Home > Reviews > Axis > Eastern Express 1/35 "Finnish SPG BT-42" (35116)

Finnish SPG BT-42
Review and Comparison with JS-Models Parts


by Andreas Larka


Stock Number and Description Eastern Express No 35116 - "Finnish SPG BT-42"
Scale: 1/35
Media and Contents: 193 grey injection molded styrene parts. Decal options for three different vehicles.
Price: USD$14.95
Review Type: Out of the box, comparing the EE kit with JS-Models’ JS10 "BT-42 Turret" and JS11 "BT-42 jack & equipment boxes" –conversion sets.


EE’s various BT-7 models have been on the market for quite a while now, and they have usually gotten very good reviews (check out the Links section below) 

In 2004, Eastern Express added the Finnish BT-42 assault gun to its BG-7 family, a subject particularly interesting to us Finns. In the following review I’ll compare the Russian kit with the real thing and with the conversion sets made by the Finnish company JS-Models.

Upper and lower hull 

The upper and lower hull are the very same as in the other EE BT-7 kits. The details are sharp, look good and are a nice change from the old Eastern European “standard”. One could almost say that EE is the Tamiya of the East. 

There are however some things that stick out like a sore thumb; The roadwheels look nice, but why the huge holes on the sides of the tires? The holes destroy the otherwise very nice wheels. The drive sprockets’ shape and bolts are so-and-so, but one can survive without buying for example Modeling Artisan Morin "BT-7 Late Type Drive Sprockets" -resin wheels. 

The upper hull and sides are as sharp as everything else in the kit. But here are also some strange details. Apparently the Muscovites have decided that the bolts and rivets must be visible even for those who forgot their eye-glasses… One could manage with smaller ones. 

The rear grille cover is molded in a single piece of plastic, trying to appear as netting. This of course is no problem as there are after-market photo-etched parts available, but in this particular case the designers have played a nice little trick on the builder; beneath the grille there isn’t any hole in the hull! So when one wants to use a photo-etched grille one must first saw open the hole – without any instructions or guidelines – and then insert scratch-built vanes. 

On the positive side is that all the larger hull parts are placed in the mold in such a way that the push-marks are on the sides that isn’t showing when the model is ready. Thus no filling and sanding of these so unnecessary marks. 

As the kit is supposed to be a BT-42 one have to mention a few words about the front fenders. The Russians does know what they should look like (they are after all correct on both the box art and on the instruction sheet), but in the kit they have stuck to the original BT-7 front fenders. Therefore the fenders are plain and simply wrong for the BT-42.

The turret (sprue "X") 

Sprue ”X” is a newcomer compared to the older BT-7 kits and is the sprue that contains the parts used to turn your boring, usual and every-day BT-7 into a the exiting Finnish technical masterpiece; the BT-42. I.e. the sprue contains the turret with its gun and the Finnish-made toolboxes. 

Despite this being an “out-of-the-box” review I had to glue the turret together to be able to review its shape. The turret is as sharp and as nice looking as the rest of the kit, but there are details, weld seams and bolts missing. These annoying shortcomings make me wonder why some bolts are put into place but the ones right next by isn’t? The Russians doesn’t even need to visit the Parola Tank Museum in Finland where the worlds only surviving BT-42 is displayed, they can get their info from reference books and from the Internet. Still these simple things are left undone. 



If one shuts ones eyes for the lack of details (after all, AMS is already “invented” and its fun to make rivets…) and only examines the shape of the turret, one after a while gets this strange feeling of something not being right. The answer comes when the turret is placed on top of the upper hull; either the hull is too wide or the turret is too narrow. When comparing the kit with a photograph of the real vehicle one can see that the gap between the turret and the hull side is way too wide. Where is the problem? I don’t think that the hull is incorrect, but I have my doubts about the turret. 

Enter the JS-Models’ JS10 "BT-42 Turret" and JS11 "BT-42 jack & equipment boxes" –conversion sets. The JS-Models resin turret has all the details that I was nagging about earlier. Each and every bolt, pistol port and weld seam are where they should be. When comparing the EE and the JS turret measurements one notices that all the numbers and angles match. Except for one: the width. The EE turret is 2,2mm narrower than the JS turret. In real life this is 7,7cm and that is – as we already have noticed – a deficiency noticeable to the bare eye. When the JS turret is placed on the same EE upper hull, one notices that the gap between the turret and the hull side is much smaller. At this moment one also understands what gives you the feeling of “oddness” with the EE turret. The “cheeks”, or the sloped front armor plates of the turret, are too narrow and thus incorrectly angled. 



The rest of the EE turret parts, the gun cradle and the roof hatch, have the same problem with details – or lack thereof – as the rest of the turret. The roof hatch is – because of the whole turret being too narrow – too narrow. The muzzle brake that should be perforated is completely smooth. In the JS turret all these details are in order. 

The EE equipment boxes are quite simple and crude. The angles and measurements are exactly the same as in the JS11 "BT-42 jack & equipment boxes" –conversion set, but most of the details are missing. The EE kit doesn’t contain any jacks. 

The JS-Models’ JS10 "BT-42 Turret" and JS11 "BT-42 jack & equipment boxes" –conversion sets hit the market about 10 years ago. When the boys at JS made their set they used Mr. Jukka Purhonen’s photographs and drawings of the Parola BT-42 combined with numerous visits to the Parola Tank Museum. 

The EE BT-42 kit hit the market in 2004. An interesting curiosity is that the equipment boxes of the Parola BT-42 were removed and stored about 4 or 5 years ago. For some reason the attention is drawn to the similarity in measurements and shapes between the EE and JS products. Despite the EE turret being too narrow all the other measurements between for example the vision ports and the turret roof, the size and shape of the vision ports of the turret front, the arched form of the gun cradle is the same as in the JS turret. The EE equipment boxes have the same shape, angles and size as the JS boxes. It’s amazing how two different master makers in two different countries are capable of making such similar products… 

At this time of the comparison I must say that the JS-Models’ products have a clear 6-0 lead. I admit that I am a bit biased and that I might look at the world through my Blue and White Finnish glasses, but still I believe more in JS-Models’ capability of making Finnish conversions than in Eastern Express’ capability. Is this because the shortcomings of EE are visible for the bare eye, and no such shortcomings can be found on JS’ products? Or is it because I have seen when the JS boys are crawling all over the real vehicles “armed” with notebooks, cameras and measure tapes? I don’t know. 

To be honest I must admit that there also are some shortcomings with the JS turret. There is no centre or hub on the bottom of the turret. This makes the alignment of the turret hard when put on top of the model. Also the material of the turret, very light cream resin, makes it hard to photograph(!) and to notice possible casting defects.

Decals and instruction sheet 

The decal sheet contains both the wartime Finnish tank swastikas and post war cockades. Furthermore the sheet contains the registration numbers, the Ps. –numbers, and strange “over painted swastikas with a red star on top” –decals. It would be very interesting to see photographic evidence for these decals. This as all the BT-42s that were left on the battlefield were either out of order or knocked out and didn’t need any new markings. The biggest problem with the decals is, that the swastikas are blue and white and therefore completely useless for the BT-42s. The Finnish tank swastika was black and white and only a handful of vehicles captured in the fall of 1941 received the field applied blue and white swastika. The Ps. –numbers are all in different sizes and for one vehicle only one number is available. 

The color scheme to be used consists of olive green, green, blue(!) and brown. The early and post war vehicles are to be painted all green, but the vehicles from 1944 are to be painted in a scheme consisting of brown, green and blue! For the 1944 vehicle one should apply the “over painted swastikas…” –decals. Unfortunately I can’t speak or read Russian so I don’t understand what the original Russian instructions say. On the box art the vehicle is painted in brown, green and some kind of beige, so maybe the “blue” is only a translation error. 

The color schemes are – like the decals – completely made up. The scheme looks more like German camouflage than Finnish. The color fields are too wide and the typical Finnish “winding” scheme is lacking. The box art suggests that the scheme should be sprayed on leaving the edges soft. Oi vei! The Finnish camouflage consisted of Moss Green, Sand Brown and Light Grey. Hand painted and hardedge!


Close but no cigar! EE’s BT-7 hull is quite nice itself, but all the attempts to make it into a Finnish BT-42 have failed. Starting with the wrong front fenders. Moving on with the detail lacking equipment boxes and under scaled turret. Ending up with the useless decals. What? You are not interested? 

My personal opinion is, that to build a decent BT-42, one must use JS-Models products. The hull can be either EE or Zvezda (if EE I would use the Zvezda wheels), but the turret and equipment boxes have to come from JS. I haven’t seen any other conversions and EE’s turret simply doesn’t get the job done.


http://www.kitreview.com/reviews/bt7reviewcs_1.htm  "Eastern Express 1/35 Scale Kit No. 35109 - Tank BT-7 model 1935 late version" - Reviewed by Cookie Sewell"

http://www.kitreview.com/reviews/bt7earlyreviewcs_1.htm  "Eastern Express 1/35 Scale Kit No. 35111; Tank BT-7 Mod. 1937 Early Version" - Reviewed by Cookie Sewell

http://www.panssarikilta.fi/Museo/index.htm  "Panssarimuseo Parola"

http://www.andreaslarka.net/ps511008/ps511008.html  "BT-42 # Ps. 511-8"

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Text and Images by Andreas Larka
Page Created 30 July, 2006
Page Last Updated 30 July, 2006