The GAZ line of trucks were essentially the Ford Model AA
built under license by the Gorky Automobile Plant
(or Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod in Russian). Started in 1932 as a joint venture with Ford, the company turned out 985,000 trucks during the war, and survives to this day.
The Soviet Army's need for transport after Germany invaded in 1941 resulted from both mobilization and the loss of trucks captured when entire armies of Soviet troops were surrounded during the early battles. In order to offset the shortage of key items like sheet steel, factories improvised: the model MM 1941 was based on the AA, but from mid-1941, resources and time were saved by dispensing with things like cab doors & glass, using a cloth tarp for the back of the cab, and simplifying the fenders to squared-off angles instead of graceful, curved mudguards that needed heavy fabrication machinery. Brakes? How about only on the rear wheels?
The result was a truck that was freezing to drive or ride in during Winter, but cheap and quick to produce.
The GAZ family of trucks is as essential to modeling the Soviet motor pool as the Opel Blitz to that of the Wehrmacht, but the only kits were ones by Zvezda: cheap but from an earlier era of detail and execution. Recently MiniArt got "GAZed" when it began releasing wheel sets for the ancient Zvezda kits. These new wheels sets avoid seam lines or poor tread details by using a "sandwich" technique that builds up the tires in seven sections or "slices." It's not new technology, but the results are a huge improvement over conventional the 2-piece styrene molded tires that even companies who pioneered the technique like DML have reverted to.
Now MiniArt is no longer content to be the tire supplier to truck modelers, and is releasing a line of GAZ trucks, including the AA, AAA (reviewed here
by Tom Cromwell) and now the MM (for military) in both 1941 and (soon) 1943 variants.
The MiniArt box says there are 371 parts, and they are on:
12 sprues of gray styrene
1 sprue of clear styrene, along with a
12-page instruction booklet with painting guide
1 tiny set of decals
MiniArt has already won praise for its Valentine tanks kits, so this new line of GAZ trucks invites comparison with the old Zvezda kits. The differences are easy to see. The last picture on the right shows the MiniArt and Zvezda engine hoods/bonnets. The louvers are both crisper on the MA, and are replicated on the inside (unlike the green styrene panel from the Zvezda GAZ AAA kit in my stash). If you plan on opening the hood/bonnet, the engine is simplified, though the real truck had a somewhat simple motor, too. We rivet counters will want to add wiring. Other details like the radiator or the truck bed are equally superior to the Zvezda.
But the price is quite a bit more.
And then there are the tires-
I can't imagine doing a Winter diorama with this truck, it would be a crime to cover up the wheels.
In addition, the kit comes with a driver! And his pal. Hey, drivers are hard to find, especially Soviet ones.
instructions & painting guide
The instruction booklet is nicely produced, and uses the familiar exploded-view format Dragon and other companies have perfected. It even includes a one-paragraph overview of the actual truck's history, but don't get too excited: it doesn't say all that much.
The kit offers three options:
"The Transport column of front submission," Battle of Stalingrad, The Don Front, January 1943 (dirty whitewash over green)
Unknown unit, Battle of Kursk, June 1943 (Russian green)
The Leningrad Front, region of Vyborg, Summer 1944 (an unusual tri-tone camo of green, light brown and earth brown)
This kit looks like a huge improvement over the Zvezda molds, though a 4-6 times the price. Still, it comes with a driver, which is a great plus to me.
The Armchair General.com