Military Wheels
1/72 Su-76i
Kit Number: 7254
Reviewed by  Jim Pearsall, IPMS# 2209

[detail package image]

MSRP: 11.00Ä ($14.95)
Review item courtesy of Hobby Terra; website: www.hobbyterra.com

The Vehicle

The Su-76i was an idea ahead of its time. It was recycled. All of those Panzer III's knocked out, disabled or captured at Stalingrad in 1941 needed to be utilized. The 50mm gun used on the Panzer III was inferior to the T-34ís 76mm gun, and there was also the question of ammunition supply. So the Soviets converted about 1200 of those Panzer III's into the Su-76i, with the standard Soviet 76mm weapon. This was a quite a large number considering that only about 5800 Panzer III's were built.

The basic conversion was pretty simple; the turret was removed, along with some of the top deck. A new flat-sided casemate for the gun was welded onto the reconditioned PzKw III chassis, and by late 1943 this new weapon system was in the hands of the troops. By late í44, early í45 the Su-76i was out of service, as there were few spare parts, so they fell by the wayside.

The Model

The box contains 6 sprues of light gray plastic. The sprues are heavy, which tends to indicate either a limited production run or a low-pressure mold. The parts are mostly flash free, with no sink marks or voids. There are many unused parts, most of which look like they could be used on a "soon to be released" Panzer III or StuG III kit. The instructions are pictorial, and are easy to follow through a logical assembly process. I had no problem figuring out which parts fit where, as the instructions also give a parts location graphic.

Assembly [review image]

The first task is assembling the drive sprockets, the idlers, the return rollers, and the road wheels. Each of these is 2 parts, which looks good when the tracks are put on, but there are a lot of wheels to assemble. The drive sprockets, idlers and return rollers went together easily, but the road wheels were tough. The inner wheel has a circular locating ring with 3 notches in it. The outer wheel has 3 pins which fit into the notches. Because of the "softness" of the mold, itís difficult to feel when the pins and notches are lined up, and impossible to see into the notch between the wheels. If theyíre not linked up correctly, the wheels will not be parallel or the centers will not line up. I spent the better part of 2 hours getting these wheels assembled.

The rest of the lower hull and suspension went together fairly well. I was gratified to see "length and link" tracks on the sprue. I was less happy when I had to cut 28 individual tracks off the sprue with a fine razor saw because the heavy sprues ended too close to the ends of the tracks, and using a sprue cutter would have either damaged one of the ends or broken the track link. I was also happy to note that there were 6 extra links on the sprue. I persevered, and after cleaning up the ends of the track links, it only took a few minutes to mount the tracks on the suspension. I painted the tracks before assembly with Testors Model Master ģ Burnt Metal, which has a brownish metallic look.

With the lower parts complete, I assembled the upper hull and superstructure. Except for having to be careful when removing parts from the sprues, this went very well. The casemate consists of 5 parts: front, left, rear, right and top. The sides required an application of Mr. Surfacer to fill seam lines. The plate on the gun mantlet required a little attention with a knife to get the opening large enough to allow the gun assembly to fit through. The fuel tanks and stowage boxes needed a little attention, mostly due to cleaning up sprue connectors.

[review image] When the time came to finally mate the top and bottom assemblies, there was a problem. The parts had fit fine when I dry-fitted them, but after I put the tracks on, the thickness of the tracks prevented the front of the top hull from fitting down as far as it needed to in order to reach the bottom. I fixed this by adding a spacer of .020 plastic between the parts. The spare track added to the front nicely covers this.

While I was doing all this fooling around with the top and bottom, I managed to knock 5 of the individual track links off. I found 3. I was sure glad MW had sent extras.

Painting and Decals

The actual painting was pretty easy. The wheels are black, the tracks are Burnt Metal, and the rest of the vehicle is green. The instructions call for Humbrol #114 Russian Green. Itís a discontinued color. The helpdesk at IPMS Stockholm was no help in this case. After a pretty fruitless Google search, I found my answer at, of all places, a forum for the Armchair General magazine. They recommended FS 34086, a dark green. Looks pretty close, so thatís what I used. The other color the instructions recommend that I didnít have is Humbrolís "track colour", #173. Itís also a discontinued item.

As for decals, there arenít any. The painting instructions recommend painting a red star on both sides of the gun casement. I went through my decal stash, and couldnít find any Red stars without a white border in a size which would work. Stencil, anyone?

Overall Evaluation

In spite of the fact that I had some trouble with some of the parts, itís a pretty good kit. There are some sprue and fit issues, but the box recommends this kit for experienced modelers. I am happy with the way this kit looks, and itís an interesting subject. Itís going to sit right there on my "armor section" shelf next to the Beutepanzer, a German Sherman.

Recommended, because itís a buildable model of an offbeat subject.

Thanks to Stevens International for the chance to do something unusual, and to IPMS USA.

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