Book Review: Wings and Wheels Publication Present Vehicle Line No. 15; SA-6 Gainful in detail by Frantisek Koran, Tomas Bouchal and Jan Horak; RAK, Prague, December 2005; 72 pp.; price US $30-38 (ISBN80-86416-56-9)
Advantages: beautifully shot and presented color photo layout of several different versions of the SA-6 launcher and its missiles, as well as some support equipment and the 1S91 STRAIGHT FLUSH radar vehicle;
Disadvantages: While the English captions in this book are much better than past volumes (especially compared to the Trumpeter directions!) some rather interesting captions result
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all "Duck Hunters" and Soviet equipment fans
I really enjoy the "Wings and Wheels" publications as they are the best source of full color detail shots of specific Soviet-designed or produced vehicles, and this little volume is no different. In conjunction with the very well done SA-6 Gainful kit from Trumpeter, this book is a very valuable guide to the different variants and details used on the actual vehicles.
The book commences with a short overview of the SA-6 system (Soviet2K12 "Kub" or Cube or 2K12Eh "Kvradrat" or Square, with the 2P25 missile launcher, the 3M9 series missiles and the 1S91 guidance radar vehicle or STRAIGHT FLUSH) and points out this was one of the most widely disseminated Soviet surface-to-air missile systems. 22 other nations purchase or use the SA-6, and it is still currently considered to be a viable threat on the battlefield. The missiles can engage targets at ranges up to 24-25 kilometers and with later production variants down to about 50 meters above the ground.
Normal battery structure is four launcher vehicles with three missile each and one 1S91 fire control radar, a command and control vehicle, and several 2T7 reloader vehicles.
The book provides some details of the differences in the four main variants of the launcher (2P25, 2P25M1, 2P25M2, and 2P25M3) and the four main missile variants (3M9, 3M9M1, 3M9M2, and 3M9M3) along with ways to tell them apart. (For example, 3M9M1 and 3M9M3 are identical other than the latter has a very light grey warhead ogive vice olive green.)
Some useful bits are covered. On page 36-37 the data link with the1S91 radar is covered in detail. Since it is a dielectric cover, it is marked in Russian, "Careful! Do not Remove! Do Not Paint the Plexiglass!"
Due to the immense amount of electrical power required by this and the companion ZSU-23-5 chassis, there is a turbine-powered generator in the right rear of the hull. On pages 42-43 the book provides good closeups of the cover and jet efflux.
The book also devotes a good nine pages to the missile launcher assembly and stowage fittings as well as the launch rails.
Coverage of the missiles is somewhat sketchy (mostly as the 3M9 is out of service, considering it only had half the range of the M1 and later variants.) But what is given is useful for the later M1 and M3 variants. Most are of training dummies but the authors do explain how and where those are used and how to tell them apart from "combat" missiles.
Six pages cover the driver/commander's positions inside the vehicle.
Three more pages cover transloading procedures with the 2T7 (ZIL-131 based) transporter and transloader vehicle.
Finally, the last three pages cover the 1S91M1 variant of the STRAIGHT FLUSH radar. While I wish they had used more photos of that (as it is unknown if Trumpeter will ever produce one) the shots included are useful as they show it with and without the antennas deployed.
Overall this is a nice little book and very handy if you want to build the Trumpeter kit. Now if only someone would produce a set of the correct missiles for that kit!