Compared with the overall number of military vehicle kits released, those specifically designed to tie in with aircraft are still very much in the minority, so it's always great to a manufacturer bring out a new airfield vehicle. Unimodels already filled a gaping hole in the 1/48 scale softskin ranks with their GAZ-AAA truck and now, hot on its heels, comes a very neat AS-2 starter truck version.
The AS-2 was developed in 1936, using a standard AAA chassis mounting a Huck's starter, which engaged a drive shaft to a fitting on the aircraft's propeller hub, transmitting power from the truck engine as an alternative to starting the aircraft by hand.
Packed in an attractive conventional box, the kit shares the bulk of its parts with the previous release, but the canvas roof is replaced by a new sprue containing the starter equipment. The kit comprises:
146 x green styrene parts
10 x vinyl tyres
6 x clear pats on printed film
8 x etched copper parts
As with the GAZ-AAA, the moulding is pretty good, with the parts showing very little flash or sinkage problems. Detail is arguably a little softer in places than in kits by more major manufacturers, but everything is eminently usable - and the kit actually features rather more by way of detail than some softskins in this scale. Small parts are generally nice and smooth, but the exterior has a slightly textured finish that will be better polished off for a more realistic appearance. The kit features a full chassis and an engine, along with a cab with separate doors to allow them to be posed open. Since the kits are so similar, please refer to the GAZ-AAA Review
for a more detailed description of the shared parts.
The new sprue contains 27 parts for the Hucks starter. This builds into a wonderfully Heath-Robinsonesque arrangement of A-frames, slatted gantries and shafts extending out over the cab roof and the front of the vehicle. There are no locating pins for the bulk of the new assembly, so you'll have to follow the dimensions given in the instructions carefully and dry-fit as many parts as possible to avoid problems.
The kit includes the same set of decals as included with the GAZ-AAA and, rather strangely, exactly the same numbers for the doors and tailgate are used here - so the bulk of the sheet is still not needed and it'll be interesting to find out eventually what they are intended for. Unimodels seem to be mirroring their GAZ truck range, so hopefully we'll have a fuel truck to look forward to that might account for some of the extra decals...
Unimodels AS-2 starter truck is a neat kit that will be absolutely ideal for Soviet WW2 airfield scenes. As with the earlier GAZ-AAA, it's a shame that no crew figures are included, but you can always turn to the excellent VVS figure sets produced by ICM. Due to its slightly tricky construction, this isn't really a kit for absolute beginners and it will require more modelling skills than a typical mainstream kit. Modellers with a few kits produced by smaller manufacturers under their belts should have few problems and will welcome the chance to build such a useful vehicle as a cheap and readily available injection moulded kit. Recommended.
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