USV-BR 76mm Gun Mod. 1941 – 4 in 1 kit from MiniArt

Most of the experienced modelers are quite familiar with Dragon’s 3in1 series of kits, giving you three options in one box. They were very popular, and still are actually, though the quality of the contents dropped. I never expected to see anything similar, but MiniArt keep surprising me lately, and they introduced me to a kit, that is not 3in1 but 4in1 set. Not only that, but rather than having one of three options in one box, here we have four separate kits combined into one packing! Of course, we are not talking 4 different Panzers here, but a Gun, combined with Limber, crew and ammunition boxes.

the ammo boxes

These four are usually sold separately, and not at a great price, but still, sometimes people avoid buying kits like limber or stowage only. What MiniArt did, was to get a very nice and popular soviet divisional gun, and combine it with whatever it takes to make it a good stand-alone model and more.

I won’t bother you with history here, but instead I will leave that for the end. The kits themselves are made from 456 details, 40 of which are photo etched. There are 6 options for painting the gun, with decals for 4 of them. There is a crew of 5, which is pretty much all that you need to make this gun ‘Alive’ on a vignette or a small diorama. They are soviet soldiers with helmets and standard uniforms. So far we have two sets. But let’s get back to the gun.

Many of its parts are with optional positioning, and with sub-assemblies it gives the modeler countless options for finishing. My favorite one when it comes to artillery is firing position, which here is an option. Even the locking mechanisms are depicted perfectly, although they are rather small parts. There will be tricks in that kit, I can assure you that!

The rivets, the small details – including handles, tubes, locks and so on, are recreated with extreme precision. I cannot speak about accuracy, but nobody that hasn’t been around the real thing with a ruler can. Honestly.

Two things need special attention: the Photo-etch parts for it, and the tires. PEs are delicate and small, but they add an enormous amount of “life” inside of the build, being stuff that could’ve been easily casted from plastic. Nevertheless, MiniArt decided to take the road less traveled, and get themselves through the hassle of making the kit more modeler-oriented, instead of pure profit. Mos Def any novice will encounter troubles with those, but for the rest, this is better than the competition for sure. MiniArt fit is one of the best known on the market, so if enough care and attention is applied, it will be rewarded in the end.

The tires are a state of the art as well. As with most of MiniArt’s kits they are made from several discs which supposed to be glued one to another. That seems odd at first glance, but when you start building them, you can quickly come to the conclusion that this is one of the best ways to save the thread from damaging and get accurate plastic version of the tire. Purely from engineering point of view. The rims are separate, which gives you the additional option for weathering the wheels or replicating damages over them. Detail is nearly perfect, having all the letters on the side of the tire, just like on the real ones.

Absolutely the same goes for the tires of the Limber /model 1942,  52-R-353M /, which is the third kit in that same box. They are different in size and model, but with the same good quality of manufacture. This kit by itself is not an easy one either, having many thin and delicate rods molded separately, which have to be assembled and placed on the top of it, and that needs a lot of patience and skills. On the other hand the kit is made from MiniArt’s new plastic material, which promises no troubles with cracking parts, so only experience is what you need at that point of the build. Again, brackets, suspension, and every small detail is there, existing and giving modeler’s eye a pure pleasure. And not only that, but again – two options. For horse towing, or truck towing. This must be reviewed as a stand-alone kit, really. It is delicate, and by itself it would be enough to look great at a wooden pad.

The fourth, and last kit which we can find in the box is the ammo boxes. And though it might seem that ‘boxes’ are pretty much 6 parts in total per box, this is not the case here. MiniArt made their name exactly for what it stands for – art. These are, by far the best ammo boxes that I’ve seen. They have the detail of resin, but they are not one piece that you have to sand off. No guys, they are made from many separate parts, including the sides and the holders for the shells, and the shells themselves. There are even decals for them. Both – the shells and crates. And the shells are three types – empty ones, and two other types of unused ones. Of course, you can disperse those around the gun if you are doing diorama, having all types of things to show – used or in a position of loading. Whatever you might think of. Which actually is the strong side of MiniArt – they give you most of what you might need in one kit, not like other companies that keep the price low but diversify the goodies into separate kits or leaving some of the job unfinished and making more room for aftermarket companies. This is something that is made from modelers for modelers. It is not just a business, it is pure art!

Summarizing everything, we have six options:

  1. Red Army, Moscow 1941
  2. Red Army, Western Front December 1941 /Winter Camoufalge/
  3. Red Army unknown unit 1942
  4. Captured by the Wehrmacht, Eastern Front, October 1943 – original soviet camo scheme
  5. Red Army winter 43-44, semi-winter camoflage scheme
  6. 889th Artillery Regiment, 387th Infantry Division, 2nd Ukrainian Front, May 1945 – with 5 white star markings for five destroyed Nazi tanks.

And this goes about a gun which has a real rich history, meaning more options for building. Now back to the history: this is a divisional gun built in the Soviet Union which entered service in late 30s. The kit’s version is a -BR version, which is slightly different from the original model. Suspension and barrel was different, and the whole thing itself was produced in different factory.  The gun was named “divisional” because was issued to batteries and was under the direct control division headquarters. Around 10 000 were built, but its unclear how many from which variant. Of course, the information might be incorrect, having in mind that the mania of mass producing military subjects was the main idea back then. Interesting fact is that there were few of those captured from the Wehrmacht and redone as an anti-tank guns with few modifications.  Romanians captured a lot of those during operation Barbarossa as well.

In both cases of captured guns, they were used mostly to fill the gaps, rather as a main players, because they weren’t considered that effective. That goes for the soviet usage as well. The gun was too big, too heavy and have some odd engineering solutions, which led to its replacement with ZiS-3 – much cheaper to be produced and had overall simplicity in production and usage terms.

Despite the fact it was obsolete then, the model of this gun is still very interesting add-on to any collection, and its options of completion are countless!

Thanx to MiniArt for the sample and stay tuned for the build review!

You can get this kit here: MiniArt USV-BR 1/35