Trumpeter 1/35 Soviet S-51 Self-Propelled Gun
I was surprised to see a state-of-the-art injection kit of the Soviet S-51 Self- Propelled gun. Then again, why not a model of a vehicle that only had one prototype built? The German side of WW2 seems to get all sorts of state-of-the art models that never even got off the drawing board, or off the paper napkin in some cases, let alone made it to the prototype stage! That and apparently it appears in the massively popular video game series, World of Tanks. What more does one need to say!!!
UTZM submitted the S-51 design when the GAU began to redesign the Soviet Union's self propelled artillery weapons in the Autumn of 1943. It utilized a 203mm B-4 howitzer mounted on a KV-1 tank chassis. In reality the chassis was too short to be adequate for mounting such a large caliber howitzer, but too many alterations were required to make the KV-1 chassis suitable, so work proceeded on the S-51 with an unaltered chassis. The howitzer was mounted on the open gun carriage, with no protective superstructure being provided for crew protection.
After the prototype was completed, and testing began, it was soon shown to be a disaster. The recoil of the massive howitzer tossed the whole vehicle about violently and dislodged the crew from their very seats! And the extreme weight of the shells made loading the beast extremely difficult. And the KV-1 chassis was not up to the job of hauling the massive howitzer, which weighed more than the displaced turret of the KV-1. Yet such was the demand for a large SPG, that efforts continued to get the S-51 into production, despite the clear issues involved with mounting the gun on the chassis.
In the end no other vehicles but the prototype were ever built: altering the KV-1 chassis to meet the needs of hauling the B-4 gun proved too much of an effort. The B-4 gun itself was also being produced in only very small numbers, too small to meet the needs of an SPG production schedule. In the end heavy caliber SPG requirements were met via other means.
What's in the box:
13 sprues of gray injection plastic parts
2 sprues of brown colored plastic parts (tracks)
1 small clear parts sprue
1 small photo etched brass fret
1 very small decal sheet
Total parts: over 500 injection plastic parts
Since Trumpeter already produces a very nice series of KV tanks in their 1/35th scale kit range, it isn't surprising that the firm utilizes parts from those kits for the S-51. The main hull tub, chassis outer side walls, road wheel arms, drive sprockets and road wheels, and link and length track, come from their earlier kits. Given the high quality of those early kits, why expect anything else? The parts are well molded, very well detailed, and don't have any sink marks or ejection pin marks. And the newly tooled parts produced especially for this kit, such as the 203mm howitzer and its superstructure are what you would expect from a state-of-the art kit in 2014: nicely detailed and no sink marks or ejection pin marks.
The howitzer barrel is multipart, and it's split down the center, so careful cleanup of the resulting seam will be important, but nothing taxing for the modeler. In fact the whole model is rather a simple affair: KV-1 chassis, plus a howitzer with simple gun shield. No superstructure enclosing the gun whatsoever. The tracks are the link-and-length type. They provide built-in sag for the upper track run, and the track shoes are large enough to get a good grip on when assembling them. Even the photo-etched parts are very simple in layout, and shouldn't worry anyone normally averse to using such parts. Painting the model is a snap, given its overall standard WW2 Soviet 4BO scheme.
All in all this entire model should build into a very nice replica of the S-51 without much difficulty, and would be an ideal first model for someone wishing to get into armor modeling for the first time. Thanks very much to Stevens International for supplying Internet Modeler with this review sample.