Russian 57mm Anti-Tank Gun
Maquette Limited Edition
|Rating:||Recommended with Reservations|
S u m m a r y
|Contents:||121 parts (103 in olive green stryene,18 in white styrene)|
|Advantages:||First kit of this important weapon in plastic|
|Disadvantages:||Good parts from Italeri/Zvezda compromised by third-rate garage kit values on new parts|
|Recommendation:||For Soviet fans and artillery buffs|
F i r s t L o o k
Russia began its program of outstanding antitank artillery in the early 1930s, and surprisingly, in conjunction with Rheinmetall of Germany. While this was due to the Germans being proscribed from working overtly on weapons, it was beneficial to both sides as they created some common designs. One of the first was a light antitank gun which emerged after they went their separate ways as the PaK 36 3.7 cm gun in Germany and the 45mm Model 1932 in the USSR. Updated in 1938, this weapon was being upgraded just as the Germans invaded in 1941. By 1942 the gun was now given a long barrel and high- performance ammunition, but rumors of German heavy tanks meant a more powerful weapon was needed.
The Main Artillery Directorate responded, and General Grabin's design bureau created a new barrel for the ZiS-3 76mm divisional gun just going into service. The new barrel, 57mm in bore and very long at over 4 meters, produced high muzzle velocities and very high penetration levels for that time.
Eventually, the weapon, using tungsten core "arrow" projectiles, managed to
generate penetration levels of over 150mm at 500 meters (90 degree impact) which meant
that it was the only gun of its time capable of penetrating even the Panther headon, and
could easily penetrate the Tiger I at 1500 meters from any aspect. It also fired a useful
HE-FRAG round, and after the war, it remained in production. Over 10,000 were built, and
have been encountered world wide up until recent times. APG has three of the weapons in
I was very happy to hear that a kit of this weapon was coming out, and that Maquette -- a competent manufacturer -- was going to make the kit. An added bonus was the fact that it was going to also include the standardized limber used with both the ZiS-2 and ZiS-3 guns for towing with the minute "Komsomolets" artillery tractor (finally, something to do with the AER kit!)
Upon opening the box, well, so much for that idea. What Maquette did was purchase ZiS-3 kits from Italeri/Zvezda and then add two of the crudest sprues of add-on parts I have seen in many years to the box. Since the ZiS-2 is a re-barreled ZiS-3, and Italeri's was always a nice kit, I can understand the former. But there is little excuse for the rough finish and status of the other parts.
One sprue includes two gun shields, one similar to the square ZiS-3 shield and a postwar rounded model. It also provides a barrel blank which has to be attached to the ZiS-3 barrel forward of the step in the barrel sections. As provided, the part looks like a lollipop stick, and will require a lot of sanding and shaping to get it trued up. It is at least tapered.
The limber kit is really pretty rough. Two matching ZiS-3 wheels are included, and they are easily the best part. The molds were cut in a hurry and not finished, which leaves burrs. Each burr takes plastic, so the details are covered with lumps and bumps which all have to be tediously and carefully removed. Some parts are not fully molded, and others have massive sprue attachment points that will require careful separation. The resulting model will still need lots of TLC to get it to stand with the ZiS-2 as it is not of the same quality, and not even up to the standards of bad resin.
Still, this is the first and so far only game in town of an important artillery piece. No decals are included, but it does come with the complete three-man Italeri ZiS-3 gun crew and all of the former's 76mm ammunition. This can be modified to suit the ZiS-2, as it used 76mm ZiS-3 rounds necked down for the 57mm projectiles. While making the "arrow" projectiles (essentially a subcaliber round with fixed sabot petals that do not come off) is pretty taxing, simply filing the neck of the cases down and drilling out the throat will at least provide a pretty good match for the empty casings.
Overall, after the FT series and the T-34-85 "Rudy" kit, both of which were reasonably good or promising, I expected more from this company than this kit.
Even the RPM "conversions" of the 7TP kits into "T-26s" were better
done and more artfully presented. This kit came in a sturdy (by Russian standards) box and
with English inscriptions, so if Maquette does seriously want a share of Western markets,
they must watch their production efforts in the future. Kits like this win few friends and
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