ARM: Review - Trumpeter 1/35 scale BMP-3 MICV Early Version

Kit Review: Trumpeter 1/35 Scale Model Kit No. 00364; BMP-3 MICV early version; 770 parts (402 in brown styrene, 349 in tan stryrene, 14
etched brass, 5 clear styrene); price US$49.95
318 parts (308 in grey styrene, 10 in black vinyl); price L19.95 (around $34)
    Advantages: Excellent kit of this vehicle; relatively complete interior; some optional choices; all hatches have optional positions
    Disadvantages: Two-piece single link tracks unlikely to win many friends
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: For modern Russian and “Third World” armor fans
F I R S T L O O K
    Back in 1998, when the first kit of the BMP-3 was released, I wrote the following: “During the early 1980s, the Soviet General Staff returned to its Great Patriotic War roots and recreated what they saw was the best formation to defeat a massive enemy armor grouping: the Operational Maneuver Group. This force was designed to be based on a tank army or tank division, and to break through into an enemy’s rear area and destroy as much of his military infrastructure as fast as possible, permitting the rest of the Soviet forces to proceed forward with little to stop them. But the BMP-1 and then-new BMP-2 were not felt capable of providing sufficient firepower, and as a result a new, heavily armed and armored vehicle was required.
    “The search led them to reexamine a related pair of failed light tank and infantry fighting vehicle designs called Object 685 and Object 688, both of which dated from 1981. The turret from Object 685 was rearmed with a new low-pressure 100mm gun and paired 30mm cannon, given a coaxial 7.62mm gun, and placed on Object 688's hull. The new vehicle, again called Object 688, was felt to be capable of performing as the standard IFV with the Operational Maneuver Group as well as an airborne or amphibious light tank. It was accepted for service in 1990 as the BMP-3. Unfortunately, by that time both the Soviet Union and the Operational Maneuver Group requirement were things of the past, and as a result, less than 100 were in service with the Russian Army.
    “Since that time, however, the BMP-3 has been popular with Third World countries, mostly in the Middle East, and sales of over 1,000 abroad have keep the Kurgan Machinery Construction Plant afloat during times of no sales to the Russian Armed Forces. Cooperative efforts with France have provided those vehicles with air conditioning and a thermal viewer, and this has been one of the few bright spots for the Russian defense industry.”
    This was to herald the introduction of the SKIF kit of the early production BMP-3. While it was not bad (by SKIF standards) it was not a great kit as it had a lot of soft detail, a very sketchy interior, and lousy tracks which were too soft and loose to fit properly. With after-market tracks, some resin bits, etched brass and a LOT of hard work the model could be turned into a nice representation of the vehicle.
    Now after more than two years of advertising and announcements Trumpeter has released their kit. It is a quantum leap from the older kit and will permit the construction of a really decent model of a “Troika” right out of the box.
    Molded in a light tan color plastic (the same one used by many Tamiya and Academy kits) the kit comes in a large box with internal dividers and the upper and lower hull and turret shell stowed in a separate compartment. The box is full, but note that Trumpeter has used a 50 x 50 mm cardboard bar as a brace to “bulk” it up (my guess it that there were too many parts for a smaller box and too few for a big one, so they compromised with the brace).
    Detail is very petite and well done for most bits. All of the crew hatches are separate items and may be posed as the modeler sees fit. The kit comes with most of the interior bits (and a logo molded into the hull floor, but happily that goes underneath the turret) nicely done and pretty much fully fleshed out. Interior parts include seats, fire extinguishers, basic controls (the BMP-3 uses a “motorcycle” type tiller bar with the throttle on the grip from what I recall). The turret comes with all constituent parts including the 30mm ammo bins, the machine gun ammo bin, the underfloor carousel and three 3UBK20 100mm “Bastion” missiles. No 100mm ammo is provided.
    A number of bits are missing, however. The PKT machine gun muzzle section is provided but no breech section; ditto for the 2A72 30mm cannon. No radio sets are provided for the vehicle nor are the intercom boxes. Most of this is hard to see, however, so it may not be a problem once the kit is assembled.
    Assembly of the kit is relatively straightforward with one exception. The model comes with two-piece single link tracks (U-shaped guide teeth and flat link). While Trumpeter may have decided this was the best way to render the tracks, it is going to be extremely tedious and testy. The good news is that the vehicle requires 168 links (per the directions) and comes with 180 flat links and 222 guide teeth so even the most clumsy and “shag carpet challenged” may be able to assemble that number successfully. But it will be long and tiresome.
    Note that as there are three versions currently advertised (BMP-3 early model, Naval Infantry model, and upgraded late model with 4S24 reactive armor) you have to drill out holes for some bits as you go along.
    Only one thing of all of the assemblies bothered me and that was the 100mm gun and the three “Bastion” missiles. The missiles provided are larger in diameter than the gun (the missile has a warhead section about 3.2 mm or a scale 112mm but the gun is only 3mm or 105mm in diameter through most of its bore section). These may seem like small differences but it is quite noticeable when one is next to the other. While the gun is a low pressure (read thin-wall) design this not right and a diehard modeler may simply wish to replace the barrel with 1/8" (3.175mm or 110mm) tubing and scratchbuilt fittings. A simpler solution is just don’t use the “Bastions” anywhere where they can be seen.
    Painting details and markings are included for two BMP-3 vehicles in Russian service: white 733 in standard Khaki No. 2 (e.g. olive green) paint and white 238 in what appears to be the standard Russian camouflage scheme (light sand, olive green and black).
    Overall, this is a much better kit than the SKIF one and once modelers get past the tracks will build up into a nice replica of the “Troika”.
Cookie Sewell
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