In The Box Preview
|by Stephen 'Tank Whisperer' Brezinski|
Edited by Rob Haelterman
Vehicle History for the Modeler
The idea for the Zrinyi stemmed from the successful German StuG III assault gun and StuH III assault howitzer. The Zrinyi was based on the Hungarian Turan medium tank chassis (actually heavy tank by Hungarian standards of the time). The Zrinyi I mounted an L/48 75-mm high velocity gun based on the German 7.5-cm KwK 40 for the tank destroyer role. The Zrinyi II was armed with an L/20.5 105-mm howitzer and served in an infantry support role.
Seventy-two of the Zrinyi II assault howitzers were produced for the Hungarian army in 1943 and 1944. The Zrinyi I never actually reached production. Later version were fitted with side skirts (Schürzen) similar to the German StuG. As far as performance and armor I understand this vehicle was similar to the German Sturmgeschütz and Panzer IV tank. Looking closely at the suspension system, it looks to me that it is a beefed up progression of the Czech Pz 35 tank suspension, which was derived from the British Vicker's 6-Ton tank.
This in-the-box preview will cover 1/72-scale Zrinyi models in plastic from IBG and in resin from Huron. I am thrilled that these two quality models are available for this rare and unique vehicle. Yet it makes me think: there were less than 200 of the Turan and Zrinyi AFVs made and we have like five variants in plastic, but we have no good model of the M47 tank in plastic despite there being thousands produced: life is unfair?
The Box Art
IBG's box art for their 1/72 scale 44M Zrinyi I kit #72050 model shows two assault guns advancing across a forest clearing. Of course this depiction is pure fantasy as this vehicle never reached production and combat.
The long 75-mm high velocity gun protrudes far out in front. Left of the gun is the open driver's visor and above are several periscopes on the roof, but no commander's cupola (the actual model does not feature an open driver's visor). We cannot see the suspension well in this depiction. The tracks look nice and wide for good flotation over soft ground. Note all the rivets. Yes, though produced in 1944, this vehicle was of riveted construction, not welded.
Unlike the Zrinyi II models below, this Zrinyi I version has covers with slits over the headlights. Keep in mind that the Zrinyi II was produced earlier and actually saw combat.
The vehicle is painted in an olive green color. On the side of the superstructure is a single small Hungarian white cross within a black square. The assembly instructions show a license plate painted on the port side front plate next to the gun mantlet, but I do not see it in this painting. This looks like the portrayal of an accurate Zrinyi 1 to me.
I don't yet have this kit yet but I'd like to include this box art since 90% of the IBG Zrinyi 1 kit is the same as this IBG Zrinyi II model, including the decal markings sheet. There is a little change in the gun mantlet from the Zrinyi I, and the howitzer barrel and the armored recoil system is very different from the long 75-mm of the Zrinyi I
This assault gun is painted in a hard-edge, three color camouflage scheme I have seen on many Hungarian AFVs of WW2. There is a cross emblem on the side, but no unit identification markings on the bow.
Hunor Product's 43M Zrinyi II #72012 kit is next to look at. On the box art above we see what is supposed to be in the box. What we see is a low, wide armored vehicle, of riveted construction. The main weapon is mounted in what looks to be a ball-mount from the front plate with limited traverse and elevation. The howitzer barrel has a pepper-pot-type muzzle brake. To the left (our right) of the howitzer barrel is what appears to be the gunner’s sight hole in the mantlet.
On the roof we see a number of periscopes. Like the initial German StuG, and the Soviet SU and ISU vehicles there is no coaxial machine gun or MG mount in the front plate.
Here we can better examine the suspension which is based on that of the Czech designed PzKfw35(t) tank and has nine paired roadwheels with five return rollers, a sprocket wheel in the front and a large idler wheel in the rear. On the side we see hand tools mounted. There are headlights on each mudguard. Details in this painting will be important for assembly for a reason I will discuss below.
The Zrinyi is painted in a monotone olive green color. There is a skull & crossbones emblem on the portside mudguard above a number 2. On the superstructure side under some handtools is a Hungarian national marking of a white cross within a black square. (No markings are included within the kit, we'll have to buy them aftermarket or steal them from an IBG kit?)
Just for fun and interest, here is the box art for another Hunor kit of their resin Zrinyi II model with side skirts to protect the sides from those pesky Soviet anti tank rifles. Unlike the German Schürzen which were made of solid 5-mm plate or a wire mesh, the Hungarian skirting was plate with many small holes. I have not seen this particular kit yet but I presume the skirts are produced in etched brass? Here we have a good view of the eight roadwheels (not including the odd single wheel aft of the sprocket). This is the first view here where we can see that the sprocket wheel and the rear idler wheel are the same.
Here is very imposing box art for another IBG Zrinyi variant I do not yet have, because at this time it has not been released by IBG. This kit appears to be the same variant as the Hunor kit above, both with the side skirts. I presume that IBG will issue etched brass parts for the side skirt like with their Turan I kit, I cannot imagine the skirts being adequate in plastic and this nice a model deserves etched brass. Remember, these skirts have thousands of tiny holes.
This Zrinyi is painted in a 3-color hard edge camouflage. I don't see any markings in this view though I do know some Zrinyi with a large national cross on the engine deck. I have to say that I am impressed by this dramatic artwork with the sense of movement and dark storm clouds in the sky.
The IBG Zrinyi I kit 72050 kit has 96 gray, injection-molded, styrene plastic vehicle parts and an additional 46 link & length styrene track parts, on five sprues. A lot of the vehicle parts are the many roadwheels and return rollers. There are no etched brass fret and no cast resin parts. The molding quality is very good with no significant flash, sink holes or defects.
The Hunor Zrinyi II kit 72012 kit consists of 49 light-gray cast resin parts for the vehicle, two track lengths, and a small fret of etched metal parts. Quality of the resin casting and the detail is very good. No vehicle markings are included which is common for resin model kits. Cutting off the resin pour plugs and clean-up will be a chore as it often is with complex cast resin models like the Hunor kits.
This scan of the Hunor Zrinyi kit #72012 shows the top of the lower hull section at far left. The forward (upper) part of the piece is detailed; the rear ¾ of the part will be covered by the upper hull (superstructure) located in the center of the scan. The superstructure part is a good example of the detail with the many rivets, large hinges for the hatches, and periscope locations, etc. On the left side is the long pour plug to be cut off.
None of the crew hatches are open. The superstructure is a solid resin casting, not hollow inside. I did not see any sink holes or shrinking as is possible with large solid cast resin parts. At upper right is the gun mount with internal mantlet and the 105-mm howitzer barrel with pepper-pot muzzle brake. To me the barrel appears too narrow for 105-mm, it is more like a 75-mm gun barrel in my opinion.
the mantlet are the headlight, spare roadwheel and muffler parts
and well rendered handtools.
The above scan shows the light gray Hunor kit upper hull and some parts, and below the medium gray color IBG kit upper hull, gun mantlet and 75-mm gun. Both kits feature closed crew and engine hatches.
Based on hull length and width I measured this kit as about 1/72-scale. Both hulls compare well in size but differ in some details like how the large hatch hinges are portrayed. The roof periscopes are molded onto the roof of IBG's superstructure while Hunor cast the periscopes as separate parts. I would like to have seen the roof hatches molded open; an interior would be quite impressive. A problem is that interior references for the Zrinyi are rare to non-existent.
The scans above and below show suspension parts. The Hunor cast resin continuous band tracks are a novel way to do them, casting them as one continuous band pre-shaped to fit the suspension can save much work. Detail and accuracy of the track appears very good including the guide teeth. The track may need straightening in hot water.
At left are the sprocket wheels for the Hunor and the IBG Turan and Zrinyi models. In the center on IBG sprue D are their small roadwheels (parts D20 and D21); at right the Hunor resin return rollers, cast as one unit with axle.
At top are two of the four bogie assemblies included within Hunor's Turan and Zrinyi model kits, each bogie holding four paired roadwheels. The bogies are well done and this method of casting them pre-assembled greatly simplifies building the model once we cut off the pour plugs and clean-up with a file.
The IBG 10-part bogies here on sprue-D will be complex to assemble but can, with a little work, be modeled to go over rough terrain of a diorama base. The IBG Turan and Zrinyi kits come with two sprue-Ds to supply all the wheels and tracks.
This scan above compares and contrasts the IBG Turan and Zrinyi upper hulls (at left) with the Hunor Products resin hulls (at right). Besides the obvious lack of turret rings and different engine decks, the Zrinyi kits feature an overall wider hull in order to accommodate the hull-mounted guns. I am glad that both kit manufacturers actually paid attention to this detail.
Here is just a taste of IBG Zrinyi exploded-view assembly instructions showing assembly of wheels and bogies which are the same as with their 1/72 Turan models kit. Below we see final assembly before painting.
IBG kit water-slide decal sheet includes markings for one vehicle
each of IBG's Zrinyi I kit 72050, their Zrinyi
II kit 72051 and Zrinyi II with side-skirts kit
72052. So we have partial markings we can use with the
Hunor resin kit that comes with no markings; we may still need
additional Hungarian cross markings.
This scan above shows final assembly of IBG's Zrinyi I kit 72050 and the kit's decal markings, the same decal sheet can be found in IBG's Zrinyi II kit.
Something struck me as being wrong, immediately when I looked at these Hunor Productions assembly instructions that came with my Zrinyi model. They are instructions for the Turan tank kit, not for the Zrinyi kit! While the lower suspension and hull are the same for the Turan tank and the Hunor Zrinyi assault gun, the superstructure and armament are quite different. With good references we can complete most of the model accurately. Soon after I received the kit I contacted my European retailer I got the kit from who said they would contact the manufacturer about getting the correct instructions Eventually I heard that there are no assembly instructions for this Hunor Production model and this above is the best we have at the moment.
At lower right is a nice etched-metal fret. I recognize some fender parts but without assembly instructions a lot of parts are unidentified. For example, I don’t know what the two large frames could be.
My Hunor Productions Zrinyi came with no decal markings though my Hunor Productions Turan tank kit did come with very nice water slide decal markings.
The kit is simpler with fewer parts than the Hunor kit above but still has nice detail. It is great that this Hunor Zrinyi kit includes two Hungarian crew 1/2 figures for two open hatches, and includes a choice of the 75-mm high velocity gun of the Zrinyi I (which was never produced but in prototype) or the 105-mm howitzer of the Zrinyi II. I wish I had one of these older kits too!