by: Mario Matijasic [ ]
Finally!!! Almost 20 years after Dragon released their ZSU-23-4M Shilka, modelers have two brand new offerings for building this Soviet self-propelled, radar guided anti-aircraft weapon system in 1/35 scale: one from Hong Models (H-5001) and the other from Meng (TS-023). Although both kits can be built very nicely out of the box, there is always room for checking the reference material and adding some extra details in order to get as realistic model as possible.
Enter Wings & Wheels Publications. The company's latest title in their photo reference book series is dedicated to ZSU-23-4, showing the vehicles from various museums in impressive detail inside and out. But let’s start at the beginning…
Wings & Wheels Publications (WWP) is a well-known name in modeling. The company produces high quality photo reference books covering military tracked and wheeled vehicles, artillery, airplanes, helicopters as well as individual weapons. This review covers one of WWP's latest titles: Shilka AA Gun in Detail (G045). Here are the basic facts:
Title: Shilka AA Gun in Detail (ZSU-23-4 V1/M in World Museums)
Publisher: Wings & Wheels Publications (WWP)
Authors: Jan Horák and František Kořán
Format: softcover (22x24 cm)
Color: full color
Retail Price: $33 (€27)
As the title suggests, the book features photos of ZSU-23-4V1 and ZSU-23-4M taken in museums and private collections. The book is organized in 5 chapters, with color coded upper page edges for easy navigation:
• Introduction (002-005)
• ZSU-23-4V1 Walkaround (006-017)
• ZSU-23-4M Walkaround (018-091)
• ZSU-23-4M Hull Interior (092-097)
• ZSU-23-4M Turret Interior (098-120)
The first chapter, introduction, gives a brief background of ZSU-23-4 history and development along with some technical details of the vehicle. The real fun starts with the ZSU-23-4V1 walkaround, a 12-page long chapter dealing with V1 vehicle variant. These pages show the vehicle turret and hull details, particularly noting the differences between V1 and M version. Some interior photos are also included. However, as most of the photos show an Ex-Egyptian vehicle which was probably captured during Yom Kippur war, served in the IDF and was probably displayed in several European museums, this particular Shilka demonstrates some "western" modifications to the original vehicle. The majority of the book is dedicated to ZSU-23-4M variant and the next chapter, spanning over 74 pages, covers ZSU-23-4M walkaround. It depicts several different vehicles: Iraqi ZSU-23-4Ms captured in Operation Granby and Operation Desert Storm, NVA vehicles and Malian ZSU-23-4M painted in a funky camouflage scheme. After couple of full page walkaround photos showing the entire vehicle, the chapter goes deep into delivering photos of vehicle details: front hull (front lights, small storage boxes, driver’s hatch), right hull side (hatches with the converter, generator and turbine are shown inside and out as well as in schematic diagrams), left hull side (service hatches), engine compartment (radiator and exhaust details along with some engine schematics), rear hull hatches (radiator and engine hatch, covers for the gas turbine and its air intakes, maintenance access to the exhaust and main engine exhaust, stowage rack), gearbox compartment, wheels and tracks. Next up are the gun barrel details (with a comparison of early and late barrels), gun carriage details, and gun breech. The chapter also extensively covers turret details: side details (cooling air intakes, ammunition stowage bins, air filter), rear details (additional stowage boxes, hatches for accessing turret electronic equipment are displayed inside and out), turret roof (accessory boxes, ventilation intakes, commander’s cupola, air filter details, periscopes and sights). Ammo boxes are displayed in this chapter as well, with opened compartments showing loading channels and other details. Finally the TOBOL radar is covered, with its radar dish, elevation drive gearbox and electric cables displayed in detail. ZSU-23-4M hull interior chapter is next, showing driver’s compartment in detailed photos but also in schematic diagrams, as well as front hatch. The ZSU-23-4M turret interior is the final chapter of the book and it deals with all three turret interior sections: commander’s compartment, radar operator/gunner’s compartment and rangefinder compartment. The images displayed on 30-pages long interior chapters are amazing and should prove a great value for all those wanting to add extra details to interiors of their Shilka models.
Altogether, I’m very much impressed by this book. It covers one of the most interesting anti-aircraft vehicles ever made in 370 fantastic, detailed color photos and 20 diagrams. Every part of the vehicle is shown in amazing details, inside and out, and I think even the most demanding rivet-counters would enjoy these photos immensely. The information supplied on the vehicle is kept short and concise; the intro gives interesting details on the origins of the vehicle, while the brief captions provide a very informative read, explaining various details presented in the photos.
Shilka AA Gun in Detail is an absolutely fantastic book providing a great photographic reference on the ZSU-23-4 V1/M. Jam-packed with large high-quality images, the title includes everything a modeler needs to super-detail a Shilka, interior and exterior.
PS A big thumbs up to WWP for releasing this book just in time to complement two new Shilka 1/35 scale models on the market. As I’ve heard, the title is selling like hotcakes, so grab it while it is still in print.