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Zvezda Msta-S

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/35 scale plastic model armored tank kit
RELATED TOPICS: ARMOR
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The Russian Msta-S self-propelled howitzer (named after the Msta River) entered service in 1989. It can fire various types of ammunition, including nuclear and rocket-assisted, up to 38 miles (62km) at a rate of 6-8 rounds per minute. Russia operates more than 600 of them, and many more have been exported to various countries, including Venezuela, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Morocco. This might portend a wide spectrum of painting and marking options, but the kit provides only Russian markings.

The build starts with the upper portion of the main hull. This went pretty smoothly and quickly for me as the parts fit snugly into place. All the hatches can be posed open or closed — there are details on the underside of all of the hatches, but no interior for the hull or turret.

The lower portion of the hull and the running gear also went together without a hitch. The link-and-length tracks fit perfectly with molded-in sag. However, with the side skirts on, most of the track is not visible.

The main chunk of the turret goes together quickly as there is no interior and each of the large sides is a single piece. After building the main walls of the turret, there were a few areas that I thought didn’t fit correctly. But after looking at reference photos, there are areas on the real tank where panels have slight overhangs. So, be sure not to act too soon and sand these areas down.

Like the main hull, the hatches on the turret can be posed open and have details on the underside. But if you don’t have a figure in the hatch, the lack of interior or gun breech on the inside would be obvious.

The main gun and travel lock are also movable. On the final model, the main arm of the automatic loader is not movable and is slightly fragile; if you put it in the down position, as I did, be very careful during painting, as the loading arm sits lower then the bottom of the turret, making it easy to break as you set the assembly down.

The fits on this kit are great, and I would very happily suggest it to anyone with a couple kits under his or her belt. I used Tamiya acrylic paints and Ammo by Mig Jimenez washes to finish this huge SPG off — more than 15 inches from end to barrel tip.

I spent about 30 hours building and painting this large vehicle and loved every minute of it!


Note: A version of this review appeared in the April 2018 issue.

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