The K9 Thunder, developed by Samsung Techwin, is South Korea’s self-propelled 155mm gun system.
Academy’s tan plastic parts feature crisp surface detail, including a fairly nice representation of non-skid texture on many of the upper surfaces. Poly caps between the dual road wheels allow them to turn, easing installation of the vinyl tracks.
Color callouts key to a chart with Model Master, Humbrol, LifeColor, and Gunze Sangyo paint references.
A small, well-printed decal sheet provides markings for three unnamed units, red, yellow, and blue identification stripes, warning placards, and a bunch of individual numbers. Unfortunately, the marking diagram doesn’t provide a lot of guidance to which markings go together.
Designed for motorization, the kit’s lower hull has large slots at the front behind the drive sprockets. Alternate final-drive housings correct part of the problem but leave gaps under the sponsons. I glued sheet styrene behind the gap to support strips of styrene, then blended everything with Squadron putty.
I attached the suspension and road-wheel arms but left the wheels off for painting. The instructions indicate detailing the hull halves before joining them in the second-to-last construction step, so as to ease track installation. Instead, I glued the hull together and cleaned up a couple of minor gaps around the rear plate before adding all of the hatches, periscopes, and handles. The inside face of the large rear hatch is detailed, but there is no interior detail.
The separate hatches are nice, but they cover blanked-off holes and seem superfluous. The many tiny latches don’t have great attachment points – I lost several during construction and painting.
All of the hatches on the large turret are also separate, but they cover true openings. There is nothing to see inside, but it does invite detailers to start work.
The tools don’t have strap detail, but the turret sides have molded tie-downs. Academy provides nylon thread for the short tow cable on the roof. I soaked the ends in super glue before cutting to reduce fraying, then fixed the shape with super glue after attaching the cable.
The gun comprises six parts – two long sections made from halves that join very cleanly, a fume extractor, and a nicely molded muzzle brake. The components have just a little play during joining, so take care to get the alignment just right.
Poly caps in the mantlet allow the barrel to elevate, but Part A75 prevents it from going very far. The part seems to represent a canvas-type cover over the mantlet, so I trimmed the front half from mine, then bent it slightly so the gun can be elevated. A posable bracket means the gun can also be displayed in travel mode.
I painted my K9 with the recommended Model Master enamels but I think the military brown (No. 1701) is too dark. Wood (No. 1735) would be a better match for Republic of Korea camouflage.
The thin, opaque decals applied beautifully over a gloss coat of Pledge Future floor polish. A mix of Model Master Acryl clear flat and Windex dulled the finish nicely and made a good base for Mig Productions weathering powders.
The vinyl tracks are a tad long. I trimmed one link from each end before wrapping them around the road wheels and melting them together.
The finished model and its long gun make an imposing display. The build is easy and it looks right; I spent about 18 hours on it, much of that airbrushing the four-color camo. I’d recommend it for anyone – beginners and up – interested in modern armor.