Dragon 6359 SOVIET SU-100 TANK DESTROYER (PREMIUM EDITION) Veicoli Militari per modellismo statico
Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale Kit Number 6356; Soviet SU-100 Tank Destroyer - Premium Edition; 779 parts (378 parts in grey styrene, 204 etched brass, 192 "Magic Link" track links, 3 clear styrene, 1length twisted steel wire, 1 turned aluminum gun barrel).
Advantages: new moldings mixed with upgraded parts from earlier T-34-85 "Premium" kits; plentiful etched brass parts
Disadvantages: will not build into Czech-built version; still have to cut out engine deck grille to replace it with screen version; plentiful etched brass parts
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: to all Soviet armor fans
The story behind the SU-100 is fairly simple. F. F. Petrov took a naval gun (basically a 3.9" gun from a destroyer) and converted it to fit in a much smaller area; the gun could fire the same ammunition as the naval weapon as well as the BS-3 "Beast Killer" heavy antitank gun. But the new gun, designated the D-10, was originally an orphan. Too big to fit in the T-34 (even as the T-34-100 it was a bad combination) and unwanted for the IS-2 as the big 122mm D-25 gun was more than capable of doing a better job, it went wanting until somebody got the bright idea to replace the D-5S gun in the SU-85M with the D-10. This was a quick fix, the SP units got a real Panther/Tiger killer, and the gun found a new home. (This was before the creation of the D-10T tank version and its marriage with the prototype T-54 Model 1945; the rest, as they say, is history...)
Even today the Soviets apparently did not keep good records of the number of SU-100s produced, even though they built them well after the war and the Czechs produced them along with the T-34-85 tanks. One estimate is around 4,800 but it does not break them down by producer. While most of the postwar guns were used for providing weapons to the Soviet satellites, the Czech built ones were exported, most famously to Egypt where they served in both the 1956 and 1967 wars with Israel. The most common spotting feature was a large stowage bin on the right "cheek" of the casemate.
DML has now released a "Premium" level version of the SU-100, but right up front I have to point out it will only build up out of the box as the Soviet version. Even so, much of the kit appears to be new, and it uses many of the conventions adopted with the T-34-85 kits.
The model has some neat touches, such as totally separate parts for much of the casemate, cupola and gun mounting. There are also separate sides to the casemate, but once again DML's directions sort of muddy this up and do not plainly indicate they have to be attached to the casemate in Step 5 (they are parts P4 and P5, and the upper hull is C7.) While many modelers will probably figure this out (the parts are not "blued out" and it is obvious where they go) it is still something more than one will miss until after other bits are installed. A choice of two rear plates for the casemate are provided, with and without the "dutch door" flap behind the ammo loading/access hatch. Note that while DML did put two faint ejection pin marks on the inside of the flap, the ones on the outside are supposed to simulate the rotating elements of the hatch dogs inside the hull (e.g. don't fill them in!)
The now all too common love/hate relationship with DML kits takes over. They have made all of the grilles separate parts with optional etched brass screens, but the one over the rear radiator air exhaust is still molded solid. This means the modeler has to cut out the somewhat thick screen section before the etched brass replacement can be fitted. The etched blades for the louvers which are underneath it are included, and unlike the last iteration of these they stand free so there is no brass tab to interfere with mounting the screen assembly when finished.
The wheels are new but for some odd reason DML pulled a Tamiya and molded them with the segmented tire sidewalls. I am not sure why this was done, as few vehicles that I have seen actually appear to have these mold lines, and unlike the "weighted" tires in the M2 halftrack kit (more a matter of taste than accuracy) this is a very uncommon feature. The wheel centers are nicely done with separate hubs, but if these wheels are used the modeler will have to clean them up, and the mold ridge run all the way around the tires.
The "Magic Track" are pretty straightforward by now, but the usual word of caution to leave the idler mounts (A6) loose until you have the tracks ready to install so that you can get the right amount of links to fit. Remember T-34 track links are "A" and "B" ones which do not swap and must be added in pairs.
All hatches can be posed open or shut, which is nice, but since the vehicle has not one whiff of interior I am not sure how many will be used! (After-market time here...) It also comes with a choice between "new" and "slightly used" fuel tanks, so the modeler has an option. The exhausts designed for this kit replicated welded tubes with "slide molded" openings.
The kit provides three gun barrels: original two-piece (halves) type, a new "slide molded" styrene one, and a turned brass one. The commander's cupola comes in 14 parts and has the option for either styrene or brass components as well. In point of fact, this kit comes with a plethora of brass parts – tie-downs, louvers, grilles, fenders, trim, and even working snap-locks for the tow hooks. Most have a plastic counterpart, but this is NOT a "Smart Kit" in that regard.
A nice sheet of Cartograf decals provides markings for five vehicles: Unidentified vehicle, Bohemia 1945 (4BO green); 7th Mechanized Corps, Hungary 1945 (worn whitewash over 4BO green); Unidentified unit, Vienna 1945 (4BO green with red stars); 1st Guards Mechanized Corps, Hungary 1945 (badly worn whitewash over 4BO green); and Unidentified unit, Czechoslovakia 1945 (4BO green). Technical assistance on this kit was provided by Nick Cortese.