The following text is as supplied by Meng Model;
During the Cold War, the terrifying Western Air Forces were the biggest obstacle for the Soviet Forces in Western Europe to break the NATO defence line. The ZSU 57-2 anti-aircraft gun was the main air-defence weapon of the Soviet Army in the 1950ís. it could keep up with mechanised units, however its outdated fire control system and low rate of fire made it ineffective against the increasingly advanced NATO military aircraft. Therefore a plan of developing a new self-propelled anti-aircraft gun was put forward. There were three different self-propelled anti-aircraft gun prototypes proposed. They were the ZSU-23-4 Shilka self-propelled anti-aircraft gun with quad 23mm guns, the ZSU-37-2 Yenisei anti-aircraft gun with twin 37mm guns and a new generation ZSU-57-2 Dneiper anti-aircraft with the radio/optical sighting system. The Soviets selected the ZSU-23-4 Shilka self-propelled anti-aircraft gun, because its operational performance and production adaptability perfectly lived up to strategic thoughts of the Soviet Army
The ZSU-23-4 was developed by the Myishchi Machine Works chief designer N.A. Astrov and was equipped with four 23mm auto cannons designed by Tula Instrument Design Bureau as its main armament. The auto cannon could fire armour piercing incendiary tracer shells and high explosive shells. The muzzle velocity of armour piercing incendiary tracer shells was up to 950-1000m/s. the rate of fire of each auto cannon was 950 -1050 rounds per minute, so the rate of fire of the whole AZP 23 gun was up to 4000 rounds per minute. The ZSU-23-4 could shoot with either radar or visual fire control. The auto cannons were cooled by liquid. Its unique pneumatic ammunition loading was the basis of achieving a high rate of fire.
A large number of ZSU-23-4s were assigned to mechanised Soviet Armoured Troops as the main air defence weapon. They were often used to suppress individual soldiers and unprotected targets. As its auto cannons had larger elevation than any other main weapons, ZSU-23-4s were used by the Russian Army to attack targets on commanding heights in urban areas during the Chechen Wars.
In 1965 after a variety of problems appeared on the ZSU-23-4 pre-production version were solved, the series production started and they entered service with the Soviet Army. Because its operational performance had a direct influence on the ground push capability of the Soviet Army, the ZSU-23-4 went through many improvements. The important variants are the ZSU-23-4V1 (1970-1971), the ZSU-23-4M (1973), the ZSU-23-4MZ (1978) and the ZSU-23-4M2 (1980ís). the ZSU-23-4A1 had improved fire control systems for enhanced tracking precision and reliability, and a gas turbine generator with a longer life. The ZSU-23-4M had a more reliable auto cannons and ammunition feed mechanism, and further improved fire control system and generator. This variant was named Beryoza, but still called Shilka. The ZSU-23-4MZ was the variant onto which the Soviet Army installed a 1RL251 Luk friend-or-foe identification system. The ZSU-23-4M2 showed the most distinctive of Soviet made weapons, the Soviet Army replaced the air defence radar and the fire control system with the 1RL133 Credo portable battlefield surveillance radar and a TPNZ-49-1 night sight, so as to attack ground targets.
Compared to similar Western vehicles, the ZSU-23-4 costs less and is easy for maintenance. A total of more than 6500 vehicles have been produced and they are widely used in 41 countries and areas, including countries in hot spots. ZSU-23-4s participated in the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and shot down 31 Israeli aircraft. They also participated in the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Iran Iraq war, the Gulf War, the first and second Chechen Wars, the Iraq War, the Syrian Civil War and many local conflicts in Africa and the Middle East.
This offering of the Russian ZSU 23-4 Shilka Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun is supplied in a substantial box, and that box does not exactly have a lot of empty space left inside. The box being made of card will need further protection when being posted, but it does do a good job of presenting the model, plus it has a very appealing artwork on the front. Inside the box you will find the following;
4 black sprues
9 green sprues
A clear sprue
A photo etched fret
Length of vinyl tube
A decal sheet
An instruction booklet
I will start this review by saying that I have seen this model roundly criticised in comparison to an alternative providers product, in relation to this I would like to say that to my knowledge no model is a perfect replica regardless of how hard a company may try due to the limitations of the material being used and the requirements and limitations of the moulding processes to mimic all aspects. You can also add into this various alterations that take place on vehicles depending on where and when it was built, where it is going and who is going to operate it; there have been several occasions where I and others have said that something is incorrect for someone to then provide a photograph. So just because a piece of a model does not show an attribute as indicated in your reference, it does not necessarily mean it is wrong. Lastly I would like to refer to the fact again to that comparison I mentioned, it listed no errors on the other product and I stand by my comment that no model is perfect. I will provide a link to the thread of which I speak as some of what the writer provides is I believe accurate and some is accurate for a very specific vehicle model. I will finish this bit by saying that this offering from MENG Model can be built as one of four specific ZSU-23-4 vehicles, these are the ZSU-23-4V1, ZSU-23-4M, ZSU-23-4M2 and the ZSU-23-4MZ. Some of the criticisms made against the MENG Model offering may be related to the mix of variants possible.
Moving on; an examination of the various moulded parts and multi media contents do not give me any concerns at this point. There are the usual ejector pin marks present on some pieces, but most will never be seen and the ones that are should not present any modeller with difficulties to correct, it is called modelling after all. There are some flow line present on some mouldings, but these are minor and do not appear to have marred the finish in any way that I can detect. There is no flash present on the model that I observed, but there are some mould seams that will need to be sorted, again this is part and parcel of model making. As has become the norm with high end models, this offering has photo etched parts included and I know from experience that photo etch can concern modellers when first encountered. The photo etch supplied with this model should not cause too many sleepless nights for the most part and should also be considered a reasonably easy introduction to this black art.
Taking a look at the suspension on this offering from MENG Model, it all appears to be workable and so great for those modellers wanting to display their finished model on an uneven surface. Checking this against my own reference pictures taken of the example at the Army Air Corps Museum, everything appears to be good here although much of it is not really seen. The ground wheels have nice detail present which is crisp and clear, there are two raised dimples on opposing faces of these wheels just passed the outer ring which appear to be missing. The dimples are present in my reference and all that I have checked, but I am not willing to say that these are always present.
The drive wheels are well represented being provided in four pieces. Tooth and bolt detail looks good, as do the mud clearing holes in the drove sprockets. The detail on the idler wheel is also particularly well rendered and a very good match for my reference. All of the wheels supplied with this model will rotate after attachment due to poly caps being used. The tracks provided are individual track links that are designed to be workable. My gut instinct is that the lugs designed to secure the links together are too small for the assigned task and that the modeller will be better off securing the links together once the position requested of them is obtained. The track links look to be a good match as regards the contact faces, the guide horns are a god match as regards shape and height, but are lacking detail on the outer face. The example I have seen also have a hole in the outer most portion of the track on both sides, but I am not willing to say this is wrong for the reasons I spoke of earlier.
The lower hull is nicely detailed where applicable and so should meet the requirements of all modellers. There are some holes that need to be drilled in the lower hull and I am pleased to see that MENG Model has supplied the locations clearly and the size of the drill bit required, not all companies do. This is a good place to remind everyone to decide which variant of the ZSU-23-4 Shilka you want to build, these are referred to as A, B, C and D and these letters refer to which of the four types at the back of the book you may wish to build.
This model offers a drivers position and from what I can see it is fairly detailed. I feel this is a nice addition to the model which with suitable figures from someone such a Valkyrie would make for nice presentation. Once the interior is added you move onto the upper hull, here again I will remind you to watch for the letters that dictate the version you are building as there are quite a few holes that need to be drilled and it would be easy to miss one you need or make one you donít; these holes relate to alternate parts or positions of the kit parts. There are a lot of parts that need to be added to the upper hull regardless of the version you have opted to build and I repeat to watch for which parts are version specific. Something that surprised me in a modern high end model such as this are the cables, the cables down each side of the vehicle and front face are moulded cables with the cable clamps attached separately in the case of the front mounted cable. The tools are also all moulded separately, but with the tool clamps moulded on them. Moving around to the rear of the vehicle I was pleased to see that MENG Model has provided a former for the curved photo etch mesh required here as this will likely be the most difficult piece of photo etch to shape and apply to the model otherwise.
The 23mm auto cannons have been well replicated in my opinion, but for those that prefer metal barrels there are none that I know of at this time. The guns have been nicely enhanced via the use of poly tubing, I like this as it will provide very natural looking fit without fear of breakage. The lengths of the poly tubing has been supplied in mm by MENG Model, I like this approach as it is more exact than a cutting line on the instructions, or at least that is my opinion. MENG Model has also supplied nicely detailed ammunition feeds on this model which will add what I think of as a nice bling area for viewers.
The turret is where your Dremel may go into overtime, there are 18 holes that may or may not need to be drilled out depending on the version being built and that is not counting those needed on the rear of the turret. So remember be very careful of which holes need to be drilled and exactly where they are located. Various pieces of panel detail need to be added to this model and that is due to the multi vehicle variant approach that MENG Model has taken with this release, I do wonder if it would have been better to tackle each type individually or perhaps to have supplied four separate instruction booklets due to just how many changes there are. There are so many sub-assemblies that refer to a specific vehicle type that I can see errors being made during construction; you have to take into account that everything from the radar dish assembly through to the cupola is specific to vehicle types. Lastly be very careful about locations of parts where you have not created a locator as some parts are not clearly placed in the instruction booklet.
Despite what I have read about this model in some places I feel this offering from MENG Model has a lot going for it, not least due to the variant build aspect, but this plus has also made it very easy for the modeller to make an error in placement or the large number of holes that need to be drilled. I will say that I am very pleased to see MENG Model clearly identify which drill size to use for each of the holes as that information is often lacking. The model has been supplied with a very good selection of finishing options totalling nine finishes. The painting instructions are very clear, but the only manufacturers colours mentioned are Vallejo, that said MENG Model has supplied the colour names in a number of languages.
Highs: This model offers the ability to build one of four variants of the ZSU-23-4 Shilka and this I believe is perhaps its biggest selling point.Lows: The four variants offered does mean that it would be easy for a modeller to make an error during construction or just in the large number holes that need to be drilled.Verdict: If you are a reasonably competent modeller this offering from Meng Model has a lot of appeal.
About Darren Baker (CMOT) FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM
I have been building model kits since the early 70ís starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70ís, I have had lots of opportunitie...