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Trumpeter 1/35 scale SA-2 Guideline missile on transport trailer

Kit: No. 00204
Scale: 1/35
Manufacturer: Trumpeter, distributed by Stevens International, P.O. Box 126, 706 N. White Horse Pike, Magnolia, NJ 08049, 856-435-1555
Price: $50.95
Comments: Injection-molded, 578 parts (20 photoetched metal, 10 vinyl, 4 metal), decals
Pros: Interesting subject, excellent detail, movable steering, well-printed decals
Cons: Aligning tractor suspension is difficult; some parts can easily be installed backwards; decaling guide for missile is incorrect

Developed in the mid 1950s, the SA-2 (coded "Guideline" by NATO) became the main medium- to high-altitude surface-to-air missile of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. An early version of the SA-2 reportedly was responsible for shooting down Francis Gary Powers' U-2 in 1960.

Deployed in Southeast Asia, the SA-2 was nicknamed "the flying telephone pole" by American flyers because of its large size, and was responsible for many American air losses during the Vietnam conflict. SA-2s have also been supplied to many middle-eastern countries, including Iraq.

Trumpeter has released two versions of the SA-2 missile, one with a launch platform, and this kit with a transport trailer towed by a Zil-157 6 x 6 tractor. The tractor and trailer parts are molded in a dark-green plastic, and the missile parts are molded in light gray. All of the tires are molded in a soft vinyl plastic. Many of the parts have ejector-pin marks, but most won't show on the finished model. A small photoetched-metal fret is included for the light guards on the tractor and a rail on the trailer. Wire and two springs are provided to replicate hoses on the trailer.

Trumpeter's 24-page instruction booklet is mostly exploded diagrams with little text, but paint colors are called out in English, and some are labeled with Testor and Gunze color numbers. A separate full-color painting and decaling guide covers three different vehicles, as well as the missile. The well-printed decal sheet provides major markings for the tractor, but is predominantly stencils for the missile.

The abundance of tiny parts and complex assembly clearly require modeling experience. I treated it as three separate models, working on the tractor, trailer, and missile in stages - adding parts to one unit while the others dried. I try to build as much as I can before painting, but this kit has too many areas that would be difficult to paint if done that way.

Follow the instructions as closely as possible; it's sometimes difficult to determine the correct position of each piece without test-fitting and checking to see how it will fit into the overall assembly.

I built the tractor first, painting it with Tamiya Japanese army green (XF-13) lightened with about 15-percent white. Building the winch was a bit tricky. The control arm (F33) interfered with the drum. The string provided for the winch cable is too fuzzy; replace it with a nylon or wire cable.

It was difficult to get the tractor frame square and flat. Crossbeam B can fit either way, but only one way is correct; check step 12 to see how it should be. When building the transfer case and differential assemblies, I left off the u-joint parts (E17, E18) until I was ready to install the various drive shafts. It would be easier to determine their positions with the shafts in place. The tractor comes with a complete engine.
The tractor's most challenging assembly was the suspension. If assembled carefully, the front wheels can turn. Trumpeter has made a clever ball-and-socket joint on the axles. The instructions would have you add the leaf springs to the front axle in step 8, but each attaches to a tiny spot on the axle. To keep them aligned properly, I installed the axle at this stage instead of in step 11.

The springs mount better on the rear axle, but the dual axles are each divided into two pieces that mate with the differential housings, and this was pretty sloppy. Next time I'll reinforce the axles with brass rods. The rest of the tractor assembly went pretty smoothly, but I left off the front fenders until I had the cab installed. I had to pop the right one off to adjust it to fit the hood later on. The rear fenders fit well. The cab's clear parts fit in their frames, but were a bit hazy.

The tires were well-molded in soft vinyl, but were too shiny. I painted mine with Polly Scale grimy black. Any suspension alignment problems will become apparent when you add the rear wheels. They fit onto small axle stubs, and the joints are weak. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't get all six wheels to touch the ground.

In comparison, building the missile was a snap. Be aware that two of the booster fins have control flaps that should be positioned opposite each other. I painted the missile Polly Scale TAC light gray followed by a coat or two of Future to prepare it for decaling. The large amount of stenciling on the missile really sets off the model. For some reason, the color decaling guide has all of the missile decal numbers wrong. Perhaps the numbering was for the missile and launcher kit. By studying the drawings I figured out which decal went where. They're thin and responded well to decal solvents.

The trailer was easier to build than the tractor, but there were challenges. The bottom half of the large tank in step 7 can be attached either way, but the bottom is keyed to fit its cradle. The top half has a meter box and "flange" (it's a regulator) at one end, so look ahead in the instructions to see how the tank should be installed.

Assembling the trailer frame was much like the tractor frame. It is difficult to align the cross members and make everything square and true. Make sure you install beam C with the thick side of the tapered ring to the rear. For the hoses, I replaced the kit's wires with thin solder - it's easier to bend and shape. Trumpeter provides springs to represent ridged hoses. They are easier to bend to shape with wire slipped through them.

I painted the trailer with the same colors as the tractor. I wanted to show my missile transport as a well-maintained Soviet vehicle, so I kept weathering to a minimum. It was difficult to find reference material for the transporter, but I did find a web site with basic dimensions, and the finished model compared favorably.

It took me 32 hours to complete my model, a little longer than usual, but it was a complex kit. With a little care and patience, experienced modelers will be able to add this interesting vehicle to their collections.

- John Plzak

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