Trumpeter 1/35 SA-2 Guideline Missile on Transport Trailer

Model, Text and Photos by: Mike Grant


I've wanted to build this kit since I saw Steve Jantscher's in-box review here on Roll Models' site, but it wasn't until my local Model Club ran a 'Four-plus wheels' contest that I finally got motivated to start it. It's a huge undertaking- there are literally hundreds of parts on 13 sprues, plus photo-etch, tubing, rubber tyres and a nicely packaged cab. The plastic is softer than, say, Tamiya's, but nevertheless the parts carry some impressive detail.

Because of my low threshold to boredom I reversed the build sequence suggested in the instructions, beginning with the trailer and finishing with the most interesting element, the truck itself. The trailer begins with the chassis, and although it's not particularly difficult it is worth ensuring that the cross-members and the sides are perfectly square to each other. To this framework attach the two large tanks, for which lengths of copper wire are supplied which must be cut and bent to fit.

The parking wheels can be assembled in parked or travelling mode, I chose the latter. The rear wheels/suspension is straightforward enough. Although moulded in black rubber, all the tyres look a little toy-like so I painted mine in a dark grey colour. The loading rail on which the missile sits is very nicely detailed, some of the tinier parts need some fiddly clean-up but the finished assembly really looks the part.

Perhaps the biggest deficiency of the kit is the number of ejector-pin markings that affect many of the parts. True, many will be concealed once assembled (unless you should look at the model from below) but some are much more apparent. The worst affected part is the swivel (part J28); because of its complex shape it's really difficult to eliminate the circular marks through sanding, so I used a combination of sanding and re-skinning with thin plastic card. Incidentally a photo-etch rail (guard-rail?) is supplied for this part, made up of 8 parts (PE3, PE4). Mine resisted all attempts to bend smoothly and eventually sprang apart, hurling the supports into oblivion. It's currently missing off my model until I get around to scratch-building a plastic replacement.

After completing the trailer I began work on the missile itself, which was a pleasure to build. I was dubious about getting a smooth. seamless circular section but all the halves of the various stages fitted extremely well and required minimal sanding. I was less happy with the fit of the main fins (M20) which left quite a noticeable gap. My aircraft building instincts kicked in and I filled and sanded them smooth. The biggest challenge I found was ensuring the booster section aligned with the missile since it's attached with only four small spigots, and I knew the slightest mis-alignment would prevent the missile from lying on the loading rail.

I drilled and inserted small pieces of wire into the spigots (part M1) which enabled me to slightly adjust the alignment after assembly. The missile was painted light-grey and then decalled. The decalling directions are hopelessly confusing, since the identifying letter for each decal doesn't correspond with the instructions; although it's possible to make educated guesses about some of them I still got a few wrong. Oh well. My excuse is that I don't read Russian.

With the SA-2 and trailer complete I made a start on the truck itself. What a kit. There's a complete engine, transmission and chassis which are all but invisible once the model's put together. To give you an idea of its complexity, there are over 40 parts in the front axle/wheels assembly alone.

I'd strongly recommend adding the springs (parts E51, E52, C11 and E21)) to the chassis before commencing with the rest of Stage 8 in the instructions; I followed Trumpeter's directions and found that I'd glued on the springs slightly askew. Furthermore the front wheels are designed to be steerable with a fiendishly clever mechanism which I actually managed to make workable for several seconds. Unfortunately the mechanism broke apart under the weight of the wheels with their rubber tyres, so I ended up glueing them.

However it does at least enable you to position the wheels exactly as you desire before fixing them in place. The rear axles are equally complex and well-detailed. I had a problem attaching some of the transmission parts (E12, E13 and E16) and had to do some minor cutting to achieve a good fit.

A nice cab interior is provided, other than weathering and adding decals for the instrument faces I added it out-of-the-box. Getting the mudguard assemblies to fit to the chassis was more challenging, and by Stage 17 of the assembly sequence it became increasingly difficult to hold the model without something breaking off. The wheels were the last parts I attached to the model and although I'd done various dry-runs during assembly I still found it difficult to ensure all 6 wheels touched the ground.

Another caution - make sure the trailer with missile are in place on the truck when carrying out this procedure. I didn't, and the extra weight of the missile/trailer lifted the front cab wheels off the ground, so I had to re-adjust all 6 wheels again. (Another reason to build the trailer and missile first).

Painting and weathering is my favourite part of the whole modelling experience. I use acrylics almost exclusively, followed by a protective coat of Future, followed by oil washes (filters, as Tamiya Magazine calls them).

The various paint-chips and scratches were painted on using Vallejo paints and a fine brush, and any detail high-lighting was done with water-colours. For the dried sand/mud under the wheel arches and chassis I used MIG pigments mixed with their acrylic-Gel, applied thickly in a further attempt to hide some of the ejector-pin markings. Finally a mist of Tamiya buff was sprayed from below to simulate dust.

Trumpeter have had some bad press recently, but I was very impressed with this kit. It's not quite Tamiya quality but is still highly detailed and well-engineered. For me the biggest hurdle was actually starting such a complex model, the sheer number of parts and sprues looked intimidating, but I actually completed the entire model in 3 weeks. It didn't place in the Model Club contest but I certainly had fun building it.

(Photo by Tom Calbury)


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I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.