Croco 1/72 IRM 'Zhuk'
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
IRM "Zhuk" (IRM stands for inzhenernaya razvedyvatel'naya mashina – engineer reconnaissance vehicle, "Zhuk" means Beetle) – All-terrain combat engineer vehicle for land and river reconnaissance, developed in the 1970s. Production started in 1980 with the use of components from both the BMP-1 and BMP-2. Fifty IRMs were produced from 1986. However, the suspension had a new hull, one extra road wheel and one additional hydraulic shock-absorber. It has four pressurized compartments, with the engine located at the rear. There are three hatches on the top of the hull and one emergency hatch in the bottom. The IRM is equipped with two retractable propellers in ring covers for swimming and steering and two cases with 16 9M39 solid engines (each has a thrust of 312 kg and weighs 6.3 kg), for getting out of mud.
Special reconnaissance equipment consists of two R-147 radios; one PIR-451 periscope; TNPO-160, TNP-370 and TNV-25M periscopic observation devices; an AGI-1s horizon indicator; a DSP-30 portable periscopic rangefinder, a PAB-2M portable aiming circle, one TNA-3 gyroscopic navigational device, an EIR echo depth finder with automatic recorder and three sonar transducers, a RShM-2 river-type wide-span mine detector, RVM-2M and IMP-2 portable mine detectors, a PR-1 portable penetrometer used to analyze soil for crossability and an ice drill with ice stake. The vehicle has two arms for detecting metallic mines which are mounted on the front of the hull. They can be retracted when not in use. The mine detector arms can be hydraulically articulated to their operating position in under three minutes. The mine detector brings the vehicle to a full stop upon encountering an obstacle or detecting a metallic object.
The PIR-451 periscope is mounted on the right hand side of the front of the vehicle, at the commander's station. It can be extended to 1.5 m and can move vertically up to 750 mm. The IRM also has an air revitalization system, automatic fire extinguishers, a water pump with a capacity of 1,000 l/min, an automatic NBC protection system and an engine thermal smoke generator. It weighs 17.2 tonnes and has a crew of six. It is 8.22 m long, 3.15 m wide and 2.40 m high. Ground clearance is 420 mm. It has a maximum road speed of 52 km/h and it can swim at up to 12 km/h. It is armed with a PKT machine gun fitted in a small turret for which it carries 1,000 rounds. In the west, the IRM was believed to be based on the 2S1 Gvozdika self-propelled howitzer until 1986 when its true origins became known.
Croco has been offering a variety of subject in 1/72 scale and this neat vehicle is one of their most recent. It seems to this airplane modeler that Russian equipment outside of tanks does not get many models in this scale. I do have to admit that Croco has picked a neat one by doing this engineering vehicle.
Croco is very much a garage resin kit maker, but that doesn't mean shoddy quality. All the parts in the kit are nicely cast and while there are pour stubs and some flash to remove, the overall look of the parts is quite good. This is a photo of the forward upper hull so you can see what I mean. The resin is fairly crisp and not the blobs that I've seen in some other short run resin kits. I also appreciate all this detail already cast in place rather than being a bunch of teeny resin pieces.
Not to say that there are not some fairly small pieces, but not a plethora of them. The suspension pieces and road wheels are separate bits as are all the various engineering enhancements that will have to be put into place as the build progresses. The trachs are short lengths that will work well for the most part with the bits that curve over idlers and sprockets having to be helped along with perhaps a bit of heat to make them more pliable. It sure beats individual links, especially in this scale.
Instructions are well done and are basically photographs of the model showing were all the pieces attach. This works well in kits like this. Note that in the parts diagram the parts are numbered, but that is just to help with placement. There is a small decal sheet that is not shown that simply offers two different numbers for the vehicles. For more detailed look at where bits might fit, there are a lot of Internet sites to help out in this regard. This also is helpful for painting, though pretty much everything is either a dark green or black.
Perhaps not for everyone and certainly not for one wanting to have a go at their first resin kit. The small size of some of the parts and the number of them makes this one really only for more experienced modelers. Like with all short run resin, if one takes their time and is careful, a superb model will result.
October 2019 Copyright
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