ARM: Review - Vulcan Scale Models 1/35 scale STZ-5 Soviet Artillery Tractor

Kit Review: Vulcan Scale Models 1/35 scale Kit No. 56010; Soviet Artillery Tractor STZ-5; 241 parts (208 in grey styrene, 15 etched brass, 10 clear st
yrene, 7 steel springs, 1 length of nylon cord); retail price US$50.00
Advantages: first kit of this vehicle in this scale in styrene; nicely done and not overwrought in regard to parts; link-and-length tracks a boon; fin ally a medium artillery tractor for Soviet artillery
Disadvantages: nothing of major note
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for fans of the Soviet ?God of War?
    During the 1930s the Soviets decided to mechanize as much of their country as possible, and that meant replacing horses and mules with tractors. Havi ng just purchased a number of foreign designs, the Stalingrad Tractor Facto ry (STZ) used some features from the Carden-Loyd tankette and the Internati onal TA-40 to create a light standard tractor dubbed the STZ-NATI-1TA. When militarized, the new tractor was dubbed the STZ-3. 16,000 of these were bu ilt of which one quarter went to the Red Army prior to June 1941.
    But the tractor had two drawbacks from a military standpoint: while powerf ul it was slow, and as a tractor design it only had seats for two personnel . As a result, in 1938 a redesigned variant, the STZ-5, was introduced for military service. While retaining a drawbaw pull of 8,000 kilograms (it cou ld do 24,000 but that overstrained its frame) it had a top speed of 25 kph and was more suited to military needs. It also had a cargo body that permit ted it to carry both a crew of 8-10 men and ammunition for whatever gun it was towing. It was capable of handling any 57mm or 76mm gun, 76mm or 85mm a ntiaircraft guns, and 122mm or 152mm (M-10 or D-1 type) howitzers. By the t ime that the Germans overran its factory in Stalingrad in August 1942, more than 9,900 had been built and many served throughout the war. Due to the c hanges in weapons size, most of them returned to agricultural service after the war ended in 1945.
    Vulcan recently released a 1/35 scale kit of the STZ-5 tractor, and while the term ?cute? is rarely applied to a military vehicle this one comes close! While it is a nicely detailed kit, Vulcan did not go nuts on the bre akdown of parts and as a result this is a reasonably detailed kit with a re asonable number of parts.
    Assembly is much like its real counterpart ? simple and sturdy. The chas sis consists of five main parts (engine platform, connector rails and side rails) and contains the lower half of the engine block. It has a nice repre sentation of the sprung tow hook at the rear of the chassis (with a real sp ring!) The suspension has two springs for the idler adjustment at the rear of the chassis and a spring inside each of the bogie units. While the direc tions show the springs for the latter added after assembly, I think based o n experience adding them with the VVSS ?keepers? (parts F7) may make th ings a lot easier in the long run.
    The use of ?link and length? tracks is a wise one as the track shoes a re pretty tiny ? about the size of a 1/72 scale main battle tank?s trac ks. As the directions have you add the ?wrap? or single links to the id ler and drivers before installing the main sections, I suggest leaving the wheels ?loose? to adjust fit of the tracks on at least the driver end.
    The top part of the engine cements directly to the cab floor and has the e ntire engine hood assembled around it. The top sections (parts D6-D7) are p oseable but as the engine is in the middle of the cab this will be hard to see. Controls include the steering levers, shifter, and at least the clutch and brake pedals. While the doors are each two parts the windows are prett y much fixed items and cannot be adjusted for up/down as with some other ki ts.          Assembly of the model?s body is a straightforward affair and provides th e bench seats on either side.
    Finishing directions are provided for two vehicles: a Soviet Red Army one (4BO green, registration number L-35-23, slogan ?Death to the Fascists! ?) and a captured German one (either WH or WL use). A small sheet of deca ls is provided.
    Overall, there are a lot of nice artillery pieces out there now (from regi mental 76mm guns through divisional weapons, 100mm BS-3 guns, and the 122mm M-30 howitzer among others) as well as extra limbers for ammo. All of this means the STZ-5 can be used as the heart of a nice display model of an art illery train or a diorama.
    Thanks to Peter Brown for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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