For decades, modelers here in the West were left with little choices when it came to modeling Soviet and Eastern Bloc aircraft. What was available was slim and, at best, based on grainy pictures and third-party drawings. However, as history unfolded, more became available after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Eastern Bloc nations became part of the information exchange. More accurate kits were produced – but, alas, not much in the way of ordnance.
Within the last few years, there has been a keen interest in providing accurate and highly detailed weapons loads to match the highly detailed models now on the market. The accessibility of solid reference material, coupled with advances in resin molding technology, has created a perfect environment for a host of new aftermarket items to hit the shelves.
Aerobonus is a child company of Aires, which is a well-known company located in the Czech Republic. Over the last year, this label has released a series of very nice Soviet ordnance aftermarket kits, including various bombs and missiles. This release provides two ZB-500 napalm canisters for use on the SU-22, SU-30, SU-24, Mig-21, Mig-27, and the Mi-24. Though the Mi-24 might be cleared to carry this item, I have yet to see any photos of them doing so on a standard operating basis.
The ZB-500 is classified by Warsaw Pact as a “chemical weapon;” however, this only means that it can be filled with something other than the standard explosive mix found in HE bombs. The filler is actually not napalm proper, but is a synthetic substance called Ognesmes, which is a mixture of toluene, kerosene, and polystyrene. The ZB-500 weighs about ½ ton, and can affect an area of 2,750-16,250 square meters when used.
The hanging bag with enclosed card backing contains two resin pour stubs, with the parts for a single bomb on each stub. Four parts total make up the two bombs included in the set. Casting is perfect, with crisp detail as we would expect from Aires. The fins are cast very thinly, but the grey resin is fairly strong and even a few bumps by my careless fingers and razor saw didn’t even crack anything. Instructions consist of a single illustration showing the assembly of the two ends to make a bomb.
Putting the bomb together is fairly straightforward. Simply cut the parts free from the pour stub, align, and glue. Some care must be taken when removing the “finned” rear portion. I suggest using a fine razor saw and freeing each fin first, then cutting the rest of the part free. Pay close attention to the instructions, as the illustration shows the correct alignment based on the molded-on details.
This is another great set from Aerobonus. My only negative is that they didn’t include a “non-finned” end. I have yet to do some close comparisons, but this option might be obtained by merely removing the fins from the parts provided. Otherwise, a very nice little item and something different to hang from of your Warsaw Pact fast-mover. Thanks to Aires for the review sample, to IPMS/USA for the opportunity, and please keep these kinds of sets coming!