Sunday, January 3, 2010

Project: 1/35 ASU-57

The ASU-57 was the Soviet Union's first post-war attempt at an airborne tank. Less a tank and more an assault gun, it mounted a 57mm cannon, which by the standards of the day (early '50s) was already obsolete as a tank-killing armament. Still, a tank is a tank, and in an airborne operation, the ability of the vehicle to toss HE shells or kill light armored vehicles must have been appreciated. Lightly armored, it had an open topped crew compartment, making it very vulnerable to indirect fire and airburst weapons (not to mention "fightability" in an NBC environment).

When the Cold War finally ended, and there was a thawing of relations between the former Warsaw Pact states and the West, we started to get a trickle of kits from the former Soviet Union as well as Eastern Europe. A lot of times this showed the abysmal nature of manufacturing in these countries, with most kits being toy-like or otherwise poorly molded or detailed. Still, in those early days, for many subjects they were the only game in town, and welcomed if you wanted a kit of an unusual or rarely seen subject.

Over time, Eastern Europe benefited from contact with the West, and kits steadily improved. While modern kits from this region are still not up to the level of kits coming out of Japan, China, Italy and the like, they can still put out decent quality kits at an affordable price.

The AER kit originates from Moldova, and was a post-Cold War product. While many kits benefited from modern molding and construction practices, the AER kit is not one of those. Just about ever component of this kit is either poorly molded, poorly detailed, or both. Still, if you want an ASU-57 in your collection, it's really the only game in town, and I'm not even sure the manufacturer exists anymore (I got mine off ebay). Along with this kit you MUST also get the Eduard photo-etch set, which adds considerably to the level of detail of the kit (fortunately the Eduard set is very cheap according to the manufacturer's website). Along with this it is reccommended you use the cannon barrel from Modelpoint (if you look closely at the pictures on the Eduard site, you can see the massive sink marks in the barrel; while trying to fix this problem, my barrel shattered, so I must get the Modelpoint piece to complete the model!). They also make a set of return rollers too, which should be useful. All these latter goodies are available from Modelpoint's US website.

While we're at it, the shells should be replaced as well, since the kit ones are barely detailed blobs. There are no shells on the market for the Ch-51 cannon, though this was a development of the WWII era ZiS-2, and used much of the same ammunition. Modelpoint comes to the rescue again with a full range of 57mm ZiS-2 ammo.

This kit is going to be a real challenge to build. But when done will be a pretty unique subject. Now if only there was an affordable ASU-85...

This kit is a big challenge

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