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Soviet 76.2mm Gun ZIS-3

MiniArt 1/35 Soviet 76.2mm Gun ZIS-3 w/Crew Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review May 2007 Manufacturer MiniArt
Subject Soviet 76.2mm Gun ZIS-3 w/Crew Scale 1/35
Kit Number 35032 Primary Media 170 parts in grey styrene
Pros Nice new kit of legendary field gun; crew figures well done and compliment weapon Cons Parts are fragile and will need care removing them from the sprues
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $22.00

First Look

By 1930 the Soviets had standardized on a number of calibers of artillery: 76.2mm for regimental and divisional weapons, 107mm for divisional guns, 122mm for divisional howitzers and corps guns, 152mm for corps howitzers and army level guns, and 203mm for army level howitzers. Selecting a standard set of ballistics, most of the guns were designed around those ballistics.

For most of the 1930s they tried to find a good combination of features for the divisional 76.2mm gun. Weapons like the long-ranged F-22 were good but too heavy and unwieldy for rapid maneuver. Finally, the legendary V. G. Grabin found the right combination in his Model 1939 USV gun, but it still had some drawbacks, mostly with its carriage, as it weighed in at 1,560 kilograms. In May 1941 Grabin put forth a new version, which corrected many of the problems of the Model 1939; it was 440 kilograms lighter, lower, and now had a muzzle brake. On 22 July 1941 the gun was submitted for approval, which took another seven months, but it was accepted for service on 10 February 1942. Some 1,000 guns were already in service, so it was considered "troop tested."

Offical numbers indicate around 49,000 were built during the war years as ZIS-3 division guns with others built for SP weapons or replacements. The famous F-34 and ZIS-5 76.2mm tank guns were ballistically nearly identical to the ZIS-3 and all three guns used the same ammunition. Performance of the ZIS-3 with armor-piercing ammunition was such that many tank destroyer battalions were equipped with the gun for antitank use. In fact during the introduction of the Tiger I into German service near Leningrad, the first two Tigers lost in combat fell into a trap baited by a T-60 light tank and were destroyed by broadside fire at point-blank range from a battery of ZIS-3 guns.

In the mid 1970s Italeri came out with a very nice kit of the ZIS-3 that included a crew of three with the kit. Inexpensive and of pretty high quality for the time it remained popular and is still in their catalogue. But by now the kit does show its age, and thus the prospect of a totally new kit from MiniArt has been eagerly awaited.

The kit appears to live up to hopes, with the gun coming on two busy sprues and another one providing a five man crew. The kit appears to use a lot of the concepts either copied from or provided by DML, as the kit's boxing, directions, parts breakdown, and figure set all follow the DML concepts.

The gun comes with its wheels and tires split out with a separate hub and five sections to form the tire - two sidewalls and three inner ribs to give the tires tread pattern. (If you don't like them, they are standard GAZ-AA wheels and those found with any of the Eastern Express armored cars or Toko GAZ trucks should replace them.) Construction is pretty straightforward beginning with the trails and then the axle, carriage cradle ("l'yulka" in Russian) and locking levers, wheels, barrel and recoil cylinders, muzzle brake, gun shield, ammo crates, breech, and on to final assembly and then the crew. While the directions are similar to DML's the latter should pay attention as the MiniArt layout and graphics are much clearer and present things in a much less cluttered and more understandable format.

Parts are fragile and some of the smaller pieces were broken on the sprues, but due to internal bagging all parts were still present so no long-term harm was done.

The crew is excellent and is of the standard figure breakdown format with six main parts per figure– head, torso, legs and arms. The crew consists of a commander, gunner, loader and two "other numbers" bringing up ammunition for the gun. Each figure has a helmet, canteen, personal weapon (a TT pistol, two PPSh submachine guns, and two Moisin carbines) and are fitted with the uniforms from 1943-1945. The commander and gun crew are kneeling and the other two are crouching.

The kit comes with two ammo chests and a total of 10 complete 76.2mm rounds and three casings – four of the rounds are the late war "arrow" shells, however. (Also in the kit but unflagged are four 57mm rounds and three casings for the 57mm ZIS-2 gun which uses the same carriage.)

Two finishing schemes for the ZIS-3 are included, as are some photos of ZIS-3 guns in action for reference. The ones here are pretty much being used in antitank mode, so the modeler may take that as a reference point. Colors are flagged for Tamiya, Revell, Humbrol and Model Master paints.

Note that the crew itself is available separately as MiniArt Kit No. 35031 for about US$9 so you can use it for any of the other Soviet era artillery pieces on the market as well.

Overall this is a very nicely done kit and a bargain as it provides a five man crew for the same basic price levels of some kits with just the guns.