Soviet BTR-70 APC Early Version
About the BTR-70
The BTR-70 is an eight-wheeled armored personnel carrier. BTR stands for Bronetransportyor (literally "armored transporter"), originally developed during the late 1960s under the industrial designator GAZ-4905. On August 21, 1972, it was accepted into service and would later be exported to the Warsaw Pact and other allies. Introduced as a successor to the earlier BTR-60, it most closely resembles a BTR-60PB. Other improvements include heavier armor plating and tires less prone to puncture. In other respects, the vehicle is very similar to the BTR-60PB, with a more powerful petrol engine configuration and armament of a primary heavy machine gun and secondary PKT machine gun on a roof-mounted turret.
The vehicle's designers moved the side troop doors. On the vehicle's predecessor, these doors were located above the beltline between the second and third pairs of wheels on both sides of the vehicle. On the BTR-70, the doors are below the beltline between the second and third pairs of wheels. As Soviet doctrine calls for unloading troops from the vehicle while it is in motion, the door location increases the chances that a soldier will be pulled under a wheel and injured or killed, although it also means that the troops can get out quicker while exposing them less to the enemy.
Like the vehicle's predecessor, it is fully amphibious with minimal preparation. A licensed Romanian copy was designated the TAB-77 and had various improvements and changes to make local production easier, including a better turret and different engines.
470+ styrene parts; one photo etch fret (protected by adhesive film and bagged separately); one decal sheet; eight tires; assembly instructions; full color painting guide.
Lower Hull and Suspension
The lower hull contained minor flash along some edges, but these are cleaned easily. Suspension parts are spread out over several sprues, but they’re easy to locate and separate without trouble. Some details on the front of the hull need to be removed and filled. Basic modeling skills (filling and sanding) will suffice. I used Tamiya putty.
The individual components of the BTR’s suspension clip easily from the sprues. The mold seams aren’t so prominent that I had to spend an unreasonable amount of time cleaning them up. This was a quick chore. These new BTRs possess stout locator tabs for suspension components that help you get them on straight without worrying about the wheels not contacting a flat surface.
That said, I decided to skip ahead to steps 13 and 14, where you’re finally instructed to assemble the eight wheels. This allowed me to verify whether or not all eight wheels would sit properly on a flat surface. This was something I repeated several times to ensure no added part risked throwing off the wheel levels. Thanks to the vinyl inserts in the wheels (similar to Tamiya poly caps), the wheels attached snugly each time and didn’t require any glue for final assembly.
The photo etch consists primarily of parts found on the upper hull – headlight brackets, jerry can retainers, periscope housings, come-along jack holder. The most troublesome pieces are the two parts PE A-23, attached to pieces J10 and J11, the engine bay hatches. Best practice would be to affix the hatches temporarily to a steady surface so they may act as a jig for bending the curves into the pieces. I didn’t have any luck and ruined these parts.
The interior of this kit is nice, featuring troop benches, ammo boxes (both for embarked infantry and the vehicle’s armament), driver’s station with steering wheel, gauges, and pedals, radios, and the firewall at the rear of the troop compartment. When installed, the seating for the turret hangs down behind the two front seats. Hatches contain interior details such as toggle locks and handles. Periscopes can be fully painted as they are complete. There is no detail in the engine compartment (engine, transmission, exhaust, etc). Truly, detailing the interior of this vehicle will be a Soviet/Russian armor nuts dream!
There are some details to remove and holes to fill on the upper hull. There’s also enough play between the upper and lower hull pieces that you could make the mistake that causes an unsightly gap up front and in the rear. When mating the upper and lower hull together, be mindful of the two locator pins in the bow and their holes in the bottom hull. Line these up before attaching clamps or rubber bands and applying your glue, otherwise you’ll get the aforementioned unsightly gaps in the front and rear of the BTR-70! This is the mistake I made as evidenced in the photos.
Most of the kit’s photo etch is added to the upper hull, so plan accordingly. While the instructions tell you to add delicate parts before mating the upper to the lower hull, you only need to add the periscopes, fenders, and fan assemblies. All other details can be added once the hull is completed, including the rear panel. This will ensure you avoid damaging the delicate details.
At this point, you’re adding hatches, pistol port covers, periscope housings (you can trim away the plastic ones molded on the upper hull and install PE ones in their place; I chose to retain the molded ones), handrails, jerry cans, tools (saw, shovel, come-along winch), lights, and other assorted details. To prevent damage to the two pieces G24, the foot bars under the troop compartment hatches, I temporarily added the wheels sans tires. This gave the vehicle something to rest on and kept its delicate suspension components from getting damaged.
The turret’s weapons are a KPVT 14.5mm heavy machine gun and a coaxial PKT 7.62mm machine gun. The receivers of each weapon are assembled and attached to the inside of the mantlet. There is also a sight and the gunner’s seat. Three lifting rings finish off the turret assembly. Of particular note is the troublesome location of the turret’s sprue gates at the base. Care must be taken to clean them away so the turret sits flush on top of the hull.
I primed using Vallejo Surface Primer Grey Primer (74601). The green color is a 70/30 mix of Tamiya XF-26 Deep Green/XF-11 J.N. Green, lightened by adding Tamiya XF-14 cut with Tamiya Lacquer Thinner (the yellow capped bottle). Tamiya X-22 Clear was mixed with paints to give the coat a satin finish. The dust is thinned (60/40) Tamiya XF-52 Flat Earth and Mig Pigments Europe Dust (P028). Periscopes were painted with a 80/20 mix of Vallejo Model Color (VMC) Black and Vallejo Game Color (VGC) Dark Blue, plus Vallejo Gloss Varnish. Armament was first painted with VMC Dark Grey, washed with Citadel Badab Black wash. Once dry, I rubbed a soft lead graphic drawing pencil (General Pencil Company) on my fingers, then rubbed the weapons carefully, then rubbed the edges of the weapons using the pencil directly on the highest spots. The tail lights were painted using VGC Scar Red mixed with Vallejo Gloss Varnish. The shovel, saw, and come-along jack metal parts received VGC Gunmetal with thinned VMC Silver; wooden parts were painted with VMC English Uniform with a touch of VMC White added. The jerry cans were painted with VMC Russian Uniform, the straps with VMC Black. The interior of the headlights were painted with VMC Silver before gluing the clear styrene pieces in place.
No units are identified in the markings, but two vehicles are depicted on the color painting guide, an apparent parade vehicle featuring USSR livery on the turret and a field unit with the number 113 and a circular marking resembling a targeting reticle. I chose the latter and added the Soviet Naval Infantry livery (white flag with hammer & sickle, red star, and blue horizontal line along the bottom). This is most likely erroneous but I decided to have a little fun with this one!
Thank you to Trumpeter and its US distributor, MMD Squadron, for this review sample, and to IPMS-USA for the review opportunity.
- Wikipedia BTR-70 entry (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BTR-70)
- Prime Portal’s BTR Galleries (http://www.primeportal.net/apc/robert_de_craecker/btr-70_east_german/)