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Zvezda 1/35 BMD-1 Build Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review March 2004 Manufacturer Zvezda
Subject BMD-1 Scale 1/35
Kit Number 3559 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build Cons
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $27.98

Build Review

The Soviets designed a new combat vehicle that would be the "Swiss Army Knife" of the airborne forces. The vehicle was to be air transportable, parachute deployable, amphibious, and armed with a 73mm main gun and a coaxially mounted anti-tank missile. The vehicle could carry a crew of three and four airborne infantrymen.

What I found interesting is that the crews would remain in these vehicles during parachute drops and literally drive off the pallets upon landing. These guys are braver than I thought! Unfortunately, the vehicle that performed well in exercises and was designed for light weight and versatility, didn't fare well under fire in Afghanistan. In fact, it didn't take that long for the airborne infantry crews to exchange their BMD-1s for the more rugged BMP-1 used by the ground forces.


When I reviewed this kit last month, I commented on how it appeared to be an easy build. I decided to put that observation to the test. Zvezda replicated the scale of this kit quite well as I was surprised just how delicate the suspension arms are!

The hull went together with liquid cement after dry-fitting to locate any fit problems. The lower hull went together smoothly. The road wheels and suspension arms go on as well with an occasional eyeball down the wheels to ensure alignment. While the instructions directed that the return roller (parts C11/C1) go on at the end of assembly to allow for proper tensioning of the track, I decided to assemble the track early and get the position of the torsion arm set and cemented for strength. Once the wheels and torsion arms were in place, I set the track aside for painting and weathering later.


The upper hull also went together easily, though I opted not to use the clear periscopes to simplify painting later. Likewise for the turret, though I decided not to install the missile rail and missile as the Afghan campaign vehicle I was modeling didn't have one.

The only fit problems I experienced with the kit that required filler were the bow gun ports (parts A6 & A7) to the assembled hull. This was quickly remedied with Mr. Surfacer 500 and some sanding sticks.

As I said earlier, I wanted to do a typical Afghan campaign BMD, so I painted the vehicle overall armor green, then applied a pattern of brown splotches that were outlined in black. The resulting camouflage looked great, so I finished the paint with a coat of Future.


I applied the kit decals to the side and rear hull. These went down nicely over the Future using Micro Sol. After these dried, I applied a sealing coat of Future mixed with Tamiya Flat Base to obtain a flat finish.

After letting the Future dry overnight, I applied a thinned black wash over the whole vehicle. After it dried, I rubbed the vehicle down with an old t-shirt to remove any excess wash. At this point, I was strategizing about how to best weather the vehicle for desert combat when a new product arrived.

VLS has released a set of weathering powders call Figments (under their 5 Star Tools line) and this was just what the doctor ordered. The powder is as fine as laser printer toner and about as persistent. Wherever you put it, it is going to stay there.


I dipped a wide paint brush into one of the colors and brushed the model with it. Holy smokes! They weren't kidding about staying put. But if you're not careful, it also goes on thick. I used an airbrush to remove the excess and used a few other colors in less quantities. The results were quite impressive - the BMD looks like it has been out in the field and unwashed for weeks. You can barely even make out the camouflage underneath. Very impressive!

This project was indeed an easy build, though I did have some frustration with the delicate parts in the vehicle suspension. Nevertheless assembly was quick and painless. The weathering was even more fun with these new VLS Figments. This model is recommended to at least experienced beginners (more than a few models completed) and will be fun for the intermediate or advanced modeler.

My sincere thanks to Squadron Mail Order for this review sample!