ARM: Review - Trumpeter 1/35 scale BTR-50PK APC

Kit Review: Trumpeter 1/35 scale Kit No. 01582; Russian BTR-50PK APC; 183 p arts (175 in grey styrene, 6 etched brass, 2 black vinyl track runs); retai
l price US$43.95
Advantages: nice, new mold version of this vehicle; offers good base for va rious command versions and probable either after-market or eventual OT-62 v ariants
Disadvantages: no interior limits display and modeling possibilities; no ma chine gun mount; only builds one specific production grouping of the vehicl e
Rating: Recommended (see text for comments)
Recommendation: for Soviet and Warsaw Pact armor fans
    When the PT-76 tank was designed, in parallel with it there was the requir ement for an amphibious armored personnel carrier version as well. Develope d by VNII-100 and the "Krasnoye Sormovo" and Chelyabinsk Kirov Factories in 1949, it used much of the same design and many of the components of the PT -76. Initially given the designator Article 271 as a Leningrad Kirov Factor y design, it was later redesignated Article 750 to show that Chelyabinsk ha d the lead.
    After a lengthy troop testing and evaluation period, Article 750 was accep ted for service in 1954 as the BTR-50P with the designation standing for "a rmored personnel carrier-amphibious". This was an open-topped vehicle with seating for 20 troops, a commander and a driver. The commander was provided with a mount for a 12.7mm DShKM machine gun which comprised the armament o f the vehicle.
    In 1954 a further version was introduced, the BTR-50PA, which had a mount for a 14.5mm KPV heavy machine gun, designed for ground support and antiair craft fire.
    But the open topped vehicle was quickly seen as vulnerable to both shell f ragments and the developing nuclear warfare threat, and so a covered versio n was designed with at least an air filtration system to provide some prote ction from radioactive dust or chemical weapons. This new version, the BTR- 50PK, was accepted for service in 1958 and was now built at the Stalingrad (later Volgograd) Tractor Factory.
    The new vehicle carried the same number of troops, but now could also be f itted with rails to mount up to two metric tons of cargo on the top of the troop compartment (without troops of course!) A single 7.62mm SGMB (later P KB) machine gun was provided with two different guide rails in front of the troop hatches for mounting the weapon.
    Later command versions were built with a second "pulpit" mounting on the r ight side for the unit commander; these were BTR-60PU variants. The OT-62 T OPAS was developed from this version, and the Chinese also developed a simi lar but unrelated Type 77 vehicle on their version of the PT-76.
    Thousands of these vehicles were built until 1966 when the new BMP-1 final ly went into service and production. They served (and still serve) with man y armies today, with the most famous use of them being the Israeli "false f lag" raiding party that crossed over the Suez Canal in 1973 and tore up the Egyptian rear area.
    Back in 1958 Ideal released a motorized kit in 1/32 scale of the BTR-50P w hich came with a crew of 16 figures and other items, but as it was the mid 1950s it was not very well detailed or accurate. About 10 years ago, Easter n Express released one based on its PT-76B chassis which was a great advanc e, but left out many details needed to properly create the vehicle such as its very involved headlight guards.
    About three years ago Trumpeter released this model to go along with their new line of PT-76 tanks, and it used the same running gear and lower hull of those kits. It is a quantum jump ahead of those kits and comes with a ne at little fret of etched brass for the rather gnarly (and not in the surfer s' use of the word!) headlight guards.
    The kit shows that it is based on the original Model 1958 version of the B TR-50PK and as such has an upper hull 14mm high on the kit; this matches th e PT-76 Model 1958 that entered production at the same time. The Model 1954 should have an upper hull (aft of the casemate) of 12.3mm, and the 1962 an d later production runs 16mm. The engine deck changes in design with each v ersion, and the main visual result is watching the radiator air intake "sin k" down into the engine deck. The model 1962 also had a different bow desig n (again to match the PT-76B which went into production at that time) with a different angle and longer slope. Therefore it is fine for the four years of its production run.
    As it sadly comes without an interior (the BTR-60s did, so it is surprisin g Trumpeter left it out of this kit) the model is really a simple kit of le ss than 200 total parts. Assembly is straightforward with the suspension co ming first and then the only interior bits, the water jet drives (A1/A3). T he kit comes with black vinyl tracks (noted as "can be assembled with plast ic cement") but Trumpeter offers a set of three-piece single link tracks fo r the model as Kit No. 02047. These have tiny separate guide teeth so many modelers may want to just use the kit tracks or another, simpler option lik e Fruil.
    The upper hull has surprisingly few parts to it - mostly handrails - and g oes together quickly. It comes with separate commander's, driver's and troo p hatches; but they have minimal interior details and open on - nothing.
    Trumpeter thoughtfully provides the modeler with bending jigs for the head light guards (PE-A4 and PE-A3) which solves many problems.
    In Step 8 the directions get murky. Parts E33/E5/E4 are the commander's IR searchlight guard which goes on the FRONT right of the hull; directions in dicate "stick here" on the rear. Also the antenna pot (E27/E30/E29) goes on the FRONT left side of the hull.
    The kit comes with finishing directions for two different vehicles, all in dark green: unidentified Guards unit; East German NVA vehicle number 1207. A "number jungle" is provided for any other option the modeler chooses.
    Overall this is a nice kit as far as it goes, but Trumpeter appears to hav e cut a few corners which is a shame considering how many countries used it and that it would not have been that difficult to add the machine gun or t roop seats.     
Cookie Sewell
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