by: Karl N. Hoy [ ]
The ancestry of the BRDM-2 can be clearly seen in its somewhat smaller predecessor, the BRDM-1. The One offered the Soviet military a successful platform on which to mount various weapons and to fulfil various roles. From around the middle of the 1950s, the venerable Soviet BTR-40 was being steadily replaced by the fully-armoured BRDM-1.
Its main role was as a scout or reconnaissance vehicle, and for this it was usually armed with a single 7.62mm SGMB, although a maximum of three could be carried in mounts on the vehicle at the front and sides. There were also several different forms of tank destroyer that utilised the BRDM-1 platform, including the 2P27 armed with the AT-1 Snapper (3M6 Shmel). A hydrojet at the rear enabled amphibious operations.
However there were quite a number of drawbacks to this first BRDM: the lack of firepower; the fact the machine gunner had to expose himself to re-load the front-mounted weapon; the lack of modern sighting equipment; and the lack of an NBC protection system. All of this meant that it would soon be obsolete and not a great deal of use to front line Soviet troops. The task of designing a successor to the BRDM-1 fell to VA Dedkov (Dedkov OKB) at the GAZ plant in 1959. The most radical change, aside from the shape of the vehicle, was the placement of the new engine at the rear of the BRDM-2, as opposed to the front in the BRDM-1. This allowed for a re-configuration of the interior space so that each of the stations for the crew was better appointed than they had been in the original vehicle.
The layout of the BRDM-2 allowed for a crew of three: the driver at the front left, the commander to his right and the gunner who had a seat behind the driver (when the turret was not in operation). Ingress and egress were achieved via the two hatches above the commander and driver stations- meaning they would have no cover if exiting the vehicle under fire.
As was mentioned before, the lack of modern sighting devices was a serious drawback in the BRDM-1, and that situation was rectified in the BRDM-2 with the inclusion of the commander’s TPKU-25 sight. There are also nine forward-mounted periscopes: five for the commander, and four for the driver, plus a side-mounted extra periscope for the commander, along with three more on each side of the rear compartment (and obviously the gunner’s PP-61A sight mounted on the right side of the turret). When necessary, night vision devices could also be fitted: TVNO-2B for the driver, and TKN-2C for the commander. And an R-23 radio was now mounted to the commander’s right.
The turret was a very welcome addition to the BRDM-2 in terms of firepower: gone was the single forward-mounted 7.62mm SGMB, and in its place was the BPA-1 turret with 14.5mm KPVT and 7.62mm PKT. Five hundred rounds for the KPVT and two thousand for the PKT could be carried.
Just like its predecessor, the BRDM-2 kept the outside mid-hull-mounted belly wheels, which were mainly used for crossing large trench works, but could also be deployed for extra stability. The GAZ-41 140hp petrol engine was used to propel the BRDM-2’s seven tons to a maximum road speed in the range of 100kmh, with a standard range of 750km. Performance was significantly reduced when using the hydrojets, where the maximum propulsion speed was around 10kmh.
The BRDM-2 was finally accepted for service by the Minister of Defense in 1962, and serial production carried on until 1989. Like the BRDM-1, the 2 spawned many variants, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft platforms, NBC Recon and fire & rescue versions.
Like many of the Soviet AFV’s of the era, the BRDM-2 was widely-exported with over forty countries using it (including the US, who used a captured Iraqi variant as a training tool). The long service life of this vehicle shows the ease-of-maintenance that it is well known for, but despite this, the original GAZ engine is said by some sources to be quite temperamental (supposedly more so in hot climates where several Iraqi vehicles are said to have spontaneously combusted due to fuel leakage). The rather limited effectiveness of the thin armor on the vehicle also does not adequately protect the crew from some weapons, and as has been mentioned, safe egress of the vehicle under fire is pretty much impossible due to the location of the hatches.
Up until this release by Trumpeter, there has really been only one BRDM-2 option in plastic: the fairly old Dragon kit. This is despite the fact it is a very common armored car around the world. The DML offering is not one I personally have much experience with, but from what I do know, it was a fairly acceptable offering, though it lacked details in several areas. By consideration of the available previews for this kit, it would seem Trumpeter were aiming to far surpass the old Dragon offering.
Trumpeter have been steadily releasing a plethora of new Soviet/Russian AFV’s, with a decent emphasis on those of the post-war era. In fact, as this article is being written, they have just confirmed they are soon going to be releasing the much sought after BMP-1. Of the post-war AFV’s I’ve built from Trumpeter, I have to say that the mould quality, ease of building and the inclusion of very detailed interiors make each new release exciting for fans of Russian armor. Even though much of the BRDM-2’s interior is hidden even with the hatches open, Trumpeter has still included a very full one. The instructions also have you remove and/or cover various attachment points on the hull pieces. This indicates Trumpeter will be tooling more than just the “Early” BRDM, and this is an interesting prospect indeed, given the many roles that the BRDM-2 undertakes.
The sturdy Trumpeter box is fairly small but is crammed full of sprues, especially when considering the BRDM-2 in 1/35 would just about fit on the palm on one’s hand. There are:
• seven sprues moulded in light grey plastic
• the upper and lower hulls also in light grey
• a decent-sized clear sprue for the windscreens, periscopes etc.
• an etch sheet
• four small and four large styrene tyres
• some brass wire
• four poly-caps and
• a decal sheet.
The upper hull is probably the biggest single part in the kit and has some very nicely-moulded detail, especially on the various hinges that cover it. In Step 1 of the instructions, a good many of the attachment points are to be filled in and/or sanded off (while some holes have to be made); as I said earlier, I think this is because Trumpeter have other variants in mind for these mouldings. The lower hull is quite weird looking, and this is mainly because it includes the four spaces for the belly wheels- but it also sports fantastic underside detail (easily some of the best I’ve yet seen on a kit).
Sprue A- There are two of these (both identical,) and they include the wheel hubs, front seats, some hatches, handles, two hooks and headlights, as well as bits and pieces for the drive-train/suspension. The delicate grab handles are precisely moulded, as are the wheel hubs which show excellent detail on both faces. The operating chains and cogs for the belly wheels are also included on these sprues, and are great little pieces that will probably end up seldom seen on the finished model!
Sprue B- This contains much of the larger parts of the model, including the hull sides, interior wheel arch detail, suspension arms and parts of the interior floor. The front headlight frames/covers are included here and are, for their size and relative complexity, fantastic moulds - no brass replacements needed here. The floor is, on this sprue, fairly spartan (until all the other bits get added to it), but includes the correct detail for the overall shape and pattern of the metal floor.
Sprue C- More of the suspension parts are present here, as well as the rear engine bulkhead which has plenty of raised detail. Some hatches, the gunner’s chair, the steering wheel, hydrojet fan, exhaust covers and the driver’s dashboard round out these sprues. Unfortunately the dashboard does not have a corresponding decal, but the detail on it is very sharp and it should prove fairly easy to paint it convincingly.
Sprue D- The clear sprue is fairly sizeable for such a small vehicle, but the BRDM-2 has a fair amount of periscopes and these are all dealt with here. The front windows are also included, but they have the wipers moulded onto the screen, and the wiper lacks any depth; it will be rather difficult to paint. You can also close the windscreen covers so you can’t see this, but separately-moulded wipers (or PE ones) would have been much better. There is decent surface detail on the small lights dotted around the vehicle.
Sprue E- A good portion of the top of the BRDM is included here - most notably the roof and the forward hatches, along with the small turret which, for some reason, sports a solid-moulded periscope, despite all the others being hollow with clear parts to insert. Much of the internal detail for the turret is also present here, including the gun parts, which I think is a nice touch and really captures the rather busy interior of the small turret.
Sprue F- For me this sprue includes some of the finest detail on offer in the whole kit. The radios are by far the stand-out items, and include the standard R-23. The ammunition boxes and the rack they sit on are also present. Strangely there is another huge radio set on this sprue and it appears, to me anyway, to be way too big to be something “standard issue” like the R-23. This extra radio appears like a kind of switchboard or a large command radio, and takes up a good portion of one side of the interior. Whether it is meant to be there on the normal version of the BRDM-2 or not, it is an undeniably nice moulding and should look fantastic with careful painting. The gun barrel for the 14.5mm main armament is also on this sprue: a good one-piece mould. The pioneer tools are also nicely done.
Sprue G- The smallest sprue contains some hatches, covers and the rear of the hull which includes the hydrojet intake vent.
Tyres- These are styrene affairs, and while the tread is nicely-moulded, they don’t have any sidewall logos/detail and the illusion of weight will be fairly hard to achieve with them. The four belly wheels are also styrene, and include the correct detail (looking faintly like aeroplane wheels).
Etch- This rather small sheet includes some detail for the turret interior, the gun mantlet cover, the hydrojet intake grille and some headlight frames. Personally I’d rather the headlight frames were done in plastic, as I find the Trumpeter versions to be quite brittle and needlessly fiddly.
Wire & Rope- The wire is for a tow cable, and the rope is for a spool that is present on the left of the vehicle.
Decals- The small sheet includes a double set of white numbers from 0 to 9, two Soviet Naval Infantry insignia, two Guards insignia and two Airborne insignias.
INSTRUCTIONS AND PAINTING GUIDE
The instructions are the usual Trumpeter fare: there are 14 stages, and apart from one or two areas, they are fairly un-clustered and clear to follow.
Strangely there is only one painting option included: a plain green Guards vehicle with just the insignias and no numbers. I find this strange because there are also Naval Infantry and Airborne insignia (along with numbers) present on the decal sheet. The BRDM-2 was used widely, and it would not have been very hard to include, say, an Iraqi painting guide which would just be a pale sand color. Basically the painting instructions are not up to scratch, especially when compared to the rest of the kit.
Leaving aside the rather shoddy painting guide, this kit certainly shows a lot of promise. The new tooling and the detail Trumpeter are now cramming into their kits should almost certainly see this BRDM-2 replace the old DML offering as the go-to kit for this vehicle.
I must say that in a kit like this, it is highly pleasing to see such a thorough interior offered as it is, an area usually neglected. And since it would not be very visible on a completed model (even with open hatches). Trumpeter could easily have omitted it. But they didn’t, and for me this shows a certain amount of dedication to the kit-making process that has to be admired.
Trumpeter is pretty much taking on the line up of Cold War Soviet AFV’s on its own, and the BRDM-2 is one of the more numerous and (in terms of modelling) popular AFV’s of this era. It’s great to see it in plastic. The kit is not perfect, but it should prove to be an excellent build, and the level of detail and accuracy far surpasses any that have gone before.