Botond 1/35 Hungarian 40M Zrinyi II Assault Howitzer
Following the disaster of the 2nd Hungarian Army on the Don River in January of 1943, and with the influence of the German success with assault guns on the Eastern Front, the Hungarians decided in April 1943 to build assault artillery vehicles. They gave that task a very high priority.
Two versions were planned to equip the assault artillery battalions of the new assault artillery troops. The Zrinyi I was planned with a long 76mm gun, and Zrinyi II was planned to have a 105mm howitzer mounted. A total of eight assault artillery battalions were planned, each to have 10 vehicles, to be used as independent army or corps troops for the support of infantry divisions.
As a consequence of the decision in April 1943, a contract was immediately placed at Manfred Weisz for 40 Zrinyi vehicles. The number was later raised to 104 vehicles, to be built by Manfred Weisz and Ganz (52 ea. in 1943, and 50 more in 1944). To save time, training of the first assault artillery troops began in July 1943 at Hajmasker using 10 Turan II and 10 Toldia IIA light tanks. However, in August of 1943, the first five Zrinyi IIs appeared. A total of 60 Zrinyi II vehicles were completed by Manfred Weisz. Production stopped in July of 1944.
It is possible, but not confirmed, that Ganz may have completed an additional six vehicles in August and September of 1944. These vehicles were used to equip the 1st and 10th Assault Artillery Battalions. Whereas other Hungarian assault artillery battalions were equipped with the German Stug. III and some Hetzers.
Production of the Zrinyi I was never initiated. The single prototype of that version was used for trials only. Thus, in November of 1944, it also went under trials with six 152mm rocket launchers mounted on it at Hajmasker.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX?:
The kit comes in a large, white, generic box...that is very sturdy. A photo of the completed model adorns the box lid.
Inside the box is numerous light gray resin parts. The smaller of these are in three zip-lock type cello bags.
Taped inside the lid of the box is a PE brass fret of parts for the fenders and to assemble a box with venetian blind type shutters to go over the engine air intake. If you care not to go to all that trouble this part of the vehicle is also provided as a one piece resin part.
A set of Fruilmodellismo individual white metal track links comes in anothe zip-locked bag, along with white metal drive sprockets. There are no figures and no decals.
The instructions consist of a single 8 1/2" x 11" sheet printed on one side. It gives several exploded assembly drawings, which will take some careful study to get things in the right places. There is a 4 view line drawing of the vehicle and a template for making the Hungarian national crosses in 1/35th scale. The box art will have to be used as the sole color guide.
This vehicle reminds me, very much, of the Italian Semovente tank. It's shape and all the rivets are similar. It will be a welcome addition to any serious collection of WWII Axis armor kits. Detail is superb...I only noticed that a few rivet heads were missing and have to be replaced. These were probably lost when the larger hull parts were pulled out of their mold. I have Grant Line Brand ones to fix that.
Of the three Botond kits reviewed in this issue, this one is the most expensive. But...then again...it is the largest of the three and has the most parts. Price is in excess of a hundred bucks...at least it was that when I traded PHG Hobbies, in Budapest some of my company's armor accessories for it and the other two kits they sent me.
Highly recommended if your pocket-book can stand it and you are already experienced with resin kits. I would not recommend it to the novice armor modeler, as there is a lot of clean up to do on the smaller parts and careful dry fitting.