by: Darren Baker [ ]
The Zil 131 truck has been just about everywhere and performed every role a truck can. Introduced in the late 1960’s the Zil 131 has proved itself a capable vehicle in terms of reliability, all terrain ability and functionality. The vehicle looked at here is the set up for a fire truck as seen in the Soviet Union from the 1970’s and that is still in use today in many former Soviet Union countries which adds another string to its bow, longevity. ICM has now released a 1/35th scale model of the AC-40-137A Soviet fire truck.
The packaging for this offering is what has become the standard for ICM; A substantial cardboard tray and integrated lid plus an extra card lid with the artwork on it; this is I feel up to the rigours of the postal system and so something that ICM deserve praise for. Having had a good look at the sprues that are supplied with this product I have not noted any major issues at this moment, but I am concerned about so many sprues being packed in a single bag. There are no short shots or flash that I can see present. I have noticed flow lines present on a number of the larger parts, but none of these look or feel to have created an issue that will need to be remedied. I particularly like that the parts have been placed with ease of access considered, I have not noted any part that will require the use of anything other than side cutters to remove them as none of the parts appear to be cramped, this may not be important to everyone but I get frustrated when removal of parts becomes more difficult that it needs to be. There are of course some very fine mouldings that will require care in order to avoid breakages.
The chassis of the model is a multi piece affair and that has allowed a higher degree of detail to be replicated. A down side to this approach is that the modeller needs to take their time and ensure it is squarely set. There are a good number of elements that are added at an early stage to the chassis and this will result in the modeller having to think about approach to avoid future breakages of parts. I have noted a few areas where photo etch will lift the model from a scale thickness and appearance, most notably are the tread plates being areas that will be lifted.
ICM always goes all out to replicate the oily areas in their soft skinned model offerings and that has been offered here to great effect, everything from the engine through the transmission to the drive shafts and axles is well represented in this offering. As ICM only rarely includes photo etch in their kits it does mean they have had to become skilled at providing some fine mouldings. Areas such as the engine belts and cooling fan could be improved with photo etched parts but I feel ICM has done a good job with what is provided. Despite the best efforts of ICM there are always aspects and areas that can be lifted by the modeller willing to put in the effort; the addition of scratch built cables, fuel and brake lines and the plumbing for the water cooling system.
The axles on this offering from ICM are well tackled and have a very good level of detail provided, but again the adding of cables will lift the model to a very high level. The wheels have nice detail on their hubs and include an odd shaped pipe that I believe enable to tyre pressures to be altered in use. This kit has vinyl rubber tyres that I do know will upset some of you and please others, but I will say the tyres have been well moulded with a very good level of detail present. My pet hate is present in that the wheels cannot be depicted turned.
The cab of the model is an area that has disappointed me in that the doors cannot be shown open without surgery by the modeller. With that out of the way I do not see anything of concern as regards detail. The seats do have that new look present, but I have been shown how using some tissue paper and PVA glue the lived in look can be replicated easily. The door cards are separate parts and that means that ejector pin marks are hidden and provides a good level of detail. I would have liked to see some fire crew uniform in the vehicle cab as it would have drawn the eyes of any viewer. Covering the hood here and it is provided in a way that it could be depicted open, but it would require some serious scratch building skills to get right.
The business aspect of the model is well replicated as regards form and function in that the area for the water tank is boxed in and a nice pump for the hoses is included at the rear and can be seen on the finished model. I do have an issue in this area which are the storage panels at the side of the truck that would contain the fire fighting equipment; the sides have been moulded in single parts with no internal detail and that is a real shame on the part of ICM. ICM has gone to the trouble to beautifully replicate and supply the oily areas of the model which are hard if not impossible to display and then not provided the details on the storage panels that could be easily displayed and indeed would be needed to show the model in a diorama. So we get ease of assembly at the cost of nice options for a model of this type.
The set up on the top of the vehicle would appear to be accurate and while I do not know the full function of all aspects of what is here I do know what a ladder is for. The detail provided covers a roof mounted hose, but I thought this was intended to raise with the ladder and be used from height; however the artwork indicates otherwise and so I am at a loss as to which is correct. Regardless of who has the function correct the form is very well detailed and accurate as regards everything I have checked.
Finding reference for this vehicle was hard work and I eventually found some on a site titled ‘Henk of Holland Master Modelling and I have placed a few images here to whet the appetite with more to be found on his site.
Four finishing options have been provided by ICM which are as follows:
AC-40-137A, Sergiev Posad, 2000’s
AC-40-137A, Moscow, 2000’s
AC-40-137A, Kiev, 2000’s
AC-40-137A, Vinnytsia, 2010’s
This offering from ICM is without a doubt a lovely scale model of a Soviet era fire truck that is still in use today. The oily areas of the vehicle have been especially well replicated by ICM even if hard to display the detail provided. The detail around the body of the vehicle is very good from an accuracy standpoint, especially the roof that offers a stunning level of detail. So all good then? No not really I am very disappointed that such a lovely model with so much detail provided has not allowed the cab doors to be assembled open, but mostly it is the storage bins not being able to show open that upsets me most. So we have a model with wonderful external detail but restricted where it matters most in my opinion.