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Tamiya SU-76M

The SU-76 married the excellent 76mm ZiS-3Sh gun and mechanical components of the T-70 light tank. The 10-ton self-propelled gun was built in huge numbers during World War II, making it second only to the T-34 as the Soviet Union’s most-produced armored vehicle. Used to support infantry across the Eastern Front from 1942 on, it also served with North Korean forces in the Korean War.

Tamiya’s all-new SU-76M features link-and-length tracks with a jig to properly sag the upper runs, three figures, a movable gun, spare rounds, and markings for three vehicles, one in Eastern Prussia and two from the Berlin campaign.

The hull builds from four pieces that sandwich the gun mount. I painted ammo racks with Tamiya olive green (XF-58), and the rounds with Testors Metalizer brass (No. 1417) and Floquil graphite (No. F110119). The rounds sit a little high in the rack, so I had to work them in.

I painted the rest of the fighting compartment before installation.

Rather than following the instruction’s color suggestion of Tamiya gunmetal (X-10), I painted the PPSh-41 submachine guns Testors gunmetal (No. 1198) — it’s darker. I weathered the fighting compartment before moving forward.

I planned to use the figures, so I moved the ammo back in the rack to make room for the gunner. It’s a crowded space! I dry-fitted the figures to make sure of their poses.

Speaking of the crew, Tamiya has stepped up its game when it comes to figures. All three look animated and, for the most part, well molded. I did find a little soft detail here and there; for example, the loader’s shoulder boards get indistinct toward the neck. The other two figures were fine. I painted them with Tamiya acrylics and Tamiya weathering pastels.

The link-and-length tracks worked well. The jig to form the upper runs works like a charm to realistically sag the tracks over the return rollers; spacers prevent cement from attaching the links to the plastic form. I used Tamiya’s orange-label cement (No. 87012). The slower drying time gives extra working time to set the links in the jig and around the drive sprockets. The tracks were painted with Tamiya dark iron (XF-84) and dry-brushed chrome silver (X-11).

After installing the gun, I added the gunner and commander, aligning them with an elevation handle and periscope, respectively. Last in was the loader, who slipped easily into position. For realism, I drilled out the end of the spent casings, painted them with Metalizer brass, and added black pastel for the burnt powder.

An overall coat of Tamiya olive green prepared the surface for decals, which went on without problems. Pastels weathered the little self-propelled gun with the dust of the Berlin urban battlefield.

I spent 30 enjoyable hours building and painting Tamiya’s SU-76. It’s a great kit and I highly recommend it.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the July 2016 issue.

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