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SU-152 (Mar to Aug 1943)

To model an early SU-152, I recommend that you start with Trumpeter kit #05568 Soviet SU-152 Late.  The kit is not perfect and requires some corrections to create an accurate model, but it provides a much better starting point than the Eastern Express/ARK Models kit.

Before commencing assembly, you must cut away a small section from the upper front portion of each hull side (parts WB1 and WB2).  You must also open up holes in the right-hand hull side (WB2) and the front of the lower hull tub.  Do not forget to do this, since it will be very difficult to do so later in the assembly sequence.

The two holes in the lower front hull are locating holes for a bracket (part WY9) that held the hydraulic pump used to recharge the recoil mechanism for the main armament.  Some vehicles mounted this bracket offset to the left as depicted by the kit, but others mounted it in the center of the lower front hull plate.  Depending upon the specific vehicle you are modeling, you should either open up the two holes as indicated in the kit instructions, or leave them covered and drill two new holes in the center of the hull.

Complete Step 1 of the kit instructions.

In Step 2, add the mounting bracket for the hydraulic pump (part WY9) in the appropriate position for the vehicle you are modeling, as mentioned above.

If you have problems getting the glacis plate (part WN12) to fit, this is probably because you forgot to cut away the small section from the front of each hull side as mentioned above.

The suspension swing arms include the correct torsion bar end caps with three retaining bolts.  However, the kit parts do not provide any means to correctly orient these bolts with respect to the swing arms.  They should be oriented as shown in the drawing below, which is taken from KV - Technical History & Variants.

Road Wheel and Suspension Arm

Note that the drawing shows the earlier pattern all-steel road wheel without lightening holes, as commonly seen on KV-1 Model 1941 and Model 1942 hulls, rather than the modified wheel with lightening holes as provided by the Trumpeter SU-152 kit.  Don't worry, the kit's road wheels are correct.  The drawing is intended to show only the orientation of the torsion bar end caps.

The kit provides radiator intake screens (parts WC222) as solid parts.  While the mesh molded into the parts is a reasonable representation of the real thing, you may wish to replace the parts with etched brass items.  There are numerous alternatives but I usually go with Eduard's TP089 set, which provides an accurate representation while still being reasonably easy to assemble.

In Step 3, make sure you fill the seam between the two halves of the idler mount (parts WA12 and WA13).  The mount was a single casting on the real vehicle.

There was some variation in the placement of the splash guard (part WY12) on the glacis plate.  Some vehicles mounted it with the rear edge level with the bend in the glacis, while others mounted it slightly further forward.  Check your references for the vehicle you are modeling.

Complete Step 4 of the kit instructions.

In Step 5, the kit provides individual length tracks that represent the split-link pattern without a guide 'bump' on the split links, as commonly seen on SU-152s.  However, all tracks of this pattern were 650mm wide, whereas the kit parts scale out to 700mm, which is correct for the earlier Omsh pattern tracks seen on KV-1s up until September 1942, but is not correct for the split-link tracks fitted to the SU-152.  You might think it's only a scale inch on each side but it is quite noticeable since, on the kit tracks, the ends of the links extend well beyond the track pins whereas they should end level with the ends of the track pins.  I strongly recommend replacing the tracks with aftermarket items.  Numerous suitable sets are available including Friul ATL-54, Masterclub MC135028W, Miniarm B35018, Modelkasten SK-14 and Spade Ace SAT-35023.

In Step 6, omit the late pattern armored exhausts (parts WY5 and WY7) and instead use parts WC23 and WC24.  These represent the early pattern exhausts without the armored covers.  The mounting plates molded integrally with the engine compartment roof plate are the correct pattern for the early exhausts.

If you are like me and like to leave the running gear separate for painting, take care not to add the mud scrapers (parts WC5 and WC6) until after you fit the sprockets.  Otherwise, the sprockets will not fit.

You may wish to replace the lifting handle for the engine access hatch (part WM14) with wire for a thinner appearance, but this is a matter of personal preference.

In Step 7, the kit provides fender brackets with bolts that pass vertically through the brackets and fenders.  However, the fender brackets on the SU-152 were of a different pattern, with an angled flange welded to the fender itself, and bolted to the bracket using bolts that passed horizontally through the flange and fender.  Furthermore, the fender brackets were welded to the hull side, not bolted as depicted by the kit parts. 

I recommend that you use the kit's etched brass brackets (parts PE-B5 and PE-B6) but omit the flanges (parts PE-B4 and PE-B9).  Make your own flanges from 1mm brass angle, and add the bolts from Grandt Line or Tichy Train Group parts, making sure that they attach horizontally to the upright portion of the flange and bracket.  Replicate the weld beads attaching the brackets to the hull using thin styrene rod, softened with liquid cement and textured with the back of a knife blade.

In Step 8, omit the two ventilators (parts WY3) from the roof of the superstructure. 

The kit gives you a choice of two pistol ports for the rear plate.  The plain version (part WN18) without the rim was more common on early production vehciles but check your references for the vehicle you are modeling.

In Step 9, the kit provides both styrene and and turned aluminum barrels but on both barrels, the muzzle brake is approximately 3mm too long and the actual barrel is too short by the same amount.  For accuracy, you should replace the barrel with an aftermarket item.  Aber 35 L40 includes an aluminum barrel and a brass muzzle brake.  CMK HB026 includes an aluminum barrel and a resin muzzle brake and mantlet.

The kit provides two choices of siren; the short version seen on many late production KV-1S vehicles, and an extended 'bullhorn' version that was more common on the ISU series than the SU-152.  Check your references for the vehicle you are modeling.  If you choose to use the extended version, you should open up the end with a fine drill bit for a better appearance.

In Step 10, the kit provides the four external fuel tanks with integrally molded mounting brackets and straps.  You may wish to replace the brackets and straps with aftermarket items.  At the time of writing, no aftermarket vendor has yet released a set specifically for this kit.  However, Eduard set #35344, which is intended for the Eastern Express/ARK Models kit, provides the correct parts.

By following these steps, you will produce an accurate SU-152 as manufactured from the start of production in March 1943, through to mid-August of that year when modifications were introduced based on combat experience.

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