Samokhodnaya Ustanovka Arrive!

Four Forces of Valor (85041) SU-122 advance with SMG Platoon escort...

Four Forces of Valor (85041) SU-122 advance with SMG Platoon escort...

Yes, they are here, masses of Soviet Samokhodnaya Ustanovka (SU) Assault Guns and Tank Destroyers – part of (a larger than planned) arsenal I’ve been accumulating for my 20mm scale World War II Russian forces for Crossfire! The real bonus is being able to obtain off EBay 4 Forces of Valor model 85041 SU-122 models (representing a vehicle of an unidentified unit on the Eastern Front, Winter of 1942/1943) – and at a reasonable price – they are rather rare (as they were only ever manufactured in limited numbers by all accounts) and usually quite expensive (due to their collectability) – most recently someone was trying to sell a single model on EBay for as much as US$90 (although about US$40-$60 is more usual)!

Anyway being able to purchase 4 off a single seller in one auction was quite a bonus, I had hoped to get one and ultimately perhaps two if I was lucky over time, and not have to pay too excessive a price. But instead with big thanks to my friend Michael in Texas  (who served as intermediary as the seller did not ship outside the USA) I managed to get 4 in one go at a very fair price – fantastic! So I now have a full battery of these lovely beasts!

Forces of Valor SU-122's emerge from a town with Tank-Rider SMG Platoon escort...

Forces of Valor SU-122's emerge from a town with Tank-Rider SMG Platoon escort (a closer view)...

Samokhodnaya Ustanovka 122 (SU-122)

The first SU-122’s saw action on 14 January 1943 in the Smierdny region (near Leningrad), they were in 4-vehicle batteries in mixed Regiments with SU-76 Assault Gun batteries (1433rd and 1434th SP Artillery Regiments). The SU-122 was designated a Medium Assault Gun (the SU-76 Light) and after a couple of changes in the organisation of the first (mixed) units by April 1943 it was standardised that SU-122 (and SU-76) would be in there own homogeneous units, rather than mixed formations. ~1,150 were produced by the time production ceased in mid-1944 and they served until the end of the war. A not very well known fact is the use of the M-30S 122mm howitzer – an older design and not well suited to an AFV – it had to be mounted on the vehicle floor, rather than in the hull front/casemate, and required the vehicle commander to assist the gunner when firing (as controls were spread over both sides of the original towed weapon) – so for wargaming purposes these should get some limitations to reflect the commander’s need to carry out multiple tasks. You can read more here.

Aerial view of the 4 Forces of Valor SU-122's

Aerial view of the 4 Forces of Valor SU-122's.

Forces of Valor SU-122's work their way though a Russian Town.

Forces of Valor SU-122's work their way though a Russian Town.

While the Forces of Valor SU-122 has been the only diecast model of an SU-122 produced in 1/72nd scale, and it has been out of production for sometime and is a fairly rare model, wargamers and collectors looking for diecast models of these shouldn’t despair – there is a new diecast SU-122 model due soon from Altaya of France in their new Blindés de Combat magazine series – and it should be available in Europe at the end of November this year (2011) representing a vehicle of the 1443rd SP Artillery Regiment in 1945.

The one thing I really like with FoV (Forces of Valor) is they model the turrets and such with open hatches and commanders – rather than as sealed closed units like Dragon Armor, Hobby Master, Easy Model, etc… It is so much more life like and more accurately represents what they’d be like in real life. Long-term I’ll probably do some minor work to these SU-122’s – vary the colours of the wheels a bit and add a little more weathering… Ideally I’d like to update the numbers on the sides too if I can find some suitable matching decals…

Close Up of the Forces of Valor SU-122's

Close Up of the Forces of Valor SU-122's - The SMG armed "Tank Riders" are mostly Fantassin (Warmodelling) with a couple of assorted Elheim figs.

Forces of Valor SU-122's advance!

Forces of Valor SU-122's advance!

The SMG Platoon from a Tank Rider company are part of my new Russian forces for Crossfire – they’ve been waiting to be based up for a year or so – and I’m finally part-way through them – while not yet complete they are almost usable for games, and just require the bases detailed with grass, plants, etc…

Samokhodnaya Ustanovka 100 (SU-100)

Prior to picking up the SU-122’s above I had earlier this year also picked up a couple of Dragon Armor SU-100’s, 60299 and 60305, the former being a good purchase as it’s the original Dragon Armor SU-100 model release and is now also out of production and quite rare and hard to find. 60299 represents a vehicle from the 7th Mechanised Corps in winter white-wash in Hungary, 1945, while 60305 is a vehicle of the 1st Guards Mechanised Corps in summer green, also in Hungary in 1945. The SU-100 entered mass production in September 1944 and served in increasing numbers from then over the last winter of the war, with especially large numbers used enmasse in Hungary in March & April 1945 – a total of 2,335 had been built by July 1945 (I’d estimate about 1,700 of these will have seen active combat service in the last 8 months of the war). The SU-100 also featured a significant armour upgrade from the earlier SU-122 and SU-85 models, with the frontal armour increasing about 50% from 45mm to 75mm thickness, and had several other design improvements that made it more sophisticated than the earlier models in addition to the obvious armament upgrade (D-10S 100mm Gun) – read more here.

Dragon Armor SU-100 with "Tank Rider" escort.

Dragon Armor SU-100 Tank Destroyers with "Tank Rider" escort.

Dragon Armor SU-100 model 60299 - a vehicle from the 7th Mechanised Corps in winter white-wash in Hungary, 1945

Dragon Armor SU-100 model 60299 - a vehicle from the 7th Mechanised Corps in winter white-wash in Hungary, 1945.

Dragon Armor SU-100 model 60305 from the 1st Guards Mechanised Corps in summer green in Hungary in 1945.

Dragon Armor SU-100 model 60305 from the 1st Guards Mechanised Corps in summer green in Hungary in 1945.

Samokhodnaya Ustanovka 85 (SU-85)

In addition to the above I also picked up a Dragon Armor SU-85M, 60091, which is in the colours of an unidentified unit in 1945. I have not bothered to pick up a second one as Altaya also have a SU-85 model (probably also a SU-85M depicting the 13th Polish Artillery Regiment at the Battle of Berlin, 1945) in their “Combat Tanks Collection” (which originally released in Europe as “Chars de Combat” about 2-3 years ago) – so I’m waiting to get my local magazine subscription model to see what that looks like (as with the SU-100’s I’m planing on just 2 models for my collection – effectively a ‘half-battery’)… The Altaya model should also now eventually be available in the USA through the “Blitz 72” collection.

Dragon Armor SU-85M - 60091 - An unidentified unit on the Eastern Front in 1945.

Dragon Armor SU-85M - 60091 - An unidentified unit on the Eastern Front in 1945.

The SU-85 first saw service in August 1943, and was essentially a simple modification to the existing SU-122 design, with the main armament replaced by the D-5T 85mm Gun. In 1944 production gradually switched to the improved SU-85M which added the Commander’s Cupola from the T-34/85 turret to replace the standard hatch (see the SU-122 photos at top compared to the SU-85M above), and an improved casemate (designed for the SU-100) which provided better protection and increased the 85mm ammunition storage from 48 to 60 rounds (compare the appearance of the above photo with the SU-100 above). A total of 2,050 were produced up to the latter part of 1944 when production switched to the SU-100 design (see above)… You can read more here.

Dragon Armor SU-85M

Dragon Armor SU-85M

Istrebitelnaja Samokhodnaya Ustanovka 152 (ISU-152)

To round out my collection of Soviet Medium & Heavy Assault  Guns and Tank Destroyers I plan on adding a pair of ISU-152’s (of the 4th Guard Tank Army in Lov, Poland, in 1944) from Altaya’s Blindés de Combat magazine series which are due for release in the next couple of months (Oct/Nov 2011). There were ~1,885 built during the war from December 1943 until it’s end (when production finally ceased in 1947 they had built 3,242, many of which were modernised in the 1950’s with new guns and such). The most notable feature (during World War II) was the carrying of only 21 rounds of the 2-part ammunition for the ML-20S 152mm (6″) Howitzer. I hope to post some photos later in the year once I have these models… Again you can read more here.

Other Soviet SPGs

Samokhodnaya Ustanovka 76M (SU-76M) – At some stage I need to add a couple of these to round out the collection and provide some light assault gun support options – as far as I know to date there are no diecast or ready-made models of these so it’ll be back to plastic kitsets I suspect… These are pretty ubiquitous so rather desirable long-term (for a World War II Soviet wargaming force) as over 14,000 were manufactured from the end of 1942 until the fall of Berlin.

Note: Another 1,200 SU-76i were converted from captured Pz.Kpfw III and similar, but after less than 6 months service over late-1943 & early 1944 they were rapidly withdrawn.

Samokhodnaya Ustanovka 152 (SU-152) – The first unit of these saw service at Kursk in May-July 1943. Based on the KV-1 design they were the fore-runner to the ISU-152 above. Only about 700 at most were produced in mid to late 1943 before production switched to the ISU-152. From a wargaming the Eastern Front perspective it’s a relatively insignificant vehicle type and the ISU-152 models can always be substituted for games (as the appearance is similar, albeit slightly larger). The main difference is the ISU-152’s armour was about 50% heavier than the SU-152 (120mm vs. 75mm front and 90mm vs. 60mm side).

Istrebitelnaja Samokhodnaya Ustanovka 122 (ISU-122) – Like the SU-85 and SU-100 this was built as a genuine Tank Destroyer rather than a Medium or Heavy Assault Gun – there were 2 variants produced from April 1944 on, the original with the A-19S 122mm gun and the later ISU-122S with the D-25S 122mm Gun (as used in the IS-2 Tank, it featured a new automatic breech increasing ROF from 2 to 3-4 rpm), and large numbers of both types were built. Armour was comparable (although not identical) to the ISU-152. I’m not planning to add any of these – in fact I’m not aware of any models, even plastic kitsets – but if a diecast or similar comes out I may not be able to resist at least 1…!

One last look at those Forces of Valor SU-122 Assault Guns

One last look at those Forces of Valor SU-122 Assault Guns

Posted in 20mm Figures & Models, Crossfire, Eastern Front 1941-45 Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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