Russian Light AA Gun Set
Meng Models exploded on the scene several years ago and has since built a reputation for interesting subjects and well-designed kits. With the release of a Russian Light Anti-Aircraft gun set, I am sure that their star continues to rise for the scale modeling community. You get four weapons – ZPU-1, ZPU-2. ZPU-4, and ZU-23-2 as well as several of their Chinese equivalents. As part of Meng’s Supply series, this is certainly a welcome addition to those who enjoy modeling anti-aircraft artillery. With sixteen sprues and one fret of etched brass, the parts are well molded. They have taken advantage of advances in molding technology and there are many very small and fragile parts. Take care when you remove them from the sprue. The instructions are in a booklet form and come with color profiles of each weapon. You can choose any color you want as long as it’s Russian Green. There are no decals or clear parts.
Having completed each weapon, let me share my observations that cover all of the kits. First, the plastic on some of the sprues seemed to be on the brittle side. Given how finely molded the parts are, great care should be taken when removing from the sprue. There were several parts that broke in spite of the care taken to remove them from the sprue. Similarly, there are many very small brass parts. Furthermore, given the small size of many of the brass and plastic parts, care must be taken. Unfortunately, during this build several parts were lost to the carpet monster.
This leads to another observation. Molding technology has advanced by leaps and bounds and allows companies to mold parts in plastic that were not thought of just ten or fifteen years ago. As exquisite as the kits are, they have many tiny parts (even though this was molded in 1/35 scale). For example, on several of the hand-wheels, the stalk is a separately molded piece when they could have easily been molded together. Finally, the instructions are at times very imprecise in terms of the exact position of some of the smaller pieces, though in the Meng kits I’ve constructed in the past they tend to be well laid out and relatively easy to follow.
Each of the AA models went together fairly easily. With the small size of some of these parts, the attachment points were very small, often making them irrelevant in terms of joining of part to another. For example, in building the ZPU-2 and 4, there are several small parts that are attached to each barrel (parts L17 and L15). The attachment points are so small and the instructions a tad bit imprecise, so it is hard to determine the exact point of attachment. For the ZSU-23-2, the ZPU-2, and the ZPU-4 I chose not to use the towing configurations. In each case you need to use different parts. Given the challenges of so many small parts, pay attention how you detach them from the sprue and clean them up.
There are no decals associated with these kits. Meng does, however, provided some beautiful color profiles that are printed on glossy paper for each weapon. Color codes are only given in AK interactive brand of hobby paints. Being a long time user of Tamiya brand paint, I used those instead. The closest color match that I have found is to Russian Green is Deep Green (XF-26). The color for the sights of each weapon is Middle Stone. After doing some research on the Internet, I found a mix of one part each Desert Yellow (XF-59) and Dark Yellow (XF-60). It is not exact to the color profile in the instructions, but it is the best reference I could find.
Since returning to modeling ten years ago, I am drawn to esoteric subject matter. I’ve developed an affinity for any anti-aircraft guns. With four weapons in one kit at a reasonable price, Meng has continued to make headway as a brand of quality products. In spite of the criticisms I mentioned earlier, they are fast becoming one of my favorite brand names. Given how widely these Soviet era anti-aircraft guns have been distributed around the world, they allow for endless possibilities for a creative modeler. My thanks to IPMS and Meng Models for giving me the opportunity to review this kit.