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Arsenal BRDM-1

John Prigent

This, despite coming into circulation after their PT3 mine roller set, seems actually to be Arsenal's first kit. Whether first or second, it's a very creditable effort for a new manufacturer so here's a look in the box.

It comes moulded in 142 grey polystyrene parts plus four "rubber tyres", and inlcudes decals for one Soviet, one Polish and one Egyptian vehicle.  The plastic parts are quite well done with some good surface detail, though flash is heavy in places and there are some annoying sink marks on the  springs and instrument panel. Those on the springs will be concealed by the wheels but the instrument panel could be more of a problem. Having mentined  that a look at the rest of the interior parts seems in order - yes, Virginia, this one comes with a basic interior and all crew hatches are separate parts.  That's two over the driver's and commander's heads, two forming a door at the rear, and the two large front vision ports, so there's quite a good view inside. The steering wheel is movable, by a nice old-fashioned heat-to-seal attachment, though since it has no connection to the front wheels you might as well cement it in place anyway. The instrument panel includes the commander's radio, both somewhat simplified and prime candidates for replacement (Eduard, are you listening?). Not too hard to scratchbuild a replacement with better detail, and the Tank Museum at Bovington has the real thing so you should be able to order a decent photograph of this area from the Museum Library.

The main floor unit includes the seat bottoms, but doesn't correspond to my reference photographs of the Bovington vehicle which indicate a transmission tunnel extending all the way front to rear. Again, a TM photo will help those who want to detail it. (Sorry, I can't post mine without Museum permission.) The seat backs and three gear levers are separate parts, but  there should be more levers and no driver's pedals are given. There's actually quite a bit which could be added by way of small details and stowage, but what's in the kit is a good start and will satisfy most modellers.  Turning to the outside, the hull is built from individual bottom, sides, front and rear plates to which a two-piece roof is added. Nicely done, and with care they should go together well. Axles are one-piece mouldings with just one flange to add to each, and the front wheels are steerable. The main wheels look right, and are show with nicely-moulded tyres including the size markings and with acurate tread patterns. The four belly wheels can be bult up or down, and it looks as though they could be left movable. The rear plate includes the propellor tunnel, with a propellor to fit inside it and a posable cover.

The two roof sections carry a lot of separate fittings, and just for a change Arsenal has included a covered cable for the cable reel. No need to wind thread round it - why don't other manufacturers do this? The engine bay hatch is moulded solid, though enthusiasts could cut it open and scratchbuild the engine etc under it. I considered doing just that, but on looking again at my photos discretion seems the better part of valour - the negine bay is very full! Open louvres are moulded on the engine deck, and I do mean open as you can see right through them. They're rather thick, but careful trimming inside each one with a sharp blade will improve them no end. The light guards are moulded as well as can be expected, but again careful thining from their insides with a sharp blade will be worth while.You'll need to provide your own glazing for the windscreens, as there's none in the kit, but you do get the windscreen wipers. The real oddity of the kit is the instruction sheet which has a mix of good assembly drawings with what look like rough sketches, but it's usable after study. The instruction notes are definitely in fractured English but no problem, and although only one of the two sprues has part number on it there are complete illustrations of both sprues with the part numbers noted - so no problem. The decalsl, as I said, give markings for three vehicles plus some extras which are for a forthcoming 9P110 anti-tank missile vehicle. The side of the box shows this as well as BRDM-U and BRDM-2, which we can hope are indications of planned future kits.

Final verdict? Quite a nice kit though it will need work and references if you want a more complete interior. Recommended.

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