The BMD is an air-droppable infantry combat vehicle built originally for the Soviet Airborne Forces. It was one of the first vehicles into Afghanistan in 1979 and like BMP soon proved to be inadequate to the task. Like the BMP, the BMD was upgraded as a result of the war experience, being fitted with a 30mm 2A42 automatic cannon and 7.62mm PKT machine gun and the AT-5 Spandrel anti-tank missile system. These upgraded vehicles were built and they served in Afghanistan and in Kosovo with SFOR. The vehicles still serve in the airborne forces of Russia and Ukraine. According the Cookie Sewell 2500 were built and the majority of the BMD-2 and the older BMD-1s were placed in storage in depots around Russia and the Ukraine. Fast forward to 2014 and crisis erupted in the Donets Basin (DONBAS) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donbass)
Region of Eastern Ukraine when Russian separatists, unhappy with the change of regime in Kiev, agitated for separation from Ukraine and a merger with Russia. The crisis soon erupted into an armed conflict and the BMD became a staple of the forces on both sides of the conflict. It is likely that these vehicles were taken from depots or lost by Ukrainian Airborne forces in skirmishes with the heavily armed separatists. It is a small vehicle, its principal attribute being its aluminum construction making it light enough to parachute from the back of a transport. So it seems odd that this vehicle has been prominent in some of the early heavy fighting, much more so than the heavier and more robust BMP-2.
This is the first kitting of the BMD-2; SKIF has a kit of the BMD-1 but did not produce a BMD-2. By all accounts the Panda BMD-1 was much better than the SKIF BMD-1. This is a multi-media kit with a PE fret providing intake screens and smaller details. There are a good number of sprues for such a small kit, since this kit shares a lot of the parts with the earlier Panda BMD-1. As a result you will end up with a lot of spares including BMD-1 road wheels, and armament. In addition to a new turret and the AT-5 missile system, this kit has the improved drive train. The kit accounts for other minor details, like the position of the hull mounted machine gun and hatch and vision block detail, to make an accurate BMD-2. The diminutive track is built up from individual links which have to be built up from two parts – there are a lot of links for such a small vehicle. Overall the molding of the vehicle is crisp with no sinkholes or flash. The track links on the other hand had a good number of links short shot, not enough to complete assembly, but more than I would have expected. It is a portrait style instruction booklet with a separate color paint guide. Full vehicle markings (less maintenance stencils) are provided in a single decal sheet, with bright white stencils, for 4 vehicles:
- Vehicle 735 (white) in the modern Russian and Ukrainian three-color camouflage scheme (dark green, sand & black).
- Vehicle 702 (white), the older solid dark green
- Bort number 335 (white), the Russian “Peacekeeping” Force in Georgia, dark green with MC (MS in English) markings
- DONBASS separatist forces (2014) in solid dark green with separatist ID stenciling and the bright green overpainting of the original markings. Many of these vehicles have flow large separatist flags.
Note: if you want to model a Ukrainian Army vehicle, Scheme A is appropriate in camouflage and numbering. I have not seen the triangular regimental marking on any Ukrainian vehicles, just a circular marking.
This was my first armor kit in 20 years, so armor modelers forgive me if my review does not hit the standard armor review touch points. Before starting I had to decide how I wanted to display the vehicle. There is no interior and so any open hatches will look into a gaping hole. So I opted to close all of the hatches, save one, not wanting to scratchbuild any interior detail; I had a figure identified for the open hatch. During my research I came across a skirmish that occurred early in the conflict when the Ukrainian Army set up a check point on the road between Slovyansk and Kramatorsk north of Donetsk. It was a bloody confrontation for the Ukrainians, and I am not sure how the separatists faired. My oldest son, an Army officer, said the check point looks like a standard US Army- trained traffic control point. So my model was built with turret traversed at 90 degrees in checkpoint fashion. These vehicles were pretty clean and devoid of a lot of stowage.
Building the kit was pretty straight forward with several exceptions – the instructions, the main bogie suspension arms, and the track. The instructions were rife with errors and clearly were not proof read by someone assembling the kit. I started by building up the hull. I opted to close the tunnel doors but added the scoop which eliminated the hollow look. I painted this area dark gray. Next I built up the wheel assemblies and then painted them the hull color MM Field Green (FS 34097) enamel. The main bogies went together with no problem; I brush-painted the rubber part of the bogey weathered black. The drive sprocket was an exercise in frustration – it did not align well because there was no positive lock and the teeth required a lot of clean up. The sprocket also did not fit on the shaft and required filing to fit. The torsion arms for the main bogies and the idler wheel were equally as frustrating. Again, there was no positive look, probably because on the real tank these can be raised for airdropping and lowered for road/cross country travel and I am sure Panda wanted to provide both options. I used .01 x .06 styrene to shim these arms to lock them into the lowered position. I used slow setting glue to attach them so I could ensure that the arms were uniform in angle. There are two separate styles of return rollers marked A13. Check your references for which to use, but I found a lot of varying configurations in online reference photos, so it is hard to be wrong. Note: the idler wheel torsion arm is correctly labeled A9, while the rear tow cable hook is labeled A9 in the instructions; it actually is part A26.
Next I built up the upper hull. Again there were a lot of call-out errors. The kit provides separate vision blocks for the driving and fighting positions, but these are molded in green plastic like the kit and not clear plastic. So what is the point of having the part separate? Regarding the vision blocks, the instructions call for 7 of part A18 (3 in the hull and 4 in the turret, but only 6 are provided. Part C5, which is not used, is an acceptable substitute. Other callout errors:
- Part B21, an exhaust on the right side adjacent the turret is actually part B19.
- Part B23 on the storage box should be B21
- PE 4 and PE 5, brush guards, should be reversed
- Part A9 should be A26 on both sides of the upper hull
- Parts A28 are actually parts A27
- Part C32 should be C31
There is no positive fit for the headlight assemblies and holes need to be drilled out to fit part C12. Parts E10 and E11, once assembled, do not fit their assigned location. Not sure if it is the part or the instructions. I did not see this assembly in any picture, so I left it off. I chose to close all of the hatches except the drives hatch and did not use the PE handles provided.
The turret build up was a little smoother, but there were still instruction problems. Part E16 is correctly identified as the mushroom vent and also incorrectly identified as the hatch, which is actually E15. I glued that hatch closed. The only other issue I had was the light assembly articulated off the main gun. The instructions do not clarify assembly and the parts do not positively lock. I had to study photos to get it right. There is no helpful placement guide for part E18, the brush guard under the rangefinder. The PE provided for the mantlet retainer is a nice touch. Again I had to study pictures for the AT-5 (SPANDREL) assembly and the instructions omitted part F3 which goes to the rear of the combined F1 and F2 assembly
The tracks were forecasted by others to be the hardest part of the kit and they were right! These were a good project for a group-build night and not recommended as a therapy for nerves. The guide teeth are separate from the tracks with no insertion or lock point. A total of 190 are provided, but only 176 are needed. Easily a dozen were short shot and unusable and many others too fragile to remain intact when removing from the sprue. I used the link and length method to assemble the tracks and found a snug fit between links. This came in handy for the upper tracks which I did not glue until ready to put in place so I could achieve a measure of sag found on the real vehicle. Before putting them on the vehicle, I painted the links weathered black, and added a brown wash.
I opted for the modern three tone camouflage scheme using the following Model Master enamel colors:
- Field Green FS34097
- Flat black
- Panzer Interior Tan
First I painted the vehicle’s base color of Field Green. I then faded the horizontal surfaces. Next I locked the turret in the forward position and sprayed the tan, followed by flat black, to ensure the pattern was aligned. I used pictures of multiple vehicles to craft a generic scheme. I had some airbrush problems so it took several passed to get the demarkations clean. I sealed the paint with a gloss coat. I used the kit decals for the numbers but rearranged the sequence for variation. The regiment in action I believe was the 2nd Regiment, and the symbol is a circle with a dot, and not in the kit. So I just used the numbers.
Then I added the tracks, which was a slow process to ensure they aligned properly. The worst part was fitting the links around the drive sprockets, they fought me the entire way. In the end I achieved the effect I was looking for, but I was also glad I was done!
The next step was weathering the vehicle. These vehicles are pretty well maintained and pretty clean, they are not the faded juggernauts of the Eastern Front in WWII, so I kept in understated. I applied a waterbased wash of black and brown by Warpig. I then then faded the tan and black and drybrushed lighter colors to pick out the highlights. I also worked more washes into the tracks. I worked the vehicle several times to achieve the desired effect. I then applied mud in the areas around the running gear and then misted on layers of dust. I then applied a wash of dirt to the sides of the hull and around the areas of high traffic. I evened everything out with a flat coat.
With the weathering done I added the final touches:
- Painted the vision blocks and the articulated flood light gloss black
- I drilled out the spotlight on the turret and added a lens from 2-part epoxy
- Added the swim vanes
- Attached the 30 mm gun
- Added the whip antenna
- Attached the pioneer tools
- The figure is from Tamiya and is modified to look like an Ukranian tanker. He is not done but added to provide a sense of scale.
Despite the many frustrations, I enjoyed assembling this kit. The low parts count made it a good re-initiation back into armor modeling. I commend Panda for a nice kit of another modern subject.