From the side of the box, Trumpeter provides the following history of the BTR: “The Russian BTR-50 is a Soviet amphibious armoured personnel carrier based on the PT-76 amphibious light tank chassis. The BTR-50 was tracked, unlike most members of the BTR series, which were wheeled. Like the PT-76, the BTR-50 has a flat, boat-shaped hull. Unlike the PT-76 it has a new superstructure added to the front of the vehicle. The engine used in the BTR-50 is the V-6 6-cylinder water-cooled diesel engine developing 240 hp (179 kW) at 1800 rpm gives it a road speed of 44 km/h with a cruising range of 400 km. BTR-50PK is armed with a pintle-mounted 7.62 mm SGMB machine gun. This variant has an NBC production system.”
What’s in the box?
The kit has four sprues molded in light grey plastic with approximately 210 pieces. It has rubber tracks and not individual links (whew!). There is one small sheet of photoetch and string and a small sheet of decals for a Soviet and East German vehicle. The plastic is well formed with no flash and some of the sprues are packaged with pieces of foam wrapped around smaller, fragile pieces. The plastic is on the soft side, so it must be treated with care. No pintle-mounted weapon is included.
This is a relatively easy build. The vehicle’s body is split into two pieces, the chassis and the body. The chassis is an easy build. The road wheels are split into two pieces and go together easily. Unlike Tamiya kits, there are no poly caps provided, so the road wheels just pop on the suspension arms. The suspension arms attach to the body but care must be taken to make sure that there is no free play, in particular at the beginning and end of the run. As for the tracks, the instructions said that the two ends could be attached with glue. No such luck. I use Tenax and even tried tube glue, but to no avail. After clamping the ends together for several hours, they flew apart. I ended up using a staple.
There is no interior, so I decided to keep the hatches closed. There is not much to putting the chassis together. There are, however, a large number of very small, fiddly pieces, so be careful! I lost several small pieces to the carpet monster and had to fashion new ones from scratch. The large PE screen is a very tight fit and needs some sanding and dry fitting to make sure it is seated properly. If you are not a fan of PE, there is a frame that serves as a protector for the headlights that’s very complicated. Thankfully, Trumpeter included two templates in the kit that allow you to bend the complex shapes. The PE piece that went on the right-hand headlight was relatively easy. The PE piece that went on the left-hand headlight was considerably more difficult to take care of. The instructions are imprecise on the proper shape, so I did my best.
You can paint the BTR in any color you want, as long as it is Russian Green! There are two finishes supplied with the kit, a Russian or East German vehicle. If you do some research, you might find other examples to model. I usually start the painting process by giving the model a coat of grey primer from a rattle can that I get at my local hardware store. It’s cheap and does a pretty good job of providing a surface for the paint to stick to. As for the Green, I tried Polyscale’s Russian armor green. It is a lighter shade of green than what is depicted on the color guide in the instructions. Regardless, I went ahead and used this particular shade. Unfortunately, after putting down the base coat of green, the air compressor that I use with my air brush crapped out. I usually put down a coat of future floor wax to accommodate the decals and a wash, but it wasn’t meant to be.
It’s great to see Trumpeter chose a variety of Russian subjects that have not been kitted before. This is a relatively easy kit to put together, but the photoetch may prove a challenge. My thanks to IPMS, Stevens International and Trumpeter models for giving me the opportunity to review this kit.