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1st Infantry Fighting Vehicle

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Taking a break from aircraft models, looking for something (somewhat) quick to build. Being an ex-infantryman from back in the day, one of our nemesis's was the Soviet BMP series of Infantry Fighting Vehicles. If WW3 ever started, thousands of these were supposed to have poured into West Germany, accompanied by just as many T-64/72/80 tanks. The BMP-1 currently has a pretty bad reputation but few people seem to remember that when it was introduced circa 1970, it was a revolutionary design. At that time, US / NATO troops were riding in Armored Personnel Carriers. Basically tracked aluminum boxes with at most, a hand held .50 cal machine gun for offensive firepower. The troops inside those APC's had no view of the outside and no way to fire their weapons without being exposed.

The BMP-1 changed the game completely. In one light, agile package, it introduced a turret mounted 73mm cannon fed by an automatic loader (with a coaxial mg) and a wire guided anti-tank missile. It was equipped with periscopes and firing ports so the troops it carried could view the outside world and provide supressive fire using their AK-47's and light machine guns while under full armor protection. It also had a basic night fighting capability using active IR floodlights and was equipped with a full NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) protective system. Pretty impressive compared to the M113's that US troops were riding around in. It wouldn't be until the early 80's that US infantrymen finally had something better, in the form of the M2 Bradley.

The kit is the newly released Trumpeter BMP-1. A big step up compared to the Dragon kit that has been around since the late 80's. There are some issues with the Trumpy kit, the best list I've seen is included within this thread: http://www.armorama.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=SquawkBox&file=index&req=viewtopic&topic_id=201579&ord=&page=2

Most of the issues can be fixed with some scratchbuilding but one would be a challenge. The turret of the BMP has armor of varying thickness. It's thickets at the front, less so on the sides and is thinnest at the rear. The Russians simply added additional armor plates on the sides and front. However, the kit turret has smooth welded sections instead of the "stepped" profile of the real thing. This is pretty hard to replicate but thankfully SP Designs out of the Ukraine offers a great resin BMP correction set. It contains a new turret with the correct armor profile and multiple other parts to enhance the kit. Total cost was $5.00 and I received the kit within approx 4 weeks of being ordered. Can't go wrong with these guys! I ordered the later BMP-1P turret. This was a late 70's upgrade over the basic -1 version, it included 6 smoke grenade launchers at the rear of the turret and replaced the early generation Sagger anti-tank missile with a more modern AT-4 (similar to the Milan).

I'll be starting this build shortly, in the meantime, some pictures:


Kit and the two SP Designs sets


SP Designs turret showing the layered armor plates. Don't let my crappy pictures fool you, the SP turret is much superior to the kit's.


Kit turret vrs resin.

Edited by 11bee
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Watching this with enthusiasm. Having done some science fiction and World War II subjects, I'm eager to get back to Cold War stuff. This is just the thing to motivate me.

Don't hold your breath Fish, I build at a very sloooow pace :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Got a bit of work done. Aside from the issues mentioned in Post #1, I'm pretty impressed with the Trumpy kit. Very fine detail, they caught pretty much all the small bits and pieces. Definitely light years beyond the old Dragon kit. I started out adding bits to the hull. Mostly very small fittings. So far, no need to modify any of the kit parts, they match nicely with the references I have (mostly the great walk-arounds on Prime Portal). I did "distress" the rubber shock absorber bumpers installed on the lower hull sides.


Lower hull, nice details molded on the bottom (if anyone is ever going to look there).

Next up I started assembly the road wheels. They are nicely molded and include backing sections. One thing I noted is that the rubber wheel itself has raised lines. In checking out my ref's, these lines are present on the outer sections but the flat surfaces are completely smooth. My uneducated guess is that Trumpy replicated a brand new roadwheel with the rubber mold lines present. However, once in service, the raised lines on the outer section of the wheel would be gone in a very short time. I sanded down the outer wheels and added some random cuts and dings.


Original kit wheel on the left, modified wheel on the right.

Next up are the guide vanes mounted on the rear fenders. These were required to allow the BMP to move through water. The real things are thin metal, the kit ones are a bit on the thick side. I don't think this is really a failing of the kit, just a limitation of the injection molding process. Using an x-acto knife and some sandpaper I thinned the interior down as much as possible. I then added a mounting bolt to the lower inside section and replicated some damage (which seems to be present on many of these vehicles.


Unmodified kit part


Modified part, installed on the hull.


Another view.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Still working on the lower hull. Trumpeter has done a good job, everything that is supposed to be there is present and from what I've seen, it all looks pretty accurate. Total parts count once everything is installed will be close to 80! Some of the PE shields that fit over the shock absorbers don't have fold lines, so they are a bit tough to accurately fold. Also, the suspension arms have some sprue gates that require careful trimming. Nothing overwhelming but it just requires time.

Here are some pics of my progress so far:




I also will be starting work on the rear troop access doors. One thing that Trumpy missed was the fuel fillers on the top of the doors. They just have a very simplified circular depression. Thankfully, SP provides replacement doors with the fuel filler caps molded accurately, they also provide an extremely accurate armored lip around the filler. No idea how they can cast stuff this finely.



One thing I did note that despite providing clear periscopes for everywhere else, Trumpy opted to mold the periscopes in the crew access door in solid plastic. No easy fix for this, SP also followed suit.

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  • 1 month later...

Little bit of progress to share. After some reflection, I went with the kit doors with the raised fuel caps. They seem to be more common then the SP doors. Detailing is pretty close, only thing I added were the plates below the periscopes. The prominent weld beads under these plates will be represented using stretch sprue and a thin bead of putty. I also glued one of the armored periscope covers on a bit skewed, the real things seem to get beaten up pretty easily. Also added some bolts to attach the water jet guide vanes to the hull side. Still need to add a couple of rivets to the covers and after that I think the rear section of my BMP is done. I'll add the door handles and other small bits later in the build. Note that things are still pretty rough, I have a lot of cleanup work to still do. I'll post better pics once I am 100%.


Also note that I've begun removing the cast on torsion bars that the overhead troop doors affix to. I think replacing them with plastic rod will be an improvement.

I then finished up the suspension and glued the upper hull in place. Had to add some putty and do some sanding work to the lower hull front as there are prominent gaps on the model where the two sections meet. On the real thing, it's just a single smooth plate. May have to come back and add some more putty, we'll see how it looks after some primer.


Lastly, just a few more pics of my progress:



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  • 9 months later...

Haven't bothered to add any updates due to this forum being dead.  The full build log is over at Armorama if anyone's interested.  Here are a few pics of where I am currently at. Note that I ended up getting a different turret from SP designs, it's a (very) late version turret with the fiberglass anti-radiation cladding applied.   All of the BMP's in this particular MVD unit in Chechnya appeared to have this upgrade.










Since then I've added more details to the kit, adjusted the weathering and addressed a bit of "silvering" issue with a few of the decals.   Now I'm just plugging away on the track links.   Truly the worst part of the project.   They are pretty nice but I just can't stand the tedious work.  

Edited by 11bee
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BMP-2 is my personal favorite.  Like the -1, it was underrated by the west but it actually stacked up pretty nicely when compared to a cold-war era Bradley.  Got some nice aftermarket bits from SP for the turret, it's gonna be a while though, plan on doing a helo for my next project.  

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Weathering completed, I also added the straps and some bolts for the unditching log.  Also completed the sheet metal guard around the exhaust, using some scrap PE.  This is another part that Trumpeter should have included, it's pretty prominent on the real thing.   Anyway, these are probably my final pics.

















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  • 4 weeks later...

Thanks Silenoz.   It was a fun build.  If it wasn't for all those individual track links, it would have been done much sooner.   I'll probably be starting the BMP-2 in the near future. 

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