Nordic Sharks

Swedish Vastergotland-class submarine

OKB Grigorov 1/700, Ref. 700134

Norwegian Ula-class submarine

OKB Grigorov 1/700, Ref. 700133

The Vastergotland-class included four 48.5m-long diesel-electric ships commissioned in the late 1980s.  All four ended up being refitted and lengthened to the Sodermanland-class standard in the early 2000’s, two of them being then sold do Singapore where they were re-commissioned as Archer-class submarines. 

The Norwegian Ula-class is made up of six ships commissioned in the late 1980s-early 1990s.  Slightly longer than the Swedish Vastergotland-class subs, they too are optimised for coastal areas, but are still in service, and should remain so until their planned replacement in the late 2020s.  Some of them operated extremely successfully in the Mediterranean during the 15 year-long Operation Active Endeavour (2001-2016) on intelligence gathering missions.

OKB Grigorov are tirelessly aiming to fill in the display cabinets of 1/700 submarine fans, not only with shall we say the ‘usual suspects’ such as the Ohio, Typhoon, Trafalgar and other Redoutable but with little-known and exotic types such as those Scandinavian sharks.  Those two recent offerings both come in tiny little but sturdy boxes and are typical, quality-wise, of the rest of the impressive range.  Those are, as usual too, full hull scale models, the hull being cast as a single item, and featuring each a handful of tiny resin and PE parts to complete the submarines and their display stands.  No instruction nor decal are provided.  

OKB Grigorov Ref. 700134
OKB Grigorov Ref. 70013

Review and pictures by Dominique Jadoul.

Monster of the Deep

Soviet submarine project 941 Akula – NATO name Typhoon

OKB Grigorov 1/1200, Ref. 120005

The Akula (shark)-class submarines are better known under their NATO reporting name, ‘Typhoon’. Six of them were commissioned during the late 1970s and 1980s, those 173m long monsters, able to reach 25 knots underwater, were the stuff of nightmares for allied submariners during the last few years of the Cold War.  OKB Grigorov offers us a kit that, despite its scale, is still 14cm long.  CAD and 3D printing have given us a superb rendering of this incredible war machine.  There are seven finely engraved/detailed resin parts (including the whole hull as a single item and the display stand) and 12 photo-etched parts.  A small instruction sheet is included.  One look and you’ll be sm…  bitten !

Review by Daniel Clamot, pictures by OKB Grigorov and Daniel Clamot.

Stalin’s Work Horse

Soviet Medium Tank Mod.1942 T34/76

Zvezda 1/35, Ref. 3686

No need to introduce the T34, widely regarded as the best armoured fighting vehicle of the Second World War.  The so-called Model 1942 introduced many refinements and simplifications to improve upon the performances and operation of the earlier variants while at the same time facilitate mass production.  Amongst those changes, we can find better optics for the driver, welded instead of bolted on glacis, simplified rear end, circular transmission access hatch, wider tracks, thicker side armour plates, handrails here and there and much, much more.

It’s a very nice kit of the T34/76 Mod.1942 that Zvezda are offering us here.  Made up of 271 parts, the completed model will have a length of 19.4cm.  Two large plastic bags bring a total of ten sprues, eight of which molded in green plastic, the two other in black (for the tracks); with this we can also find in a small zip-lock bag, an extra small sprue with the clear parts, such as the headlight glass, a bit of netting to replicate the intake grilles, a length of nylon thread for the towing cable and a decal sheet.

Some of the parts are not meant to be used with this particular T34 variant, but those are clearly pointed out in the instructions.  Those are printed in black and white and include the historical background and usual warnings/advices in several languages. 

The parts are well molded with no apparent flash; the hull is typically made up of 6 parts, but the gun barrel is a single item.  Five of the sprues ‘deal’ with the running gear, with each wheel consisting of three parts; the tracks come in sections of different length plus some individual links.  Interestingly, the rounded corners of those sprues are meant to be used as templates for the positioning of individual track links around drive sprockets and idlers.

The decal sheet offers markings for three tanks, two in Topside Green overall featuring the patriotic slogan ‘Stalin’ or Sergeï Kirov in 1943 , the other wearing a whitewash coat and the slogan ‘Leningrad’ in 1944.  Codes and unit markings are included. 

All this comes in a sturdy blank cardboard box and full-colour, attractive sleeve.  Yummy!

Review by Daniel Clamot.  Pictures by Zvezda and Daniel Clamot.

Upgraded MBT

T-90MS Russian Main Battle Tank

Zvezda 1/72, Ref. 5065

The Russian T-90MS “Proryv” is the latest iteration of the mighty T-90A MBT.  A new turret, with advanced fire control system “Kalina” and its integrated combat information and control system, is one of the new features of the Russian vehicle. In addition, the tank is equipped with a modernised 125mm smoothbore gun with a new automatic loading device and a remotely controlled anti-aircraft machine gun.  Protection consists of the newest reactive ‘Relikt’ armor bricks.  All in all, mobility and security of the T-90MS tank have improved considerably over the earlier variants.  The T-90MS only recently entered production for the benefit of the Russian army, but India will also be building the new vehicle under licence, while Egypt should also start receiving theirs soon.

When opening the box, the kit looks gorgeous. It is made up of 4 sprues in gray plastic plus a sprue in black, semi-rigid plastic for the tracks and totals 198 parts, some extremely fine and yet well-molded. The instruction sheet is printed in black and white and appears to be easy to understand.  Generic markings and full-colour painting instructions are provided for an attractive three-tone Russian T-90MS.  Certainly a must for Russian AFVs lovers!

Review by Daniel Clamot, pictures by Zvezda & Christophe Pouillard.

Lend-lease Mainstay

Sherman M4A2 75mm
Zvezda 1/35, Ref. 3702
The kit is attractively boxed up in the now usual Zvezda style, a strong blank cardboard box contained inside a thinner full-colour sleeve.  The later features a Soviet vehicle as box art and at the back, colour schemes (Olive Drab overall) for two tanks on the Eastern Front, one operating in Belarus, the other in Crimea in 1944. Indeed the US Army was not too keen on this diesel-powered variant of the Sherman and if the US Marines did get equipped with it, most M4A2s were shipped to the USSR.
Despite the protection, upon opening the kit, three of the parts are loose in the box and one of the tow cables is broken up in several places.  Not really big issues, the sprues are bagged up and the cables are better replaced by ‘home-made’ metal ones.  Most parts, including the tracks (in sections and individual links) are molded in light grey; headlights, periscopes and viewing blocks are in clear plastic; the level of detailing is very good, ejection marks are present but located where they won’t matter.  Instructions are clearly printed in black and white, while a full-colour sheet offers painting and decaling instructions. Decals are well defined and appear to be pretty thin, with markings for two Soviet and two US Marines Shermans (one in the USA in 1943, the other in the Mariana Islands in 1944). One thing that will need to be improved is the texture of the cast turret and cast transmission housing, both way too smooth in the kit, but neat casting numbers do appear on the turret and suspension parts.  Weld lines on the hull would also improve this offering.  But given its attractive price, those are fairly small issues, easily fixed. This should be a fairly pleasurable build.

Review by Renaud Labarbe; Pictures by Dominique Jadoul.

Surprise Limited Edition…


Eduard 1/72, Ref. 2130

Czech brothers Bohuslav and Vladimir Simunek started building the Kunkadlo in 1926. The aircraft first flew the following year and was modified, its wing being moved backwards and upwards, before taking part, piloted by Vladimir, to a number of airshows. Grounded in 1930 because of technical issues, it lay un-used until 1967, when it was restored under the guidance of the two brothers to become part of Prague’s Technical Museum’s collection.

Eduard certainly need congratulating for daring to release an injected-plastic kit of this unique civilian machine! 

The box only contains a single sprue, clear acetate windshields (2 are provided), a decal sheet (only one scheme) and a PE fret that includes the rigging.

It’s a tiny model, barely over 6.5cm in length.  There are 24 parts, including two that are not meant to be used (the covered wheels – spoked wheels are provide in PE); the tiny engine is made up of 4 parts, the wing comes as a single item.

Eduard have come up with an ingenious system to position the masts: the two sets (front and rear) are linked by a part that fits under the fuselage and ease their correct positioning.  There are no pins to help with the fitting of the fuselage halves, but the parts are designed so that the small exhaust pipe at the front and the fin (part of the right-hand fuselage half) make pins un-necessary.

The PE fret includes seat belts and as mentioned above, spoked wheels and rigging. The latter is flat but very thin.  Those wanting their rigging made a more… traditional way can still use the PE parts as template!

The decals appear to be of an excellent quality.

I can only admire Eduard’s idea of offering this beautiful little kit of this really cute little airplane.  We can only hope that this special edition kit will be followed by other oddities that pepper the history of aviation.  A Bataille triplane or a Renard Epervier would indeed be very welcome addition to this Kunkadlo!

Review and pictures by Daniel Clamot.

Not-so-successful Sub…


OKB Grigorov 1/350, Ref. 350011

The R-class series of diesel-electric submarines were the forerunners of the modern attack submarine, specifically designed for underwater performance and the attack and sinking of enemy submarines.  Twelve were built towards the end of WWI for the Royal Navy but only one saw action very late in the conflict.  All but one were sold for scrap in 1923.

OKB Grigorov’s latest 1/350 offering is 14cm long, made up of three resin parts for the actual ship (a fourth resin part is provided as a display stand) and twelve photo-etched parts.  A small instruction sheet is provided.  The engraving is, as usual with OKB Grigorov’s CAD’d and 3D-printed kits, superb.  Building time should be minimal and this should not be taking much space inside one’s display cabinet. What else would one need? Get yours now!

Review and pictures by Daniel Clamot.

Russian Canadair

Beriev Be-200ES

Zvezda 1/144, Ref. 7034

An interesting 2020 release from Zvezda, this Russian multi-role amphibious aircraft has been around since the beginning of the century, and if only a handful of them have been built, things may change in a not too distant future if a re-engined variant gets the eventual go-ahead from the Russian government.  The aircraft has not been idle at all during the past two decades and have been used in Russia of course but also leased to many countries, including Portugal, Greece, Serbia, Indonesia, Azerbaijan and Israël to combat forest fires.  Azerbaijan has since acquired one aircraft, while Chile and China are awaiting theirs and at least one US customer is considering its purchase.  The Russian Navy operates a few aircraft too. 

The kit includes 60 parts, including a display stand, of which 6 are transparent (one being part of the display stand), a b/w instruction sheet, a full-colour painting guide and markings (decals) for one rather colourful civilian RF-registered (that is Russian state-operated) machine (illustrated on the box-art) and a Soviet Navy one in a drabber but still pleasant scheme of Dark Grey over Light Blue.  The decal sheet includes a nice array of ‘stencils’.

The parts are very finely engraved; cockpit furnishing is minimal but sufficient for most of us, but the cabin itself is empty, with no floor and just one bulkhead for the cockpit area.  The kit can be built with its undercarriage in or out.  Only the front landing gear well shows some detailing, but little of it is visible and the main landing gear wells are all but closed in the end.  On the other hand, the far more visible landing gear legs, struts and wheels are finely molded and detailed.  Cabin windows are provided by strips of clear plastic; the whole front office windows are made up of a single clear part.  Nice touch, the inner ring of each engine nacelle up to the compressor fan will remove the need of filling in hard to reach joints. With a span of 22.7cm and a length of 23cm, this is not a massive model, but it is a graceful one from the looks of it!

Review and pictures by Dominique Jadoul.

Tiny Fish!

RN Trafalgar-class submarine

OKB Grigorov 1/1200, Ref. 120001

After having developed a sizeable range of 1/700 submarine kits, OKB Grigorov have started releasing some 1/1200 kits.  Un-surprisingly, knowing Georgi Grigorov’s fondness of Old Blighty, the first kit of this new range is a Trafalgar-class sub from the Royal Navy.   The kit comes in a tiny box, barely bigger than a matchbox in fact, and includes 5 resin parts and 4 (if counting the three making up the stand) photo-etched parts. 

Those little subs, like their bigger brothers (or sisters, rather!) are the result of CAD and 3D-printing, the quality is there.  The resin is faultless, the cleaning up of the parts is easy, and assembly is eased by the presence of a small instruction sheet.  RN Trafalgar is just 7cm long in this scale, and the kit includes an alternative rear cone for the other ships in the class.  My only ‘gripe’ with those OKB subs is the lack of at least a tiny little decal sheet, as those sub markings are not the easiest to reproduce by hand!  Some may begrudge the ‘engraving’, obviously a bit overscale, but still very neat and fine.  To be fair, any engraving at this scale has to be overscale..!  So let’s just rejoice that this kit and this new range come to boost the available kits at this popular scale.   

Here are some pictures showing kit 120007, RN Upholder/Victoria-class submarines, and the much larger (over 12cm long!) Soviet Delta III (120002) that are part of this new range.

Review and pictures by Dominique Jadoul.

Super Kitty!

US Navy F-14A Tomcat

FineMolds 1/72, Ref. FP30

It’s a superb kit, possibly the best Tomcat ever produced all scales taken into account that FineMolds have released a few months ago.  At first, the design looks a bit complicated, and a bit like that of a Gundam kit, with a number of parts to be snapped together. 

Given the scale, out of the box, the level of detailing is just out of this world: numerous bays can be left open to reveal the innards of the big cat and the cockpit (all plastic, with or without decals for the instrument panels) is really well furnished, with only seat belts to be added (some are available separately from FineMolds). 

The canopy features a pesky mold line that will require sanding down and polishing, but on the other hand, is really nicely curved like it should be.  This Kitty is only laden with external fuel tanks, one will need to look for another source of missiles somewhere else but do note that FineMolds do offer them separately too, along with other F-14 goodies such as the Alpha probes in turned brass.  Markings-wise, two beautiful options in the form of a VF-84 ‘cat in 1978 and one from VF-111 in 1982.   Simply beautiful!

Review and pictures by Dominique Jadoul.

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