The Aэросани, aerosani
are what we know, nowadays, as snowmobiles. The concept is a simple one - mount an engine-powered propeller on a set of skis, add seating for the driver, some basic controls and a rudimentary steering mechanism, point the vehicle in the general direction you want to go and you're off. Well, not quite that simple. One of the principal developers of the Aerosan was Igor Sikorsky - before WWI.
It wasn't long before the military applications for the Aerosan became apparent. Few vehicles could operate in deep snow and certainly couldn't move quickly. The Aerosan could move quickly, was low-profile and perfectly suited for reconnaissance and even used in commando-style raids - much in way the British were to develop long-range raiding using light vehicles in the Western Desert.
The subject of the model by Vision Models
is the RF-8 which was a 2-seated unarmored version with the crew consisting of a driver and a gunner. Some later Aerosans had light armor and some were built as fully-enclosed command or transport version
Vision Models' Kit
VM35003 - RF-8-Gaz-98 Aerosled
is a very recent release from the Chinese manufacturer Vision Models
with cooperation from MiniArt Ltd.
VM35003 contains parts for TWO RF-8-Gaz-98 Aerosleds along with two crew figures. Each Aerosan uses 3 sprues, 1 for the 'gondola', 2 for the Skis/Suspension and a tiny, clear-plastic sprue for the windshield and spotlight lens. One additional sprue contains two MiniArt
-produced figures of two Russians in sheepskin coats. The final items are an 8-page instruction sheet and a decal sheet consisting of 4 Red Stars.
Vision Models' Kit - in more detail
My previous experience with Vision Model products has, up until now, been limited to their first release - the US M1A1 75mm Pack Howitzer and this compares very favorably. The sprues are molded in a light-grey styrene with a very notably 'sharpness' of molding and a complete lack of flash or distortion. Molded detail is very finely done - for example the rivets on the crew compartment are nicely understated rather than the 'soup-plate-sized' rivets from some other manufacturers. The tubular supports for the engine on the rear of the Aerosan are very delicately-molded as is the ring for the MG. Extreme care will have to be exercised in removing these parts. The sprue attachment-points are minimal also which is yet more evidence of just how well-tooled this model actually is.
As to construction, even though these are tiny vehicles, they are surprisingly complex with the suspension (in particular) being an area which will require very careful handling - principally due to the scale 'thickness' of the components.
Comparing the two (the 75mm Pack Howitzer and the Aerosans) the latter are, in mold and engineering terms very superior. Even the quality of the plastic seems higher.
The figures, although belonging to an older set, are still pretty good. It would have been nice though, if we'd got actual seated figures, but these are adequate enough.
The Aerosan has been done before (albeit in resin/white metal) and this is the first of THREE models in 1/35th scale - two more are scheduled for release later this year from another manufacturer. Again, it's a pity it's taken so long to get a styrene model.
has done an excellent job and even though my reference sources are limited on the vehicle, I see nothing in the sense of omissions or glaring inaccuracies. It's not a vehicle which will lend itself to much more than what's in the box. Color-scheme will be white, conversion possibilities VERY limited but diorama possibilities IMMENSE,
Coincidentally, a couple of days before this model was announced, the German Publisher, Tankograd
, sent us news of a new book on the Aerosan. An excellent Review of the book can be seen:
There are a number of Websites covering the Aerosans. Amongst them are;
Propeller-Driven Sleighs (LINK)
Soviet Combat Snowmobiles (LINK)
RF-8-GAZ-98 Snowmobile (LINK)