ZSU-23-4M Shilka
Ref : Italeri #268

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The ZSU23-4M Shilka is a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun based on the PT76 chassis. The armament consists of four 23mm cannon with a maximum range of 3,000 meters associated to a Gun Dish radar capable of acquiring, tracking and thus enabling the engagement of low-flying aircraft. It is very effective too against ground targets.
The four water cooled guns have a rate of fire of 800 to 1,000 rounds per minute each. Two types of ammunition normally are mixed at a ratio of three HE-T (high explosive-tracer) rounds per one API-T (armor piercing incendiary-tracer) round. About 2,000 rounds are carried onboard.
In addition to the computerized fire control and the Gun Dish radar, conventional optical sights also are available. While travelling, the radar can be folded down at the rear of the turret.
The crew is of 4 men of which 3 are in the turret.
The ZSU-23-4M model 1977 mainly differs from earlier variants by large ammunition panniers, mounted on the turret sides, three (instead of two) access ports on each side of the hull and an armored cover for the guns. It also has a digital computer, an improved Gun Dish radar and can be linked to off-carriage radar and fire control equipment if required. The Gun Dish radar on the ZSU-23-4M is capable of being used independently in the search mode whereas on previous versions it had been slaved to the gun tubes.

The kit is produced by Italeri in a joint venture with Dragon which produce the V1 version. It comes in 7 sprues, a clear foil and 2 strings.
The instructions come in a 8-page leaflet. The decals sheet offers 9 various decoration schemes for WarPac, Middle East and Far East countries.

The detail is not of the current standard and lacks fineness. The build is pretty easy except for the turret as shown later.
The chassis is well represented with tracks in individual links. This is time consuming but enhances the realism of the tracks. Each link needs some cleaning to ensure a perfect fit.
The hull is built without any trouble. The engine deck molded mesh is replaced by a home-made one. The tow cables are made with the strings provided by Italeri and installed after the painting stage.
The turret is the painful area. The fit is not very good particularly concerning the parts around the gun mount. The ammunition bins covers needed to be glued as they didn't rest properly. The gun mount is quite detailed but Italeri has made it moveable resulting in a very complicated build. The 4 barrels alignment is hard to get. The muzzles need to be drilled out as well as the extremities of the J shaped part under each tube. In real these are the expended cases outlet. Unfortunately, I didn't get this information when I built the kit.
The radar can be set either in travel position or in combat one.

The decoration is for a North-Vietnamese SPAAG. It remains overall green however. The weathering is rather light with some rust spots represented as the weather is quite wet there.
Despite some build troubles, this kit is an attractive one thanks to its aggressive look and the fact that the real vehicle is widely spread.