Soviet Model 52K M1939, 85-mm Anti Aircraft Gun
[also known as German 8.5-cm FlaK39(r)]

Kit #72276 Preview by Stephen 'Tank Whisperer' Brezinski - sbrez1(at)comcast(dot)net
Edited by Rob Haelterman

This is ACE’s year 2009 release of the primary heavy AA gun used by the Soviets from about 1939 till they were replaced by larger 100-mm and 130-mm guns after the war. I understand it is an enlarged version of their 76.2-mm AA gun and they both look very similar. ACE markets this as their “early” production model 1939 where the primary difference between the early and late model appears to be the addition of a gun shield. A Soviet towing vehicle could be a Studebaker 2.5-ton truck, a fully tracked Soviet tractor or perhaps a Zis-42 halftrack.
This weapon can also be modeled with a German crew as the 8.5-cm Flak 39(r) in dark gray or Dunkelgelb colors. The Germans used this AA gun with its original Soviet ammunition as well as re-chambered for German 8.8-cm ammunition. A German towing vehicle would be an SdKfz 6 or an SdKfz 7 halftrack tractor.
I have always liked ACE’s box art and this is consistently well done in showing us what is in the kit, what it should look like when assembled, and the color scheme the model should be in: a monochromatic olive green in this case. We have here a gun on a 360 degree turntable with the wheels raised up by pedestals to take it out of towing mode.
There are about 85 parts molded in light gray, injection-molded styrene plastic on four sprues. No decal markings come with the kit; except for kill rings on German used guns I have never seen discernable markings on these weapons. Due to ACE’s short-run molds, the early molded kits may be of higher quality than those towards the end of the kit’s production.

This is the boxart for ACE’s kit #72274, the late version of the 52-K 85-mm Soviet Heavy AA Gun which is essentially the same as kit #72276 but with additional parts for the protective shield on one of the sprues. It is being towed by a Studebaker truck with Soviet markings. This is a much simpler looking AA gun than the similar caliber German 8.8-cm Flak!

The assembly instructions are a rather complicated exploded-view type standard to most kits; because of the number of parts, the assembly may be a bit more difficult than in smaller artillery kits. The gun can be modeled in either firing or towing mode. There are no crew figures included.

This kit sprue shows parts for the suspension and cruciform platform. The four wheels (lower center) are well done as are the ground pads (left and right of center). Several rounds of 85-mm ammunition are included but I wish ammunition storage boxes were also included.

The sprue here is the gun carriage with the traverse and elevation handwheels, a crew seat and other mechanisms for the gun. I noted little flash and sink hole problems.

This sprue carries the 85-mm gun barrel with the recoil parts, part of the cruciform platform and the pedestal mount at far right. Two sections of the round floor plate are right of center. It looks like we’ll have to drill out the muzzle and perhaps cut the slots of the muzzle brake deeper. (On the late version, ACE kit #72274, this is the sprue that carries the additional gun shield parts.

The kit appears well designed and detailed and is certainly much better than the only other kit of this gun available in small scale that I am aware of, the older AER resin model.


Here and below are several reference photos of two 52-K guns in travel mode and with shields, that were on display during a visit to Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland, USA. Do not trust the colors, the Aberdeen displays have been over-painted several times in 50+ years and may not reflect the original color. I also would not trust the tires to be original. Here we can see the two-part shield, the slotted muzzle brake, the travel brace for the gun barrel, and the round groundpads.

This second photo is of the left side of a second 85-mm 52-K gun at Aberdeen, but with the gun barrel in full recoil. The round ground pads have holes around them like with the ACE and AER kits, and we see the slotted muzzle break at right and the gun breach at far right. There is a traverse or elevation hand wheel visible and just behind and below it we see the 85-mm AA round fuse-setting apparatus. I find it interesting that the apparatus looks to be painted Panzer Yellow color (Dunkelgelb).
The side outriggers are swung forward during travel mode rather than lifted up like with the Flak 18 guns. There is a nice circular walkway around the pedestal. The wheels are singular, rather than doubled like with the Flak 36, and the wheels appear to be permanently affixed to the cruciform mount rather than as trailers that are removed.

Another photo of an M1939 without shield at Aberdeen Proving Ground. On top of the gun recuperator is a vertical rod just like that seen on the German Flak 18 and Flak 36 used for mounting an indirect artillery gunsight. On the left side we see a large German-like fuse setting apparatus suggesting to me that perhaps this is a gun that was used by the Germans and possibly converted to fire 88-mm German ammunition? One of the groundpads appears to have fallen off the folded outrigger.


Editor's note.
Scans of the manual and sprues of this kit and its sister kit can also be found on the Henk of Holland website.

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Article Last Updated: 24 June 2011