IntroductionSA-13 Strela (Gopher)
is a recent release by SDV Model
of the Czech Republic, kit number 87143
. It is an injection molded 1/87 kit with photo-etched parts. SDV
also kits four models of the vehicle "Gopher" is based on - the MT-LB:
MT-LB s 85mm kanonen D-44
A detailed history of the SA-13 "Gopher" (GRAU designation "9K35") can be found at the end of this review.
SDV Model writes;
The Czech company SDV model® was established in Prague in 1989. It specializes in production of short-run plastic kits of military machinery, trucks and buses in 1:87 scale. Our family-type company operates its own tool shop and press machines. Many other kits that are being sold under other trademarks were actually made by us.
At the time of this review SDV
's catalogue offers 1/87 and 1/120 models in five main categories and three subcategories;
BasicLine 1:87 - 163 civilian buses, trucks, farm equipment and circus vehicles.
MilitaryLine 1:87 - 100 military German and Russian or Warsaw Pact vehicles AFVs and soft skins.
Helicopters 1:87 - two Mi-24 Hind gunships.
Objektů 1:87 - a field fortification
Velikost TT (1:120) - 51 railway rolling stock and military vehicles, and accessories.
Nákladní vagóny 1:87 - a flat car with a tracked vehicle load.
Doplňky 1:87 - 52 sets of decals, paints, and model accessories.
Poslední kusy 1:87 - VT-55A railway wreck recovery vehicle.
While 1/87 military may not be as widely known in the US and UK as other “Braille scales”, 1/87 has been huge since Roco began releasing their MiniTanks back in the early 1960s, especially in Continental Europe. 1/87 is popular for wargaming as well as stand-alone models. It is also popular for dioramas because of the expansive availability of model railroad buildings, figures and scenery; 1/87 is model railroading's HO scale, thus perhaps the most prolific scale in the world. Huge dioramas are possible.
Let's look at this new offering.
SDV's 9K35 amphibious armored full-tracked infra-red surface-to-air missile (the Nudelman 9M37 Strela-10SV Series) system is a multi-media kit of injection-molded plastic and photo-etch parts. The kit consists of decals and 76 pieces:
1 x clear part
70 x green plastic
5 x photo-etch
Molding is good: minimal flash, only a few mild sink marks, no ejector circles, but some seam lines. Detail is sharp with fine molded-on surface detail. Compared to larger braille scales the parts breakdown is conventional, except for the running gear.
SDV engraved a great deal of surface detail onto their "Gopher"/MT-LB. Even the underside boasts much detail, including drain ports.
The hull sides are festooned with firing ports, hooks and fixtures for gear, and other items. SDV supplies a pintle-mounted PKT 7.62 mm machine gun. It appears chubbier than the real thing.
Supporting the vehicle is the running gear, engineered as two "one-piece" parts of all the components: road wheels, idlers, and drive sprockets. I wrote "one-piece" because the outer half of each sprocket is a separate part. Surface detail looks great although the lack of tread detail is only real low point of this kit.
A high point of this 1/87 9K35 are the photo-etched frames that detail the rear upper hull.
The SA-13 Transporter Erector Launcher And Radar (TELAR) assembly consists of 32 parts to build the four missile launchers, plus several more parts to build the pedestal, radar and associated apparatus.
SDV's model features a great deal of detail in molding and individual parts.
Instructions and Decals
SDV's instructions are good. Assembly is illustrated with an explode-view using sharp line art. A parts diagram is included, as well as a sharp four-view of the SA-13 "Gopher". Text is in Czech and German.
Decals look very good. These tiny transfers are sharply printed and squarely registered. All insignia are printed on a common carrier film so modelers need to be careful cutting them out. Four rows of numbers are provided so that one can make up the specific SA-13 of their choice. SDV printed national insignia for eight countries ;
SDV makes certain that modelers have a good choice for "Gopher" units.
SDV Models has kitted a fine 1/87 model of this long-serving mobile SAM. Molding is good, as are the instructions. Decals are excellent. As is the photo-etch fret.
Molding is good but it does suffer from some seam lines and minor sink marks.
Modelers of Cold War and post-Cold War subjects in 1/87-HO scale should be excited about this model. I happily recommend it.
History and Sources
SA-13 GOPHER Low Altitude Surface-to-air Missile System
"Gopers" scored at least two A-10 kills in Dersert Storm.
The SA-13 GOPHER is a short-range, low altitude SAM system. The SA-13 TELAR is a modified MT-LB amphibious armored tracked vehicle with the machine-gun turret removed. The launcher pedestal mounted to the rear of center of the vehicle is 360º traversable. It incorporates the operator’s position behind a large, rectangular window at its base. The SA-13 incorporates a range-only radar (HAT BOX) which provides the operator the target’s range to the system. There are two versions of the SA-13 transporter erector launcher and radar (TELAR) variant of the MT-LBu vehicle in service, designated TELAR-1 and TELAR-2. Appraisal of both does not show any significant structural differences but it is known that the TELAR-1 carries four FLAT BOX B passive radar detection antenna units, one on either corner of the vehicle's rear deck, one facing aft and one between the driver's vision ports at the front, whereas the TELAR-2 has none. The TELAR-1 is apparently used by the SA-13 battery commander. Known as the ZRK-BD Strela-10 system, the SA-13 missile (9M37) is 2.2 m long, 0.12 m in diameter with a 0.4 m wingspan and has a maximum speed of Mach 2. It carries a 5 kg HE warhead and is fitted with either an improved passive lead sulfide all-aspects infra-red seeker unit, or a cryogenically cooled passive all-aspects infra-red seeker unit. Normally the TELAR carries four ready to fire SA-13 missile container-launchers and eight reloads in the cargo compartment but it has also been seen on numerous occasions with either SA-9 GASKIN container-launcher boxes in their place or a mixture of the two. This enables the battlefield features of both missiles to be utilized to the full by allowing the cheaper SA-9 (Strela-1) to be used against the "easier" targets and the more expensive and sophisticated SA-13 (Strela-10) against the 'difficult' targets. The missile mix also allows a choice of infra-red (IR) seeker types on the missiles for use against extremely low altitude targets as well as in adverse weather conditions. The estimated minimum range of the SA-13 is 500 m and the maximum effective range of 5000 m with altitude engagement limits of 10 to 3500 m. Some vehicles have a pintle-mounted PKT 7.62 mm machine gun in front of the forward hatch for local protection. Other vehicles have been seen with additional support railings for the system on the rear deck. The HAT BOX circular parabolic radar antenna is located between the two pairs of missile canisters and is a simple range-only set to prevent wastage of missiles outside the effective range of the system.
VARIANTS: Apart from the Strela-10M2 the Soviets have deployed another version of the SA-13 known by the designation Strela-10M3. This is designed for use in the mobile battle and to defend troops on the march from low level attacks by aircraft and helicopters, precision-guided munitions and other flying vehicles such as reconnaissance RPVs. The major change is the adoption of a dual mode guidance system for the missile seeker - optical 'photo-contrast' and dual band passive IR. The missile accommodating this system is the 9M333. This weighs 42 kg at launch and when in its container-launcher the box-like canister has a total mass of 74 kg. Target acquisition range using the optical 'photo-contrast' channel is between 2000-8000 m whilst for the IR channel it is between 2300-5300 m. Altitude engagement limits are from 10 m up to 3500 m at a maximum range of 5000 m. Average missile speed is 550 m/s. The HE-fragmentation rod warhead weighs 5 kg in total (including 2.6 kg of HE) and uses both contact and active laser proximity fusing systems. The actuation radius of the proximity fuse is up to 4 m. The dual mode passive optical 'photo-contrast/IR seeker ensures good IR decoy counter-countermeasures discrimination capability and optimum use of the system against diverse and extremely low altitude targets as well as in adverse weather conditions.*
* fhp.osd.mil. Air Defense. SA-13 GOPHER Low Altitude Surface-to-air Missile System.