Kit Review: Trumpeter 1/35 scale Kit No. 02343l Soviet 122mm Howitzer 1938 M-30 Early Version; 325 parts (259 in grey stryene, 61 etched brass, 4 blac k vinyl, 1 turned aluminum); retail price US$56.99
Advantages: nicely done new mold kit of this seminal Soviet artillery piece ; inclusion of ammo crates and the limber a bonus
Disadvantages: a lot of very tiny parts will annoy some modelers
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all Soviet artillery fans
Every nation decided at the end of the 19th Century what its favorite arti llery calibers would be, and the Russians chose 57mm, 76.2mm, 107mm, 122mm, 152mm and 203mm for their main artillery weapons. Even when the Soviets to ok over the government, these calibers were "embossed in stone" by Soviet a rtillerymen and all guns would be made to one of those calibers, based on e chelon and function.
In 1937 the MMZ factory developed a new weapon based on the 122mm "Lubok" prototype howitzer created in 1934, but one that corrected most of the shor tcomings of that gun. Designer was the famous F.F. Petrov. Petrov used the barrel and rifling of the "Lubok" combined with the breechblock of the Mode l 1910/30 howitzer and wheels borrowed from the 76mm F-22 divisional gun. I t used the limber from the "Lubok"project but without the charge case carri ed on that item.
The weapon suffered a long series of development and findings needing more development so underwent a prolonged development cycle. It was finally acc epted for service on 29 September 1939 as the M-30 or formally the "122mm D ivisional Howitzer Model 1938".
The new howitzer turned out to be a very successful design, and served bot h through WWII and long into the 1960s as a reserve weapon in the Red Army and a popular weapon sold or provided to foreign governments. 19,247 howitz ers were produced between 1940 and 1955 when production of the successor D-30 swung into high gear.
The M-30 is a conventional howitzer with a barrel 22.7 calibers long and w hich can fire a variety of projectiles out to 11,800 meters. It can be towe d by most of the Soviet tractors or the ZIL-5/6 series of trucks, and can c ome with the 52-R-353M Model 1942 limber as well.
Years ago Zvezda produced a kit of the M-30 which was coupled with the old Soviet Artillery Crew from Italeri in one box. The figures were past their prime by then and the gun was more than a bit of work to cleanly assemble. This nice new kit from Trumpeter solves almost all of those problems and a lso comes with the 52-R-353M as a bonus.
The gun comes with some interesting features such as the interior to the b reech (part B4) which is something rare - most artillery pieces usually jus t leave a hole for simulated loading. The assembly of the gun uses a larger number of very small parts as well as 12 rivet heads on one sprue to add a s well. The elevating mechanism is indicated as to be left free to rotate w ith the upper carriage when left free to operate.
The modeler has a choice of a turned aluminum barrel or a styrene one - th e metal one needs an adapter plug to attach. The shield is thin styrene wit h an etched center plate that requires the aforementioned styrene rivet hea ds to be attached to it.
The big "highway" wheels and tires are used here and each one consists of nine parts included an etched brass rivet ring and the vinyl tire. Trails a nd lower carriage base parts are neatly done and assemble quite neatly.
The ammo crates consist of sides, packing frames, and racks and each one h olds two rounds. Casings for this howitzer are quite short so pack in with the projectiles.
Unlike the other limber kits on the market, Trumpeter provides an interior for theirs but no more ammunition is given. The inside racks are provided by etched brass frames that fit in styrene slots. While not shown in the di rections, the tail gate (part G10) may be posed open with some work.
Trumpeter shows the final assembly of the limber being made with the use o f parts of the 52-Ch-0331 and 52-Ch-0332 horsedrawn harness in place such a s the extended yoke and crosstrees. To assemble the motorized drayage versi on, simply cement the towing eye (part G27) into the front of the normal to wing arm (G14).
Finishing directions are simple: paint everything but the tires 4BO green. With some investigation there are camouflage schemes used on these guns (u sually winter whitewash) but they are not called out here.
Overall this is a really neat kit that can be coupled up with a ZIS-5 or o ne of the smaller tractors to make a handsome display, or used with sets of figures in a firing position. The fact that you can open the limber up wil l help with that.