Mat Irvine: The SS-25 (NATO codename Sickle) TEL would be a complex kit even in the standard military scale of 1:35, but this is to 1:72 scale, and has an amazing 309 parts. The Zvezda SS-25 can be built in one of two ways, mobile transport mode, or ready for launch. You need to decide which it will be before you build, as your choice dictates which parts you will use. This is primarily because for launch, massive support pads are deployed from either side, to raise the whole vehicle off the ground and enable it to be levelled.
Photographs on the box bottom (below) show the build options. The scale is a good one for Zvezda to choose, as the TEL will look very interesting when displayed next to a group of current 1:72 scale Russian aircraft.
One very useful touch - especially for 1:72 scale - is that the 14 tyres are separately moulded in black vinyl. Very often with this type of kit, and particularly in this small scale, you find that the tyres are moulded integrally with the wheels. So you end up with the major task of painting both, usually in different colours.
In this kit, the wheels are moulded separately, so painting them is easy, whatever colour you choose. The main launcher and missile casing is listed as ‘dark green’, though photos of the real thing show other camouflage schemes. Besides Zvezda’s own paint numbering, Humbrol colours are also listed, a useful bonus. One nice mention is that the components come in a strong box.
The main runners (below) are moulded in dark green. Note the separate pack at bottom left, containing the vinyl tyres.
The SS-25 first came into service in 1985, and is mounted on a MAZ-7917 truck, which is a TEL (Transporter Erector Launcher) vehicle similar to that used for other missiles, such as the SS-20. By Russian terminology it is actually the RT-2PM Topol (meaning ‘Poplar’ in Russian). The NATO designation is SS-25 Sickle, and both names are used on the kit. ‘SS’ stands for surface-to-surface, and all related Soviet/Russian missiles have a code name starting with same letter, hence Sickle.
SS-25 missiles are a regular sight (below) at the annual Moscow May Day parade.
SS-25 TEL in action, shown here with the missile tube at mid-elevation, on its way to the full vertical launch position.
A civilian version of the SS-25 (below and bottom) as used for the Start and Start-1 projects. If military green is not your choice, this could make an interesting alternative.
Zvezda SS-25 Topol/Sickle ICBM Missile Launcher
Assembled length: 310 mm (12 in)
Manufacturer’s ref: 5003
Thanks to Zvezda’s UK importer and distributor, The Hobby Company, for the review kit.
Artist’s impression shows SS-25s on winter dispersal, perhaps somewhere deep in the Ural Mountains.
A decommissioned SS-25 TEL (below) on public display. Note the raised wheels, to avoid flattened tyres.