AER Moldova Russian Truck Conversion in 1/72 Scale Part I

Several years ago I happened across two relatively obscure kits in my Local Hobby Store (LHS).  Heaven knows why they were there.  They were bagged kits of Soviet trucks from the Great Patriotic War.  The PARM-1 (single rear axle) and PARM-2 (double rear axle) were field workshop conversions built upon the ZIS-5 truck chassis.  They were issued to aviation regiments and contained everything needed to make minor and mid-level repairs to aircraft, such as machine lathes, welding equipment, sheet metal fabrication breaks, etc.  AER was not a familiar manufacturer to me, but the moldings looked adequate even if a little basic.  They were in my scale so I couldn’t resist adding the kits to the stash.
Here are the sprues from the duel-axle kit, the parts needed for the extra axle are provided on the partial sprue on the upper left.  The workshop is on a separate sprue, suggesting multiple versions of the ZIS-5.  Most, if not all, military trucks are manufactured in multiple configurations with specialized equipment mounted to the frame.  It would be quite easy for a kit manufacturer to issue a dozen or more different vehicle kits using a common chassis.  The molds are currently being used by PST and there are several versions of this truck available.
Assembly is uncomplicated and straight-forward.  The modeler is instructed to cut the drive line and wheel axles from stock, I made mine from brass rod to increase strength.  Some may complain about this as the rods are not provided, but I almost always end up substituting metal rather than trying to clean up fragile moldings anyway so I see this as a good thing.
One of the trucks will be finished with the PARM workshop as AER intended, the other will be finished as an AAA gun truck.  Here I have scratchbuilt the bed for the gun truck from Evergreen and added grab handles for the gunners to ride along atop the ammo box.  The workshop has a door handle and hinges added because the door just looked too bare.
I bought the UM “Air Defense Station” kit consisting of four Maxim machine guns.  This was one of the armaments for the air defense trucks and has a uniquely “Soviet” feel to it.
The Maxim gun battery has a surprisingly high parts count for such a small model, the kit designers have attempted to replicate each component as an individual piece.  Unfortunately this approach results in a very fragile and finicky assembly.  Alignment and proper spacing proved impossible, and the fine injection molded bars kept breaking.  The sub assemblies did not fit together when joined.  After a couple of frustrating hours I admitted defeat and chucked the whole mess into the spares box.  If you have this kit do yourself a favor, put it in the spares box now and enjoy the two hours of your life you will thus have saved.  You’re welcome.
Fortunately the Zvezda 37mm 61-K gun was in the stash which was also a load for the ZIS-5 gun truck, so by dumb luck the build was saved from the shelf of doom.  I had hoped to build this kit on its own, but they are inexpensive and plentiful so that itch will be easy to scratch.
Here is the Zvezda gun built up, without the trailer parts of course.  It went together with no drama.  If you look closely you can see sink marks in the pointer’s foot rest, those were the only molding issues.  Easily corrected with rectangles of 0.005″ card.
A test fit of the gun truck components.  Nothing is glued down at this point, the cab must stay loose so the interior can be properly painted and windows installed.