Russian About!

Having covered some of the early 20mm WW2 stuff I’ve recently finished in my last post, it’s time to move on to 1941 and the Eastern Front. First up is a Russian STZ-5 artillery tractor (shown below) that was briefly featured in an earlier post.

The STZ-5 is a 3-D printed model available from Paint & Glue Miniatures in two versions, with a canvas tilt over the cargo area or with the cargo area open. I opted for the version with the canvas tilt. This is a nice one piece model and although there are some print marks evident on the top of the canvas tilt because of its shallow slope they aren’t that obvious once it’s painted. I think it’s got quite a bit of character and I might have to get another one! Having got it painted, it occurred to me that I didn’t really have any guns it could tow, so time to move onto some artillery!

Since I already had an M1927 76.2mm infantry gun and ZiS-3 76.2mm field gun assembled and primed, they seemed like suitable candidates for finishing. The infantry gun (shown on the left in the picture above, and being towed by the STZ-5 in the first picture) is a plastic kit by Zvezda and a nice little model. I added some scrap plastic bits to stiffen up the axles and strengthen the model (out of sight underneath the gun). The ZIS-3 (shown on the right in the picture above) was a metal model from Grubby tanks and quite straightforward to put together. Whereas the ZiS-3 was issued at divisional level in the Russian army, and thus likely to be towed by the STZ-5 (amongst other vehicles), the M1927 was a smaller gun and more likely to be towed by a lighter vehicle (and both guns were also horse-drawn). At least I already had crews painted and available for these guns (which I think are SHQ figures).

Well, it wouldn’t be a WW2 Russian army if it didn’t have tanks, and the T-34 specifically! The model above is an early version and is one of the Armourfast quick-build plastic kits. It’s quite a plain model but reasonably representative of early war vehicles – I’ve got half a dozen late war T-34s but wanted this one to use against German forces in 1941/2 and it fits the bill for that. For some reason the model didn’t include the vision ports on the turret sides so I added them from scrap plastic.

The other medium tank in service with the Russians in 1941 was the older T-28 (shown above). The T-28 was quite a big vehicle, with a main turret with a short-barrelled 76.2mm gun and two machine guns, plus two additional small turrets each with another machine gun. Whereas it was no doubt a formidable tank when it entered service in the 1930s, by 1941 standards it was relatively thinly armoured and vulnerable. It does, however, have quite a bit of character, so I was pleased to be able to get this 3-D printed model from Butlers Printed Models. Considering its size, it’s a really light model so easy to move about and store. Unlike the Japanese Type 93 armoured car I painted before Christmas, I had to add some Milliput around the bottoms of the turrets since they had rough-ish edges that needed tidying up. I have a feeling I’ve lifted the turrets up a bit too much, but it’s not readily noticeable. The underneath of the mudguards and tracks were not very clearly defined but that doesn’t seem to detract from the overall appearance of the model and I’m really pleased with it!

The T-28 and T-34 were painted late in February and I was flagging a bit with my painting, but Dave Stone’s Paint What You Got challenge kept me going I think!  As an aside, all of these vehicles and guns were painted in the same Vallejo camouflage olive green, but the T-28 and T-34 were photographed on a different occasion against a different background and they’ve got more of a grey-green look to them!


    • I know what you mean, Dave! 🙂 Probably not surprising – Vickers built the multi-turreted Independent heavy tank in the early 1920s and it inspired a few other designs overseas, the Russian T-28 and T-35 being some of them. If you ever get along to the Tank Museum they’ve got the Independent on display there.

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  1. Excellent work on all John, glad the challenge helped to keep you going. I’ve tried adding greenstuff to 3D prints and it was a royal pain, was it the same for the milliput ?

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    • Thanks Dave! 🙂 I really was starting to flag but the challenge did help, I think particularly since it was spread across January and February, otherwise I’d probably not have got much done! 🙂 I’m not much good with greenstuff but the Milliput was fine. although it’s a while since I’ve used it. I’d normally roughly shape it and then sand/file to final shape, but I actually managed to get it pretty close on the rough pass. I was very sparing with water, just using it to shape the outside surfaces. The turrets had large diameter pins on them which are great for locating them on the hull, but it meant I had to work round them which made it a bit more tricky, but I’m pleased that they all came out so well!

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  2. Excellent work all around, John! The artillery are probably my favorite of the bunch but then again, I always liked the warmachines (catapults, bolt throwers, etc.) the most in the old Warhammer Fantasy. Keep the progress coming!

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    • Thanks Jeff! 🙂 I actually hate painting artillery more than I hate painting horses! I think it’s because you can see everything and you still need to paint the crew and towing vehicle. Having said that, I like having the models and the M1927 infantry gun is a really nice little model!

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  3. I agree that the T-28 has a lot of character with all of those angles and guns. I’d think in addition to its other flaws though it would be a logistical nightmare storing and supplying all of the different calibers of ammunition required by all of those different types of guns. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn, though I don’t know if this were the case or not, that those extra turrets and such made the engineering complicated and prone to mechanical troubles in the field. That was one thing about the T-34 and some of the other old timey tanks like the Sherman, they were very robust mechanically from what I was told by my relatives, when I was a child, who crewed/fixed them.

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    • You’ve touched on some very relevant points there, Ann! 🙂 Although they look quite menacing, the T-28 and heavier T-35 weren’t that reliable, although that was the case with quite a few 1930 tank designs. Getting suitable engines was always a problem, and they tended to be underpowered. I’d also imagine that their length made them difficult to steer and tiring to drive. With its five turrets, the T-35 was also difficult to control in action and the T-28 can’t have been much easier. Whatever faults the Sherman had, compared to other tank designs it was quite a reliable design I think.

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      • I wonder if part of the underpowered thing was the idea of using tanks for infantry support? I agree that their length probably would have made them less nimble. I wonder how many gallons to the mile they got? 🙂

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        • I think there might well be some truth in what you’ve said, since infantry support tanks do not really need to move all that quickly. It may also have been the fact that the only engines powerful enough tended to be aero engines, which I would imagine need gearing down a lot for tank applications (I might be wrong of course, but I think aero engines could be fickle beasts as well). Taking the figures from my T-28 book, fuel consumption averaged out at near enough 1 mile to 1 UK gallon, which doesn’t seem too bad to me for a reasonably heavy 1930s tank (but I’ve not compared it to anything else)!

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