ARM: Panda 1/35 scale BMD-1

Kit Review: Panda 1/35 scale Kit No. PH35004; Russian BMD-1; 595 parts (384 in brown styrene, 163 in dark green styrene, 48 etched brass); retail pric
e US$35.99
Advantages: easily the best BMD-1 kit at this time
Disadvantages: tracks are extremely finicky and overwrought
Rating: Recommended (Highly Recommended less tracks)
Recommendation: for all Russian/Soviet and airborne fans
    In the mid 1960s General Margelov, commanding general of the Soviet VDV or airborne troops, fell in love with the concept of the BMP and wanted a sim ilar vehicle for the VDV to use for combat operations. A smaller and cutdow n version of the vehicle, based on the unsuccessful Article 911 competitor for the BMP mission, was then produced as Article 915. After testing, it be came the BMD-1 (combat vehicle air assault). It provided the same turret an d firepower of the BMP-1 (73mm closed breech grenade launcher, 7.62mm PKT m achine gun, and 9M14 Malyutka ATGM) but in a smaller and lighter chassis th at carried only five paratroops. They could use their own machine guns via two ports on the front of the hull.
    But Margelov wanted to be able to drop the BMD with the paratroops INSIDE the vehicle so that once it hit the ground it would disconnect from its dro p platform and drive right into combat. To do this he had to test the conce pt and for that he volunteered his own son. (Nobody noted what then Lieuten ant Margelov thought of Dad's idea!) They did carry this out - but what was not noted at the time was that he and the driver had form-fitted seats bas ed on the cosmonaut program for the drop...)
    The BMD-1 has been in service for many years and even enjoyed some foreign sales such as to Saddam's Iraq. Most have now been upgraded to BMD-2 statu s with a new turret and other upgraded features.
    Prior to this both Eastern Express and Zvezda had released kits of the BMD -1 - the EE one came with etched brass but the Zvezda kit was the better of the two. With the release of this kit Panda has now taken over the lead.
    The model is cleanly molded and uses slide molding to provide a hollow bor e for the 73mm gun. There is no interior at all and only minimal detail on the inner sides of the hatches which is a shame. The kit is of one of the s tandard or later production vehicles with the "starfish" like wheels and no t the perforated ones of the early vehicles. There is no clear sprue with t he kit so all lights are solid as are all viewers.
    The one major bugaboo to the kit are the tracks - tiny links 7 x 3.5mm wit h a SEPARATE guide tooth. Admittedly Panda has captured the correct profile of the guide teeth - sort of like a profile section of a light bulb - but the teeth are very tiny (about 2 x 1.5mm) and are going to be very tedious to install.
    The photoetched ranges from very useful to "are you kidding?" with incredi bly small footman loops for tiedown straps. Like EE the headlight guards ar e formed from bending etched parts to shape.
    Finishing and marking is provided for three different vehicles, all Soviet : bort number 382 (white); bort number 547 (white); and bort number 771 (wh ite). Since Soviet airborne divisions had three regiments in each one the f irst one is probably from the 8th Company (3rd Battalion) of one, 547 is fr om the 4th Company (2nd Battalion), and 771 is from the 7th Company of the 3rd Battalion. A inverted triangle with a 2 inscribed in it is provided as well. These are all on a small decal sheet with the etched brass.
    Overall this is a nice little kit but the tracks will drive some strong me n to drink. If you can replacement with an easier set it is mostly a simple kit to build.
Cookie Sewell
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