Gaz AA - Old Zvezda kit

I got this kit for my birthday some time ago and recently started building it.

The kit is terrible, plastic seems really cheap, most pieces don’t fit and need drilling/filing, definitely not suitable for beginner like me. I am almost finished with the building part (hopefully the wheels will end up straight but I fear they won’t) and I painted and glossed the parts.

Now I need to do the decals and I have really no idea or reference. All I saw around the internet were models with that numbers on the doors, and I have no idea what those silly looking words mean or were are supposed to go:

I am open for ideas and suggestions.

Also, as you can see I want to put the tarp but I don’t know how to correctly weather it. I was thinking that a wash would go very good with the printed creases, I have brown and dark gray Vallejo wash.


I had decided to apply just the licence number on the doors, but one of the decals literally broke down on itself during the transfer.

Now I got one door with the number and an empty one.

Do you guys think I could “salvage” this (I’m very close to throw this whole thing in the garbage) by applying those words? I have absolutely no idea of the meaning.

I would leave it as is, maybe the other door was replaced. You don’t have to add all the decals. I would say just be done with this step and either continue to weathering or call the project done (after you finish assembling of course) and start a new one.

1 Like

I’d rather have a decal in place there, the removal did mess up some of the door painting and one of those Cyrillic words decal could do that just fine…I just wonder what the words mean.

Several attempt through bot translators gave me messy results as the font is hard to read. One of the words should be “Leningrad” which could be nice to have on the door.

In the second line from the top of the decal sheet, the three groups of letters on the right read “Le ningr ad”. HTH, Peter

Thanks, I think it will look nice.

Hopefully I will make it right this time.

Hey, hey.

First, no matter what happens, do not put the model in the trash. If your patience reaches an end, for whatever reason, put everything in a box and store it in your closet. Patience slowly recovers over time. Model skill increases with practice. One day, you may find yourself with the patience and skill to continue across the finish line. If nothing else, the model may supply spare parts for a future project.

I looked up the model. A large number of GAZ-AA trucks were used to supply Leningrad during the 1000 day siege. This often required crossing a lake and the trucks became very dirty. The larger decals are probably patriotic slogans. Russians often painted slogans on vehicles to express their solidarity and support for the war effort. Vehicles in front line combat rarely carried such slogans for obvious reasons.

Cookie Sewell states in his review of the original model release that these trucks would all have a 6 digit registration numbers on the tail gate. All other markings are optional. Assuming the decals in your model are correct (sometimes model designers get things wrong), there was another marking pattern with the vehicle number painted on the doors.

That means you have some options! If you have spare decals, you could splice together your own vehicle code. If you only have enough letters and numbers for one code, put it on the tail gate. If you can make two codes, put them on the doors.

Let’s assume you put the vehicle code on the tail gate. Now you can put patriotic slogans on the doors.

If you put the vehicle codes on the doors, a patriotic slogan can go on the tail gate.

If you are okay with weathering your truck with some mud, you can hide any decal issues under some strategically placed mud splatter. The trucks supplying Leningrad could get extremely dirty.

I would also like to address the potential wheel alignment issue. If that happens, you have some options. By slightly shaving a mounting pin or slightly enlarging a mounting hole, you can easily raise or lower a wheel by a fraction of a millimeter. A small shim will help keep the wheel stable. If things are really bad, a small terrain base will hide everything.

With regards weathering the canvas bed cover, washes can work. Oil paints can work. Airbrushing light and dark areas can work. You will want to put a slightly darker shade in recesses and a slightly lighter shade on raised areas. That is really all it takes.

When dealing with thin decals that like to fold over on themselves, I will slide the decal from the carrier directly to the target location. Wet the decal but do not remove it from the decal paper backing. If you are using a setting solution, put that on the model. Lay the decal paper backing directly on the model, next to the spot where you want the decal. Carefully slide the decal to one side until a little bit hangs off the decal paper. Get that little portion of the decal in approximately the correct position. Now slide the decal off the backing directly onto the model. Alternatively, slide the backing paper out from behind the decal. Use a clean brush to move the decal around as needed. Use that same brush to remove excess setting solution.

The method described above makes it difficult for the decal to fold over on itself.

For what it is worth, I am making a come back to model building and experiencing the exact same sorts of problems you describe with the GAZ-AA. I encourage you to keep going and do your best! Even if the model turns out far less than perfect, the lessons learned completing the project will make all future models easier. Some day, you may find yourself looking back at this project with affection.


Thanks for the time you took to write this, it was really helpful.

There isn’t much space on the tailgate, I doubt those slogans would fit.

Maybe i have some spare numbers from my Sherman tank kit, but I am afraid those numbers are much smaller.
Right now I have a single number decal on the door, with that hammer insignia below.

I am still considering adding “Leningrad” on the other side.

Paint the offending door a slightly different shade, hey presto replacement door.

As for tailgate markings, how about hand painting bits of the number and covering the “rest” with dirt/mud so it looks like it’s been mostly obscured?

1 Like

Doing old Zvezda kits requires bravery and persistance!
In the worst case scenario you can try out different weathering techniques, chuck the “finished” kit in a box to use as a wreck at a later date or rip it apart, keeping the strategic parts like wheels and toss out the rest.
Or… you could ask folks for replacement parts such as decals. Many are more then willing to help.
No matter what, keep at it!

1 Like

An image search for GAZ-AA brings up a fair number of period photos. I am seeing a lot of variation in the numbering stencils and placement. Here are two interesting examples:


The first looks hand painted. The second has the stencil on the bed walls!

I am not a Russian vehicle expert but a lot of variations turn up on models, in period photos, and on vehicle restorations. Maybe the vehicle number was painted out on one side. Maybe the door was replaced. Maybe the vehicle number was only painted on one door. Maybe the number cannot be seen under some mud.

No matter what you do, everyone here will support your decision. If you show the model to family members and friends, they will think the model looks very nice and realistic. The Russians built thousands of those trucks. They were repainted. The stencils were reapplied. If you do not believe me, ask some of the guys here who served. They will tell you all about the real life of military vehicles. They are not static things. They constantly change.


The Cyrillic decal fell apart in an instant, it basically disintegrated the very moment it left the sheet, and I had been very careful and also used microset.

In the end I just slapped the same numbers from a Sherman decal sheet, they’re much smaller but it’s better than nothing.

The first letter needs some retouching, as well as the number 6 that broke while being caught on some residue glue from the other decals.

As you can see the door is almost ruined but I think that pigment and mud will mask it nicely, especially after a matte coating.


Having looked at many pictures of GAZ-AA and GAZ-AAA trucks over the last two evenings, that serial number is on the small side but, in my opinion, still reasonable. Most people will not recognize the digits as US stenciling, The model will make an excellent canvas for practicing weathering techniques.

I am finding a fair number of online reports that Zvezda decals really suck. There is some conjecture that Microsol and Microset may be too aggressive for Zvezda decals.

Did the Microset attack your paint?

As an aside, I just learned that ‘Zvezda’ means ‘Star’ and is pronounced Zee-vez-da.


The microset attacking the Zvezda decals might be true.

As beginner I never had problems with decals until I started using Microset.
My previous Sherman models had several broken during placement.

Didn’t noticed any paint damage, the mess on the door is probably the gloss coat being scraped while I was trying to remove the glue stains from the decal.

As for the US stencil thing , I was thinking that since I have to retouch the “6” and the initial letter I might as well fill the empty spaces of the other numbers to “mask” the typical US stencil style.