun); 45 parts (40 in olive green styrene, 4 in black styrene, and 1 clear styrene); price in Czech Koruna Kr 320 or 13 Euros (US $15.23 from SDV)
Advantages: good pairing of two related items; better than the white metal offerings from other European manufacturers
Disadvantages: D-44 may be a bit fragile but is close to scale
Rating: Recommended
Recommendation: to all Soviet/Russian and Warsaw Pact small-scalers
    One of the older - and now out of production - warhorses which soldier on with the modern Russian Army is the MT-LB tracked armored personnel carrier. Now more than 30 years old, these vehicles have been rebuilt to provide acceptable (e.g. non OSCE or CFE Treaty limited equipment) to the Russians for use in the "near abroad" or in places such as the far north or Chechnya. They have also reintroduced (from deep war reserves) the 85mm D-44 field gun, as it is another treaty exempt item (CFE requires all guns and mortars over 100mm caliber to be declared.) The Russians issued both to their MVD Internal Troops units, who also used them in Chechnya. While the gun is quite elderly - being a field gun equivalent of the 85mm ZIS-53 guns used in WWII T-34-85 and IS-1 tanks, it is still capable of sufficient lethality against terrorists or rebels.
    SDV is now offering a "twofer" with both kits in one box. This is a good idea, as it gives the MT-LB some "purpose" as well as provide a prime mover for the field gun. Both kits are packed separately in ziplock bags.
    The MT-LB consists of 24 parts and comes with a clear windscreen as well as optional position armored flaps, so the model can be shown in march order. However, none of the hatches have options and the rear doors and roof hatches are also closed, so it will take a bit of work and ingenuity to fit an interior in the hull. The model comes with a separate outside ring to the drivers, which is fine as MT-LBs only had single road wheels and idlers.
    The D-44 is very petite but will be somewhat flimsy if assembled per the directions; if the model is to be wargamed, I suggest beefing up the trails with either sprue or strip and also using a heated screwdriver tip to fix the trails in their mounts. Both the trails will operate and the gun will elevate if care is taken in assembly.
    This kit comes with three different finishing options called out: Warsaw Pact grey-green, Soviet Army in Afghanistan 1988, or Iraqi Army, Kuwait 1991. The colors are called out in either Czech, English or German, but only one is matched to Humbrol colors - 173, which is "track color." A full decal sheet is included with six 0-9 sets of numbers, as well as markings for Finland, East Germany, West Germany, Poland, the CSSR, Rumania, Soviet and Soviet Guards, Hungary and one other.
    Overall this is a handy kit with two items that mutually complement each other in one box, and should be a nice change of pace for small-scalers or wargamers.
    Thanks to Jan Podubecky for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
Sources:
Stevens International, 706 N. White Horse Pike, P.O. Box 126, Magnolia, NY 08049; phone (856) 435-1555 fax (856) 627- 6274; e-mail: snipped-for-privacy@stevenshobby.com;
Fidelis Models, PO Box 1021, Poway, CA 92074; e-mail snipped-for-privacy@cox.net;
Howard Hookham, 11 Belle Vue Terrace, Blackwood Hall, Luddendenfoot, Halifax HX2 6HG, Yorkshire, Great Britain; e-mail snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com.
Direct from SDV at their e-store: http://www.sdvmodel.cz
The Czech Koruna converts to US dollars at a rate of Kr 21 = US $1.
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