- Kit : ZiS-5V en PG117 Russian army
: Injection moulded, resin, vinyl, metal
- Paint : Humbrol, Model Master and
- Accessories : Scratch, spares box.
- Documentation :
- Military Modelling Vol.33 N°12
- Russian publication M-Hobby,
editor EXPRINT, Moscow
The ZiS-5V is known as the simplified version of the ZiS-5. This ZiS-5
was, together with the GAZ trucks, the Russian equivalent of the American
GMC or the British Bedford trucks.
The 5V was a metal saving example comparable with the Einheitsbau
used by the Germans on the Opel Blitz, amongst others.
The PG 117 on the other hand is rather
unknown. It is described in the kit as “Russian Army Sea Glider”
but it is a boat and I would rather describe it as an armed launch,
used by the Russians to transfer troops and material from one river
bank to another. Apparently, these boats were used in Stalingrad and
later at the crossings of all major rivers including the Spree in
Berlin. It’s not a ferry but a motor launch used as such.
I bought this kit at the Flanders Modelling Festival in Hoboken (B)
together with some other unknown models of the AER range, mostly models
based on their ZiS-5 kit. This kit is divided into subunits, as there
- the ZiS-5V,
- the boat trailer
- and the PG 117.
All parts are packed per unit.
It is obvious that AER has tried to make as many models as possible
starting from their initial kit. I can only enjoy this fact because
the ZiS, just like the GMC, has been used in 1001 ways.
The truck uses many parts from the
initial kit and also receives some new parts, as there is an extra
cab front in clear plastic, which helps to solve the problem of clear
glass parts for the windows. They also provide a few lengths of copper
wire and vinyl tyres.
The boat trailer parts come in a fragile resin but there also is a
set of vinyl tyres. The PG 117 is in resin too and needs to be detailed
with many scratch built parts.
The biggest problem is the lack of
documentation on the truck, trailer and boat. I searched the Internet
but that gave no solution, even less so due to the fact that I do
not speak Russian and as such am unable to check out their sites.
A happy coincidence came in the form
of a copy of an article from Military Modelling and a book (in Russian)
about Russian vehicles but packed with a lot of pictures and scale
drawings so the problem on the truck got solved.
The construction plan of the kit provided the only available picture
to my knowledge of a PG 117.
I did build a ZiS-5V before, working with the little documentation
that was in my possession at that moment. The new stuff showed me
that a lot of changes had to be made to the kit parts in order to
obtain a good copy of the real 5V. AER apparently just changed the
cab and the fenders.
A: the chassis:
The chassis comes in one piece and needs a lot of cleaning up because
there is a lot of flash.
As usual, AER uses this chassis for their ZiS-5, 5V and ZiS-6 and,
because of this, some parts have to be cut away. The purists among
us will want the replace the leaf springs too, but I decided not
to bother with these. The copper wire needs to be cut in lengths
in order to construct both wheel axles and the drive shaft. A torsion
bar was not provided in my kit and the rims of the wheels needed
to be drilled out.
The bottom of an engine block, an exhaust pipe and a rear differential
Two tow hooks have to be scratch built.
There is a trailer and trailers need
tow hooks but none are provided. The rear part of the chassis has
some kind of knob that is supposed to act as one. I worked on this
part by filing, sanding and cutting out a horizontal notch. I also
drilled out a hole for the towing pin.
B: the loading berth:
If you build this one straight-from-the-box, then you obtain a berth
destined to the 5 and 6 series. The 5V had a simplified version
with only a movable back. The construction was simpler and our model
needs to be adjusted; something that is not that simple. If you
are not looking forward to the amount of work needed, well, no problem:
a restored example of such a truck in Russia drives around with
the cab of a 5V and the berth of a 5. I think that a lot of field
restoration and changes occurred and that a mix of it all was a
But, if you want to make the changes,
then here is what needs to be done:
- Cut away the hinges on both sides.
- Very carefully cut away the 2 supports
in the middle of the sides (as well on the inside as on the outside).
Try to cut them away and not to sand them off because you need them
again. The 5 version had provisions to carry a canvas cover but
the 5V did not (although I did see some drawings of a 5V with canvas).
The parts that we cut away served as reinforcements in order to
put hoops in. The 5V only had one reinforcement in the middle. One
of those cut away parts needs to be glued in its new place again,
on the inside and on the outside.
- Glue both new side panels and the
rear panel on the base plate.
- Place a small square block in each
corner between the rear and the side panels. Those panels were screwed
Another amount of work is waiting
at the movable panel. A sort of hook and rod system was used, comparable
with the types that we still find on modern trailers (especially
The hooks are mounted on the outside of the panel, the bars on both
side panels. I made them from fine copper wire and some left over
The box cover shows a truck and trailer with boat. The rear berth
is hanging down. The model showed that this is quite impossible
because, in reality, this berth would come to rest on the towing
beam of the trailer. I think that even the Russians took time to
dismount this rear berth in order to protect it from being damaged.
I decided to place this berth in the cargo area.
The bottom side of the floor plate
receives a hook on each beam in order to attach ropes for securing
The spare wheel (not provided) finds a place at the right side of
the loading berth. You need to cut a piece from the central beam.
On this beam comes a square plate on which the spare wheel is mounted.
This square plate ends in an iron bar for which I used recovered
I mounted a winch in the cargo bay
as an extra, which I salvaged from a Studebaker. I made some adjustments
to this winch and added handles on both sides. The reason for this
lies in the fact that the boat had a water displacement of 1,45
tons and I think that it will not have been that easy to take the
boat out of the water without the help of a winch.
I wanted to add two pillows in order to protect the bottom of the
boat during transport but I didn’t see how to realise these
in this scale and helped myself with a left over piece of cloth
of 2 x 2 cm, which was shaped in form with the help of diluted wood
glue and formed into a rectangle. I placed this at the end of the
loading berth and so the boat was secured.
C: cab and hood:
First: the fenders. AER provides the squared type fenders but they
need some adjustments below the cab doors. The raised part just
at the end of the cab has to be cut away and replaced by a support
made from recovered PE.
I noticed, whilst studying the scale
drawings of the 5V, that the windscreen came in one part instead
of the 1/3 – 2/3 of the 5 type. The overhang of the cab roof
was also omitted. The clear plastic parts thus needed some adaptation
by cutting away this overhang. Be careful because it is very brittle.
In order to give the machine a realistic look, I opted for an open
door at the driver’s side.
This means that the interior of the cab needs detailing and that
is a problem:
- AER has forgotten to add a steering
wheel; there was none in my kit. I therefore “borrowed”
one from another kit. The steering shaft was made from copper wire.
- AER does not provide a dashboard
but the curve under the window is there. I made one from scratch
and also made a small instrument panel in the middle.
- Pedals, gear stick and handbrake
were made from wire and recovered PE and were mounted on a small
piece of plastic.
- Both doors received door handles
inside and out as well as a window lever. The glass came from a
- Both doors had a thicker plank on
the inside just under the window. This was made from a piece of
Both sides of the hood needed adjusting
in order to have a good fit with the radiator. It seems they also
provided another hood because the three parts didn’t fit well
on the cabin front; they needed adjusting. The opening for the starting
crank below the radiator was drilled out.
The trailer consists of vinyl tyres, plastic wheels and an axle that
must be made from copper wire. The rest of the parts come in a delicate
It consists of two springs, a base
plate, towing bar, a horizontal beam and two upstanding beams.
I cleaned the parts very carefully
but could not avoid breaking one of the upstanding beams.
I guess there were some air bubbles in the resin and I replaced it
with a peace of balsa. I think the Russians would rather have used
wood than steel for this part.
The tow bar needs to be drilled out
at the front and an eye must be made from wire. The kit suggests making
this in a triangular form and it works out well but it looks unreal
and so I made a round one as seen on most military trailers back then.
Finally, I made two wedges from a piece of wood and glued them to
the trailer as an extra. This way the boat was secured during transport.
The base consists of two pieces of resin that need to be cleaned up
and glued together. There are some parts loaded with flash and again
a piece of copper wire from which to construct the propeller shaft
but this wire is way too thick.
Amongst those parts are a resin steering wheel but no steering shaft;
there are no windows, no dashboard, and no tri-pod for the Maxim gun
Due to the lack of information on this
type (by the time of building), I decided to place the steering wheel
on the right hand side of the cockpit but careful study of the only
picture available showed its place on the left side. You also need
to make some sort of transmission lever that must be placed on the
drive shaft housing.
Holes were filled with Vallejo Plastic Putty.
The more you clean up the resin parts,
the more you encounter faults in the poor quality resin. The lack
of information leeaves you guessing at the type or form of instruments
I decided, as a result of this general cleaning up, to make the following
- filling up the gaps in the seams
on the inside and outside of the hull.
- construction of a steering shaft,
drilling out its hole and placement.
- construction of a small dashboard,
placed in the middle.
- construction of a transmission lever,
drilling out its hole in the transmission housing and placement.
- construction of a window, placed
under an angle to the rear and two small windows on the sides.
- construction of a metal frame to
be placed in front of the window, which serves as a mount for the
searchlight, provided amongst the small resin parts. This light
needs to be drilled out, to be painted silver on the interior and
to finally receive a drop of Kristal Klear as glass.
- construction of a metal frame for
the two front seats.
- drilling out a small hole on the
rear deck in order to receive a small flagpole made from metal wire.
Construction of a flag made from lead sheet (wine bottle) and decals.
- drilling out both exhaust pipes
situated in the rear part of the hull.
- scratch build construction of a
tri-pod mount for the Maxim gun and placement in the middle of the
boat just behind the front seats.
- construction of a propeller shaft
and adjustment of this shaft on the parts that are provided, like
the shaft holder, the propeller and the rudder.
- mounting of a small plastic disk
on top of the front bollard on the forward deck. This way it will
be possible to add a piece of rope around it.
- drilling out of the four air inlets
on top of the engine deck.
Most of the smaller parts broke, due to the poor quality of the resin.
The rudder was usable but the propeller was changed for one coming
from the HMS Devonshire (Airfix 1/600). The shaft holder literally
disintegrated and was replaced by a piece of plastic strip and some
strips of Tamiya tape. I taped these strips carefully around the propeller
shaft and glued this to the piece of plastic.
The Maxim gun broke in three parts and could not be repaired. I had
to look for another one, white metal this time, in order to replace
As an extra, I opted for a roll of
rope on the front deck and two oars coming from the spares box, which
I added to the side and rear deck. I also added a piece of rope running
from the front bollard trough one of the eyes and secured to the winch
in the back of the truck.
A: Truck and trailer:
I used Vallejo acryl paint for the first time. The main reason for
this lies in the fact that Humbrol has deleted its Russian green.
Vallejo paint needs to be diluted with
water and for this reason I needed to buy some other colours too,
in particular black, sand and white.
Besides the normal Russian green as main colour, I mixed green + black
for pre-shading and weathering as well as green + sand and green +
white for dry brushing.
Spray painting gives no problems; the
paint even does not need to be diluted. A problem resulted afterwards
in the fact that the paint loosened up on some places when taking
the model in hand. It also intended to draw together in droplets,
which left some parts unpainted.
I heard about this problem in many articles concerning the use of
such a kind of paint and it occurs that it is a negative effect of
water-diluted paints. It can be helped with the adding of a second
coat or some local repainting. I think I will use a primer next time
I use it.
Other colours on the model are leather
for the seats and rust for the exhaust. The engine block receives
black; the tyres are in black vinyl. The headlight is drilled out,
receives silver on the inside and a drop of Kristal Klear as glass.
The winch receives Dark Green, the
cable Gun Metal.
B: the boat:
This one got a primer followed by a cote of Medium Sea Grey. The kit
provides two colour options, one for a light grey – dark grey
camouflage and one for a total light grey boat. I opted for the last
one but added a drop of black to the grey, a bit darker than the picture
on the cover. I sprayed it very thin in order to give the boat a used
appearance. I do not think that the Russians took much time to keep
their material in optimal condition.
The bottom received Hull Red, the propeller Brass. Both exhausts got
a pinch of black.
The inner bottom received wood colour and a wash, the tri-pod grey
with touches of a graphite pencil. The Maxim gun got Gun Metal.
According to the box art, the truck only receives a number on both
doors and the boat only the marking PG-117 on the hull. A decal sheet
is provided but it carries the name “BM-13 Katyusha”,
another AER kit. This sheet does not provide the truck number or the
markings for the PG-117.
The truck received another number from the range but the marking PG
in Russian script needed to be handmade. I helped myself with a sheet
of press-through letters.
A very unusual kit and, to my knowledge, the only kit with a truck
+ boat combination in 1/72 of all nationalities.
You best regard this truck kit as a multi -media kit, the trailer
and boat as resin kits on which you have to add a lot of detail from
various sources if you want to obtain some sort of finish. Remember
that the resin is very brittle and that many pieces need rebuilding.
Certainly not recommended as a first project.