ARM: Review - Zvezda 1/35 scale BTR-80A

Kit Review: Zvezda 1/35 scale Kit No. 3560; Russian Armored Personnel Carrier BTR-80A; (248 in olive styrene, 8 black tires, 1 section of
clear acetate); price between US$30-37
Advantages: only kit in plastic of this vehicle in this scale; with work may even be built as a BTR-82 model
Disadvantages: kit’s origins with “crab claw” hatch hinges shows; may “squat” on suspension; replicates early vehicle features (see text)
Rating: Recommended
Recommendation: for all Russian and Third World country armor fans
    During the mid 1970s the Soviets tried to see if they could create a wheeled version of their then-new BMP-1 for use with motorized rifle units. After many years they decided it was not worth the effort, but used the new hull they designed for that purpose to create a better designed version of their wheeled armored personnel carrier, the BTR-60PB. The new machine, dubbed BTR-70, went into production prior to the Soviet entry into Afghanistan.
    Once there it was found to have two major flaws: the heavy 14.5mm KPVT could not elevate high enough to hit targets in the mountains, and as it retained the gasoline engines of the BTR-60 series it was easy to ignite and burn. While a new turret with 65 degree plus elevation was soon developed, it took a couple of years before the final variant, the BTR-80 with a big single diesel engine, came into service. This vehicle has remained the primary Soviet and Russian “battle taxi” to the present day.
    While the Russians were happy with the new vehicle, some of their customers (including the MVD Internal Troops) wanted more firepower. As nothing bigger would fit in the small one-man turret, the solution was soon found to use an elevated gun mount over a heavily modified turret base. This could be used to fit a remote control 30mm 2A72 lightweight cannon and a 7.62mm PKT machine gun. Once it was accepted for service, it entered production as the BTR-80A. However, in service the 2A72 was found to have pronounced barrel whip and as such was not useful for more than single shots.
    The Russians now have a new variant with a digitalized control system and stabilization which has been accepted for service as the BTR-82 and one with a KPVT as the BTR-82A. However, this variant appears to have the more stable 2A42 cannon.
    A bit over 15 years ago DML released a pair of kits of the BTR-70 and early production BTR-80 armored personnel carriers. While the shapes were pretty much accurate, the models suffered from too many toylike features such as working steering for the front four wheels, opening hatches, and a rotating and elevating gun in the turret. The original tires were also subject to cracking without any warning, thus ruining a completed model.
    In 2004 Zvezda used these same molds with one totally new sprue of parts to produce the BTR-80A variant. Alas, it retains all of the hatch problems and working steering from the parent kit but now seems to have a much harder plastic used for the tires. It is not known if the latter will outlast the original DML tires but as they are quite different there is hope.
    The basic BTR-80 is not a bad model, but it can use some TLC to fix up the details. Replacing all hatch hinges is a good start. Also the two hull doors need to be fixed in place or a lot of detail work done to represent their interior details.
    The turret, since it was done by Zvezda over nine years after the base kit, is much better. It comes with six smoke grenade launchers which look much more the part than the wimpy ones from the original kit. The mount looks the part as does the skinny and flimsy looking 2A72 barrel (the length is the reason for the barrel whip problem).
    The kit provides finishing directions for three different vehicles, all of which are probably MVD Internal Troops (albeit some are used for security with the RVSN strategic missile forces): Unidentified Unit, white 521 (light green, dark green, black); Unidentified Internal Troops unit, white 133 (light green, dark green, black); Unidentified Internal Troops unit, white 122 (overall dark green).
    Overall this kit is a bit past its prime, but with some detail work and some effort it can be used to produce an accurate BTR-80A.
Cookie Sewell
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