Trumpeter 1/35 SA-2 Guideline Missile on Transport Trailer
Review by Steve Jantscher
The SA-2 Guideline missile is fairly well known to Western combat pilots of the '60s and '70s. The SA-2 really made its name in the hands of the North Vietnamese as they defended vital centers of communication from US air strikes. While not particularly dangerous singly against a tactical fighter bomber such as the F-4 Phantom (if observed), when fired in salvos, they accounted for the majority of surface to air kills (AAA being the other deadly form of "Death from the Ground"). They were also the bane of the B-52s during their trips "Up North". For perhaps the best account of fighter combat in North Vietnam, I highly recommend Clashes: Air Combat Over North Vietnam and The 11 Days of Christmas, both by Marshall L. Michel III.
The SA-2 thus is perhaps one of the few model subjects that equally appeals to the lover of all things aviation, as well as the lover of all things with wheels and tracks. One note before I continue. This kit and review cover the missile transporter. This is not a launcher/transporter, but only a transporter. In Soviet and Third World client states the SA-2 never had a combined transporter/launcher. There is some indication that the Chinese have developed a tracked transporter/launcher for their version of the SA-2 (which is still in service). In doing some research for this review, I found an interesting photograph that showed the missile in the process of being loaded from a transport trailer onto the launch rail. It seems that during transport the missile rests on a rail of sorts, that can (once the transporter combination is parked) swing the missile around (off axis) to face the launcher, (missile rear end first). Then the missile transporter rail and the launcher rail are aligned, and the missile slid off the transporter rail and onto the launch rail. According to my source, reloading can take less than 50 seconds. This saves the transporter from having to back up and perfectly align the whole trailer with the launcher rail. The photo shows the missile and its transport rail positioned about 90 degrees from the direction of the trailer, being slid rearward onto a launch rail.
The first thing that one notices when they approach this kit, is the overly sturdy nature of the box. No one is going to accuse trumpeter of not providing sufficiently strong boxes and protective wrapping of individual parts trees and delicate pieces. (Hello Monogram, can you take the hint.) Not only is Trumpeter quickly overtaking the detail and finesses found in American model makers, but they are already laying the gauntlet down at the feet of mighty Hasegawa and Tamiya. If those later two don't watch out, the mighty Trumpeter will become the kit maker modelers talk in awe of, as many do now of those two, especially Tamiya. I've included a couple of additional parts tree shots that show how they have been individually bagged and sometimes even wrapped in plastic foam to protect the delicate parts on the trees from any chance of damage while in the box. While I have been critical (in a nice way) of Trumpeter's tendency to over-engineer their kits, one cannot criticize them in their packaging strategy. In all but a couple of cases, the individual parts trees are bagged separately. I've included some photographs showing how Trumpeter wrapped some parts trees in foam, with a second shot showing the foam open.
Many of the parts show exquisitely fine detail. I've included the instruction page that shows the parts that go into the truck's engine. For an airplane guy like me, that's nuts. But Hey, it's also pretty cool! Besides the hundreds of small bits in plastic, the kit also offers some string (for the front bumper hitch), some copper wire and fine but dense springs used to simulate hoses and air lines for use on the missile trailer. I believe the tank on the trailer is for "topping off" the missile's liquid fuel propellant (for the main body, the booster I believe was solid rocket fuel). Also included is some photoetch items, which for the most part are used to detail the missile trailer.
The level of detail in this kit is awesome, and I don't use that word often. All the major parts seem to be built up in subassemblies. After the engine is put together, the builder must assemble the frame, various axle assemblies, the transmission, fenders, gas tanks and storage, cab interior You get the idea. It is as if an airplane builder had to assemble his kit starting with skin panels. It is unbelievably detailed right out of the box!
I checked various parts for ejector pin marks, and they seem for the most part to be on hidden surfaces. Nice attention to detail if my early findings hold. The kit is molded in the standard (I think) Soviet green plastic, and this kit comes with markings for an Egyptian and Soviet missile unit. My decal sheet was slightly marked up. I believe the North Vietnamese paint scheme would be the same as the Soviet design. I did however find a photograph in the 11 Days of Christmas book that shows the missile as a light grey color with what appears to be a series of spots (polka dots?) randomly sprayed in a dark color (Green ?). Mighty interesting, and probably a smart move given the presence of an active Wild Weasel SAM suppression enemy about.
I had originally ordered the SA-2 missile launcher kit from John and Mary at Roll Models. I was somewhat disappointed when John handed me the SA-2 transporter kit instead. He said to check it out and give him a review. Well after looking this thing over, I've decided that I'll be keeping this one (even though it's more than twice the price of the missile & launcher kit I had originally asked for). I still want the less expensive kit with the missile sitting on its launcher, waiting for the enemy to show but this one will have to do until John can locate the scarce missile and launcher kit for me. This is a real winner from Trumpeter!