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Monday, July 29, 2013

Plastic Soldier Company Zis-2 57mm AT Guns

Recently Bob Sixninesixwrote a spotlight article for WWPD on the Plastic Soldier Company 15mm Zis-2/3 Gun set. Concurrently with his effort, I was also working on the same set of PSC guns for a friend of mine and was also intending to write a review of them.  When I saw Bob’s article I thought “there goes that idea” but then I thought since he built his set as the Zis-3 76.2mm version of the guns, then it might still be worthwhile to do an article ones I worked on because my friend wanted the Zis-57mm AT Gun versions done. So….

I had recently assembled and painted ten T-70 tanks from PSC that I was very impressed with. So I was excited to try my hand with set of PSC guns and their crew to see how PSC's foot figures and artillery were. Plastic Soldier Company products are easily available from my LGS. They had no problem getting them this boxed set in a timely manner and at a very reasonable price.
My fist "worry" about these 57mm guns was that the barrels would suffer from the gun tube droop shown in the models on the box cover image. Happily this was not the case and I noticed that the guns shown on the box cover must be the 1/72nd scale ones rather than the 15mm scale guns and crew as they crew figure were different with blanket rolls etc added.

On opening the box I found that the four sprues were all perfect. The gun tubes were straight, flash lines were minimal, and everything was present. The extra ammo boxes were a nice touch.

The guns assembled very easily and were so much easier to work with than metal Zis-2's I have from Battle Front. Though assembly was easy due to the part count being low, this also meant that without modification you were "stuck" with one angle of elevation for the gun tube. This angle I thought was just a bit too elevated for a direct fire Anti-Tank Gun like the Zis-2 but would be just fine for a "bombarding" gun like a Zis-3.

The crew figures were nice and having five available per gun was great as you need only four to man each gun allowing some variety in crewsand then having a few left over to create a "command team" from. The  gunners were in somewhat less than ideal poses to be used as a command team, but I wanted the full unit to be completely made from this one boxed set. Since I was putting loader figures on the command base, I figured I might as well also add in an ammo box to help tie the command base in with the unit.

All four guns and the command team went together remarkably easily and very quickly.

The guns painted up very easily and quickly as well.

I did not add flock to the bases for this unit so that my buddy could add that himself later and mix them in better with the rest of his collection.

One thing that was asked for by a reader on Bob's previous Zis-3 gun spotlight was for a side-by-side comparison between the PSC and the Battlefront versions of the same gun. Fortunately I already had a Battle Front Zis-2 unit that I built a few years back so could do this.

Battle Front on the left and PSC on the right.

The detail on the PSC guns was generally better, i.e. you can see daylight separating the recuperator and the gun barrel on the PSC gun. You also get real gaps between the spokes of the wheels and a choice of two wheel types to use with the PSC model. You can also see in the above image the gun elevation you automatically get with the PSC model, while with the Battle Front model you have the ability to choose your elevation.

The guns look equal in height here, but my Battle Front gun on the left is actually a bit shorter. It just looks equally high due to it having a more of a built up putty base.

Battle Front on the left and PSC on the right.

Here you can see that PSC gun is a good bit longer. I'm not much of a rivet counter so I can't really tell you what would be more accurate, but I like a slightly shorter barrel, especially if a plastic barrel, to help prevent the damage to the potion that overhangs the base even if that's less accurate. I thought the PSC gun trails were set a little too close together for my taste, but I expect that's and advantage if you plan to put them on medium bases like Bob did rather than the large bases I used here.

So how do these two manufacture's guns stack up against each other? Here's how I’d rank them:

Area                       Winner
Cost:                       PSC, roughly half the Battle Front price
Easy of assembly     PSC, plastic and model glue is so much easier than working with metal and super glue
Detail on the guns    PSC, much crisper and maybe more accurate
Detail on the crew   BF, the PSC crew were just a bit bland and uninspiring,  no "command" figures
Extras                     PSC, two wheel variants, two ammo box variants
Durability                BF, the metal is much more solid
Bases                     BF, has them included and PSC does not come with any

So, in an unconstrained cost world I want to have the PSC guns manned by BF crew figures. If I had to make a choice between one manufacture's set or the other, I'd go with the PSC Zis-2 set based on lower cost and higher gun detail which to me makes them a better overall value, even if you have to buy or make bases for them. But that’s based on how I weigh the criteria and as close as both sets rank above you’d not be able to fault anybody having the opinion that the BF models are a better option.

So from me, 8 out of 10 Red Arrows for PSC's Zis-2/3 gun set!

Tom has been playing wargames since the late 70’s, and Flames of War since 2007. He maintains a gaming website for the BattleVault Gamers of Kentuckiana and posts and moderates as Iron-Tom on WWPD

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