- Published on Monday, 26 March 2012 01:02 Robin Jenkins
1/72 AT-L Soviet Light Artillery Prime Mover
Catalogue # M72102
Available direct from Armory for $40.00
There are relatively few military vehicles that have been mass-produced in their hundreds, if not thousands, that it is difficult to find out very much about in today's world of mass reference and the internet. One small group of such vehicles are the artillery tractors developed by the Soviet bloc during the Cold War. There were at least 6 distinct vehicles in the period 1950 – 1980, three of which seemed to be "light" vehicles and three of them "heavy" vehicles.
The Artilleriyskiy Tyagach Lyogkiy, or AT-L, was one of the Soviet "light" artillery prime mover tractors. Basically a major conversion of a wheeled vehicle, it was fully tracked and could carry up to 2 tons of supplies or pull a light artillery piece (below). Although I am uncertain of this fact, it appears, according to one source, to have been introduced in the mid-1960s and widely used across the Communist nations. It was certainly exported as well, to Vietnam, Egypt and Syria, to name but three countries. It does not appear to be in frontline service any longer.
Credit and copyright: Wikipedia
Of course, with such little information available, even though it was widely used there has not been the usual large number of model kits as there have been for many Soviet military vehicles. Indeed, I can only find a couple of mentions of an all-resin kit in 1/35th scale from an unidentified Eastern European model company from some years ago. However, bravely going where everyone else has feared to tread, Armory recently released a 1/72 multimedia kit, of resin and etched brass, of this largely unknown but very attractive little vehicle.
I normally try to give my readers a feel for accuracy in the kits I review, but on this occasion I will really have to rely a lot on gut instinct and the actual presentation and quality of the kit parts (if any reader has any references or views on the kit, then please post your information on our new forum).
The first resin parts are for the main cab and lower body (below). They are a pretty fine start, since the moulding quality is superb, with excellent detail. From the very small number of photos available, the cab looks really accurate in shape and height.
Next there are the roadwheels (above). As can be seen, there is a small amount of resin flashing which will take a few moments to clean up with a needle file. The hub detail is sharp and accurate. The remaining resin parts are shown below. These include the axles, cab interior, front and rear hull fittings and wooden slatted benches for the cargo area. Again, these are all beautifully cast, with no air bubbles whatsoever.
Despite the foregoing, it is in the quality and use of the etched frets that this kit stands out. There are 3 frets. The first (above) holds the idlers, drive sprockets, front mudguards, engine grills, cabin controls, the cabin roof hatch, front windows, windscreen wipers and the base of the cab and the flatbed of the carrying area. Some of the parts will take careful assembly but the choice of etch for items such as the grills and the mudguards in this small scale is an idea many other manufacturers could consider.
The second fret (below) is truly revolutionary, at least to me. Apart from the instrument panel and binnacle, it is taken up totally by the tracks. Let me repeat that, etched metal tracks! This idea would not work in a larger scale, but in 1/72 after careful bending and installation, they will look superb. The level of detail in these parts is breathtaking.
The final fret (below) contains all the parts for the rear cargo area. There is much folding and construction to be carried out here, but yet again the levels of detail are very high. Last of all, there is a small clear film giving the cab glazing (below).
The instruction sheets are the one area that could be improved. They are of the photographic type and were not clearly printed throughout. More effort in producing these sheets will lead to easier builds for modellers.
One final note for UK readers. Hannants is the UK distributor for Armory products and stock nearly everything they produce. For a reason I am not able to discover, this is one model from the range that Hannants neither stock at present, nor intend to add to their stock list. It therefore will have to be ordered direct from Armory.
So What Do We Think?
I have been a strong advocate of the Armourfast range of simplified but accurate 1/72 AFV models aimed at youngsters and wargamers on this site. This kit sits diametrically as far away from those kits as it is possible to get. This is a challenging kit of a rarely modeled subject that just oozes quality and originality from every resin and etched part it contains. It is a little overpriced (you could build about 7 individual Armourfast models for the same price) but for any small-scale armour modeller, striving to be able to do a kit like this justice is a really worthwhile modelling aim to have.
An excellent, original model but at a high price
Our thanks to Armory for the review sample. To purchase directly, click THIS link.