In the mid 80s, the Chinese military developed a 6X6 armored vehicle based on a German design, the WZ551. The vehicle design was disappointing and a major redesign was called for. In 1995, the new vehicle, designated type 92 or ZSL-92, was adopted. Powered by a German engineered 8 cylinder turbocharged diesel engine generating 320 hp with 9 speed transmission, the new vehicle could reach speeds of 65 km/h on good roads, 9km/h in the water and had a range of 600-800 km, depending on road conditions. Full armor protection against 12.7mm rounds is provided. The vehicle also offers NBC protection for the occupants.
The standard APC version can carry 11 fully equipped soldiers and a crew of 3. Protection is provided by a 12.7mm HMG in an open turret on the roof. There are 6 firing ports of the rear of the vehicle, and a 7th on the left hull forward of the exhaust.
The IFV variant reduces the number of soldiers carried to 9 and eliminates the forward firing port. Currently, two turret options are provided. The first uses the 2A42 25mm cannon in a specialized mounting, with a coaxial 7.62mm MG. The second variant, the subject of this kit, is mentioned only briefly in text online. I have based my information on online research, photographic comparison and hours spent reading discussions translated from Chinese on military discussions, much as I did for the review of the ZTZ-96 I did earlier. It appears to be the newer version with a one man turret, 30mm 2A72 30mm cannon with a rate of fire of 350-400 rounds per minute and a muzzle velocity of 960 m/s, coaxial 7.62mm MG and a single rail mounted HJ-73 anti tank missle. Oddly, the Chinese military seems reluctant to provide extensive details concerning the vehicle. The kit information contains nothing as to details of the vehicle itself.
As for the kit, it comes in a large, sturdy, top opening box with artwork based on a photo that is readily available online. The sprues are in tan colored styrene, individually wrapped and all carefully packaged. The main sprues appear to be the same for all three of the ZSL-92 kits Hobby Boss offers currently, with only the turret sprue differing for each kit.
A sprue, X3, contains the suspension, wheels, hatches, periscopes and other hull attachments.
Sprue B has the rear hullplate, intakes, propellers and other hull attachments.
Sprue E is the turret and parts, including gun barrel with bored muzzle end.
The lower and upper hull sections come individually, and test fit of the two sections showed fairly good fit.
There are 6 vinyl tires with excellent detail and "PEAOHDOVE" embossed on the sides. There is a single fret of photoetch parts containing intake covers, exhaust shield and headlight guards. In the same package is a small clear PVC card with two windows. A single decal sheet with one set of numbers for one vehicle, and extra "generic" numbers to make any other vehicle you can reference or invent.
The instructions are provided in line drawings on a fold out sheet, breaking down the assembly into 6 steps, with each step showing 2-4 sub assembly steps. They are very clear and easy to follow. The painting guide is a full color sheet with multiple angle views showing a three color pattern matching the box art. If you have the references, there are vehicles depicted in the digital camo scheme unveiled at the 60th anniversary parades.
Overall molding quality appears to be quite good, with surface and small details well represented. I can't vouch for accuracy as no one has done a walk around of the actual vehicle. There was very minimal flash, which was easily cleaned up. Mold seams were prominent on some pieces. The parts count is not very high and this is not a difficult kit to assemble. The contents of the box appeared to be very nice, but where it counts is in putting it all together.
Step 1 begins with assembly of the suspension springs. Right away you will find the locator pins wont allow the spring halves to match up. I cut them off, gently filed the inner flat surface and then placed the two sides together. I assembled all 6, and the following day went back and carefully cleaned up the joint with a very thin file and the tip of a #11 blade. I waited to set the springs with the suspension arms so the entire assembly would be lined up. The suspension arms as shown in the instructions are numbered opposite to what they should be. The picture is correct, so A1 should go on the left side of the vehicle, and A26 should go on the right side of the vehicle, when the vehicle is upright. The individual drive shafts are sized, with one end pin larger than the other, to help with placement. Everything goes in quite well. There is a slight cant to part A12, but this appears normal. The drive housing for the propellers, hull hatches and finally the propeller assemblies and bump stops for each suspension arm are installed. There is a single step rung that goes below each hatch. The locator marks on the hull are imprinted into the surface for all ladder attachment points. You can glue the part as is, or drill out the attachment point slightly for better hold.
Step two covers completion of the wheels and rear hull assembly. The kit's vinyl tires will easily fit over the hubs so they can be left off until final finishing. I added the tools to the rear, but they can also be left off until after painting. The tools look nice, except for the axe, which is a heavily lopsided wedge. I filed my sample down extensively, but it still looks bad. Dry fitting of the rear hull plate with the upper and lower hull sections is recommended as the fit is just a bit tricky. I ended up trimming the angle of the rear hull plate to get the upper hull to fit right.
steps 3, 4 and 5
Steps 3 and 4 cover attachment of details to the upper hull. Many of these are shown doing one side at a time, but for simplicity I removed and attached all identical parts in one step. This includes the forward and rear periscopes (molded in solid styrene), firing port covers, clamps and hatches. For the windows, parts removal is a little tricky as the material is flexible. It cuts easily if you are careful. The PVC is covered by a protective film and when installed is exceptionally clear, allowing a full view of the empty interior. It won't take model cement, so I used Future to secure it in place. White glue or CA glue could also be used. On many of the small parts, I installed them, and once set in place carefully removed the mold seams as it was easier than trying to hold them and risk losing them to the carpet.
The headlight assembly had heavy mold seams that took some effort to clean up neatly. I didn't install the lenses as they are solid plastic (no clear option). I may try to source them, or use CA or Future to fill the lenses in. The instructions also call for the removal of the forward firing port. It takes some care so you don't disturb the weld details on the hull side. I carefully cut it off with a #11 blade, and then sanded the area with 1200 grit paper.
The etch fret is quite sturdy, but the individual parts are very delicate and bend easily. The exhaust pipe shroud has vent slits cut in it and as a result tends to bend at the cutouts and not curve in the narrow flat sections in between. I hollowed out the end of the exhaust pipe for better appearance. The mesh intake grills also bend easily so cut them carefully. They fit the intake vents perfectly. I kept the headlight guards off until after painting so as to not destroy them. I also kept hull side tools and the molded plastic tow cables off until after painting. The tow cables are decent enough for styrene, but Voyager and ET Model both offer aftermarket sets that include copper wire cables if you want to upgrade.
After the etch is added at the beginning of step 5, I attached the upper and lower hull sections. I did this a small section at a time, working my way around to make sure everything was lined up and set well. The rear hull plate still has a small bump but everything else lined up quite well.
Step 6 covers turret assembly. The dust cover for the gun has good texture and appears to be able to move up and down, but when placed the rear meets up flush and squarely with the turret top it is fixed in place. On the box art, there is actually what appears to be a small metal plate at the top of the opening, covering the top of the dust cover. You could file or cut down the top edge and insert a small bit of card stock to represent this plate. Also, the two protrusions from the dust cover (one should be the coaxial 7.62mm MG, the other I think is a sight) are very soft on detail and bland looking. There were also some heavy mold seams around the turret where the top and bottom sections meet. This is a complex part, with many shapes and angles, some with weld detail and some without. When complete it will require some extra cleanup and detailing.
The rest of the turret details go on well, but the bases for the smoke grenades, part E4 and E19, are reversed in the directions. Again, the placement holes for the locator pins are sized so you won't get them reversed. They were a bit fiddly to get into place. For me it worked best to glue them one at a time and allow to set. The HJ-73 ATGM comes in 6 parts, with four more for the rail launcher base. It looks good enough compared to the real thing, which is simple in design. The gun barrel had very light seams that were easy to clean up. The attachment at the dust cover left a small gap that will need some filler. The spot light again has a solid lens. The turret fits neatly into the hull top hole, and rotates freely. It has side tabs to hold it in place.
For the vinyl tires, running them over 1200 grit sand paper removed the seam line nicely without tearing the tire up. The completed kit is a little larger than the 1/35 M1117 Guardian, or very slightly shorter than a Stryker or similar vehicle. It is taller than both.
Weather has not permitted me to put any paint of the vehicle. For comparison, there is an excellent online build by Karl Hoy of the ZSL-92 IFV at http://www.armorama.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=SquawkBox&file=index&req=viewtopic&topic_id=163255&page=1
which shows how nice the three color camo scheme can look.
My impression of this kit is highly favorable. It was simple to do, making for a good weekend build. There are things I would like to see, specifically better detail in the dust cover, a separate coaxial MG and clear lenses for the lights, and in my own little world I dream of interiors for vehicles, especially those that have large windows and hatches. Some details were a little soft, some mold seams were a little heavy, there were the two errors in the instructions, but the kit went together easily, the instructions were clear and the drawings excellent and the price was good. Hobby Boss has two more variants in the works, the PTL-02 with 100mm assault gun, and the PLL-05 with 120mm mortar. I will certainly be willing to spend my money to get them.
I purchased this kit at Lucky Model for about $30.00 US, including shipping. It can be found at most online hobby retailers. PLA subjects don't seem to be too common so it may be difficult to locate at a local hobby store in Western markets.
My rating for this kit is 80%, or a "B" grade. It could stand for improvement, but overall is an enjoyable build.