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PION

Panzershop 1/35 2S7 PION Self-Propelled Cannon-Howitzer Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review April 2007 Manufacturer Panzershop
Subject 2S7 PION Self-Propelled Cannon-Howitzer Scale 1/35
Kit Number PS35C129 Primary Media 590 parts (450 in two colors of resin, 138 etched brass, 1 section of acetate for windows and dashboards, 1 turned brass barrel section)
Pros ONLY kit made in this scale, and probably only one to ever be offered; beautifully rendered version of very large Soviet-era SP gun; comes complete with all details and accouterments; CD is a great help in building and painting the model Cons Very high price and mixed media format will probably ensure low circulation of the kit
Skill Level Advanced MSRP (USD) $330.00

First Look

The Russians have always loved their "Bog Voyny" – "God of War" – as they term their artillery arm, which they trace back more than 600 years as the oldest established arm in both the Russian and Soviet armies. They love guns, and the more and larger they are the better things can be for them.

Their favorite heavy gun during the Soviet era was the B-4 series 203mm howitzer, which was used for general army level artillery support down to street fighting. There are film clips of one being used for house clearing in Berlin during 1945 (easy – one 203mm round, no more house.) But during the Soviet era, as artillery ranges increased and the projectiles themselves became more lethal, a new weapon was needed both for army/front level artillery support as well as delivery of nuclear rounds.

Initially the Soviets could not get their artillery projectiles below 203mm caliber, and the short range of the B-4 meant that it would put its own crew in jeopardy. As a result, on 8 July 1970 the Central Committee of the CPSU accepted a resolution to proceed with the development a new 203mm self-propelled heavy artillery weapon. Chief designer was N. S. Popov, who was the head of KB-3, the descendent of the Kotin design bureau in Leningrad, and who was also developing the T-80 series tanks at the same time.

The new weapon, dubbed Article 216 while under preliminary development since 16 December 1967, was developed in two different directions: Article 216sp1 used components of the T-10 heavy tank and a V-2-type diesel engine; Article 216sp2 used the driveline of the T-72 tank but with the running gear of the T-80 series tanks. Both were combined with the massive 2A44 203mm gun, designed by the famous "Barrikady" factory in Volgograd (Stalingrad.) The later variant, Article 216sp2, won out and was fully developed, entering service with the Soviet Army in 1977. One brigade of 72 of these guns became part of the 34th Artillery Division in GSFG during that period of time. Later, this chassis was used to develop the launchers, radar and command and control vehicles of the S-300V (SA-12) surface-to-air missile system as well as improve a number of heavy engineering vehicles.

The 2S7 Pion (Peony – most SP guns are named after trees or flowers) is a huge weapon. While it is only partially armored and weighs 46 metric tons, it is 12.8 meters long (the hull is 10.5 meters alone), 3.5 meters wide and 3.5 meters high. That translates into 366mm x 100 mm x 100 mm in 1/35 scale, so it can be seen this is a big beastie even in scale. It is powered by a V-46-1 engine of 780-840 HP (some were upgraded later in their service life) and it uses the running gear from the T-80 series tanks. The gun has seven road wheels per side and an idler that can be lowered to the ground for stability when firing.

The 2A44 itself is huge – barrel length is 11240 mm (321 mm in scale). The gun has a range of 37,500 meters with conventional projectiles and 47,000 meters with "active-reactive" or rocket assisted projectiles. An HE-FRAG round weights 110 kilograms so these rounds are about 23% larger than those fired by the American M110A2. Even recoil is big – 1400 mm or about 4 ½ feet. But for its size, it only carries four ready rounds; the rest must be brought up by truck. Rate of fire is 1-2 rounds per minute. Crew of the gun is 7 men.

A slightly improved version dubbed 2S7M "Malka" (bevel) was developed to improve its rate of fire. Externally the only difference between them is a slightly lower engine deck (basically eliminating what the kit dubs parts R135, R131 and R110) behind the armored cab. "Malka" uses one less crewman.

About 200 of these guns were built, and most remained in Soviet service. Some were sold to Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria, but their current operational status is unknown.

Panzershop has used one of the Czech service guns as a reference in rendering this monster into resin as a very nicely done kit. The model only builds as a 2S7, but considering the iffy nature of the 2S7M that is not a big deal. Format is typical of many of the Panzershop kits, with a simple parts list and guide and black and white "stick here" paper instructions. The real instructions are provided on a very handy CD which gives some background, step by step kit assembly photos in color, and a very handy walkaround of their subject gun. This also has decals provided for it in the kit, so the Czech gun may be faithfully reproduced.

The hull consist of a pan (the "boat part" as my wife refers to them) and a deck cast in grey resin. The suspension is assembled first, and as noted the modeler needs to be aware that the directions show the idler wheels dropped for support and not raised for travel in the photos. You may wish to assemble the kit track to the wheels prior to attaching the deck as it forms the main fender line.

The gun and its attendant kit take up a good portion of the kit's parts. The gun has a massive recoil assembly, plus a resupply crane and basket, a spade, and sundry guards and brackets; most of these are resin, so will require very careful cleanup. The forward 2/3ds of the barre comes as a turned aluminum item; purists may grouse as it does not have rifling in it but then again it is a very awkward shape and modelers should be happy it did not come in resin.

Compared to the earlier P-40 LONG TRACK radar, etched brass is held to a minimum with this kit.

The armored cab attaches at the front of the hull after the gun has been assembled, but unlike the P-40 interior details are kept to a minimum. Considering that the cab is an armored assembly, you can't see much even with the hatches and ports open anyway, so this isn't such a bad idea.

Color and painting information is left up to the modeler, but the photos on the CD should give more than enough information to the modeler to do it up right.

Overall, this is a spectacular kit, and while probably $100-120 more that similar resin kits that makes it seem very expensive it is also very big and comes with its own set of references. That's hard to beat.

Thanks to Bill Miley of CMD for the review sample.

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