by: Jan Etal [ ]
Introduced in early 1943 the SU-152 was an assault gun based on the KV-1S tank. Originally designed to provide direct fire support for infantry units, the SU-152 was soon found to also be an effective tank killer. Weighing in at approximately 46 tons this assault gun was armed with a 152mm ML-20 L32 howitzer firing separate loading, or two piece, ammunition. The fighting compartment housed a crew of five and 20 rounds of ammunition.
Figures from numerous sources vary, but most estimates suggest the number produced were from 640 to a little over 700 SU-152’s before production ceased. An improved version in the form of the ISU-152 began replacing it in the field by late 1943.
The subject of this review is the 1/72 scale Pegasus SU-152 Soviet Assault Gun, kit No. 7668.
Upon opening the box you are presented with four sprues moulded in a medium green styrene and a two sided half page instruction sheet. Each pair of sprues is used to produce one vehicle. Total parts count is 64 pieces with each individual vehicle requiring 32 parts to complete.
The instructions comprise six steps with multiple parts placement shown in exploded view drawings. While part reference numbers are provided in the instructions, there are no reference numbers on the sprues, nor a part numbering diagram. There are no painting directions and no decals are provided.
From looking at the sprues one can immediately note almost a contradiction. Some parts are rather plain yet others exhibit very delicate and fine detail. Flash was absolutely minimal with sink holes and ejector pin marks for the most part being limited to surfaces that will not be seen after construction. A few rather large sprue gates were evident, in particular those that attach the larger track section to the sprue.
The upper portions of the fighting compartment have a nice cast texture to them and some weld seams are also evident. The gun mantlet pieces also show casting detail effectively. Rivet details are plentiful on the plate sections of the body but the engine ventilation screens or grills are quite plain. Moulded on hatch detailing is effective and the gunners hatch is a separate piece with both exterior and interior detail.
The suspension pieces are of an interesting configuration in that the tracks, outer road wheels, return rollers, idler and drive sprocket are moulded as one piece. The track portion has a pleasant sag over the return rollers and very fine detail can be seen in the reproduction of the numerous track guide horns. What is most impressive was that the centre of each guide horn was hollow and I have yet to see this in this scale. Unfortunately, the track section itself is almost totally devoid of any details other than a raised section signifying the separation point between each link.
The inner suspension components (idlers, sprockets, road wheels) are as finely detailed as the their outer counterparts. Two auxiliary external fuel drums are provided to fit on the rear fenders and are somewhat plainer than other kit parts. A small toolbox is provided for the right side but lacks any back to it while the one headlight is also rather light on detail. The main gun comes with the bore open so no drilling will be required. The muzzle brake sides are reproduced as raised details.
The first three steps of the construction process went reasonably smooth. The first part to fit after removing the track sections from the sprue are to attach the idlers to the large suspension moulding. This is a must or the last road wheel will not be able to fit into the body. The next step was to attach the inner sprocket halves to their lower side hull locations.
Attaching the road wheels is a bit tricky due to the small size of the parts involved. If the builder has more substantial fingers, then tweezers will need to be employed. The road wheels themselves also possess a connecting arm that attaches them to the lower hull. Each road wheel has a larger locating hole located at its bottom that will mate with a positioning pin located at the base of its external counterpart. The fit was snug but quite positive. After I had one side completed I attempted to see how the section with all its locating pins would fit into the body. I was happy to see that except for a bit of tightness with the sprocket’s pin, all pins lined up and inserted into their respective holes in the hull side. It is a credit to those that designed this kit that such a complex assembly point could go so smoothly.
The fourth step in the instructions involves attaching the two completed suspension assemblies to the hull sides. As stated earlier, the alignment and fit of all the locating pins into their respective receiving holes was quite positive. The only other parts to put in place are two front towing eyes. As these parts are so small, care will need to be taken in their placement.
Step five in the construction is the placement of various pieces on the upper hull. These comprise the external fuel tanks, toolbox, headlight and loader’s hatch. A two piece gun mantlet and the gun tube itself are assembled and then placed into the hull front. With the exception of the loader’s hatch, most parts have a stiff but positive fit that suggests that the model could be assembled mostly without glue. Some minor sanding may be required in order to ease assembly.
The final assembly step sees the placement of the rear fighting compartment wall and rear hull plate. After these two steps the upper and lower hulls are mated and assembly is complete.
While in many ways nicely detailed, the kit vehicles as they stand struck me as somewhat plain. After studying numerous pictures of the subject I felt a bit of simple embellishment would add to their appearance.
Many pictures of these vehicles showed them with an assortment of grab handles and rails on the upper hull. To fabricate these grab handles on the fighting compartment sides I raided my spares box and found six unused grab handles from a previous Soviet tank build. As each SU-152 appears to have at least six of these, I decided to use the styrene ones on one kit build and construct six more using .035” (.09 cm) brass wire for the other. I used a styrene part as a template for the six brass versions. Following this I attached the plastic versions to one SU. To attach the brass versions required the drilling of appropriate sized locating holes into the plastic of the fighting compartment. With that accomplished I used gap filling CA glue to fix them in place.
From further pictures, I noted that on a large domed hatch just behind the crew compartment there was a prominent “V” shaped support/bracket that lay flat on top of it. Interestingly, the kit had a raised plastic knob on the hatch where this object would have been attached. The knob was large enough that I was able to drill a small hole through it. After this I formed an appropriately shaped piece from brass wire and threaded it through the hole. This was done to both vehicles and it was again affixed with CA glue.
Some SU-152 and their KV brethren showed various tubular rails along the upper side edges of the engine compartment. I decided to add some of these to my builds using a similar technique to the wire grab handles. The exhaust outlets are basically two small mounds of plastic over the engine compartment so at this time I also decided to at least drill out openings in them.
After reviewing more pictures of these vehicles I desired to add a few touches to further enhance and individualize them. For the first I chose to mount a large fuel drum on the right fender forward of the kit external fuel tank. The drum was from the spares box and after assembling it and cleaning it up I created a mounting frame and attached it. On the opposite fender from this drum I placed a scratch built storage box based on ones from previous Soviet vehicles I have built.
For the sake of this article, I decided to do some painting of the more or less complete SU-152. I used Model Master 4807 Russian Armor Green straight from the bottle to pre-shade areas of the assault gun. This was followed by an overall spray of the same colour but progressively lightened with flat white. The tracks detail painting was begun with Tamyia XF-56 Metallic Grey and further washes of various colours. While not 100% completed I believe that it shows the potential for what is basically a simple kit.
For what many refer to as a fast build kit, the detail on this kit is good. In some ways it is far better than other “fast build” kits that I have seen. For the beginner this might be a perfect kit to experiment with. For the more serious, there is quite a bit of potential to really enhance it.
The main down side is the rather sparse to nonexistent outer track detail. I have seen it suggested that some drilling, scribing and use of styrene could be used to enhance the links. Perhaps an easier solution would be to mate the lower hull/suspension of some other manufacturers KV kit with the Pegasus upper hull. Considering that you get two of these assault guns for such a low price it might be an interesting option for some.
I will recommend this kit with the previously stated caveats.