Manufacturing of the BZ-38 refueller truck was launched in 1938. The vehicle was then mostly used on airfields equiped with fighter aircraft and scout airplanes which needed smaler volumes of fuel. The chassis was the same as the GAZ-AAA truck but fitted with a Tank of 1350 liters. A cabin with the refuelling commands was located in front of the tank while the hoses were located in a cabin at the rear. The engine was a GAZ-M 4-cylinder with 50 hp. With a weight of 4 tons, the truck's maximal speed was 65 km/h. A simpler variant called BZ-38U was launched in 1942.
On opening the robust top opening box, you find 4 sprues of dark green plastic parts, 10 vinyl tyres, one etched copper fret, one sheet of acetate film for windows and lenses, a sheet of decals and the instructions.
It is to note that this kit is the third of a serie of four (so far). The reviews of the other GAZ based trucks made by UM can be found on Aeroscale by using the links below:
- GAZ-AAA Soviet Truck (503)
- AS-2 Starter Truck (506)
- BZ-38 Refueller (509)
- Quadruple Maxim truck (511)
Apart from sprues E (fuel tank), the plastic parts are similar to the ones one can find in the initial GAZ-AAA kit, so please refer to the above mentionned reviews for more details. However, to sum up, the parts, though not as perfectly molded as on a Tamigawa kit, are very nice overall. Only the grainy surface of the plastic, mostly on the bigger parts is a bit annoying but this doesn't affects the smaller parts which have a very smooth surface finish and really crisp details molded on. Only some traces of flash will have to be eliminated before assembly. In term of detail, UM have really done a great job as a complete chassis is provided, as well as a detailed engine (with separate engine hood panels) and separate cabin doors.
Clear parts have to be cut in a small sheet of fine acetate plastic. They will look very realistic once in place but extrem care will be needed to cut them to shape and glue them on the model. Some PE parts are provided as well on a tiny copper fret.
The decals are different than on the first boxing. They look fine but have an ICM "feel" to them, which isn't necessarily a good thing. It is probably better to cover them with a coat of varnish before using them as these ukrainian decals have the bad habit of breaking apart when hitting the water.
The instruction are of course also new. They are printed on two A3 sized paper sheet folded so to make an 8 pages A4 booklet. The construction guide has 35 (!?) steps and this shows how complex and detailed the kit is. The drawings are very clear and easy to understand even if the build won't be an easy one for sure. There is no painting guide as such (the truck is camouflaged in overall green) but colors are given for the Humbrol range of paints.
Provided the fit is good, Unimodels' BZ-38 Refueller is an excellent kit that should build up into a detailed replica of the real truck. Only the grainy texture of some plastic parts will require some additionnal work. Other than that, it's an excellent (and affordable) choice if you want to do a diorama with a VVS fighter aircraft. Highly recommended to modelers with some experience with smaller parts.
Unimodels' BZ-38 Refueller Truck is available from Modelimex - specialists in Eastern European short run kits.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE