by: Charles Reading [ ]
Large amounts of Lend-Lease Studebaker US6 trucks were sent to the Soviet Union during the Second World War. The US6 Studebaker filled many roles in the Soviet army, such as troop carriers and artillery tow vehicles, and was well-known and admired for its ruggedness and reliability. Among its many uses, the US6 proved to be a good weapons platform for the Katyusha rocket launcher. Katyusha launchers were mounted on many different vehicles during World War II, including trucks, artillery tractors, tanks, and trains, and even on naval vessels as assault support weapons. Its Multiple Launch Rocket System was considerably less-accurate than conventional artillery guns. On the other hand, the MLRS was extremely effective in saturation bombardment: a battery of four BM-13 launchers could fire a salvo in 7–10 seconds that delivered 4.35 tons of high explosives over a 10 square acre area.
With an experienced crew, the MLRS could redeploy to a new location moments after firing, making any counter-firing by the enemy ineffective. Katyusha batteries were often grouped in large numbers to create the WW II version of the “shock & awe” effect on the enemy. They were so effective that German troops particularly feared being on the receiving end of a Katyusha bombardment, dubbing it the “Stalin organ” ([i]Stalinorgel[/i]), most likely from the terrible sound it made). The weapon's main disadvantage was that it took a long time to reload the launcher (as compared to conventional guns, which could sustain a continuous low rate of fire).
ICM has released a 1/35th scale kit of the US6 Katyusha configuration. It comes in a very sturdy 9” x 12”x 2.5” box. Inside, the six (6) light grey sprues are contained in a re-sealable clear bag, along with a separate “cab” piece. The instruction sheets and a small decal sheet complete “what’s in the box.”
Sprue “A”: Truck chassis parts, frame, engine parts, drive chain, steering and fenders. There are also a couple small pieces on the ‘A’ sprue that are marked “not for use.”
Sprue “B”: Truck body panels, doors grille and interior pieces.
Sprue “C”: Wheels, tires and leaf springs.
Sprue “G”: The separate “cab” piece.
Sprue “F”: Clear plastic parts, wind screen, windows and lenses.
Sprue “H”: Frame mount and elevation pieces for the Katyusha rocket system.
Sprue “J”: Rails and rockets.
The “J” sprue in the review kit had several of the rails badly warped and will need some extra work, as they will need to be perfectly straight when the model is finished.
The instructions consist of a loose assembly “booklet” of eight (8) pages. The instructions are pretty straight-forward consisting of multiple “blow up” drawings with parts identified by number and sequence of assembly. Typical universal warning signs are used where items are not to be glued or need to be cut or scrapped off. There is another sheet included with a brief history of the BM-13-16N in Russian and English, a paint guide with Model Master paint reference numbers, and front, back and side drawings showing decal placement and paint for three (3) vehicles. The Soviet Army wasn’t too imaginative when it came to painting these vehicles, as the base is olive drab. The only variation between vehicles is the decals and some white trim on the fenders (presumably so following vehicles could see the truck in front during night driving). No color reference is given for the rockets.
All in all this is a pretty nice kit, worlds better than early ICM offerings. The kit has it's faults, but nothing that can't be worked out by a moderately experienced builder. With a little effort this kit will build into a very realistic representation of the Katyusha rocket launching system.
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