|KIT:||Zvezda 1/35 BTR-80A APC|
|PRICE:||$29.98 (26.96 at Squadron)|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
Developed from the BTR-40 of the 1950s, the BTR-80 is the most common version of the wheeled BTR series by 2000, used in large numbers by Russian forces and widely sold throughout the world to help raise money, and used by countries as diverse as Afghanistan and South Korea. The two gasoline engines of earlier models have been replaced by a single diesel engine, and the transmission is automatic instead of manual. The turret has power elevation and traverse. The weapons can elevated to twice the level of the BTR-60 and 70 (to 60 degrees), making them useful against low flying aircraft and persons in buildings and in mountain passes. The side hatches are two-part and much larger, making them useful for crew entry and exit and less likely to expose passengers to enemy fire. Radiation shielding and an NBC system have been added for additional crew protection, and better-quality night vision replaces the primitive active IR.
The BTR-80A is a standard BTR-80, with a new turret fitted. The new turret has a 30mm autocannon and a coaxial PKT machine gun, as well as six smoke grenade launchers. No fire control or stabilization is provided. All statistics are the same as the standard BTR-80.
Molded in an olive drab plastic, the overall impression one gets when opening the kit is quite positive. The one thing I didn't like is that none of the parts are in a plastic bag. This means that the sprues have lots of room to jostle around. Having eight hard rubber/vinyl tires in the mix means that several parts have been ripped from the sprues. Why most kits are in bags while Zvezda's are not is a real mystery.
So let us start with the tires. These are of a somewhat shiny material and unlike most, don't have a seam running in circmference with the tread. Instead, there is one small attachment area to clean up. Overall the detail level of the kit is quite good. No unwanted ejector pin marks, no flash and only a few sink areas to deal with, these being on thicker parts and at least one on the upper hull. Should be easy enough to fix with some filler. This is not a 'slap-together' kit. There are a lot of parts, many of them small detail bits. While nothing seems overwhelmingly complex, the truth is that it will take a bit of time and some careful work to get everything in place. If I read things properly, this is supposed to have steerable wheels.
Though the various hatches look as if they could be posed open, this would be a waste as there is no interior supplied, making this a 'curbside' as the auto guys would say. It does appear that the gun can be elevated and operated in azimuth. A small acetate sheet is provided for any clear bits needed.
Instructions are well done, with nicely drawn construction sequences. Of course, I said that about the BA 64 armored car before I started building it, and during construction found it wanting.. It will be interesting to see if this one follows suit. Color information is given during construction so that you can properly paint detail parts. As with other Zvezda kits, this one gives Zvezda and Testors Model Master paint references. Markings are provided for three vehicles; two are in 'Pale Green' and 'European Green' while the third is in overall 'European Green'. All the unit info is in Russian with no English translation. Decals are fairly well printed, but my experience with Zvezda decals is mixed. They don't work quite as well as those by other companies, being relatively immune to setting solutions. I've had to really mess with the image quality to show the white bits, thanks to the near-white backing sheet!
One thing for sure, it will make into a relatively large vehicle. While US Army APCs are generally tracked, those of European nations and Canada tend to be wheeled. I'm not sure which is best, but they do make for interesting vehicles. This one will definitely add to the mix and will look very nice in any modern military vehicle collection.
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