Friday, November 6, 2015

Review & Paint up: Zvezda 1/100 ZSU-23-4 "Shilka"

Background:  

The Shilka is a vehicle that has long fascinated me. The vehicle has an odd sci-fi-esque aesthetic to it thanks to the immense radar mast mounted on the bulky turret in tandem with quad auto-canons. When pictured alongside other Soviet ventures from the 60s, it is a definite standout and one of the more recognizable vehicles of the Cold War. As the major frontline AAA vehicle of most of this period, the Shilka has been a staple of most major conflicts over the past four decades in some capacity.

Anyone wishing to game these periods is almost obligated to do a Shilka or two, if mere for a sense of completionism. Unfortunately, the offerings in this scale have been fairly average up until now. Both Quality Castings and QRF have long had their own interpretations of the vehicle, but both designs are hampered by the flimsy nature of the radar and the guns and older moulds; also, the QC version is positively tiny. Skytrex , Battlefront and Khurasan have also all recently announced they will be entering the Shilka game, although I have yet to see any of these kits in person. 



In the interim, we have this relatively new offering by Zvezda to contend with. Zvezda's entry into the 15mm game has been mixed. Generally speaking, their Soviet offerings have been excellent, with fantastic models of the the T-72BM and BTR-80. At the other end of the spectrum, however, their US range has been mixed. While their Bradley is nice enough (albeit with a barrel change), the Abrams they offer is a joke, missing basic details and seeming as if they simply offered up a half finished master for casting. As I said, however, their Russian stuff is generally great and I wasn't very worried about their take on the Shilka.

Overview:

 

The kit consists of 29 parts on sprue. "Fiddly factor" is minimal and even the guns are relatively robust. Where possible, the sculptors have molded parts together to minimise assembly time, which in the wargame world is very much appreciated. My two subjective peeves with the kit are the cast on stowage, which I would prefer either separate or left off entirely; as well as the bog-log moulded on the back, which generally is not seen on the Shilka as far as I am aware.



 The kit includes the standard Zvezda numerical decals that we all are familiar with from previous offerings. These leave you with many extra which is always nice when it comes to waterslide transfers.

Quality: 

This definitely falls into the 'good' pile of Zvezda kits. Detail is generally excellent and the casts are clean, with little in the way of mold likes. The plastic used appears robust and resistant to wear on the table top. Good plastic is pretty much my prefered material when it comes to war games, as it retains good detail and is very resistant to paint job chipping.