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Chinese 120mm Type 89 Anti-Tank Gun



S u m m a r y

Stock Number and Description Trumpeter 1/35 Scale Kit No. 00306; Chinese 120mm Type 89 Anti-Tank Gun
Media and Contents: 345 parts (295 in olive styrene, 29 in silver styrene, 18 in clear vinyl, 2 tracks in gunmetal vinyl, 1 section of nylon screen)
Price: USD$22 - $30
Scale: 1/35
Review Type: First Look
Advantages: First (and probably ONLY) kit of this vehicle produced; very well done and relatively complete interior to include engine, driveline and crew/fighting compartment
Disadvantages: Um, low name recognition; may puzzle many modelers; somewhat esoteric
Recommendation: Highly Recommended for all SP gun fans, artillery fans, PLA fans, and modern armored vehicle fans


Reviewed by Cookie Sewell

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F i r s t L o o k


In the early 1950s, the Tomashov design bureau in Mytishchi developed an excellent tracked chassis for artillery weapons. This was used for a number of prototype Soviet guns such as Object 100, Object 105, Object 124, and Object 125. It did not get its first fielding until modified versions of the design were fielded as the launcher platform for the 3M8 "Krug" missile, better known in the West as the SA-4 GANEF.

Not deterred, they pressed on and finally, with the demand to produce modern SP artillery at the end of the 1960s, it appeared as Object 303 the 152mm 2S3 "Akatsiya"howitzer, Object 304 the 240mm 2S4 "Tyul'pan" heavy mortar, and Object 305 the 152mm 2S5 "Giatsint-S" gun. These all went into production in the early 1970s, and other variations also were produced, including mine layers and mine clearers. Naturally, the Soviets wanted to sell this vehicle and all of the variations to their erstwhile allies and customers, the Chinese.

The Chinese would have none of it, but not being above stealing a good idea when they see one, instead developed their own version of the Tomashov standardized chassis which appeared in the early 1980s. This chassis was most clearly seen when the Chinese debuted the Type 83, a 152mm SP howitzer which was clearly copied from the Soviet 2S3. (It even used a modified Type 66 howitzer, much as the 2S3 used a modified D-20, the weapon the Type 66 was based on.) They also debuted the 122mm Type 83 MRL , a 40 + 40 (one volley and one full reload) rocket launcher which combined the chassis of the Type 83 gun with the Chinese copy of the BM-21 rocket pack.

The Type 89 120mm SP Antitank Gun has been around now for about 14 years, but little is known about it other than it uses a 120mm smoothbore gun based on the Soviet 125mm 2A46 gun designs but firing unitary "Western-Style" ammunition. It has always been something of an oddity, for as most countries went away from SP antitank guns in favor of SP ATGM launchers, it appears a throwback. Nevertheless, at least one battalion has found service with the PLA and was most recently paraded at the 50th Anniversary Parade in Beijing as March Unit "I". (For some odd reason, the Chinese made it simpler for both themselves and for Western observers by letter coding all units; "A" were the Type 96/98 tanks, "C" Type 88B, etc.)

The chassis has been modified and improved, and now serves as the chassis for the 155mm PZL-45 long range (45 caliber barrel) version of the SP gun-howitzer that is finding foreign acceptance in the Middle East.

Trumpeter has started to turn its attention to Chinese weapons, and is trying to produce high-quality world standard kits of them rather than the toylike and unbuildable early efforts. Their BJ-212 with 105mm RR was one of their first efforts to clean up things, and was very nicely done. These three kits the Type 83 SP 152mm, the Type 83 MRL, and the Type 89 SP AT gun are their next Chinese releases.

The kit is very neatly done (in styrene, and I am glad they learned THAT lesson early on!) with a lot of parts. The number of components can be determined by the fact that this kit only offers vinyl track and yet still has nearly 350 parts. "Sprue poppers" will note right up front that the lower and upper hull cannot be assembled dry the parts fit together with the bulkheads from the interior, and as such there are no tabs or overlaps to fit the parts together. Also, a nice touch is that the fender braces for the rear fenders are molded onto the stern plate (part E57) and come with a polystyrene block to protect them from snapping off in shipment.

The hull detail is quite complete, missing only the usual wires and rodding which most other companies also ignore on kits with interiors. The V-2 diesel clone used in the vehicle is most detailed consisting of some 29 parts by itself including the motor mounts. As a point of fact, the first 13 steps in the "monkey-see-monkey-do" direction booklet are all dealing with the hull interior components.

Steps 14-19 cover the running gear, and since this vehicle uses a unique track until the after-market boys come out with one there is nothing which will do as well as the kit tracks.

Note that many parts may have to have holes drilled out, but they are noted in the directions so you have to pay attention to each step as you go. Each of the three kits differs in its upper works and rear fittings, so most of the changes have to do with those parts. Steps 20-28 cover the upper hull and mating the lower and upper hull sections together.

The turret has a relatively complete interior, but as it is an SP gun of the purest sense, there apparently is no turret basket as with most other armored vehicles with a rotating turret. The crew seats mount to the turret base, and many other details mount on the inside of the turret roof; for this we currently just have to accept Trumpeter's word for it. Ammo stows in the bustle and only a false front (part F3) is provided to simulate that assembly. The gun appears to be fixed as it comes with a pre-molded canvas boot (part E1) that cements to the frame from the inside.

A model of the new Chinese heavy machine gun presumably based on the venerable "Dushka" from its appearance is provided on a separate sprue and consists of 14 parts on its own.

Markings provided include a "number jungle" of sorts, but the only marking option given is that of the three-color camouflage and "I" series numbers used during the 50th Anniversary parade.

Overall, this is a very impressive model of a very obscure vehicle to most modelers. Barring that, one shouldn't ignore it as it appears to be an interesting vehicle and a very detailed kit.

Cookie Sewell

Review Copyright 2003 by Cookie Sewell
Page Created 23 February, 2003
Last updated 24 August, 2003

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