Kit Review: Zvezda 1/72 scale Kit No. 5003; Russian Intercontinental Ballis
tic Missile Launcher "Topol'" SS-25 SICKLE: 316 parts (293 in olive drab st
yrene, 14 vinyl tires, 9 clear styrene); retail price US$44.99
Advantages: first and only kit of this vehicle in this scale in styrene; ni
cely done with choice of travel or launch positions
Disadvantages: no missile!
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all Soviet and Russian missile fans
During the Cold War the Soviets started to realize that the US was acquiri
ng precision guidance systems that would soon be able to make pinpoint targ
ets of all in-ground missile launch silos, so they started working on mobi
le means of establishing a nuclear delivery force. The first attempt was a
trainborne missile system (SS-24) which was functional but once again was l
imited to rail lines and eventually was removed from service.
But at the same time they had created a function theater (IRBM) missile sy
stem called "Pionir" (SS-20) which was causing fits to NATO planners. This
missile used a six-axle MAZ transporter/launcher and had a range of up to 5
,000 kilometers so could hit any target in Europe from deep with the USSR.
But as a "trigger" weapon it was removed from service and scrapped per the
1987 missile treaty.
The first RT-12 Topol' missiles began to enter service in 1988 and were ho
used in some cases in former SS-20 launch complexes. These were designed so
that in an emergency the missiles could be erected and fired from their st
orage sheds (opening roofs) but normally had a large "race track" of mobile
positions prepared for them to make it a guessing game for an opponent as
to where the launchers would deploy in case of war. Over 500 Topol' launche
rs were placed into service, but since 1998 they have slowly been supplemen
ted and replaced by the bigger Topol'-M (SS-27) which uses both an eight-ax
le launcher and a silo-based variant.
The Topol' uses a MAZ-7917 seven-axle heavy truck chassis for its launcher
platform which can handle the 100,000 pound weight of the Topol' in firing
order. There are three missiles to a battalion, nine to a regiment and usu
ally 27 to a division. Each has a number of supporting launch and escort ve
hicles albeit the launcher is capable of independent operation (the support
vehicles include computations/communications, life support (beds and mess
facilities) and escorts (armed transporters with security forces).
This is the first kit of a Soviet-era strategic nuclear missile system in
1/72 and the first with its launcher included. It is quite large as the mis
sile is 97 feet long or about 16 inches in 1/72 scale and this seems to be
the case here. Zvezda has created their own kit of the missile and nothing
here is borrowed from another kit or product.
There are some quirks to the kit. While the control cabins and driver's ca
bins are included there is no interior in either one and only a structural
brace for assembly. This is a bit odd as every one of the ladders and acces
sories on the outside of the vehicle is provided to include their signature
three fire extinguishers on the radiator grille. It does offer some basic
moldings for the super-detailer such as a fan shroud inside the radiator sh
ell if someone wants to install an engine in the model.
The model provides for a choice between travel and launch positions. One r
eason for this is that when set for launch the entire vehicle is jacked up
off the ground on four massive hydraulic jacks with large stand pads and th
e navigational alignment assembly is lowered to the ground (object behind t
he commander's cabin on the right front side).
The kit does come with a very complex and complete drive line but it is ha
rd to see under the vehicle (people who build it for display may want to se
t it on a mirror!). The wheels use vinyl tires but they appear well done an
d based on construction of the kit do not rotate.
The only sad thing is while the missile configuration is known no missile
is provided with the kit and all covers and fittings are designed to be use
d in place. This is a bit of a shame as a standby missile for display would
have been a great option.
One finishing and marking option is provided: dark green paint with red st
ars. A tiny decal sheet is included with those stars.
Overall this is a truly impressive model but anyone wanting more detail wi
ll have to provide it on his own. Due to the missing sprue element D there
may be an SS-20 or SS-27 version planned for the future.
7 years ago