2S19 Msta-S 152mm Russian Self-Propelled Howitzer

2S19 Msta-S is a modern Russian Self-Propelled howitzer named after a Russian river, an important water route, part of the connecting route between Baltic and Black seas in the not-so-distant past. The vehicle itself is probably named after it, because it is a connection between the missing links in the modern Russian armor, and being a very important part of the land systems itself. As an artillery piece is sits right next to Panzerhaubitze PzH2000, PLZ 05, K9 Thunder and latest versions of Paladin. Especially the improved modern versions of 2S19. It also adds-on a segment of specific capabilities in the line of very wide range of systems used by the Russian Army like TOS-1A Buratino, BM-21 Grad and BM-30 Smerch.

Msta-S is based on T-80 tank hull, but fitted with T-72 Engine. Sort of a hybrid in between those two vehicles, it started as a project back in the 80s, under code name Obyekt 316 or Ferma. It entered service is 1989, but first saw action in Second Chechen War 10 years later. It was also used in 2014 War in Donbass, by both sides. Separatists having only one captured, against Ukrainian Army who have it in service. Allegedly.

It is a successor of 2S3 Akatsya Self-propelled artillery howitzer, and it is produced by Uraltransmash. 2S19 is used by Azerbaijan, Belarus, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ukraine, Venezuela, Morocco and of course – Russia. Recently it gained popularity with the show that it pulled off at the RAE 2013 and 2015, where splinter camo schemes were shown on both old and improved versions of Msta. Some demo firings were shown to the public, promoting this vehicle to potential new buyers.

In 2013, Trumpeter released 35th scale 2S19 SPH #05574. The kit features one thousand /1000+!!/ parts and it is 34cm long once built. Everything is packed in their well-known boxes with green-blue-ish color and it is approximately the same size as their T-62/T-72 series of kits. Thousand parts might sound scary for inexperienced modelers, however it isn’t. Trumpeter kits are really close as an idea to Tamiya, and they are more or less shake-and-bake thing. Yes, in this particular case this is not exactly right, but with minor skills and eventually some help, even the less experienced modeler can cope with that howitzer. For intermediate to advanced ones, it is a jewel. It presents various opportunities for improvements, weathering and camouflage schemes. The box is stashed, tracks are separate links on different sprues made from brown plastic. There are two PE sheets and a metal tow cable.

Detail is second to none and I doubt that any company could’ve done it better. In 2016 Zvezda announced that they will release their own tooling of Msta-S, but it is not yet clear when and what it will be exactly. So for the moment, the only available choice is Trumpeter 05574 and it is not a bad one at all! Maybe, and I am speculating here – Trumpeter evaluated a museum article, and in reality it is not exactly the same as the operational Msta-S vehicles. But this is only my thoughts exposed here. They are based on the very similar camouflage presented in the kit, which resembles the one in their artillery museum, and not that of a service vehicles. However, the one in the St. Petersburg museum might be exactly matching the operational 2S19, so again – that is only my thoughts shared here.

The sprues are full with minor parts and they are molded very clearly. At first glance, the only let down seen is the two piece gun barrel, and its two piece muzzle brake. Experts here and there mention, that it is a bit shorter than it should be. This is switchable for an aftermarket one from Orange Hobby or Magic Models. Trumpeter Msta-S is doable with their own barrel of course, but if you don’t like sanding and putty, and you are measuring every millimeter,  metal gun barrel might be the way to go. It is not that expensive and adds realism to the kit.

Detail of the Photo-Etch set is at high level, although compared to Meng Model or MiniArt for example, it is thicker and a bit chunky-looking. But they are second to none in that matter, so it is normal to have PE parts which are not exactly perfect in a Trumpeter kit. Still very good though. Photo-etch meshes are actually quite nice. They are comparable with the ones from the competitors mentioned above. The ones that looks thick to me are the parts that go on the top of the turret, but their overall idea is to look like that, so besides the thickness of the metal sheet itself, they are OK too.

The suspension of Msta-S is a complex one in real life. There are shock absorbers which add additional stability when driving on a road and preventing the useless movement of the howitzer in its working condition. The corrugation of those parts is particularly nice, and it’s a shame that they are somewhat hidden once everything is built. Wheels are also threaded pretty nicely and in general, the suspension detail is very good.

The fenders have plenty of stowage boxes, which are not only molded perfectly, but they have additional handles from the photo etch sheets which adds more spice to the meal. I can guarantee that this will play with the nerves of non-patient modelers like myself, but in the end it will worth it. Especially before priming, the kit looks quite stunning. Tracks are made from 174 parts in total for both lengths and there is a tool-like molded plastic which helps you with the alignment of the track length. This was something that I first saw with Meng kits, but this molding was designed in 2012 and I am not sure which of those companies came up with it first.

The turret also have some photo etch material over it. Very pleasantly looking is the detail over it – the rivets, the doors and the handles. Photo etch over the top also makes it pretty stunning once built before priming. The thing that seems intimidating is the separate conveyor for the ground ammo loading which is located in the back of the vehicle. It requires attention because there are several sub-assemblies and they include small parts, alignment and some PE too. Other than that, everything on the top part seems easy and straight forward. There are some complications with the anti-aircraft gun assembly /at least for me/ but they are there for every Russian tank with that.

The camo schemes presented in the kit are two. There is one which is simple dark green, Russian Army logo and white number “341”. That is pretty much all I can tell about it. The second one is Russian Army again, but this time modern colors, with sandy brown, light green and black. This is one more attractive option, although as I mentioned above, the camouflage with the soft edges of the paint does not seem like the one seen on the BMP-3s, T-90s and other modern vehicles in the Russian army. Whatever the case is, there are options for you to buy a camouflage masks set for a regular modern colors version from DN Models. That is standard modern Russian Army from the late 2000s, and early 2010s. In addition to that, the splinter camo showed on the last couple RAEs – on the T-90s, BMPTs and 2S19s is also available as a mask set as well. It is suitable for both: this version and the later version of Msta-S /2S19M2/. Depending on their final reveal, it will eventually fit the Zvezda kit too.

Splinter camo scheme by itself, no matter on Msta or Terminator is very very attractive one, and DN Models wouldn’t miss the opportunity to provide the modelers with that helping tool.

In conclusion, I must say that this is a superb kit, with wonderful tooling. Suspension is great, the turret is complex enough to satisfy the pretentious modelers too. Tracks are very nice, and even though there are aftermarket sets from Trumpeter and other companies, I would still stick to the kit ones. The only let down is the gun barrel which might be a bit shorter than it has to be and the fact that is two halfs instead of one whole piece. That can be replaced with a metal one for sure. Overall I recommend this kit to any Russian Army collector or howitzer lover like myself. Honestly, I don’t believe that Zvezda will pull off something much better if any at all.

The kit worth every dime!

Highly recommended!

You can get this kit here: Trumpeter 2S19 Msta-S 152mm SPH

Splinter camo mask set: RAE 2013 / RAE 2015 2S19s

Modern Russian Army camo: 2S19 camouflage Modern Russian Army

Check out the video unboxing too: https://youtu.be/aaFE1grgEG0