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Zvezda Topol - 1/72 scale ICBM TEL

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I have just started my Zvezda Topol kit - a 1/72 scale model of the Russian ICBM.

This is the earlier 7-axle Topol - not the latest improved 8-axle Topol-M as some shops are advertising it as.

The artwork on the box sleeve is striking - showing the TEL on its jacks raising the missile tube to the launch position.


Two options are provided for - on the road and in the launch position - as shown on the reverse of the box sleeve........


The parts are all individually bagged in a stout cardboard box....... with a comprehensive instruction sheet.


The build starts with the chassis - two long sections to which are added 8 brackets and three fuel tanks.....


Then you add 7 cross-members, a three-part transfer gearbox and two prop shafts.


I couldn't decide whether to paint the inner sides of the chassis before fitting them together - but there are too many joins to cement, so I took the hit of having to paint the 'interior' after joining them - there isn't much room to do so.

Also added at the rear is the pivot and actuating ram for the missile tube.


Now we come to the REALLY complicated bits - the stub axles.

There are 14 stub axles - each made up from two fiddly halves - and there are TWO SETS of axles :woot.gif:/> - 28 parts in total


The photo above shows the two halves on the left - and on the right are the two different sets -' on the road' version at left, and 'ready-to-launch' at right - note how the vertical damper is longer on the right - as the wheels would be when 'drooped' with the TEL raised in its jacks.

This is amazing attention to detail - but it does make the build complicated - you need to study the instructions carefully - and make sure to use the correct set for whichever 'variant' you are building.

For all its complication and excellent surface detail, Zvezda does not provide any interior to the crew cabs - the instructions simply say to paint it black - and to be fair, you can't see much inside anyway.

The real thing is painted pale blue-green - so I may have a go at scratching at least some seats and a steering wheel.


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I had a near-disaster with the chassis.

When I came to fit the first stub axle, it would not fit :woot.gif:/>/>/>/>/>/>/> - it took me a while to work out that I had fitted the 14 mounting brackets too high on the chassis.

I had to carefully prise off each bracket and re-fit them in the correct place...... :bandhead2:/>/>/>/>/>/>/>

The chassis is now sorted...... (the parts count is 90 so far!)


Underside view..... note the actuating arms on the front four steerable axles...


The chassis is incredibly well detailed - but all to be hidden under a coat of black paint.....


Transmission and transfer box......


I decided to 'gild the lilly' by replacing the moulded mesh areas with brass mesh - but having opened up the front part, I realised that the rear box (part F20) also needed to be opened up - it also needed something inside to at least give an impression that there was something there....


I fitted a spare stub axle - to look something like a generator - I have no idea what should be there, but at least once painted, it will look 'busy'

I also decided to add some detail to the crew cabs interior - Zvezda provide no detail and just say to paint it black.

The real thing is painted Eau-de-Nil (or Duck-Egg Blue) - so I've added two seats from the spares box and scratched a third.

The steering wheel is a press stud and I've made a couple of instrument panels......


The parallel bars under the two seats gives away the kits origins - it was supposed to be a simplified snap-together kit.

The bars are there to allow the cab sides and front to be fitted to the floor - so they are a bit in the way when detailing the interior!!

More later.....


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A bit more progress.......

Zvezda's instructions would have you assemble the side-mounted equipment bays onto the chassis bit-by-bit.

But this might prove to be awkward when painting them green against a black chassis - so I'm assembling them off-piste.

They are mounted onto two flat side plates (the mudguards really) - first the box to the flat plate, then the box front.

I removed the side plates from the sprue, but left them connected together while they were assembled - I'll cut off the connecting sprues later.....


I have also departed from Zvezda's instructions and made up the parts into as many sub-assemblies as I can - for ease of painting.....


More later...


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Great work Ken :-) what scheme you will paint ? You are assembling her so fast so i asking:-)

Thanks Mario,

I think I'll just go with the overall dark green as recommended by Zvezda.

I have a second one to make in the firing position - so I may try a multi-camo on that one.....


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I'm bummed that a kit of an ICBM doesn't actually include the ICBM. Might have to correct that.

In the mean time, nice build, Ken. Kind of shocked by the lack of interior, though. I wonder if Armory will re-purpose their resin kit as a detail set.

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I'm bummed that a kit of an ICBM doesn't actually include the ICBM. Might have to correct that.

On my second model - in the firing position - I am going to leave off the domed end (it's a separate part) and scratch just the front few feet of the missile inside its container.

Plenty of photos on't t'interweb.

In the mean time, nice build, Ken. Kind of shocked by the lack of interior, though. I wonder if Armory will re-purpose their resin kit as a detail set.

I emailed Armory (they made a resin & etch brass Topol - now withdrawn) - I asked if they planned some detail/correction sets and they said yes, they were planning to.

I also asked if they planned a Topol-M 'conversion' - but they said it was about 50% different - so too expensive to do.


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Any suggested references for the missile? Most of my googling for Topol just turns up pics of the TEL, not the actual ICBM.

A search in Cyrillic yields some good results...... Тополь РС-12М

This site is good :- http://makeyev.msk.ru/pub/sys/2005/SS_25.html

Check out this photo - note the removed end cap in the foreground.


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I've always liked the look of the big MAZ multi-axle tractors - even more so when the wheels are turned.

It adds a bit of drama and 'action' to the vehicle - so I have tried to reproduce it on my model.....


The first 4 axles are steerable - the rear 3 are fixed, and all but the centre axle are driven.

I should really have altered the stub axles and steering arms to be 100% correct - but they are rather fiddly - so I have just bodged it and glued the wheels on at progressively reducing angles from front to back.

The tires are rubber - not everyones cup of tea - but once the tread area is scrubbed and they are plugged onto the plastic hubs, they look OK.

The tires are 'handed' - so you need to make sure the tread is the same on each side - the vee is facing forward on each side.

I also cut a slice off the bottom of each tire - to try to represent a loaded wheel.

So, getting it to 'sit' on all 14 wheels, orient the tread and animate the steering angles..... I'm making a rod for my own back :bandhead2:

The 'ready-to-fire' variant should be a lot easier.......



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  • 2 weeks later...

Got a question Ken (or anyone who knows), there was a little bottle of liquid in my kit box with Zvezda marking but all writing in Russian??

What is it?

Interesting - there wasn't one in mine.

Maybe you got a Russian-only boxing ??? Is there no text in English at all???

Where did you get it from ???


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Aha !!

I've just opened my second kit (it has been sitting around for a couple of weeks unopened) - and it also has the small red plastic bottle of glue.

I have two Topol's - one purchased in the UK, the second by mail order from Hobby Terra in the Ukraine.

The UK boxing does not have the bottle of glue - the Ukrainian box does - mystery solved.

Both boxes have a flash in the top right corner that says in Cyrilic (I think) "With complimentary glue"...


Must be some H&S thing about posting glues......


PS Just for completeness, I photographed the bottle.....


Edited by Flankerman
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I've just had a thought..............

Maybe I should go back to the shop where I purchased my UK Topol...........

..... and demand my bottle of complimentary glue !! :rolleyes:

UK Sale of Goods Act etc - I'm not getting what is promised on the box !!!!

Ken :whistle:

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That's it! Glue, eh? I guess nobody at Canada Customs/Post reads Russian, or they would have snatched that bottle right away!!

Nice touch but there is not near enough there to finish this kit!! Now that that is solved, back to trying to build 2 Topols, one Armoury (which may give up some parts to detail the other kit) which will be travel config since there is no real other way and the Zvezda kit in launch mode!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am now building my second Topol ICBM - this time in launch configuration.

Although Zvezda provide the 'drooped' mainwheels, raising ram and deployed hydraulic steadying rams, they do not include any SS-25 'Sickle' ICBM missile.

I suppose you could just leave the endcap on with the launch tube raised, but a study of video footage shows that the endcap is blown off as the tube is raised - so this and the missile needs to be scratch-built.

There is no need to make the whole missile - only the tip is visible when the endcap is removed - so I used a 15mm dia plastic knitting needle .......


The prominent raised bulges around the nose section are plug-moulded using white plastic card.

It isn't 100% accurate - but at least it gives the impression of there being something inside the tube......


The endcap has some internal structure - with three padded arms to steady the missile nosecone.... this great web photo shows the structure - with my scratched internals in the middle...


My finished endcap......


More later....


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