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BTR-40

Trumpeter 1/35 BTR-40 Kit First Look

by Cookie Sewell

Date of Review October 2011 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject BTR-40 Scale 1/35
Kit Number 5517 Primary Media 275 parts (249 in grey styrene, 20 etched brass, 5 black vinyl, 1 copper wire)
Pros First new kit of this vehicle in styrene; nicely done engine and driveline; intelligent layout of parts makes assembly simple Cons Seams in the middle of the tires; no armament or heavy weapons
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $53.95

First Look

When the Soviets began to receive Lend-Lease vehicles during WWII they were quickly embarrassed at how backwards their automotive industry was compared to the west. For example, their standard light/medium cargo truck was the ZIS-5 family. These had a three-speed transmission, rear wheel drive, and two-wheel braking on the rear wheels only. The standard Allied vehicle in the same class they received was the Studebaker US6. It had a five-speed transmission with two-speed transfer case, all-wheel braking, and selective 6 x 4 or 6 x 6 drive.

The same was true about wheeled light armored vehicles, one of the most popular being the M3A1 White Scout Car. It had a four-speed transmission, two-speed transfer case, and came with one .50 caliber and two .30 caliber machine guns and room for eight personnel. The Soviets had nothing to compare to it, so were happy to receive just over 3,300 of them.

After the war the Soviet automotive industry moved to correct its failings. They put the GAZ-51 into production in 1946, an enlarged version based on the Dodge WC-51/52 series 3/4 ton trucks which they received during Lend-Lease. In 1948, the stronger and reinforced GAZ-63 truck supplanted it for military service. Likewise, at the same time the ZIS-151 series of 6 x 6 trucks were produced, based on the Studebaker US6.U4 design.

In the late 1940s the Soviets decided after their experiences in WWII, and studies of Allied and German use of armored personnel carriers, to create their own. Two projects were put forth: “Proyekt 140" for a 6 x 6 medium armored personnel carrier, and “Proyekt 141" for a 4 x 4 light vehicle. 140 turned to the ZIS-151 and emerged as the BTR-152, but 141 was based on the GAZ-63 in a 4 x 4 version. Using a shortened wheelbase chassis, the new vehicle copied the desirable features of the White Scout Car but added a Soviet designed ballistically improved hull and other Russian features. After two years of testing, the vehicle was accepted for service as the BTR-40 and entered full scale production in 1950.

The new vehicle – like the White – had seating for eight personnel. It carried brackets on all sides to mount a 7.62mm SGMT machine gun and carried 1,250 rounds for it. Vehicles were also fitted with a 10-RT-26 HF radio set. This vehicle was followed into production a year later by the BTR-40A, which mounted a ZTPU-2 antiaircraft mount with twin 14.5mm KPV machine guns. In 1957, a new version, the BTR-40B, was created which had an armored roof over the troop compartment and this was produced from 1958 to 1960. It was later replaced in production by the BRDM-1 light armored reconnaissance and patrol vehicle.

Approximately 8,500 BTR-40s of all types were built, and the vehicle was finally taken out of service in 1993. It was also sold to no less than 33 other countries with a total of over 2,500 exported.

I recall an earlier styrene kit from the 1960s of the BTR-40 but I believe it may have been a 1/40 scale “wind-up” semi-scale kit. Nevertheless, Trumpeter has now released a brand-new state of the art kit of this seminal light Soviet armored command and reconnaissance vehicle.

The kit comes like many recent Trumpeter efforts, with the more delicate parts wrapped in foam. These include the rear body ammunition racks and the entire armored hood/windscreen assembly. For matching the complex armored body design, Trumpeter has molded it in ten parts with separate fenders. The floor pan is one piece and all of these parts attach to it. A separate hood comes with the louvers molded open.

The six-cylinder engine comes in 24 parts and covers most major components. The radiators adds five more. There is no chassis, so all of the suspension components attach to the body. The rear springs are fitted with twin roller action type shock absorbers. This variant comes with seats for five – three passenger and two crew.

The doors are all fixed in place (most photos showing Soviet troops heroically leaping over the top of the hull, so there may be good reason for that). The steering gear appears to permit the front wheel steering to be posed, as the wheel mounts (E31) are fitted to a gimbal (E7) which is to be left free. The tires are nicely molded but as with all vinyl tires have a mold seam right down the middle of the tire. Purists will seek after-market wheels to replace them.

The headlights come with the blackout shrouds molded in place, but Trumpeter has them cleverly mounted with the GAZ-63 type housings from the back of the fenders. The copper wire is used to make the light guards for these headlights.

Sadly the kit is not provided with either the 10-RT radio set or the SGMT machine gun. The four mounts for the latter and the whip antenna base for the former are provided, so it is an odd choice to leave them out. Also missing are any ammunition canisters or “kit” for the rather empty hull interior. In this day and age, for $54 one could expect SOMETHING to fill the void.

Two basic finishing options are provided: one in 4BO green with either a bort number of 101 or 103 in white, and a tri-color camouflage vehicle (green, brown, grey) with Guards logos and bort number white 242. A decal is also provided for the dashboard instruments.

Overall this is a nice kit of the old “Cold Warrior” but I do wish it had been more complete; also Middle East fans will have to wait for either a dedicated version from Trumpeter or the after-market boys to cover it.

Sprue Layout:

  • A 11 Armored hull
  • B 52 Springs, frame detail parts, driver’s controls
  • C 41 Racks, armored visors, hull external details, OVM
  • D 30 Engine
  • E 57x2 Wheels, seats, top bows, hull interior details, lights
  • ‒ 1 Hood and windscreen assembly
  • ‒ 5 Black vinyl tires
  • ‒ 20 Etched brass
  • ‒ 1 Copper wire

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