Panzershop #3513 BTR-60PB
The eight-wheeled BTR-60 armoured personnel carrier was developed in the late 1950s to replace the six-wheeled BTR-152. The most important improvement that was needed as compared to the BTR-152 was better cross-country mobility. Prototypes were submitted for trials in 1960. The initial BTR-60P still had an open roof, and was replaced on the production lines by the BTR-60PA in 1963. This version had an armored roof. The BTR-60P and BTR-60PA were armed with a pintle-mounted 7.62 mm SGMB or PKB machinegun, although a 12.7 mm DHsKM heavy machinegun could also be mounted. The pintle mount was exposed at the front of the vehicle, and the 7.62 and 12.7 mm machineguns rapidly became outdated and outgunned. Although the BTR-60PA remained in production through 1966, in 1964 the BTR-60PB was developed, which has been in production from 1966 through 1976. This version is equipped with the same turret as later found on the BRDM-2, armed with a 14.5 mm KVPT heavy machinegun and a 7.62 PKT coaxial machinegun.
The BTR-60PB was the first step towards an IFV, but the design was hindered by the use of two engines, which, depending on the source, are used to either drive alternating axles (Janes), or the roadwheels on one side of the vehicle (Zaloga et al.). Also, the exits for the infantry, which has to use either roof hatches or small side doors, are very poor. The vehicle is amphibious without preparation.
The total production of all variants is about 25,000. There are a number of Soviet variants for surveillance and command & control. Romania built its own variants of the BTR-60P and BTR-60PB, called the TAB-71 and TAB-72, with small differences in design. Poland and Czechoslovakia opted to coproduce the SKOT, instead of buying the BTR-60 and variants. The BTR-60 has been widely exported, to as many as 41 countries according to my copy of Janes.
Contents of the kit
The PanzerShop kit consists of 110 resin and metal parts, Soviet Naval Infantry and Czech decals, a small etched fret with 4 parts, a piece of nylon mesh, and a piece of string. The hull comes wrapped in bubble plastic, with the other parts in 6 Ziploc-type bags, and the whole in a sturdy box with styrofoam peanuts. The main casting is the one piece, hollow-cast hull, with a lot of very nice detail above the fenders cast on. There appears to be a mould seam on the left and right front upper glacis, and there is a casting plug on the front, both of which look easy to remove. Once the casting plug is removed, the area gets covered by one of the resin parts, with details cast onto it. I found 8 larger and about a dozen small airbubbles, all below the surface, so presumably not a problem.
The wheels are attached to the hull with simple one-piece axles, for which indentations in the lower hull side need to be drilled out. There is no suspension whatsoever, according to Libor Matejka, the owner of PanzerShop, due to worries about the weight of the hull, lack of information on the suspension, and the fact that this was the first wheeled kit he produced. This is a real pity, as the suspension on the real vehicle is rather complex.
There are location holes in the upper hull for the pre-bent (!) metal handles, guards etc. A bottom plate needs to be added from plastic card (not provided in the kit).
The roadwheels are very nice three-piece castings, consisting of two tire halves, and a separate hub. I found some small airbubbles in the hub rears, and one bigger hole, which is easy to fix, and wont be noticed anyway. The two-part turret is a very nice hollow casting, without casting plugs. Unfortunately, the bottom doesnt fit very well in the top part, as its too small. The resin detail parts have been cast in two part moulds, and the smaller ones are left in the casting "wafer". One of the wafers is slightly warped, so some heat will be needed to straighten out the shovel and crank. The detail parts include amongst others a nice 14.5 mm KVPT heavy machinegun, tools, lights, and a nearly transparent trim board. The detail parts are mostly very cleanly cast, I particularly like the tools and trim board. The string for the tow cable may benefit from being replaced by metal wire, as the string might end up looking fuzzy. The biggest part on the etched fret is the frame for the engine deck, to be used with the nylon mesh.
The instructions are ten pages, consisting of three pages with a parts list and drawings of the parts, three pages with pictures of the model with lines and numbers to indicate the location of the parts, one page with instructions for drilling out the holes for the axles and the bending of the headlight guards, one page with decal locations, and two pages with four pictures of an NVA (East German Army) vehicle. It is hard to see all the detail parts in the pictures, theyre B/W, and the whole vehicle is more or less grey. It will take time and patience, and decent reference material, to sort out some of the locations. Closeups of e.g. the headlight guard assemblies and the frame over the engine deck would have been useful.
This kit, although not overly complex, is not for the faint-hearted. Due to the instructions, you will benefit from having good reference material (for instance pictures of the BTR-60PB at the Ordnance Museum in Aberdeen, MD). Its a pity that the suspension has been simplified to this extent, but despite this it will build up into an impressive representation of the real vehicle. Overall, I can strongly recommend this kit to modern armour fans who arent afraid of a challenge. You can get it directly from Libor for $63 plus shipping, or through Bob Lessels at Eastern Front Hobbies.
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