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#3532 ISU-152 Soviet Tank Destroyer

This kit represents a very late wartime or early postwar ISU-152 with a hull from UZTM, though there are certain small details which must be modified for an accurate representation as described blow.  The kit includes the 12.7mm DShK machine gun mounted on the commander's hatch, a common feature from the end of 1944 onward.

Steps 1 and 2 of the kit instructions deal with the lower hull.  Unlike most Asian manufacturers who provide a one-piece lower hull tub, Zvezda molds the lower hull in separate components; the bottom including the lower front and lower rear hull are molded in one piece, to which separate sides must be attached.  This simplifies the molding but often leads to the lower hull warping, which was the case with my example.  This can be corrected with patience and careful gluing however. 

The kit instructions do not mention the spare tracks or their mounting brackets for the lower front hull, though the parts are included (parts 9B and 10B). The track links, or at least the brackets, were almost universally present after mid-1944.

The suspension swing arms are separate parts, as are the shock absorbers.  The swing arms are keyed to square holes on the mounts, which are integrally molded with the hull sides, to ensure correct alignment.  The swing arms lack detail on the ends of the torsion bars, and all the arms in my example featured sink holes that will require filling.  The idler adjustment mechanism is molded integrally with the hull side, though the idler mount is a separate component and is adjustable.

Steps 3 and 4 cover the running gear.  The road wheels and idlers are molded in two halves and are close to correct in diameter.  However, the contours of the hubs are too square and lack the grease nipple in the center of the hub.  The return rollers are the later pattern with three large lightening holes, appropriate for a vehicle built from June 1944 onward.  The sprockets are molded in two halves with separate hubs.

Step 5 covers the mud scrapers for the drive sprockets.  These must be attached after the sprockets, but I recommend leaving the entire running gear off the model until after painting.

Step 6 deals with the tracks though again, I recommend leaving them off the model until after painting.  The kit provides 'rubber-band' tracks, each of which is molded in two sections.  The tracks will not accept styrene cement and must be attached by melting over the pins on the ends of each section with a hot blade.  The tracks represent the split-link type common on early IS series vehicles, but which persisted in service until the end of the war.  The tracks lack the prominent hollows on the outer faces of the links with guide teeth.

Step 7 begins with the assembly of the commander's and gunner's hatches, which can be posed open or closed.  The base plate for the DShK machine gun mount is molded integrally with the hatch surround (part 9C).  There is no option to omit the base plate unless you are prepared to modify the kit part.

Step 7 continues adding detail parts on the upper hull.  The front of the glacis plate on the upper hull molding (part 1C) and the upper edge of the hull bottom (part 1A) feature the hard edge seen on hulls manufactured by UZTM.  If you wish, you can round off and texture the joint to represent the rounded edge carried by hulls manufactured by Factory No.200.

The lifting eyes and rings are molded integrally with the upper hull and are very finely rendered.  Even though they are not separate moldings, they will respond well to careful painting and provide an acceptable appearance.

The gun cleaning rods, ventilator cover and pistol port covers are molded separately.  The tools mounted on the sides of the superstructure feature integral mounting brackets, and you will improve the appearance of your model if you replace the brackets with aftermarket items. 

The stowage bracket for the towing shackles (part 32C) on the front left-and fender is rather poorly represented.  While it includes the upper portion of the bracket, it is molded as a single piece rather than two separate pieces, and I recommend replacing it with an aftermarket item or a scratchbuilt bracket made from scrap brass.

The instructions direct you to mount the stowage bracket for the hydraulic fluid container (part 22C) on the forward left-hand side of the superstructure.  This is appropriate for a vehicle manufactured after mid-1944.  As noted above however, the kit does not provide spare track links or their mounting brackets for the lower front hull.  If you wish, you can add Tank Models set #35A200 to correctly represent a vehicle from mid-1944 onwards, or relocate part 22C to the lower front hull between the towing hooks.

The kit provides three handrails (parts 14B) for each side of the superstructure.  The foremost handrail was a postwar production feature.  Omit it for a wartime vehicle, but fit the rearmost two handrails on each side.

The kit lacks any representation of the power conduit that carried the cables to the headlamp and siren.  This can be added from styrene rod.  Tie-downs for the tarpaulin on the front right-hand fender and for the towing shackles on the front left-hand fender are also absent.  These can be added from thin wire.

Step 8 covers the engine deck and upper rear hull details.  Like the superstructure, the engine deck features molded-on lifting eyes and rings.  Though this sounds like a crude feature, they are well rendered and will look good with careful painting and shading.

The rear of the superstructure lacks the vertical flange that attached the forward edge of the engine deck to the superstructure, and the six bolts that secured it.  The flange can be added from 0.8mm styrene sheet and the bolts from hexagonal section rod or aftermarket items.

The radiator intake screens are molded integrally with the upper hull, though with a well rendered mesh pattern.  The frames lack bolt detail however, and this should be added from short sections of hexagonal styrene rod, or using aftermarket bolts.

The kit lacks the two rear position keeping lights and the tail lights.  These should be added using styrene rod or aftermarket items.

The indicated location for the forward right-hand position-keeping light (part 28B) is suspect.  The part should be located immediately under its power conduit (part 30B).

The upper rear hull plate (part 29C) lacks the central lifting ring between the two small inspection hatches, which is correct for a late-war vehicle.  However, the grab handle on the upper rear portion (part 20C) was typically attached below the top of the large maintenance hatch in order to assist in opening the hatch.   However, check your references for the vehicle you are modeling since there were several variations in the number and location of the grab handles on the upper rear hull plate.

The upper rear hull plate also includes the rain gutter above the larger maintenance hatch, but the rounded shape more closely resembles the rubber sealing strip fitted to post-war vehicles.  To more correctly represent a wartime vehicle, remove the molded on fitting and replace it with styrene strip.

The hinges at the lower edge of part 29C are rectangular, and are of the type fitted by Factory No.200, not UZTM.  Hinges used by UZTM featured chamfered upper corners.  If you are modeling a vehicle with a hull from UZTM, the kit part can be easily modified with a sharp hobby knife or file.

The kit lacks the retaining brackets for the tow cables on the upper corners of the upper rear hull plate.  It also lacks the spring loaded retaining clips for the front and rear towing shackles.  No tow cables are provided.

The hit lacks the stowage brackets for the DShK machine gun on the rear of the superstructure.  Photographs indicate that these brackets were fitted to most if not all vehicles that carried the DShK machine gun.  E.T.Models set #E35-208 includes the brackets along with many other details.  Though intended for Tamiya kit #35303, it can be adapted to this kit with minimal effort.

Step 8 also covers the assembly of the external fuel tanks.  The tanks are molded with the central section in two halves split horizontally, with one piece ends that incorporate the mounting brackets and hardware as well as the lifting handles on each end.  The retaining straps are rather thick and should be sanded down for a better appearance.

The front and rear towing hooks (parts 20B) lack the spring-loaded retaining clips.  This can be added from aftermarket items or scrap styrene.

Step 9 assembles the armament.  The main gun barrel is molded in two halves, with the muzzle brake integral with each half.  Though the kit parts are accurate in size and shape, an aftermarket barrel will enhance the appearance of your model.  The kit parts include the lifting hooks on the gun mount and mantlet, but not the tie-downs for the canvas mantlet cover.  The rain guard over the mantlet (part 7C) is a little thick and should be sanded down around its edges.

The 12.7mm DShK machine gun is comprised of 6 parts.  The barrel requires drilling out.

The kit provides only a single marking option, described as 'Soviet Army 1944-45' in overall Protective Green 4BO, with a single-digit tactical number '7' on the superstructure sides.

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