By Till Huber - NalarMidas(at)web.de
Manufacturer: MW Models (Kit #7204)
The 2S6M "Tunguska" is the newest addition to the Military Wheels range, fascinating the whole small scale community.
First of all, the model of the 2S6M is surprisingly big compared to their previously released Volkswagen kit line. The box and the contents seem to be twice as big as common ESCI or Revell kits. After actually seeing the big box in real size I was convinced it is worth the money and I have not been disappointed, (yet!). The 2S6M is a "flak" complex for low altitude air defence; it has two 30mm barrels and can fire SA 19 "Grison" as well. I figured out: it's a "Roland" and "Gepard" in one vehicle.
The six grey sprues are some of the most solid and clumsiest I have ever seen. Severing the parts without actually damaging details won't be easy, but that's what you get when you go for short-run kits. The Tunguska kit is limited in production.
GENERAL WEAKNESSES COMMON TO MANY EASTERN EUROPEAN KITS
I would describe the quality of the mold as mediocre but still acceptable. I think Military Wheels tries to get the best out of their molding machine. It is certainly not a piece of a junk like JUMTK/Interavia kits were; no, Military Wheels are not just money grabbers. Maybe Russian engineers don't just have the ways that western kit makers have to produce kits.
My specimen had a big slice on the hull top hatches, I do not know if it is only on mine or a general molding error on all Tunguska models (note from Doug: my kit also had a flaw, but it was more of a sinkmark, not a cut like this one; I guess this is the price we pay for limited-run kits). I was also a little disappointed by the flat casting of the two 30mm barrels and it is a big step backwards seeing the kit molded with none of the hatches opened. The solid plastic will give you a hard time realising open doors. Pioneer tools were molded on again as well.
You will need much patience assembling the kit because the alignment of the parts is not totally incorrect but there are little gaps and flash almost everywhere. A good thing is that the plastic melts very well from poly-glue, so it's chemically considered a "soft" kind of plastic making it more comfortable to work with.
I was positively surprised by the finely molded radar equipment and the surface details which are not perfect but still acceptable. I'm looking forward to build and complete this very well proportioned kit as soon as possible.
The decals supplied for this kit provide two options, the first is a Tunguska of the Russian 4th GAD army in January 1998, the second is a Tunguska of an unknown or not further described unit. The markings consist mainly of a three digit number on the turret sides, the one for the first option is a 467 and the second is 325 printed in white letters.
Strangely Military Wheels implemented roadsigns (!) on the decal sheet, maybe in order to help with a diorama setup. The decals have a large extent of clear film that has to be removed in my opinion.
Instructions are printed on one sheet, unfortunately the decription of the weapon system is only Russian while the construction and colour notes are also English. The instructions are referring to Humbrol colours and a four side blueprint is depicting colour schemes which helps the modeller as well.
RECOMMENDATION: This kit needs a lot of cleaning and some minor add-ons could be applied, (handles, antennas, anyone who has more reference about this vehicle let me know). Comparing to photographs the shape and surface details have been transferred very well, making the Tunguska a most interesting and unique kit and an ideal mate to columns of Ace's BMP's, BRDMS or Revell's T-80. This means: get as many kits as you can as they are short run :-).
The collapse of the Warzaw Pact makes me so sad, today I realised why.
PS: If anyone could measure a completed model to assure it is a 1:72 kit please, here are the measurements of the real vehicle:
(Subtitles to the sprue pics: You will notice the mediocre casting quality while observing the scans, you will need a lot of putty and nerves to fix the gaps.)
Here are some reference photographs of the real vehicle.
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