Reviewed by Cookie Sewell
The SA-13 GOPHER, better known as the "Strela-10" surface-to-air missile complex or ZRK to the Russians, is a constantly evolving system which has been in service for over 20 years. Based on the reliable MT-LB chassis, the missile system has evolved over the years to keep up with the changing threat.
The system comes in two variations: the 9K34 series, which are equipped with the SNAP SHOT range-only radar, and the 9K35 series, which adds the FLAT BOX IFF system to the launcher above the right pair of missiles. Each system consists of sub-components: the 9K34 (K meaning "Komplekt" or system) has the 9A34 launcher vehicle, the 9S86 SNAP SHOT radar system, and four loaded 9M37 "Strela-10" missiles and four reloads. The 9K35 has all of the same, but the 9A35 vehicle also carries the 9S16 FLAT BOX B passive IFF system.
SA-13 missiles (there are two basic ones: the 9M37 series and the newer 9M333, which is more powerful and more capable) are all capable of hitting targets at ranges of up to 5,000 meters and speeds of 310-415 mps (1100-1500 kph). Altitude band is 10-25 meters up to 3,500 meters. Whereas the early 9M37 missiles have a 3 kg warhead, the newer 9M333 has a 5 kg warhead with both proximity and laser fusing, and heavy IR decoy rejection capability.
SKIF calls the vehicle the "Strela-10SV", which is a bit odd, as most sales literature call it by other names, such as 9K35M "Strela-10M", 9K35M2 "Strela-10M2", or 9K35M3 "Strela-10M3", based on improvements and modifications. The M3 also adds a passive radar detection system to the electronic suite. Based on all of the variants in service, it would seem that this kit is a 9K35M2 "Strela-10M2" version with 9M37M missiles, passive radar system, and the FLAT BOX B IFF system.
The model is essentially the MT-LB kit with two styrene sprues and a fret of brass parts providing all of the necessary bits for the SA-13 vehicle. Sprues are numbered according to what kits they originated with: one is from the 2S1 "Gvozdika" kit, three from the MT-LB, and two for this version. Most of the parts are nicely done, with the interior being a bit skimpy and yet fairly decent, as it is hard to see the interior through the small crew hatches. Since missiles store in the rear, it also blocks much of the view if the rear doors are opened.
While SKIF includes the missiles, unless you want one looking very toy-like or an "IDEX" sales display they probably will simply be cemented inside their boxes. The kit has you stick the nose of the missile through the cover; this is wrong, for the actual missile transport and launch canisters have a domed cover on them, and are hermetically sealed prior to action. If you want closed covers, the nose of the missile and some putty and scrap plastic will suffice; if you want it open, you will need some sort of vacuformed cap with which to seal the hole. Also, if you make them up with the covers off the canister, they could use an MV Lens for the seeker tip of the warhead to improve their appearance.
However, once you get past the basics of the kit, which are not bad, you have to deal with the Devil in the details. Here SKIF has somewhat fudged things a bit. Admittedly, like many former Soviet weapons systems, SA-13s are like cars in that you can check off the "options" list and select the things you need (such as the 9K35 with IFF or the HAT BOX passive radar receiving system, for example). Checking my photo references, there are a LOT of small details missing from the missile carrier racks and the canisters themselves. All of the "bars" on the sides of the canisters are actually straps, and the depressions are of differing sizes on the four faces of the boxes. Part 121H is supposed to be a window for the gunner, who like the one in the SA-9 "Strela-1" launcher, sits in the center of the launcher mounting.
On the base vehicle, the tracks are very annoying as they are hard to get to sit flat. For $15 to $20 you can purchase a Shanghai Dragon ZSU-23-4 kit, and it is worth it for the track set alone, as well as some of the finer details on this vehicle (the ZSU and the MT-LB share common roots).
Markings are provided for one Ukranian vehicle in their new (and seldom seen) camouflage schemes, with a choice of black or white numbers and the trident of Volodymyr, the national insignia of Ukraine. National markings are also provided for the Soviet Army, Czechoslovakia, and Poland.
Suffice it to say that the "Strela-10SV" kit provides the basis for what can become a great model; but it puts the modeler back in modeling, and a reasonable amount of work will be required to get there.
Cookie Sewell AMPS
Review Copyright © 2000 by Cookie