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December 23, 2013
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Soviet Light Mech Destroyer Zinka by Rob-Cavanna Soviet Light Mech Destroyer Zinka by Rob-Cavanna

Multi-artist collab, starting w/ :iconantonmoscowsky: Who was keen on contributing original work to Operation: Dragon Slayer. With a light Soviet mech destroyer in mind, we zeroed in on the SU-76 for inspiration and a sense of ‘personality'. After simmering on the back burner for a while (like, a year :ashamed:) I pilfered some Katyusha rocket rails from one of :iconcosedimarco:’s new Proletarian models and adapted it to Anton’s sketchup Zinka. Finally summoned some head sketches I liked, and shared the WIP w/ :iconflaketom: who caught the bug and promptly blasted it to the next level. Still very much in keeping, I think, w/ the original concept devised between Anton and I. 4-way International collab achievement: unlocked! 

lazy background expedited thanks to 


Like the SU-76 with which it shared myriad mechanical components, including a modified 76mm ZIS-3Sh gun, the  light mech destroyer Zinka was produced in massive numbers by the Soviets during WWII. In terms of quantity constructed, Zinka was rivaled only by the T-34 tank and the Kirov medium mech, due in great part to its practical and relatively simple construction.   

The Zinka MD competantly straddled 3 main combat roles: assault, anti-armor, and artillery. Such versatility was partially due to the wide variety of shell types compatible with the 76mm ZIS-3Sh gun, and also to the very nature of mechs and their interchangeable weapon loadouts. One version of the Zinka was equipped with only the 76mm gun on one arm mount, and an armored cartridge storage unit for the other. In this case, the gun had a smaller vertically loading banana clip (unlike the barrel unit shown here) which could be easily managed by the crew themselves in lieu of a suporting anthro mech. The ammo storage arm would contain clips pre-loaded with specific types of ammo to encompass varying combat scenarios, including: 

-Armor piercing

-Hollow charge

-High Explosive




Zinka eventually became ubiquitous in the close support role, assuming the role of infantry tanks and light mechs in swarms. Its open rear structure facilitated communication with supporting infantry and thus coordinating tactics. Zinka was naturally vulnerable to grenades and small arms, however, the open construction could be a life saver for evacuating crew members if the vehicle was hit or on fire. 

Another name for Zinka was the “bare-arsed Fafnir”, thusly named by Russian troops because it resembled a cheaper less complex version of the German mech destroyer Fafnir. Though thinly armored, the Zinka packed enough punch in its customary 76mm canon to defeat any German armor of medium size, including a Panther tank or Donner mech. Against heavier foes such as a Tiger or Hagen, the outcome was less certain. In such cases, Zinka crews were instructed to aim for the treads or vulnerable leg joints, turret and waist rings, etc… Though how well they fared with such a strategy is dubious. 

In tandem with German mech destroyer design philosophy, the Zinka saved on weight and construction resources by forgoing rotation in its waist section. Traversal of the main gun along its limited shoulder mount could only be extended by turning the vehicle itself, which required either standing or towing. Even in a sitting position, the Zinka had a much higher profile than the diminutive SU-76. But one area where Zinka surpassed its tracked cousin, as with most MDs, was in the realm of gun elevation and depression. 

In the indirect fire role, the Zinka was most often aided by rail mounted Katyusha rockets. Up to ten 5’11” long M-13 rockets could be easily fitted to rail launchers on either arm mount, maxing out at twenty rockets total if both arms were thus employed. Earlier in its rocket platform career, some trials were run with Zinkas using the same pudgy “tank torpedoes” mounted to the turrets of the BTR-5 light tank. But as only one could be mounted to each arm launcher, the weapon’s low accuracy was an even greater liability. Though not exactly a precision alternative, Katyusha rockets were readily available in vast numbers. Zinka could unleash its full rocket payload in mere seconds, saturating vast target areas with large amounts of high explosive equivalent in impact to a battery of simultaneously firing artillery guns. The shock value of this weapon system on the recieving end was significant. Like any rocket platform, a high firing rate was offset by lengthy reload times, however, the light footed Zinka, having superb mobility and relatively low ground pressure, could swiftly relocate after a volley to avoid counter-battery attacks. 

Zinka’s strategic mobility was further enhanced by unpowered wheels mounted to the lower legs. Suspension was provided by extant mechanisms within the legs, already essential for the act of walking. In a ‘sitting’ position, the vehicle could be towed by tanks or trucks over great distances to the area of operations, and alternatively shifed to the rear lines if in need of repair or refitting. This simple towing option dramatically reduced the wear and tear on generally maintenance hungry leg and foot components. As conflict on the Eastern front was characterized by greuling traversal of ocean-sized swathes of land, Zinkas were well suited to keeping up with the ever flowing front lines of battle.    

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Wastelander7 Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2014
Very cool! And I like the tow behind option. Trucks are (comparatively) inexpensive, and the option increases the machine's mobility manyfold. Not to mention if it had a critical failure it could be towed off the battlefield. Much better proposition than having to erect a derrick or call in a crane to retrieve the unit. You might put in a secondary system that could be attached externally to force it into tow mode in case the main motor gave out. (a few well placed hydralic connections and a pump on one of the trucks is what I'm thinking of here)
Rob-Cavanna Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2014
If you had something strong enough, could maybe tow a bunch together like ducks in a row. IS3? 
Wastelander7 Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2014
Good idea. Maybe have a stripped down tank with no armor to speak of, but, retaining the suspension and engine components. And maybe a light crane in place of a turret to be used for placing downed, but, salvageable mecha onto flatbeds. (even if the torso is shredded the leg actuators and parts would be salvageable. Likewise, if the legs were taken out by a mine are shell, but, the torso was functional you could Frankenstein together one good mech out of two defunct ones)
Rob-Cavanna Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2014
I just found this, a russian recovery vehicle based on the T-34:…
For towing several Zinkas, specifically, probably need more horsepower. Something like this except  based on a heavier (combat obsolescent) vehicle like a KV series tank.  

As for flatbeds, I found the most leads here:…

One bonus about having  anthro configured mechs around is that they are ideal for manhandling other vehicles. All they need is 2 empty hands, and you have yourself an engineer/recovery vehicle. Don't even need a functioning head. With a blow torch mounted on the forearm -even better. Although specialized larger hands or construction claws would be better. 

The American M26 Dragon Wagon is an ideal candidate for a Patlabor style mech transport. Closest Russian equivalent is the badass MAZ537, but those did not come around until the 60s.  
Wastelander7 Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2014
That's kind of what I was thinking. Or just dispensing with the armor all together and just having sheet metal over the chassis. And the KV series  idea is good.
MilitaryFanboy Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2014
How good are the sights on this? Because Russian gun sights for vehicles were notoriously bad.
Rob-Cavanna Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2014
About as good as the sights on an SU-76. Probably not great. Consistent w/ Russian tech of the time, as you say. 
KevinAuzan Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2014  Student General Artist
it's just...beautiful . I wish I can make one of those my own
Waffle0708 Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That Katusha rocket launcher is lovely
IvanSV Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2013
soviet name wasn`t "Zinka".    It might be "Zinuska" or "Zinaida". (like "Kayusha")

Советское название не могло звучать как "Зинка" - это более простое, и не совсем уважительное сокращение имени.  Советские солдаты называли технику уменьшительно-ласкательными сокращениями женских  имен. Для "Зина" или "Зинаида"  возможно такое  сокращение: "Зинушка"
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