In Box Comparative Review:

PST’s & AER's Soviet Zis 42 Halftrack & SP 37mm Model 1939 AA gun.

By Stephen Brezinski

The PST kit contains over 50 styrene parts including extra parts for a steel-cab version and tires for the Zis-5 truck. (Parts for the Zis-5 truck can be viewed in the PST D-1/Zis-42 Preview.) The sprue to convert the truck to a halftrack has over 80 parts, many of them the link & length track links and small wheels. The sprue for the 37-mm Model 1939 AA gun has 37 parts. I regret there is no spare ammunition or figures included. The weapon had a weight of 2100 kg, a maximum firing rate of 60 rpm with a muzzle velocity of 880 m/s for a vertical range of 6500 meters.

Photo 1. The attractive box art for PST’s version of this small-scale model. This halftrack is a variant of the Soviet Zis-5 3-ton truck of The Great Patriotic War, developed by the Soviets from the American Autocar truck. My resources state that about 1700 halftrack versions were produced (I have seen another claim that over 5000 were built) in order to give the 4 x 2 trucks better off-road capability, of which about 100 were converted to this SP AA gun version). I understand that they were used around Stalingrad in the winter of 1942-43 (I see a winter, 1942-43 diorama coming!). Note that this is the simplified "Urals" version of the Zis-5 with the simplified fenders and wood cab. Apparently unique to this vehicle is the curved skid in the front below the radiator rather than a bumper, which common sense tells me helped the vehicle overcome obstacles like the rollers in the front of US M3 halftracks did.

Photo 2. This is the boxart for the AER plastic & resin version of the above all-plastic PST model, released in 1999. The cab, body and frame is the same AER Zis-5 truck as included in PST’s release, though the suspension, tracks, and 37 mm gun are in a crudely done silvery resin. Those who enjoy a challenge can work this up into a decent display. As these vehicles were employed in the siege of Stalingrad, the snow or mud of a diorama may successfully hide any problems with the tracks.

Photo 3. The boxart from PST’s Zis-5 truck with towed Model 1939 Soviet AA gun [Kit number 72028]. I include this photo as it gives a good view of the 37-mm gun. The truck is of the earlier Zis-5 with the metal cab and rounded fenders. The Zis-42 kit above does not come with the wheeled gun carriage included with this truck kit. The external similarity of this AA gun to the 40mm Bofors is not coincidental; the Swedish weapon was a direct influence according to Chamberlain & Gander who also state that the ammunition is derived from the US 37-mm AA ammunition.

Timothy Lau adds: At the same time, the Zis-5 kit lacks the half-track parts of the Zis-42 kit. The Zis-42 kit can therefore be built into a Zis-5 truck but the Zis-5 truck cannot be built into the Zis-42. However, the Zis-42 kit does not allow the 37-mm gun to be built separately from the truck because it lacks the carriage.
This is important for a number of reasons. It does not appear that the Zis-42 was ever actually armed with the 37-mm without an armored cabin. At least, there does not appear to be a single documented picture of that thing in existence. There definitely was a 37-mm gun mounted on a half-track with an armored cabin, but that's not what this model represents. So the builder who gets the 72033 may want to build the Zis-5 instead and mount the 37-mm gun on it. There's more of a chance that's correct.

Photo 4. This is a scan of the PST 37-mm gun sprue, in dark gray plastic. The parts impress me as very well molded with good detail. If you wish to add extra details, Aberdeen proving Grounds in Maryland, USA has an example in good condition to see and photograph.

Photo 5. Scan of the PST sprue for the halftrack suspension and tracks in medium gray plastic (click on thumbnail for larger image). The tracks are the link & length kind, at the right side of the scan above. This is a considerable improvement over the resin suspension & tracks offered in the AER kit in Photo 6 below. Though I have not built this Zis-42 halftrack version yet, I recall the Zis-5 truck that I built years ago went together well. Problems were with the fit of the tires onto the wheel rims, and the plastic is softer than that commonly used in Japan and Western Europe. The kit instructions say to paint the tracks black with silver guide teeth though I am told that the tracks were all steel and so should be painted as such.

Photo 6. Scan of the AER resin parts shows the silver-gray resin of the suspension, tracks and gun parts. The resin is similar to other AER resin models: a silver resin with a paper backing. It appears that this may need a lot of sanding to clean up. Freeing the thin gun barrel from the resin may be a problem. The tracks, once sanded to correct thinness, will be heated in hot water and bent to shape over the sprockets. Assembly of the suspension, after clean-up, looks to be quicker and easier than the PST injection molded kit. Interestingly, the AER resin tracks have a more authentic track pattern than the PST kit. Perhaps there were two or more track patterns produced?

The PST instructions appear well written and with no obvious problems. The decal sheet is the same sheet that comes with the AER and PST Zis-6 and Zis-5 truck kits and has enough markings for 4 or 5 different Soviet trucks. My last experience with these decals was that they are well printed though a little stiff and need lots of setting solution to lay down well. For those wishing more information on this vehicle I recommend you go to the references listed below:


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