ARM: Review - Trumpeter 1/35 scale BTR-40

Kit Review: Trumpeter 1/35 scale Kit No. 05517; Russian BTR-40 APC;
275 parts (249 in grey styrene, 20 etched brass, 5 black vinyl, 1
copper wire); retail price US$53.95
Advantages: first new kit of this vehicle in styrene; nicely done
engine and driveline; intelligent layout of parts makes assembly
simple
Disadvantages: seams in the middle of the tires; no armament or heavy
weapons
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all =93Cold War=94 and early Middle East conflict fans
When the Soviets began to receive Lend-Lease vehicles during WWII
they were quickly embarrassed at how backwards their automotive
industry was compared to the west. For example, their standard light/
medium cargo truck was the ZIS-5 family. These had a three-speed
transmission, rear wheel drive, and two-wheel braking on the rear
wheels only. The standard Allied vehicle in the same class they
received was the Studebaker US6. It had a five-speed transmission with
two-speed transfer case, all-wheel braking, and selective 6 x 4 or 6 x
6 drive.
The same was true about wheeled light armored vehicles, one of the
most popular being the M3A1 White Scout Car. It had a four-speed
transmission, two-speed transfer case, and came with one .50 caliber
and two .30 caliber machine guns and room for eight personnel. The
Soviets had nothing to compare to it, so were happy to receive just
over 3,300 of them.
After the war the Soviet automotive industry moved to correct its
failings. They put the GAZ-51 into production in 1946, an enlarged
version based on the Dodge WC-51/52 series 3/4 ton trucks which they
received during Lend-Lease. In 1948, the stronger and reinforced
GAZ-63 truck supplanted it for military service. Likewise, at the same
time the ZIS-151 series of 6 x 6 trucks were produced, based on the
Studebaker US6.U4 design.
In the late 1940s the Soviets decided after their experiences in
WWII, and studies of Allied and German use of armored personnel
carriers, to create their own. Two projects were put forth: =93Proyekt
140" for a 6 x 6 medium armored personnel carrier, and =93Proyekt 141"
for a 4 x 4 light vehicle. 140 turned to the ZIS-151 and emerged as
the BTR-152, but 141 was based on the GAZ-63 in a 4 x 4 version. Using
a shortened wheelbase chassis, the new vehicle copied the desirable
features of the White Scout Car but added a Soviet designed
ballistically improved hull and other Russian features. After two
years of testing, the vehicle was accepted for service as the BTR-40
and entered full scale production in 1950.
The new vehicle =96 like the White =96 had seating for eight personnel.
It carried brackets on all sides to mount a 7.62mm SGMT machine gun
and carried 1,250 rounds for it. Vehicles were also fitted with a 10-
RT-26 HF radio set. This vehicle was followed into production a year
later by the BTR-40A, which mounted a ZTPU-2 antiaircraft mount with
twin 14.5mm KPV machine guns. In 1957, a new version, the BTR-40B, was
created which had an armored roof over the troop compartment and this
was produced from 1958 to 1960. It was later replaced in production by
the BRDM-1 light armored reconnaissance and patrol vehicle.
Approximately 8,500 BTR-40s of all types were built, and the vehicle
was finally taken out of service in 1993. It was also sold to no less
than 33 other countries with a total of over 2,500 exported.
I recall an earlier styrene kit from the 1960s of the BTR-40 but I
believe it may have been a 1/40 scale =93wind-up=94 semi-scale kit.
Nevertheless, Trumpeter has now released a brand-new state of the art
kit of this seminal light Soviet armored command and reconnaissance
vehicle.
The kit comes like many recent Trumpeter efforts, with the more
delicate parts wrapped in foam. These include the rear body ammunition
racks and the entire armored hood/windscreen assembly. For matching
the complex armored body design, Trumpeter has molded it in ten parts
with separate fenders. The floor pan is one piece and all of these
parts attach to it. A separate hood comes with the louvers molded
open.
The six-cylinder engine comes in 24 parts and covers most major
components. The radiators adds five more. There is no chassis, so all
of the suspension components attach to the body. The rear springs are
fitted with twin roller action type shock absorbers. This variant
comes with seats for five =96 three passenger and two crew.
The doors are all fixed in place (most photos showing Soviet troops
heroically leaping over the top of the hull, so there may be good
reason for that). The steering gear appears to permit the front wheel
steering to be posed, as the wheel mounts (E31) are fitted to a gimbal
(E7) which is to be left free. The tires are nicely molded but as with
all vinyl tires have a mold seam right down the middle of the tire.
Purists will seek after-market wheels to replace them.
The headlights come with the blackout shrouds molded in place, but
Trumpeter has them cleverly mounted with the GAZ-63 type housings from
the back of the fenders. The copper wire is used to make the light
guards for these headlights.
Sadly the kit is not provided with either the 10-RT radio set or the
SGMT machine gun. The four mounts for the latter and the whip antenna
base for the former are provided, so it is an odd choice to leave them
out. Also missing are any ammunition canisters or =93kit=94 for the rather
empty hull interior. In this day and age, for $54 one could expect
SOMETHING to fill the void.
Two basic finishing options are provided: one in 4BO green with
either a bort number of 101 or 103 in white, and a tri-color
camouflage vehicle (green, brown, grey) with Guards logos and bort
number white 242. A decal is also provided for the dashboard
instruments.
Overall this is a nice kit of the old =93Cold Warrior=94 but I do wish it
had been more complete; also Middle East fans will have to wait for
either a dedicated version from Trumpeter or the after-market boys to
cover it.
Cookie Sewell
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AMPSOne
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