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Bronco 1/35 scale SU-152 (KV-14)

Kit:CB-35109 // Scale:1/35 // Price:$59.95
Bronco Models, from Dragon Models USA, 626-968-0322
Good moldings; posable hatches; interior detail
Weak axles; tiny parts; track pins don’t snap in; decal silvering; shallow attachment points; no ammo racks
Injection-molded, 1,116 parts (29 photoetched metal), two copper wires, decals

The Soviet counterattack on fortified German forces at Stalingrad in November 1942 prompted the Red Army’s desire for self-propelled heavy artillery. By mounting a 152mm howitzer on a KV-1S chassis, the SU-152 filled that need. Production records are unclear, but about 700 of them were made before they were withdrawn from Soviet service in 1954.

Bronco’s crisp molding features posable hatches to display a detailed interior (oddly, without ammunition racks), an engine, and individual track links, along with a finely detailed main gun. Markings are provided for five vehicles.

Building the suspension up from many parts, there were no big issues with fit, although the axles and mounting hardware were a bit tight on some of the assemblies. Take care when adding the axles to the hull, as they may protrude. 

I noticed after installing the road wheels and swing arms that the torsion bars are weak and do not support the weight well. So, I glued the swing arms in place. I took a lot of trouble assembling the drive sprockets to make sure they would be free to rotate for the track installation. This is a good time to install the tracks, without the superstructure and fenders interfering.

Assembling the tracks was an annoying task. The small track pins did not snap in place; I had to glue them in. I used Aaron Skinner’s idea of thick super glue on the pin ends. The track pins are tiny and will travel to a galaxy far, far away. The good news is there are spares.

The engine is detailed well enough for those who want to have the access hatch open. There is no transmission or final drive provided.  The crew compartment has a driver’s station with controls; folding seats are provided for the rest of the crew.

The main gun is molded in one piece and has no distortion. The breech and a well-molded muzzle brake are added separately. The breech can be positioned open or closed. All the hand wheels and elevation gear are also separate moldings, and there are dome lights for the roof as well. Yet, even with all the hatches open, there is not enough light to see the detail inside. If you wanted to show off the interior, you could install LED lights on the ceiling to shine down on the floor. 

Building the superstructure presented no problems except the tiny photoetched-metal tie-downs (parts P5). There are no locators, spots, or holes; just glue them to the surface.

I painted the hull with Testors Russian armor green and the tracks and lower hull with Floquil mud, then weathered with Tamiya pastels and a thinned overspray of mud. I chose Option 4 in the decals, assigning my SU-152 to the Kharkov area in autumn 1943, so I went light on the weathering. However, the decals silvered after a few hours; I had to prick them with a No. 11 blade and apply more decal solvent to get them to lie down.

But that, like other minor difficulties in the build, was a fairly easy problem to solve within the 32 hours it took me to finish. Aside from the tiny parts and track pins, the model went together smoothly — but, for those reasons and the high parts count, I would not recommend it to beginners.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the April 2013 FineScale Modeler.


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