Kompare & Kontrast Komrade

Today, Duncan looks at some different Warsaw Pact options for your Team Yankee Soviet forces – one main stream and two not so much – from Skytrex

Hi Duncan here and today I’m going to have a mooch on some options for different vehicles for your Team Yankee forces… a little bit off the beaten path. You may have read my article on the SNAR-10 “Big Fred” – I was very happy at the quality of the model so I decided to investigate some of the other options that Skytrex has to supplement and enhance your Team Yankee forces.

The T-72 – Main Battle Tank

If you already play Soviets then you know that one of the main battle tank available to you is the T-72. Now Battlefront make a lovely plastic kit – no denying that – but I’d got myself into a pickle. I had 24 T-72s in production from a combination of Potecknov’s Bears sets and another box of T-72’s I was given – 3 sets of 8… lovely job. But I had forgot a mount for the force’s commander. So I picked up a Skytrex T-72 to see if I could mix in one tank to boost my formation.

The first obvious difference is that the Skytrex offering is white metal rather than the plastic kit from Battlefront – not a problem for me but I know people have a preference either way so it is worth a quick mention.

The kit itself is 10 pieces – which is pretty good to start with and required very minimal clean up in terms of flash or mould lines. This will be a reoccurring theme for all of the Skytrex models in this article; almost universally the casting and crispness of detail is excellent and was what I also found to be true on the SNAR-10 model I had looked at previously.

Everything went together smoothly barring the fuel barrels on the back of the tank hull but this was no less fiddly than the 2 piece plastic barrels on the back of the Battlefront model. That being said the weight of the metal means that I do have premonitions of them pinging off at untimely moments – in fact I glued the barrels together to help stop this happening #sorrynotsorry.

As a standalone model I like the Skytrex T-72 but there are some issues with mix n’ matching it into your existing forces.

  • The Skytrex T-72 is much finer that the Battlefront plastic. The gun barrel is noticeably slenderer and the turret less chunky. The crew member manning the AA machinegun appears to be a dwarf when compared to the, admittedly oversized, Battlefront model.
  • The Skytrex T-72 appears to be an early pre-1980s model. There are no smoke launchers, no rubber side skirts and a noticeably different engine deck (although on the engine deck I couldn’t easily work out if this was an early model issue or not – if you know, please, let me know.
  • The cost of the Skytrex model is in line with the Battlefront plastic kit at £6-£6.50 per model depending on if you purchase just one.
    As that is the case, I would probably just stick to one or the other manufacturer for the majority of your models. One interesting thought did occur to me, though, in that as the Skytrex model appears to be before the all the early 1980’s upgrades then it could work well for 2nd string Soviet formations if that is what floats your boat.

The BRDM-2U Command Vehicle

Here is where we leave the beaten track and disappear off into the longer grass; the BRDM-2U. This funky little variant of the BRDM scout car is destined to give my (spoiler alert) BRDM-2 platoon an easily identifiable command vehicle.

The BRDM-2U replaces the 14.7cm machine gun and turret with an on-board generator and additional radio equipment and aerials. This gives it a unique silhouette on the battlefield and makes and interesting addition to the table top.

This little kit is lovely. Really lovely. It is a single piece resin casting with two small white metal aerials – there was a little flash that needed to be removed from behind the rear wheels with a sharp hobby knife but that was all.

The fiddliest bit was opening up the holes on either side of the hull do that the aerials could slip in more comfortably, which was very straight forward with a 1mm drill bit in a standard pin vice.

This is probably my favourite model out of the 3 that I am looking at today. I’m frankly amazed that the one piece casting is as clean as it is and there is a nice level of detail to compliment the model as well. The price of £6.50 is a little more than the Battlefront BRDM-2 but is certainly in line with it, but gives you something very cool and very different to lead your BRDM-2 platoons.  It would also make a nice objective marker (that’s right, I’m going to bang that drum again).

Some concerns I have though:

  • This time it is the reverse of the issues with the T-72, in that the Skytrex model is chunkier than its Battlefront compatriot. The height of the hull is a good 2-3mm different when compared side by side and it is noticeably longer nose to tail.
  • Whilst the detail that is there is well defined there are some panel lines and rear lights missing. To be honest this is me being really picky I think it will paint up really well.

The BMP-1 KSh Command Vehicle

I have been utterly unashamedly eyeing this model up for a while. The number of BMPs you need for a full Motor Rifle formation is reeedunkulus – or to put a number on it I believe it is 9-29 depending on the size of the company and additional bits you add on to them. That is a lot of the same plastic kit even if you do what I did and have one company as BMP-1s and the other as BMP-2s.

Just a very quick overview of the BMP-1 KSh; it is a command post and staff armoured vehicle based on the chassis of the Russian made BMP-1, entering service in 1972, and was deployed at the Regimental HQ level of a motorized rifle regiment. The most obvious and striking feature of the BMP-1 KSh is the removal of the 76mm gun and, in its place, a large telescopic antenna called HAWK EYE.

On to the model itself.  Like the T-72, it is a white metal kit with just 4 parts – in all honesty I would have preferred another resin hull but that can be categorised as ‘ifs, buts, and maybes’ – and was not as straightforward to assemble as I would have expected.

Where the tracks and hull on the T-72 went together like fish n’ chips on the KSh they went together like chish n’ fips.  Putting on the tracks was just plain tricky – I couldn’t seem to get everything to sit nicely on the hull and seemed to end up with a weird gap or seam on the outside which didn’t look right. This wasn’t a hard gig just seem to be a bit of a faff to get to a point where I was reasonably happy with the result.

Other than that little wobble everything else was a doddle and around 5mins later everything was stuck together and sorted.

I won’t bang on about scale again, you will be able to see in the pictures, but I was surprised that some of the detail on this model was not as sharp as on the other models; again you can see that in the pictures.
I was a bit gloomy about the KSh but I still think it will paint up well and give a really pleasing result on the table top so I’m not too full of woe; especially as I think it is a bit of a bargain. £6.50 gets you some some wonderful variety for your Soviet Motor Rifle formation HQ tank and makes identification on the table top easy and better still visually appealing!

In Conclusion

I’ve got no hesitation including any of these models into my Team Yankee Soviets but I will be careful when and where I do, especially with the T-72.  They certainly add some much needed variety into what can be a very same-y Soviet force.

The price point is comparable with Battlefront analogues so I can see some very good reasons to pick a smattering of different vehicles up. I have fallen for the cute little BRDM-2U and I think I may have to look at another if I get a second platoon of recce… sorry when I do!

Over all I’d give the:

T-72 – 6.5/10 kill rings

BRDM-2U – 8.5/10 kill rings

BMP-1 KSh  7/10 kill rings

All in all very respectable.