ARM: Review - Trumpeter 1/35 scale BTR-70 APC Early Version

Kit Review: Trumpeter 1/35 scale Kit No. 01590; Russian BTR-70 APC early ve rsion; 468 parts (385 parts in grey styrene, 46 etched brass, 21 clear styr ene, 8 clear vinyl, 8 black vinyl); retail price US$54.95

Advantages: nice new kit of this vehicle in styrene; nicely done driveline, full interior in the control and fighting compartments

Disadvantages: no major errors noted

Rating: Highly Recommended

Recommendation: for Soviet and "Third World" armored vehicle and wheeled ar mor fans

The Sino-Soviet clash at Daman Island in the far east in March 1969 saw th e combat debut of three new Soviet weapons: the T-62 medium tank, the BM-21 "Grad" multiple rocket launcher, and the BTR-60 eight-wheeled APC. There t he Soviets found out the latter was not as effect as hoped and soon develop ed into the PA version with a roof and then the PB version with a turret. A s Soviet testing at Sary Shagan and other locations had shown, if protected properly troops could survive long enough on a nuclear battlefield to carr y out combat missions.

But the BTR-60 series had a number of drawbacks and problems. Using experi ence gained with both the BTR-60 and the BMP-1 tracked infantry fighting ve hicle, the Soviets then developed the GAZ-50 wheeled BMP. This was an eight

-wheeled vehicle lower and wider than the BTR-60 but fitted with the BMP-1' s turret. While it was not adopted for service, it was later developed into the GAZ-4905 which was accepted for service in August 1972 as the BTR-70.

The 70 differed from its predecessor in many key areas. It was lower and w ider, and the interior was rearranged so the troops carried all faced outwa rd, making it easier to use their weapons. It used more powerful twin engin es than the 60 series, but these were still gasoline type motors. Lower hat ches were provided for troop access so they were not silhouetted when leavi ng the vehicle, thus reducing the chance of losses. Other internal changes were made to protect the crew and ensure survivability of the vehicle and i ts crew.

The BTR-70 entered production at GAZ in 1976, and later at Arzamas in 1980 . It was replaced in production in 1986 by the superior BTR-80 design, whic h switched to the use of a single large diesel engine to reduce fire hazard s. No reliable production numbers are available but the vehicle was exporte d and used by around 20 different countries including former members of the USSR. It was used in combat in Afghanistan and Chechnya by the Soviets and Russians.

Trumpeter has followed up its very nice BTR-60 kits with the BTR-70 and wi ll do two models, even though many of the bits for the latter are available in this kit as well. While the actual BTR-60 and BTR-70 series share many parts, only the tires and vinyl keepers seem to have been retained from the 60 kits for this one.

The new kit equals the 60 kits in quality. Many parts are well protected ( delicate ones are wrapped in foam inside the poly bag) and it also comes wi th a good sized fret of etched brass. The kit also provides for a complete interior to the "control compartment" - the Russian term for the driver's a nd commander's seat area - and the "fighting compartment" with the turret a nd seats for the dismount infantry squad.

Its construction differs from that of the 60s. Step 1 covers making the va rious modifications and drilling the proper holes for the early variant of the BTR-70. Note that some holes will also require filling in this step.

Steps 2 to 5 cover the very detailed suspension and lower hull of the vehi cle. While parts J18 and J19 are shown cemented in the closed position, the y may be left open to show the interior. These are the lower hull dismount team hatches. (Note that when the Russians figured out the vehicle had to s top to use them, they redesigned them in the BTR-80 to full size hatches wi th the lower section forming a platform to jump from a moving vehicle.)

Steps 6 and 7 cover the interior and the two floor sections. No foot pedal s are provided, but they are so far forward in the bow they probably cannot be seen through the open hatches. Oddly enough, while the vehicle was orig inally fitted with an R-123 radio this kit provides the much later R-173 - a push-button design.

No interior is provided for the engine bay, but fans are included and etch ed grilles are provided to cover the radiator air exhaust section. This is a bit unfortunate as the BTR-70 apparently had a propensity to overheat in hot climates and as a result the engine access covers were generally opened wide to provide for better air circulation.

All of the crew hatches (G2, G3) may be shown either open or closed. The e xhaust system is nicely done and consists of five parts including two tubul ar inserts for the shrouds. All of the gun ports may also be shown either o pened or closed.

The turret is assemble in Steps 15 and 16; while this turret is identical to that used on the BTR-60PB it is not simply borrowed from that kit but a new mold assembly. An etched brass turret glacis is provided. The very nice KPVT barrel (with a "slide molded" open flash suppressor) is installed in Step 16. Decals and finishing directions are provided for only two vehicles: a "par ade queen" version with white trim and Soviet Guards badges in Soviet Khaki #2 (an olive drab shade) and one with bort number 133 in Khaki #2 with a circle with a white dot tactical marking. This most likely indicates a vehi cle from a BTR equipped motorized rifle regiment. Trumpeter does provide a "number jungle" for creating any other bort number desired.

Overall, while not as widely used as the BTR-60PB was, it is a useful vehi cle, and one which has deserved better kitting than the 20 year old one whi ch is still offered elsewhere.

Cookie Sewell

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