Soviet Armoured Aerosan RF-8/GAZ-98
Trumpeter 1:35 Scale Kit #02322
Review by Terry Ashley

The RF-8-GAZ-98 was of built using aviation plywood for the hull and rear engine mounting extensions with the Commander/Gunner situated in the front tandem seat with the 7.62mm DT machine gun mounted on a gun ring allowing 300° traverse. The Driver/Mechanic sat in the rear seat with a conventional steering wheel to steer the two front skis with independent coil spring suspension and mechanical blade brakes on the rear two skis, these dug into the ice/snow to slow the vehicle.

The RF-8 was powered by a GAZ M1 auto engine (the same as in the BA-64 A/C) developing 50hp and driving a 2.35m diameter metal propeller, the use of the metal propeller overcame a shortcoming of other designes using wooden propellers that would shatter on contact with tree branches. The engine was mounted on the rear wooden extensions with light tube frames with the radiator loacated at the front of the engine compartment housing with the fuel tank located in the rear of the hull.

The RF-8-GAZ-98 Aerosled was produced from January 1942 with approximately 2000 being produced before the end of the war and continued in service for some time post war.

The kit:
This kit released in conjunction with the Armoured Aerosan NKL-26 (kit #02321) of the Aerosan RF-8/GAZ-98 consists of 87 parts in light grey plastic and 4 clear and 2 etched parts plus a small decal sheet and the instruction sheet. The standard of moulding is very good with virtually no flash or pin marks and just the usual mould seams and sprue burs to clean up. There are some quite substantial pin marks on the insides of the hull but these are hidden after assembly so should not be a problem.

Etched and clear parts

The hull parts include hundreds of very finely moulded rivets but the issue here is the RF-8 didn’t have hundreds of rivets, not raised in any case as the hull was built with flush wood screws apart from a group of five rivets on the hull sides under the windscreen and four tie down loops along the top edge of the side under the two crew stations.

Therefore the first job is to remove all the fine rivets on the hull parts, this will make assembly easier as you don’t need to worry about the rivets with the joins but the kit is missing the 5 large rivets under the windscreen and these will need to be added.

Dimensionally the kit measures out quite well against the 1:35 plans in the recent Tankograd Aerosan book in all areas such as hull width, height, propeller diameter and ski length given the usual tolerances for printing etc. but there is an issue with the hull length which is 2mm longer than the plans indicate at the front which is more pointed as a consequence although this is hard to notice once the hull is assembled and as the skis and other dimensions are okay is probably something most would overlook?

But the biggest issue isn’t the dimensions or details in the kit, it’s the detail that is missing as the level of detail is quite basic with many of the smaller details missing or wrongly presented as we will see below.

This is made up of six main sections, the floor, two sides and the front, middle and rear top panels with the floor/side joins being bevelled to give an all but invisible join but you do need to take care and make sure the joins are aligned perfectly as the glue dries to prevent any small gaps may arise. The hull sides have inner rib frames included but there is a rib running horizontally down the centre of each side which shouldn’t be there but again isn’t that noticeable after assembly.

The hull sides include the rear extensions for the engine compartment but the detail here is very basic, the raised square panel is too long being a rectangle and there is no release latch detail plus the exhaust pipe hole is missing from the right side. Also on the hull sides there should be a small square bracket located centrally on the lower edge below the driver’s station.

The interior consists of the Commander’s and Driver’s seats but these lack any seat cushion detail and the 10 magazine rack located under the Gunner’s station is not included and there are only 3 spare drum magazines supplied in the kit. The central hull section is a separate part with the driver’s station consisting of the instrument panel with recessed dials although there is no dial detail plus the steering wheel but the foot pedals are missing with the windscreen frame and clear sheet windscreen added before or after the panel is attached to the hull. The fit was very good due to the bevelled edges not requiring any trimming.

The fit of the top front and rear panels is also very good due to the bevelled join edges that eliminate any join seam when glued to the hull sides so long as you take care while gluing as there is scope for miss-alignment if not careful but otherwise the fit is excellent. There are a couple of issues with the top panels, there isn’t any lip along the edges of the crew compartments and the corners of the compartments are angled when they should be rounded.

The suspension arms and rear propeller guards all require careful removal of the fine mould seams and this is best done while the parts are still on the sprues to provide some support with the sprue burs cleaned up after removal. The mould seams on the coil springs are rather troublesome and take a bit of effort to remove without damaging the spring detail so care is needed here.

The suspension arms and springs are moulded on one part with separate support rods as well as separate steering linkages for the front suspension but the detail is quite basic with the ski attachment U bracket being quite oversized as are the hull attachment brackets for the suspension arms. The suspension arms have locating pins for very precise location to the hull so there shouldn’t be any problems here?

Other parts added to the hull are the front headlight with clear plastic ‘glass’ and nice thin mounting bracket plus the circular gun ring which is a little on the thick side with finely moulded DT machine gun with separate ammo drum but doesn’t have the spent shell container. The mounting for the gun ring is again a little on the heavy side and you get an etched brass gun sight; unfortunately this is not the type of site used with the DT machine gun on the RF-8.

The four ski mounting ‘triangles’ are in two parts each but they are again fairly basic missing the weld seam that runs centrally around each mounting and the rear mountings do not have the brake mechanisms on the back face which are a very prominent feature and this is really noticeable once the skis are assembled.

Fitting the long thin propeller guards needs a little care as apart from the top rear with a small pin the others are just butt joins to the hull and you need to ensure all the guards are aligned correctly, the top of the guard should be parallel with the ground line so the bottom support bars (parts B12, B13) have to be positioned to allow this. The outer pointed corner of the guards should also have a thicker cuff than the guard rods but the kit guards are the same thickness all over.

The GAZ M1 engine is a multi-part assembly but has a few features I’ve not seen on these engines. The two engine block halves have a separate top valve cover that is not that of the M1 with a raised profile and three raised notches that you will have to cut off in any case to fit the engine compartment hood.

The front mounted fan is way undersized and there are no fan belts along plus the exhaust manifolds and the lower oil pan. There is no exhaust pipe provided and there is also no hole in the compartment side for the pipe in any case and you will have to drill the hole and add the exhaust pipe as these are clearly seen after assembly while most of the rest of the engine is hidden inside the compartment after assembly. There is also a large flywheel added to the back of the engine between the propeller but this is not seen on any period photos of the RF-8 M1 engine unfortunately.

The large radiator at the front has very fine screen mesh texture and added to this is the top hood but the lower circular part of the radiator is too deep and should have a shallower curve than on the part. There should be a small junction box mounted centrally on the right side of the radiator but this missing altogether and you could add this with a small piece of plastic strip.

The two mounting brackets (parts C2) for the engine added between the compartment sides are simply incorrect for the RF-8 and only included for an expedient method of mounting the engine in the kit, the actual vehicle has a single round shaft between the two engine bearer sides (hull extensions), the actual engine is mounted onto the sides by way of mountings added to either end of the engine.

Once the engine is attached to the hull mounting tabs the assembled engine compartment can be added after trimming the valve cover as mentioned above, the fit of the compartment parts is good other than the rear frame (part B14) which is too narrow to fit between the locating tabs on the hull sides and you should just glue this to the rear of the compartment.

Included are two Russian crew figures wearing heavy winter coats, trousers and boots, one with a three part tankers helmet and other a fur hat. The detail on the figures is fairly basic and the fit needed a little trimming here and there. The three part helmets were a little tricky to fit requiring some trimming and test fitting for the side flaps which are on the thick side and could do with being thinned for a better appearance. The figures are quite bulky and fitting these into the compartments could prove interesting especially for the gunner as the machine gun takes up most of the space.

The small decal sheet has makings for a single RF-8 with side stars and slogan and a smaller star for the front hull but many RF-8s didn’t have any markings at all so just painting the model would suffice.

These small instruction booklet has the usual exploded view drawings of the assembly sequences which are clearly laid out and easy to follow helped by the relatively small number of parts in the kit. The usual study of the sequences before gluing is always advisable to avoid any problems.

While the kit is okay dimensionally and the fit of the parts good overall apart from a few areas the level of detail is rather poor with much of the smaller and finer details either missing or presented wrongly which distracts from the overall appeal of the kit.

But it will build easily into a nice model if these detail issues are of no concern but if you want a more fundamentally accurate kit of the RF8-Gaz-98 then the Vision Models kit (#VM35003) is a better option as it already includes all the details missing from this kit such as the 5 small hull bolts under the windscreen, the ski brakes, the engine exhaust pipe and other engine compartment details.

Rating 7.5/10

The Sprues:

Click on thumbnails for larger view
Sprue detail images
Close new window to return to page
Build Detail Images

Soviet Aero-Sleighs of World Wat Two

Tankograd Special No.2010
Thanks to my credit card and Hobbyeasy for the review kit.

Page created July 17, 2011

Back to Top