Saturday, April 17, 2010

Project: 1/48 ACE ZU-23-2

One of the results of the thawing of the Cold War and liberalization of the economies of Eastern Europe is it allowed a lot of entrepreneurial-ism, which has been nothing but good for model builders. Hailing out of Kiev, Ukraine, ACE models has for several years concentrated on manufacturing small scale (1/72) armor kits and the like. Using limited run plastic injection molding technology, the ACE kits were always for more experienced modelers, and a little on the rough side. That being said, they also manufactured kits not produced anywhere else before or since, mainly concentrating on Eastern European designs, with a smattering of western designs as well.

The ZU-23-2 (kit # 48101) is ACE's first foray into the world of 1/48 scale modeling. I have to say, its a pretty nice kit, and much better than my memories of their older 1/72 scale kits.

The ZU-23-2 was one of the standard Soviet light anti-aircraft cannons, and is still in use today with a number of operators. Firing a 23mm shell, it is designed to be a more potent successor to the ZPU system (which mounted 14.5mm machine guns). Although lacking many of the modern aiming aids such as radar direction, it is simple, easy to use, and useful against both aerial targets (especially helicopters) and ground targets.

As can be seen from the sprue shots (these are taken from ACE's website, by the way), the kit includes 4 sprues, with 2 identical. The quality of the moldings are very good, and while some of the parts still have thick gates to be removed, the quality and finesse of the parts are better than older kits.

I have to admit, one of the reasons I bought this kit was to encourage ACE to do more in this scale. With a grand total of 2 different model kits of modern molding quality currently in plastic (unless you include the old Tamiya/Academy/Arii battery powered carpet crawlers, or the equally dreadful and not especially accurate Kitech/Zhengdefu kits), there's not a lot that can go with this kit, unless you resort to resin. But still, it's a very nice kit, and looks like it will be a fun project.

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