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Soviet Divisional Artillery

MiniArt 1/35 Soviet Divisional Artillery Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Images by Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2011 Manufacturer MiniArt
Subject Soviet Divisional Artillery Scale 1/35
Kit Number 35045 Primary Media 419 parts in grey styrene
Pros Complete gun team and crew in one set; may be converted for motorized drayage if the modeler desires Cons No rigging or rein material provided (see text)
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $53.99

First Look

Valentine Kit
Valentine Kit
Valentine Kit
Valentine Kit

At the start of WWII (the Great Patriotic War) much of the Soviet “God of War” – its artillery arm – was horse-drawn just like that of the German Wehrmacht. But whereas the Soviets were able to produce a goodly amount of trucks - and receive hundreds of thousands more via Lend-Lease - the Germans were not so fortunate. Still, for the first year or so of the war most lower echelon Soviet artillery had to be horse-drawn.

This generally meant that battalion level guns – 45mm antitank and 76mm howitzers – and division level – 57mm antitank and 76mm guns – were either horse-drawn or used trucks like the GAZ-AA or ZIS-5 for drayage. Since the guns were lightweight, regiments could use two-horse teams and divisions four-horse hitches. (Considering during WW I the heavier light guns took six and eight horse teams, this at least was a blessing.)

MiniArt has now combined three of their earlier kits – 35032 ZIS-3 76.2mm Soviet Divisional Gun, 35044 Soviet Infantry (Summer 1943-45), and 35115 Limber 52-R-353M Model 1942 – with two sprues containing horses and outriders to provide a complete artillery section.

The ZIS-3 was probably the most popular single gun in Soviet service during WWII as it shared all the ammunition of the F-34 and ZIS-5 tank guns and had the same capabilities, so it could be used interchangeably as a field gun or antitank gun. The limber was designed for general use but in its 353M model was specifically mated to 76mm guns such as the ZIS-3 (translation - the racks inside were set for 76mm rounds for the ZIS-3 gun).

MiniArt has added some changes to the kits to improve them as well. Each tire now comes in seven thin sections in order to replicate the “street tire” profile more accurately (the original tires are also included with only five sections). While the 57mm ZIS-2 barrel is included, and with some care can be used as well, the kit is more suited for the ZIS-3.

Assembly of the gun is pretty straightforward. The gun comes as noted with two different options for its wheels and tire.(If you don’t like them, they are standard GAZ-AA wheels and those from any after-market resin manufacturer covering the GAZ-AA or GAZ-MM or BA-3/6/10 series armored cars should fit.) 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.

No ammo chests are provided but it comes with the previous 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.)

The limber is more complex than the gun (!) and will require care to assemble. If the extension to set the harness for horse movement is left off (part B21 and related parts) the remaining section is suitable to attach to a Studebaker US6 or ZIS-5 truck. (Note that the Soviets were bright enough to make their limbers convertible so they could use either mode of drayage.) However, the limber does not provide any way to open it up in an “in action” pose so the shells have no “home” so to speak.

Where the directions fall down is when it gets to the figures. These directions are in black and white and only cover the usual “stick here” assembly, and the box art is necessary for painting. Each figure consists of six parts (head, arms, legs, torso) and weapons and kit. The soldiers all carry either a carbine or submachine gun.

The horses are all in the Historex mold and consists of six parts - sides, head, tail and ears. Some strapping is molded in place, and the buckle and keeper parts are also provided. However, no strapping material of any sort is included so the modeler is on his own. The most common ones used by figure modelers are lead foil (off wine bottles), thin styrene strip or very thin leather, so you are on your own to find one of those materials or something similar. The rigging instructions at least are very clear, and due to the Soviet style of using outriders on the left hand horses there are no long reins to futz with. Note that the manes and tails can be easily improved with a pyrograveure or “hot pin” treatment to “fluff” up the plastic. (You put a needle into a pin vise, heat it over a candle or alcohol lamp, and use it to raise the plastic to look more like hair and less like, well, plastic.)

Finishing directions are simple. Paint the gun and limber green (actually 4BO green). I suggest the box art is your guide here.

Overall this is a very nicely done kit and a reasonable bargain as it combines three smaller kits and the new horse sprues to offer a very nice chance to produce a complete weapons system. But it will be more enjoyable to modelers with experience rigging horses.

Thanks to MRC for the review sample.

Sprue Layout:

  • 35044 63 Five figures, basic kit
  • A 51 Cradle, one wheel, ammunition
  • A 62 Barrel, one wheel, trails, ammunition
  • B 91 Limber with harness and motorized or horse-drawn parts
  • C 14x2 New tires for gun and limber
  • Ca 12x2 Wheel parts
  • Cb 2x2 Wheel centers
  • E 48x2 Two horses, figure, horse furniture