In-Box Review
Soviet Limber & Horses
Soviet Regimental Artillery Horse Transport (1943-1945)
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by: Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]


Considering the fundamental importance that Soviet military doctrine placed on artillery, it's surprising that, up until fairly recently, it wasn't high on the list of priorities for the manufacturers. Now, if not exactly a flood, we're beginning to see a steady stream of Soviet Artillery and related subjects from several manufacturers.

Another aspect, which this particular release reflects as well, was the use of horse-drawn artillery by the Soviet Union until quite an advanced stage of WWII. The (over?) dependance that the Germans had on the horse is well-documented (but frequently overlooked), and this, too, is beginning to be addressed by the manufacturers, although the number of prime-movers that we've seen in recent years does almost obviate it....

In the box of ICM's recent kit

35481 Soviet Regimental Artillery Horse Transport (1943-1945) covers two areas: the first, the four horses of this (effectively) light/medium transport, and the 52-R-353M limber. In addition are parts for two of drivers. The kit includes 5 sprues: three in grey styrene for the limber; two in sand-colored styrene for the horses, crew and the various items of 'horse furniture' such as saddles and draught collars. The instruction sheet is also in two parts- four pages for each part.

In detail

In this section, I'll evaluate the three separate areas: horses, limber and crew figures.

The Horses:
Parts are supplied for the four horses which would have towed the limber and gun combination. Each breaks down into five pieces:

2 body halves

Now, I'm NO expert on horses, but going from what I've seen on Russian horses, they were NOT large (draught-type) animals, but the normal-sized type. Making a small logical deduction, they would not have been the former type, but smaller and faster. So as far as I can ascertain, the type presented here would be logical for their function. Rather than present two duplicate sprues of two horses on each, ICM give us four different horses, avoiding uniformity.

I'm quite impressed with the quality of the horses. Musculature is where it should be, heads are nicely sculpted and the only areas which should require attention should be the tails and a bit of 'texturing' on the bodies, and in particular on the fetlocks which were normally 'hairier.' The tails might benefit from a replacement by a clump of thread, although careful painting and washes will bring them out convincingly enough.

The Figures:
The two riders are very nicely-done although, for use before 1943, the epaulettes will HAVE to be removed. All personal equipment is present, along with the appropriate weapons in the shape of a couple of Moisin carbines. It WILL be worth checking with contemporary sources, as one of the figures has what appears to be a kind of ridged covering on his long boots, which I doubt is an error in the design?

The 52-R-353M Limber:
The limber is constructed with a total of 64 parts. Moulding is good and finely-done with some good detail on individual parts, such as the lid. There hasn't (and I applaud this!) been much effort made to give a grain effect on wooden parts. This in my opinion is rather pointless as a.) they aren't to scale, (wood grain wouldn't exist in 1/35th scale anyway), and b.) they tend to vanish with the first coat of paint....

As to accuracy, I've got a good set of plans of the 52-R-353M, and it scales out very well indeed. The only thing is, if a 76mm gun is added, I haven't any images of the internal stowage arrangements.

The Rest:
A good part of the model provides the 'Furniture' for the horses (Stirrups, Saddles etc. etc.). In the interests of building a more convincing model, I'd strongly suggest using the kit parts such as B1-4 and A1-4 as templates to replace the traces with a suitable material such as wire or thread to give a more convincing 'hang,' as in the case of the stirrups. The plastic parts should look alright, but a little more natural 'hang' is desirable, particularly with horse subjects.

Something to tow?

As this particular release doesn't include an artillery piece, and with the 52-R-353M Limber, it's a regimental gun that we're looking for. In their product description, three guns are listed by the company. These are:

1927 Pattern regimental gun

In addition, the Mod. 1938 Mountain Artillery piece could be conceivably used. The company DO produce the 76.2 mm F-22.


Unfortunately, (or fortunately!) the 52-R-353M has also been produced by another manufacturer, and as far as I can tell, both seem equally accurate. It's a pity there was this duplication, but as competition's a good thing...

It's another very competent release from ICM. Again, moulding is good and the figures show a marked improvement over some of their early releases. There will be a need to replace some of the traces with a more suitable material (styrene is TOO rigid), and, as to finishing, some consideration of how to paint horses (sponges and oil paints figure in my personal favorite technique). It should become the basis of some good dioramas.

With the Divisional Limber and its horse team available now, we REALLY need some more Divisional Artillery!

More Info

The best I've seen on the 52-R-353M can be found here including plans and drawings.
Highs: Subject and execution. Nice delicate moulding when required, and good design on horses and crew.
Lows: Although it's a nice subject, we really didn't need two models of it.
Verdict: Following on nicely with the company's recent releases - technically highly-competent.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 35481
  PUBLISHED: Aug 24, 2011

Our Thanks to ICM Holding!
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About Jim Rae (jimbrae)

Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...

Copyright ©2021 text by Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]. All rights reserved.


Jim do the horses have any texture on them as the pictures do not make that clear one way or the other? This looks to be a very good kit and looks to be fair competition with the other version of this that was released, but the box art looks very poor for something that is supposed to attract customers.
AUG 24, 2011 - 09:41 AM
Good couple of questions and points. No, there is little texture on the horses, which, going by my comments in the Review, leaves me to refer back to my thoughts about wood texture. For this kind of horse, they were a lot 'shaggier' than what we'd see in the West - think 'Pit Ponies' )apart from size) and you'd get an idea what I mean. In 1/35th scale, IMO, they'd be invisible, and, unless you were to 'roughen' the surface carefully, it could look OTT. The boxart is, IMO, poor. I didn't bring it up in the Review as i've already brought it up with ICM. It DOESN'T, under any circumstances reflect the extraordinary high product within the box and that, at point of sale, is a REAL pity.
AUG 24, 2011 - 11:24 AM
Thank you for your quick reply and thinking about what you have said regarding texture makes sense, but I suppose it is like the arguements over zimmerit when scaled down you would not really see it but you expect it to be there. I will say that comparing the horses to pit ponies is very good as regards appearance as the very few pictures I have seen of Panje horses show very hairy ponies/horses which I assume is due the the cold climate.
AUG 24, 2011 - 11:54 AM
Dear all, about the texture. One should consider the time of year. In the summer, well treated horses ( a military used horse was a sportsman in its art and represented a high value. The German army had veterinarians at battalion level !) are shiny and their skin does not show much texture on 1/35 scale. In winter, the hair lenght increased and the skin become more mat. By using oil paints, one can obtain both texture and the semi shiny appereance of well treated horses. The Historex had a nice manual for painting horses. If you look at the trailer of Steven Spielberg's new film "War horse" one can get a pritty good impression about the horse in a military role.. Furthermore, one should differentiate between the larger races of horse, used in wagon trains and artillery units and the use of seized smaller horses from local farmers, as most ponies were, to fill up gaps of lost army horses.
AUG 24, 2011 - 09:35 PM
I always understood that Panje horses were used as they could get there when nothing else could including other breeds of horse. I also believe that Panje horses are not a breed but is the name the Germans gave them which has stuck. The horses were not all retained after the worst of the weather was over and units returned to primarily mechanised transport, with some of the horses being used for food the others let loose. All of that really relates to the horses in German service with my knowledge of Russian use being very little, but if the Germans found them to be the right tool for the job then I would have thought the same would be true for the Russians.
AUG 25, 2011 - 01:00 AM
To have an explanation about the word 'panje', please, look at: LINK But nevertheless, both MiniArt and ICM have followed a new path and go for models of the over 8 million horses, used during WW 2. During the Stalingrad battles more than 50,000 horses were killed and during the German retreat from the east in May 1944, 30,000 were killed to avoid later use by the Soviet forces. Podzun-Pallas Verlag has published a informative (German written) book: Kavellerie der Wehrmacht, ISBN 3-89555-310-7. Also, the Dutch language book 'Het paardenvolk in mei 1940", ISBN 90.6707.074.2 may open some views on horses used in an artillery role. Since the physics are the same for all armies, both books may help you to super detail the models of ICM and MiniArt. So, fellow-modellers, who's the first to show his atempts with this model on this site???
AUG 25, 2011 - 03:57 AM
Have you seen my build thread on the dio forum called"another105"? I am scratchbuilding a limber and horse arty team. Not Russian but horse drawn all the same. J
AUG 25, 2011 - 04:15 AM
Now I have! I am going to use the gun from the Italeri Studebaker set, upgraded with the Eduard etch set. Parallel I will do the MiniArt set as well. As a gunner, these models will not be in their boxes for too long. But I have to empty my bench first!!!!!!!!!! I am suffering from the modeller's collection disease as well. Your German artillery team just looks great. Compliments. Do you got info from Joachim Engelmann's books 1. German Heavy Field Artillery and 2. German Light Field Artillery ? These books are full of horse drawn guns. You can see gun teams all over the war, some of them having 4 couples of real heavy draught horses. You must love these books! But as I stated before, based on the human and animal physics, these pictures will be a source of inspiration to all horse drawn items. Maybe we will see, finally, more horses with this quality standards. Almost 60% of the German transport capacity was based on horses all over the war.
AUG 25, 2011 - 08:11 AM
I did not see these books but I got a pretty good set of ref pics from the internet. There is also a cool thread on the axishistory website that has hundreds of pics of horses in the Wehrmacht. It would be nice to make a horse drawn 150mm cannon with the 2 parts! J
AUG 25, 2011 - 08:25 AM

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