The unit/model under review today is the Warlord Games ZiS 3 divisional gun. It is available here.
The Soviet Union produced over 60,000 of these guns. They played a decisive role at the Battle of Kursk where they formed the backbone of anti-tank strong points. Versatile, rugged, and beloved by its crew, from 1942 until the end of the war the ZiS-3 was a key ingredient for the success of the Red Army.
We can assert apodictically: this unit belongs in any Soviet list. Nevertheless, propriety demands that we conduct a formal review. This is our third Warlord Games model review. We previously reviewed the Warlord Games SU-76M and their 2 1/2 ton truck. As before, our goal is to present the reader with a guide to assess a model in terms of gameplay, hobby elements, and value:
2. Kit characteristics
3. Value (a judgement which considers the price in reference to the unit’s functionality).
In Bolt Action the ZiS-3 is a medium anti-tank gun and light howitzer. It has a gun shield and follows the rules for fixed, team weapons (4 crew). A ZiS-3 with a regular rating costs 80 points. The gun is a good source of HE (d6) firing either directly or indirectly. It can fire smoke, and its medium AT gun has a range of 60″. It is not immobile and this affords it protection from repeat indirect fire as well as giving it the chance to deploy on to the table from reserve. The gun takes an artillery slot and is a nice compliment to another AT asset. Bolt Action tracked vehicle rules allow for only one 90-degree turn with an advance order. In addition, the front armor arc is significantly narrower than in Flames of War. Thus, with two anti-tank assets carefully deployed you can make it difficult for an opponent to keep his front arc facing all the AT threats.
2. Kit characteristics
This is a metal kit. For an experienced hobbyist assembly is straightforward but not easy. It contains a number of thin and spindly pieces: the gun barrel, two towing trails, and gun shield. Beginners will have to be careful straightening any pieces that may be bent. The pieces may also need to be cleaned up with a hobby file. There are three metal crew figures. These are outstanding sculpts. Interestingly, Warlord Games crew models appear to be unique for different guns (or at least the four–ZiS-3, 81mm mortar, 45mm anti-tank gun, and maxim MMG–that we possess). This is a real mark of class. Our only complaint is the lack of a supplied base.
This model costs £16/€20/$26.50. A relatively pricey blister, the sting is lessened by quality of the crew models and the utility of the unit; the ZiS-3 is an “auto-include” for the Soviet player. For a mere 30 points more than a medium mortar you get a unit that can fire indirectly or directly using either AP or HE, possesses a gunshield, and cannot be one-shotted by a sniper. Soulless monsters can use the Seelow Heights theatre selector to construct a list with four of these potent guns with plenty of points left over (the War Altar fully endorses the use of generic, single platoon forces for tournament games). A ZiS-3 combined with a SU-76 provides two sources of direct-fire d6 HE as well as two medium anti-tank guns for a mere 210 points. Add a medium mortar and you have three units that can fire d6 HE–that’s going to red mist a few infantry squads! Below is our assembled and painted ZiS-3. Next week we’ll review the Soviet maxim MMG.