I received recently two sets of probably the best aftermarket resin tracks currently available. They are produced by OKB Grigorov from Bulgaria and released this year, if I’m correct. I have a Panzer IV Ausf. G from Dragon (1/72) and I wanted a pair of Winterketten under its road-wheels and nothing will do better than this set from OKB Grigorov. I also bough a set of early tracks for Panther, with Zvezda’s Ausf. D on my mind. Details on both these sets are breathtaking; the Panther tracks have hollow guide horns, and, to my knowledge, this was never achieved so far in Braille scale. OKB Grigorov supplies other superb track sets, and I will definitely buy more: Panzer III/IV (also with hollow guide horns), Ostketten, Panther late tracks, T34 etc.
Panther early tracks (the black ones are from Zvezda):
I wanted to improve the bolts for my IS-2 from Zvezda (1/72), as the ones on the real tank are hexagonal, not round. So I’ve searched the web and came across this Russian company called MasterClub which had exactly what I needed: 0.5 mm hexagonal bolts “on a turn key basis”. I think there is not a single kind of bolts and nuts this company doesn’t supply. For under 10 EUR via eBay (plus transport) I got myself 180 tiny little bolts.
I made the first attempt on the rear engine access plate. Just drilled the holes and inserted the bolts, and at the end I added a small drop of superglue on the inside face. The original plastic pull rings (which look quite good) were replaced also. Zvezda did a terrific job with those weld seams around the hinges.
A closeup, to see the hexagonal shape of the bolt.
I think these bolts really improve the look of a model, especially in larger scales, where you can actually see the difference. Highly recommended!
I started the construction of this kit with the intention to build an IS-2 that took part in the battle for Berlin. I plan to place it in a small diorama at the end.
During my research I’ve learned that IS-2 turrets were made by three different factories: UZTM, Hammer & Sickle and Factory no. 200. I opted for a Factory 200 turret, as the tank I want to build seems to have all its trademarks. Among these, some are quite noticeable: low casting seam, smooth commander’s cupola, big numbers on the back – usually one letter and a digit above a group of three digits.
Unfortunately, Zvezda provides a muzzle brake that is too short, so I had to buy an aftermarket one from Aber, which is far from being perfect. I had to rework the muzzle brake, as it lacks all of its casting marks and contours.
The rain guard above gun mantlet lacks the hinged front section so I had to improvise one. I added pistol ports and the caps of the gun trunnions by cutting small styrene discs. I thought the Mk. IV visors were too small so I replaced them with new ones made from scraps.
I added grab handles and textured the surface with Mr. Surfacer 1000. An old Italieri IS-2 provided a nice option for the commander’s cupola hatch, and has some interior details. Though remained closed, I decided to stick with Zvezda’s loader’s hatch, as I think it has very nice details. There are two pairs of bolts on this hatch that must be shaved off and replaced with holes with the same diameter.
The round mobile part of the 7.62 mm DT machine gun was taken from Italieri IS-2, as Zvezda’s seemed a little too flat compared to the real thing. I replaced the barrel with a syringe needle and added few bolts and other small details. The casting numbers are made from brass wire and simply glued into place.
This is my all-time favorite tank and I wanted to build it for a long time; I already had Italieri and PST kits and I was ready for a kitbash. However, when I heard Zvezda will release its own version (a snap fit), and knowing the quality of its earlier releases (T34, Tiger I and Panther Ausf D), I decided to wait. And the wait was worthwhile. This is not a comprehensive review, just a few shots with the main parts (I didn’t removed the flash on any part, just detached it from the sprues).
The upper hull (Zvezda on the left, Italieri in the middle, and PST on the right). Italieri’s hull is a little bit short, both Zvezda and PST seem to have the right proportions, Zvezda has the nicest details of all:
Lower hulls (same order). I took an extra shot with Zvezda’s lower hull, looks like Dragon style, with superb details :
Gun barrels. I added the metal Aber barrel just for comparison. I don’t know if I’m right, but I think this is Zvezda’s only soft spot: the gun muzzle brake is maybe a little too short.
The turrets. Italieri is the only one with a very nice cast texture (present on the hull also). All Zvezda hatches are closed (maybe another minus).
General shots with Zvezda kit sprues. The DSzK 12.7mm machine gun has amazing details, and I think is the best plastic replica in 1/72.
I think the conclusion is obvious: Zvezda IS-2 is the best on the 1/72 market today.
All the models showed here can be found through our utility in Ebay.
Ever since I build Zvezda’s excellent T-34 snap kit, I’ve been looking forward for their next releases in 1/72 scale: a Panther Ausf D and an IS-2. While the IS-2 launching was postponed several times, the Panther finally arrived in late 2012. Dragon released its own Panther Ausf D in 2012, marketed also as “early”, but it seems it is a mix of early and late Ausf D features. Though Dragon offers a really nice and highly detailed kit, it seems Zvezda’s Panther is a more accurate early D version. And, much more cheaper!
Inside the box there are two sand coloured sprues with kit parts, a separate black sprue with the tracks, a decal sheet and instructions.
All hatches are closed, so I’m sure some modelers will complain, but personally I don’t mind. Instead, I welcome a few really nice touches, as the weld seams, separate OVM tools and tow cables, and very good molded gun so there will be no need for an after-market one.
The track runs are one-piece with grooves molded-in that will help bending the tracks around the idlers and driver wheels. Again, the details on the tracks is very good.
The kit doesn’t provide the mesh screens for the engine deck, but this can be solved with a photo-etched set.
Decals are well printed and provide two marking options – both from the battle of Kursk.
Instructions are clear and concise and are offered both in Russian and English.
In conclusion, this is a very good and accurate kit. It should be recommended also for its highly competitive price. I will probably buy a PE set from Part and with other few minor improvements I’m sure it will turn out into a fine looking model.
If you collect 1/72nd medievals then this set is a must.
This is useful not only for medievals but also for Ancients, particularly the Romans / Macedonian. Although such devices in this size did exist, the scorpion in the kit is still a big one in 1/72nd scale, and would have been a rarity rather than the norm. It fits alongside 1/72nd figures well but is also useful for 28mm. The kit is a bit more complicated than the Catapult but the instructions are clear and the parts fit together well. One thing that I would recommend…don´t use the bits of plastic meant to represent the rope meant ot wind the device up, but use sewing thread. Not only does it look more realistic but the “plastic” ropes that come with the kit are too short! Two bolts are supplied as ammunition but small balls can be used as these devices were used to launch stone “shot”. One minor complaint. The torsion ropes attached to the arms. Both of them are turned in one direction, namely clockwise (from top to bottom). In a real scorpion they would be wound up in opposing directions.
Again, a useful bit of kit for ancients as well as medievals. The kit its self isn’t too complicated, the instructions are clear and it fits together easily. The wheels can be attached as free rolling or if wished simply left off, which was probably more likely when the device was put into position in a siege. The throwing arm can be set at any angle, from vertical (just fired) to horizontal (being loaded or about to be fired ) and everything between. The kit also contains two balls, which are useful to represent stone ammunition. Again, I suggest using thread or thin copper wire to add the tensioning ropes. As with the scorpion, the torsion rope at the bottom end of the throwing arm is incorrect. It is represented as being wound up in one direction along the whole of it´s length. If this was to be replicated in reality the arm would move to the right.
Three are supplied, are easy to build and a good addition to the set.
Scale models, miniatures, plastic soldiers, war gaming.