Multi-artist collab, starting w/ 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 ) I pilfered some Katyusha rocket rails from one of ’s new Proletarian models and adapted it to Anton’s sketchup Zinka. Finally summoned some head sketches I liked, and shared the WIP w/ 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 cgtextures.com.
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:
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.