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MiniArt's aim is true with SU-122

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/35 scale plastic model armor kit
Talk about packing in the detail! MiniArt’s SU-122 provides a full interior, including engine and fighting compartment. (The kit has also been released without the interior.)

You pay a price for all that detail, with nearly 900 parts spread over 80 individual sprues. Just keeping track of the parts is challenging. But the result is a real looker alive with details.

The kit engine features fuel and coolant lines, and the transmission includes all of the linkages and even has photo-etched (PE) drum brakes.

The straightforward engine compartment builds quickly, but I deviated from the directions and left the exhaust pipes (parts Da1 and Da2) intact; the instructions indicate cutting them apart and then rejoining them after the rear plate is in place. I was able to thread them through instead. Unfortunately, most of that detail will be hidden on the finished model without cutting apart the engine deck.

The fighting compartment includes scale-thin seats and control pedals. I’m not sure if it was just the kit that I had or MiniArt’s plastic in general, but small parts, such as like gear levers and foot pedals, were brittle; many broke while I was removing them from the sprue or cleaning up attachment points.

I left off some parts that lacked clear locator marks, such as Fm1 or Fb3, until the side walls were in place to better indicate location. I painted the engine and fighting compartment before building the casemate, but I didn’t go nuts on the interior detail as I wasn’t sure what would be visible on the finished model.

The casemate’s sides, front armor plate, firewall, and gun came together easily. Despite the instructions, I glued the gun in place because the mounts weren’t holding it securely. The rest of the gun was easy to build with the gun lock in position.

The road wheels needed very little cleanup and they fit the axles snugly. So, it was easy to attach them after painting and weathering.

The upper hull built quickly, aided by the one-piece engine deck molded with the fenders. The kit provides PE or plastic options for some details, like the straps and engine screens.

The most frustrating and time-consuming aspects of the build were the handrails and tracks. I had a hard time removing the thin grab rails from the sprue — they are connected in 10 spots. If I got them off the tree neatly, the brittle plastic seemed to almost crumble during cleanup. If I build another, I’ll replace the rails with brass rod or stretched sprue.

The brittle plastic proved problematic for the click-together tracks, too. The links fit snugly, and it was hard to snap them together without breaking the pins.

I rolled the links together, exerting minimal pressure on the pins, but still ended up with a lot of broken links. Glue is all that holds some of them together.
For a faded, worn finish, I airbrushed mottled coats of green Badger Stynylrez over black Stynylrez primer.
I spent more than 100 hours building and painting MiniArt’s SU-122, and the model looks great. It’s suitable for experienced modelers who won’t be fazed by the fine details or complex assemblies and can deal with breakages caused by the brittle plastic. Bottom line: It’s great to have an accurate model of this important Soviet self-propelled howitzer.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the December 2017 issue.
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