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Set 52

Russo-Balt 1914

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Date Released 2004
Contents 1 armoured car
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours White


OK, on the desk we have an LW kit, so from previous experience expectations are not high. Still, its in a bigger bag than normal and clearly includes some instructions plus a nice photo of the real thing. There is just one sprue, which is clearly polyethylene ('soft plastic'), but a very hard version of it, an important factor for good quality kits. The packet is opened and we find the instructions are just one exploded view of the model, though all the 20 or so pieces are clearly numbered and shown on the drawing. Still, we are an experienced kit builder, so how hard can it be? With knife and glue in hand, the journey begins.

The hard plastic is fine, but the pieces take some removing from the sprue. Still, there is no real flash, so again things look promising. Though there is no sequence in the instructions we build the undercarriage and bodywork separately, and problems soon appear. Though the parts look quite sharp they don't really fit well. There are no pegs or other guides to help hold the parts while they dry - this is the exact opposite of a snap-together kit. The picture above gives some idea of the very ramshackle result we achieved, mostly because we could not persuade all the parts to fit together along the whole of the join. If you have a lot of patience and a good set of files, you could improve this and achieve a better result, but as it comes you won't get too fine a model. As can be seen, the end result is pretty disappointing, simply due to poor engineering and design.

In the accuracy category this model scores very well. Russia had experimented with armoured cars before 1914, and successfully used them throughout the war. Many were based on foreign cars, but this one was made by the Russo-Balt company, who were based in Riga, and armoured in St Petersburg. There are three accuracy problems with this model. First, the rear part of the car, behind the rear wheels, is tapering on this model when it should be square. Second, the front wheels seem to protrude away from the sides of the vehicle much more than in reality. Third, all the plates have rivets on raised strips, whereas the real thing was riveted directly into the plate, as shown by the illustration with the kit.

The kit comes with four Maxim machine guns for sticking out of the four ports of the vehicle, though as the instructions correctly point out, armament was three such guns, with one gun using either the left or right side as required, so the fourth is a spare.

The kit comes with no decals, which is a shame, but is otherwise complete. However the build quality is very disappointing, and it requires a great deal of filing and checking to obtain a reasonable result, which really should not be necessary. Reports suggest that the 1/72 scale kit of this vehicle by Modelkrak is a better bet than this, though we have not checked this for ourselves.

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