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Zvezda 1/35 scale STZ-5 Soviet artillery tractor plastic model kit review

A great addition to Soviet armor collections with nearly perfect fits
Kit:3663 // Scale:1/35 // Price:$52.99
Zvezda (Sample courtesy of mfr.)
Great molding, detail, and parts fit; removable cargo-bed cover
Small parts and details require care
Injection-molded plastic (gray, clear); 282 parts; decals
Production of the STZ-5 started in 1937 at the Stalingrad tractor plant and became the Soviet Union’s most-produced artillery tractor during World War II. The vehicle had remarkable endurance, with some traveling from Stalingrad to Moscow and back — more than 500 miles each way — without breaking down. Despite that service record, there have only been a couple of 1/35 scale kits of the STZ-5 over the years, so this is a welcome addition.

The kit comprises 264 parts molded in gray plastic, 14 clear parts, and decals to mark two vehicles. There are 28 steps in the eight pages of instructions, the drawings give precise part locations, and I found no errors. I also found the color photos of the finished model on the back of the box useful for part placement.

The engine builds from 22 parts that fit perfectly and needed no filler. It, along with the rear-mounted transmission, fit into the multipart frame. Be sure the frame rails are parallel and the cross members are square because everything attaches to the frame.

Take care and pay attention to the instructions when assembling the bogies; they look similar but are not. After gluing all the wheels, except for the idlers, which I just pressed onto the axles, I assembled two runs from the kit’s link-and-length track. I was careful not to glue them to the wheels so I could slip them off the suspension with the idlers and paint them separately.

The engine cover inside the cab can be left off to display the engine, but it will be difficult to see on the finished model. Deviating from the instructions, I built the entire cab before adding it to the frame and the part fits were good throughout. As molded, the cab doors could be posed open, and there are decals to mark the dashboard dials. I left the seats and windows separate for painting.

The cargo bed was a straightforward build and, again, I left the seat cushions separate for painting. Several options are available in the bed, including tools on the sides, side seats stowed or deployed, and bows for the cover, stowed or in place to fit the canvas-look cover. With care, you can leave the cover loose and remove it from the bed for different display options.

I painted the vehicle with Tamiya J.A. Green (No. XF-13), the seats black, and the tracks with Testors Model Master Burnt Metal (No. 141501) with a dusting of brown pastel chalk. The few decals went on without problems.

This well-engineered kit features pretty much perfect fits and a trouble-free build, but the small parts require attention. So, I’d recommend Zvezda’s STZ-5 to anyone with a little bit of experience. I thoroughly enjoyed the build, and the kit offers a lot of display and diorama possibilities.
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