MiniArt has followed their T-70/T-80 light tank series and ZiS-3 76mm gun kits with the obvious combination, the SU-76M 76mm self-propelled assault gun. This was the second most common Soviet AFV of World War II (after the T-34) and so is a most welcome kit for anyone interested in Red Army subjects. I built the old (and chunky) Alan SU-76M kit when it first came out many years ago, and all I can say is, throw any surviving Alan kits (or their DML clones) in the trash bin and stomp on them in drunken glee!!! The new MiniArt kit combines best elements of both of their earlier kits, plus a crew and the necessary new parts. Overall, the kit is very nice, though it is certainly more of a “craftsman” kit demanding careful attention than a slam-bam-thank-you-mam Tamiya-style build.
I started with the suspension, and as I mentioned earlier on Missing-Lynx, the road-wheel/torsion arm assembly is very fiddly and requires substantial attention to get everything lined up. This was the roughest part of the kit, and having overcome that hurdle, the tracks went together very well, and offer superb detail at a very modest price. The basic hull assembly is straightforward, but since it is made up of multiple plates, some care is in order.
An open-top SP gun like this demands that the modeler address the basic question of how much detail is desired in the fighting compartment. The kit provides an adequate interior, and I suspect that we will see many after-market PE sets to enhance this area. Not having the luxury of waiting for these, I went ahead on my own and scratch-built many of the small fittings, radio details, etc. The one existing after-market set that I enthusiastically recommend is the superb Hussar turned brass 76mm ammo set (thank you Michael at Air Connections!!). Another very helpful resource is the Kagero and Militaria SU-76 books.
MiniArt has done a very nice job of detail, but a lot of the small detail parts can use some refinement by the modeler. I replaced the kit fender supports, as well as the front fenders. The kit comes with a solid lump over the radiator air intakes (both top and rear) and I replaced these with PE screen . The 76mm gun does not fit well inside the armor cover, so I whacked off most of the forward section which won’t be seen anyhow unless you have Superman X-ray eyes. I replaced the barrel with one from a spare Italeri ZiS-3 (purchased at AMPS for the royal sum of .50 cents) as the MiniArt muzzle brake requires too much patient work to get the blast openings right.
I did a lot of other small detailing work on this kit, and I will cover this in more depth in a forthcoming Military Modelling article. The figure is (no surprise) one of the excellent Alpine offerings and the stowage is (no surprise) from a Blast resin set. Overall, the MiniArt kit is a delightful build which offers the modeler a very good model out-of-the-box, and an exceptional model with a little work.