W-model: Pantsir-S1 Tracked part 1.

 

 

The Pantsir (SA-22 Greyhound) air defense system is a very impressive combination of anti-aircraft missile and cannon systems, assisted by both radar and optical targeting. Technically the Pantsyr S1 is classified as a SPAAG-M (Self Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun – Missile). It entered service in 2007, and have been exported to several countries in several different setups. This compact system can be mounted on wheeled and tracked vehicles as well as on ships, and can engage a wide range of air targets from helicopters to ballistic missiles and guided bombs (!). There are several wheeled platforms offered: the Ural5323, KamAz-6350, MZKT-7930, BAZ-6909, and MAN SX. The tracked version is essentially the development of the Tunguska AAA platform, and it is the subject of this review.

The first part of the air defence system is a dual 30mm cannon with a 4km range, and 5000 rounds per minute rate of fire. They cannot be fired when the vehicle is in travel mode, unlike the missiles. The guns can be used against ground targets, and there is armor piercing ammunition available for them for this purpose.

The target acquisition and tracking system combines several ways of detecting and tracking targets. The radar array consists a Passive Electronically Scanning Array (PESA) S-band target acquisition radar with a 360º coverage, and an X-band fire control radar (FCR). They can search and track aerial targets over 50 km away and engage them at a distance of 20 km.  Apart from the radar, it has optical and thermal trackers as well.

The missile system provides a high altitude, long range defence capability complementing the guns. It consists of 12 57E6 SAMs (surface-to-air missiles) in protective tubes. They are two-stage solid rocket-propelled missiles with a range of 20 km. The missile travels over Mach 2 and can engage targets up to an altitude of 15 km. The fire control radar needs to continuously illuminate the target, but alternatively the passive IR and optical sensors can be used to guide the missile.

The wheeled Pantsir system from Armory was recently reviewed on Armorama; it is a quite nice coincidence that I was building the tracked version for review.

The model

W-model has several really interesting and unconventional vehicles in their catalogue: mobile radars, engineering vehicles, ICBM missiles on mobile launchers, to gigantic SPGs.

The model arrived in a sturdy cardboard box, well protected in bubble wrap. It consists about a hundred resin parts, and comes with a PE fret which is essentially remains untouched during the build. (There are two parts for the missile launcher that you will use. The rest goes to the spares box.) The PE is somewhat thick; it is not easy to cut smaller parts out. You also get a small wire mesh which will be necessary for the hull. (Advice: first measure and cut out the largest bit you will need.)

The detail is pretty good, and it was very nice to work with the resin. There is almost no flash, and absolutely no bubbles or imperfections; the quality is first-class. The attachment points are well-made: the parts are very easy to remove from the casting block. I had no need for the fine saw, which, to me, is one of the worst part of working with resin. The tracks are supplied in rubber-like soft sections. I’m not sure if they are some sort of a flexible resin or if they are actually made of rubber, but they are certainly easier to work with than the “traditional” resin ones. (You don’t have to heat them before wrapping them around the running gear.)

The instructions are clear, and by large they are OK. There are some issues that they don’t mention which makes assembly a bit more difficult than it should be; more on that later. (That said it was not a difficult model to build.)

The construction went fine. The chassis had some fit issues, though. It is assembled from several flat parts (as usual with resin models), and the back panel did not actually fit on flawlessly; a little filing, cutting and fiddling was necessary to make everything click. Again, it’s expected from resin models. I did have to use some filler here and there -most prominently where the lower and the upper hull sections meet in the nose. I also used green stuff from the inside of the hull to strengthen the attachment points. (I have this recurring nightmare where the CA glue suddenly gives off the ghost, and the model falls apart; I like to use either two-part epoxy or green stuff as an additional way of gluing the model together.)

There are three air intakes on the hull which need to be covered with a metal mesh. The longest one is on the top left side of the hull, and as I said it’s best to cut it out first from the supplied wire mesh to make sure you don’t run out of it. (I did; it’s slightly shorter than the intake, which necessitated the turret being turned slightly off-center to cover it up.)

The hull’s turret ring is slightly smaller than necessary; the turret will not fit. It’s quite a simple matter to enlarge it with an X-acto knife, though.

The swing arms for the running gear have little square pegs which should fit into the corresponding square holes on the suspension. Unfortunately the holes are too small; I had to enlarge them a bit. This is a shame because the square shape of the peg would have ensured the correct angle of the arms. As they are now I suspect they sit a bit too low on my model. I had a little problem determining how to glue the double road wheels together; the holes were too small for the swing arms, and I was not sure which faces of the wheels should face each other. (See photo.) I think I managed to assemble them in the correct way; the holes for the swing arms had to be enlarged and deepened a bit, though. Once assembled, the wheels stood a bit criss-cross; it was difficult to align all the swing arms perfectly. I simply put the model in hot water (about 60C; hot but not too hot) for two minutes, then placed it between two blocks to cool down, forcing the roadwheels to line up in the correct position. You may use a hairdryer as well, but it’s riskier as you can actually melt the resin with excessive heat.

The tracks were easy to fit, but I found the sections to be a bit too short; it is not easy to depict the correct sag between return rollers when the ends of the individual sections meet up between them.

The business end of the vehicle, the radar/missile/cannon assembly was a simple build. It is important to first attach the guns to the mount, before it is glued to the rotating turret base. The instructions unfortunately do not advise on the correct sequence. If you glue the the turret base in place first, there is no room left to install the guns. There is also a lack of information on how to build the model in different configurations: you have an option to build the model in either travel mode or deployed. This is where online photos come handy; there are quite a few depicting the vehicle in both configuration. The gun can obviously be positioned at different angles, but the large tracking radar can be folded up and down, too. The missiles can also be positioned at different angles, however I don’t think it’s possible to position the inside and outside missiles differently. (You can see on reference photos that the two columns -inside and outside- can be positioned independently from each other on the actual vehicle.) The instructions are quite vague at his part: it was not clear at first where all 12 missiles should go. The instructions only show the placement of the middle ones.

The missile racks are the only assemblies that use any PE- two small parts from the extensive PE sheet. The metal is quite thick, so it is not easy to cut the parts away. The thickness comes handy once installed, as they form an important structural element of the missile launchers.

The only difficulty building the turret was the positioning of the missile tubes. They should be parallel to each other but it is not a simple matter gluing the top and bottom ones onto the rack in a way that they line up perfectly. In retrospect tiny blobs of green stuff could have been used to position them. Otherwise the build was quick and simple; and as I mentioned before you don’t use most of the PE you get with the model, which simplifies matters.

 

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