Russian Air Defense Weapon System 96K6 Pantsir-S1
The Pantsir missile system is a family of self-propelled, medium range surface to air missile systems. The 96K6 Pantsir-S1 is a combination of the 2K22 Tunguska missile system with a KAMAZ-6050 8x8 cross country truck. The turret is equipped with two 2A38m 30mm AA guns and 12 57E6 series surface to air missiles. This vehicle has been exported to number of countries including Syria, Serbia and Iraq and it has participated in combat operations in Syria and Ukraine. This new kit from Meng is one of three modern kits to represent this interesting vehicle.
The kit comes in a very large box with Meng’s usual print of the vehicle in question on the front. Make no mistake this is big kit with a lot of options to cover the large number of versions this kit covers. So, the large box contains 15 sprues of tan plastic, a small clear sprue, 9 vinyl tires, 2 large sheets of photoetch, a set of poly caps and a small decal sheet. There are 759 total parts in this kit and the mold quality is up to Meng’s usual standard with no issues and no flash. The parts are well molded with sharp detail. There is a black and white instruction book and a color painting guide. Paints needed while building are handled in Meng’s usual fashion by shading the parts needing to be painted and linking it to a color code call out. All paints are marked on the painting guide as Meng specific AK paints or Acrysion, for the most part I used Tamiya acrylic paints where possible.
The construction starts with the suspension and truck frame, the first few steps are extremely straight forward. I encountered no issues with these steps and quickly moved on to assembling the engine. I left the engine separate from the frame for painting and left off the parts for the exhaust for painting as well. In Step 4, I left the assembly and painting of parts C44, D43 and D44 until the frame was complete. These parts are for the exhaust and connect to the engine. I would recommend planning ahead and installing these parts prior to fitting the suspension or boxes from Step 10. These parts get in the way of installing the exhaust. The assembly of the suspension in the next few steps is very smooth. I usually like to fill and sand the axels to hide the seams, but the fit here is great so you may not need to.
The first issue that I found was in Step 7, the subassemblies for the rear brakes are impressive once assembled but I had an issue with them during final assembly and painting. They are attached to the axels using a very shallow, keyed attachment point. This works well during assembly, but it can be fragile during handling. I would recommend painting them separately and attaching them at the same time as the wheels during final assembly.
Moving on to Step 10, for the most part the parts used in this step fit very well. Except for the fuel tanks, air tanks and the air filter, as usual I had to fill and sand these parts to hide some minor seems. Do pay attention to the first part of Step 10 where you assemble the front bumper. All un-marked parts in Step 1-9 are painted black and the note for this is in Step 1. In Step 10, the bumpers are painted body color for whatever scheme you have chosen but the instructions don’t note for this. Steps 11-13 return to the rule of all un-marked parts being painted black.
Skipping over the interior build, I treated all of the different parts of the vehicle above the frame as separate sub-assemblies to allow for easier painting and weathering. I left all of the ladders and small parts off for this reason as well. The fits of these parts is exceptional and I don’t have a lot of comments on the general assembly here. I had a few parts that needed filling and sanding at the square corners but overall everything went very smooth. Just pay attention to the scheme that you are doing, there are a lot of options and extra parts but the instructions are very clear on what the differences are.
The first of the few issues that I had in this section comes from Step 16. Part D45 needs to be left separate for painting as it is supposed to be body color. I missed this during assembly, and it was too late to fix it once I noticed the error. I would also leave the spare tire off, the rack for it is fragile and the attachment points broke during handling. Also, be careful in all of the steps in this section. There are tiny call outs for tiny decals on many of the doors that are easy to miss. In Step 25 I left off the tracking and guidance radar from the turret until after final painting. I also left the sub-assemblies from Steps 27, 28, 29, and 32 from the main turret until after final painting.
I did have a couple minor issues in Step 33, Part B46 is very fragile and either broke or came out during final assembly. Be careful here, I ended up replacing the fragile part of B46 with brass rod. Lastly, in Step 35 be careful when attaching parts to F8/F7, these are handed and its easy to miss. There are attachment points that need to meet up with parts on the turret base. I left the loading platforms off until after final painting and weathering, they are very fragile and easy to damage.
Returning to the interior of the vehicle there is a lot packed into Steps 14 and 15. First I want to mention the colors that I used here. The instructions call for MC-016 Light Grey, MC-017 Middle Grey, and MC-059 Black Leather from the Meng specific AK range. I used XF-19, XF-54, and XF-69 NATO black from the Tamiya range for these colors. The instructions do a great job showing what colors need to be used where in these complex steps.
Starting with the firewall and the instrument panel in the first part of Step 14, pay attention to the call outs as the firewall is a different color from the dashboard. This kit has a very nice decal for the gauges, it looks great once it is installed but the decal is one piece and little fragile. It tended to tear over the deep gauges of this vehicle. The rest of Step 14 is very straight forward, and I only have three things I need to call attention to. First is that the firewall has a very tight fit when installing it into Part E24. On the driver’s side of Part E24 there are four small decals that must be added after final painting, the call out is to the far left and is easy to miss. Lastly the window frame for part E24 must be painted black, I left this until after final painting, while the window was still masked. Step 15 is pretty straight forward, except for the painting of the pass through on the armored glass windows. The passthrough can be tough to see since it is molded clear. Check your references for help painting these parts, I painted the outside only and touched up the inside for the black plug. I left all of the exterior pieces like lights and mirrors off until after final painting.
The painting guide provides guidelines for 6 different vehicles: Solid Russian Green for the 2018 Victory Day Parade in Moscow, 3 color camouflage for Russia’s Artic Forces, Solid Russian Green for the 2015 Victory Day Parade in Moscow, 3 color camouflage for Russia’s Air Defense Forces, 2 color camouflage for Iraqi Armed Forces, and sand color for Syrian Government forces. All call outs are for specific AK/Meng colors. I work primarily with Tamiya paints and the scheme I chose was B for the 3-tone arctic camouflage. The paints I chose were XF-53 and XF-69 NATO Black. I also used Model Master Acrylic Flat White. There is a small sheet of very well printed decals to cover the stencils and the multiple different options for this vehicle. These decals reacted well to MicroSol products when needed but for the most part layed down well over a gloss coat from Alclad without silvering.
This is an awesome kit. Due to its finished size and overall complexity I can’t recommend it to a beginner. But it is very well designed and engineered which makes the complex build much easier. It seems to be fairly accurate and is very impressive once built. I would highly recommend this kit to anyone that is as interested in large modern military trucks as I am. My thanks to Meng Models and IPMS for giving me the opportunity to review this kit.