Unimodel 1/72 BA-1 Armored Car Mine Roller Build Review
By John C. Kelley
|Date of Review||September 2011||Manufacturer||Unimodel|
|Subject||BA-1 Armored Car||Scale||1/72|
|Kit Number||0363||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Good pre-war decals, good tire detail, ease of assembly||Cons||Hull outline is not accurate for a BA-1|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$9.98|
In 1932, the first Soviet armored car on a six wheeled chassis entered service. The BA-I was built on a Ford-Timken 6x4 commercial truck chassis, with tandem rear wheels and an unpowered front axle. The armament consisted of a small turret with a Hotchkiss 37mm cannon, a 7.62 mm DT coaxial, and bow mounted machine guns. The chassis was overloaded and the BA-I was only produced between 1932 and 1934. It was replaced by the BA-3 on the Gaz chassis with a T-26 turret which had a 45mm cannon in the turret instead of a 37mm cannon. A total of 53 BA-I armored cars were produced and some were still in service as late as 1941.
The UM kit, in 1/72, is molded in light green plastic and contains 85 flash free parts and twelve vinyl tires. Some of the plastic parts are not used in this kit. The moldings are well done but the details are a little soft and could be better defined. A very interesting decal sheet is included and while only a few decals are used, several are left-over and can be used for other BA series armored cars. It is nice to see so many pre war decal options on one sheet. If you choose decal option 1 or 9, a white band around the turret, the turret top should be painted white. I have a photo in the book "Soviet Tanks and Combat Vehicles of World War II" by Steven J. Zaloga and James Grandsen , ISBN 0-85368-606-8, page 91, of a BA-I on parade in the 1930s and it has this marking with a white turret top. The UM instructions do not mention painting the turret top white in the painting and markings section.
I began construction by assembling the axles and I encountered no fit problems at all. I recommend at this point not attaching the rear axles as per step three. I will explain later why you should hold off on this. I removed 6.5 mm from the rear of the chassis, and the front bumper mounts as shown in the instructions.
I then started building the upper turret. There are raised pins on the back of Part 75D, the gun mounts. These need to be removed before adding to the turret. There also is a seam between the turret and the gun mounts that needs to be filled and sanded.
After completing this stage, I started assembly of the hull pieces. The driver's door had raised ejector pin marks that needed to be removed before adding to the hull. There was a seam between Part 94E, the drivers front plate, and the hull top. I filled this with putty and sanded it smooth.
After completing this assembly I attached the finished hull to the chassis. Parts 7E and 9E were added and finally the fenders, Parts 12E and 13E. The only issue in this part of the build was a gap between the left fender and the hull. I had to I sand the chassis frame until the fender fit the hull tightly. I did this with the rear axles attached but it was tricky to do so. This is why I suggest not attaching the rear axles until the fender fit is checked.
I then turned my attention to the final details. The headlight assembly comes in one piece, which needs to be cut into two according to the instructions. The headlights are solid with no headlamp detail. Normally, I drill a hole in the headlamps, paint them silver, and fill the hole with white glue. This time, I just punched two plastic discs using my Waldron Punch and Die Set. Looking back, I think I will drill the holes the next time as I'm not completely satisfied with the look of the plastic disc.
I left the tires and wheels off until the model was painted. After adding the final kit details, I decided to do a little bit of detailing. I added four fender braces and made a saw out of sheet plastic. I also added a long rod at the rear of the hull . I do not know its purpose but it is on the BA-I. I made it from .025 rod and the end from .030 rod. This is where I began to have suspicions about the hull accuracy. As I added the fender braces, I noticed they didn't fit as per the photograph I had.
I did more research and found a 1/35th scale plan at the web site RKKA in World War 2 in the Galleries section. The plans show that the BA-I drivers compartment and cab should be straight and not angled out as the kit is molded. What is in the kit is a BA-3 hull instead of a correct BA-I hull. Thus, the kit has an inaccurate rear hull outline from the cab to the rear looking at it from the top. The turret is also wider to match the hull width. The only solution I have is to either scratch build from the cab back to the rear, modify the kit parts or simply ignore it and build the kit out of the box.
I then removed the wheels from the sprues and added the tires to them. Each wheel has a step molded in it as well as a corresponding step in the tire. This means the wheel can only be inserted into the tire one way to mount it correctly. The back of the duel wheels have no location pins and while I was able to assemble the wheels, having a location pin molded in would have made aligning them easier. In any case, make sure that the wheel spokes match up so that you can see through the wheel openings. I then attached the wheels but found that Parts 38A, the back half of the dual wheels, needed the axle opening enlarged with a file. Otherwise, it will not fit onto the Part 30A, axle drum.
Painting and Finishing
I gave the model a primer coat of Tamiya TS-82 Rubber Black Spray Paint. The base color is Tamiya XF-65 Field Gray with 30% white added to the mixture. After this had dried, I over-sprayed the model with Pledge Floor Wax with Future. The decals were applied with no problems and after they had dried, a black oil wash was applied to all the details. Dry brushing was done with the base color and 50% white added. I re-sprayed with the Future and, finally, over-coated that with Tamiya TS-80 Clear Flat Coat. The headlights were painted silver and muffler painted XF-9 Hull Red. I then chose to further the weathering a little bit more. Dots of white, blue, and yellow were randomly applied to the model and streaked down with a brush loaded with Turpenoid. After streaking several times to get the desired effect, I then applied Mig Pigments European Dust. This was applied heavily to the chassis area and lighter on the upper surfaces.
This was a fun and easy model to build. I enjoyed all aspects of the kit, especially the selection of pre-war markings. This alone makes the kit worth purchasing. The tread and side-wall detail on the tires was outstanding. The overall fit, with the exception of the fenders, was very good. The hull shape is a problem, and I was able to find plans fairly easily on the internet. I very much like UM kits, and I will continue to buy them. I may even purchase this one in the future myself. But you need to know what issues I encounter with a kit, and this is one that simply cannot be ignored. Having said that, there are very few pre-war injection molded armored cars and despite the issues I have mentioned, it is a unique model and one that I do recommend bearing in mind the rear hull accuracy.