Based on the T-34 chassis, the SU-122 was a medium self propelled howitzer used by the Soviet Red Army during WWII. Armed with the 122mm M-30S gun it was used in close support and tank destroyer role . Production started in early 1943 and continued until mid 1944 with 638 being manufactured before being replaced by the more effective SU-85. The SU-122 was one of the first self-propelled assult guns developed in the USSR that went into large scale production.
This is a brand new kit from Zvezda and comes in a sturdy corrugated carboard flip-top box inserted into a side opening boxboard box with some very nice artwork depicting a vehicle in the winter “branch “ camouflage seen on the Leningrad front in 1943. The kit comes molded in olive green plastic over 8 sprues, 2 black sprues for the link and length tracks and, a small clear sprue for lights and vision blocks, a section of plastic mesh for the engine grills, a section of string for the tow cable and decals sheet. No crew figures are included in the kit. Handily, the sprues for the link and length tracks can be used as an assembly jig to ensure the correct track sag is achieved, a neat little feature.
The instructions come in a single trifold sheet that opens up into 6 pages showing general kit info, the parts layouts on the trees, and 20 construction steps for the kit crammed onto just 4 of the sheets. While there is not a lot of space between steps they do seem clear and relatively well laid out. There is a separate paingting and decaling guid that has three painting and decaling options for the vehicle itself, one in overall olive drab and two in olive with winter whitewash, including the aforementioned Leningrad front branch camouflage, with each branch included as a separate decal:
- Version A: SU-122 Leningrad front, March-April, 1943.
- Version B: SU-122 made in excess of the production plan for the benefit of Ural soldiers, UZTM, 1943.
- Version C: SU-122 1433rd SAP, March 1943.
Looking at the trees, the level of detail looks to be quite good, with crisp moldings, and only one area with some rather nasty flash, but it appears to be mostly associated with the sprue itself rather with only a little bit of flash creeping onto a couple of parts. The sprue attachment points are agreeably small, meaning cleanup will be easy, and ejection pin marks are generally located in areas that will be hidden after assembly. The exception to this is some pin marks on the inside of the tracks but there are not many and should be relatively easy to clean up. I could see no sink marks in my initial inspection and seam lines are minimized. I did notice rather prominent tide marks from the injection process but these hopefully should not show up from under the paint.
One unfortunate result of the thin sprue attachment points is that some of the more delicate parts, namely the hand rails, were bent and/or broken off the sprue, so I will have to replace those with wire or plastic rod when the time comes.
The M-30S gun barrel is slide molded in a single piece, so no barrel seam to sand out, although there is a tiny bit of flash to clean up. No rifling is present in the barrel. Weld seams are fairly well represented, although the amour plate is glass smooth with absolutely no texture so I will have to check references ti see if any texture will need to be added during assembly. The fenders are molded nice and thin so no thinning should be required.
The drivers hatch has some interior detail and could be posed open but there is absolutely no interior detail present in the fighting compartment so a driver would have to be built in to block most of the view. The commanders hatch has no interior detail shown so combined with the lack of fighting compartment details there is no point in posing it open.
Another item of note is that there is absolutely no photoetch provided for this kit, something of a rarity these days but no doubt this gap will be filled by one or more of the various aftermarket companies.
The kit builds up in a fairly standard manner starting with the lower hull and running gear. The hull tub is molded in 4 different pieces so we will see how well it goes together as there are no supplementary braces to ensure everything is square. The upper hull is a large single piece molding with the front glacis and gun mounting a separate assembly. Overall assembly looks quite straightforward.
Overall the quality of this kit looks promising with good detail and a relatively easy build. I will be doing a build blog shortly to see how it all comes together but so far it looks good!