Wheel-track Tank BT-5

Manufacturer: UM (Kit No. 301)

2002 is turning out to be a very good year for 1/72nd scale AFV modelers. First Mirage, and now UM; both are two new manufacturers who are at the very top of curve with their first releases. No longer can Revell be labeled as the Best manufacturer of small scale plastic AFV's. UM has also recently released a T-70, and has plans to release several more Soviet light tanks based on the BT chassis in the coming years.

Sprue 1 has the major hull components. As you can see, the hull construction is very complex, with multiple parts that represent the many facets of this angular hull. The side walls are even of a double thickness, thereby allowing the inclusion of the wheel suspension springs inside the hull wall, even though only a portion of them will be visible when complete. The molding quality is top-notch throughout the entire kit. Rivet and bolt detail is plentiful, and there are very few sinkholes or ejection pin marks.

The wheels and tracks are amazingly well done. The hubs have great definition to them, with numerous bolts around the rim. There are a couple of sinkmarks on the sprocket wheel behind the rim bolts, but these will only serve to accumulate the wash around the bolts, and probably won't pose a problem. What I am concerned with, however, is the ejection pin mark on the center of the front wheel hub. That was stupid. The instructions don't implicitely state this, but remember to keep the flat edge of the front wheel hub at the top of the wheel. This hub was fixed in place, and the flat edge always faced to the top. The tracks are fantastic.

The turret is rather plain, but again, is very well molded. There is no rivet detail around the turret sides, which the modeler will need to add to represent the earlier riveted turrets. Unfortunately, the hatches are molded closed, but shouldn't be too difficult to open up with a bit of surgery to the turret roof.

Another fine feature of this kit is the small fret of photoetched brass. The engine deck screen, and some ventilation covers are included as brass parts, and will look great when assembled. Once again, I would say that it is really great to see a manufacturer include etched parts as a standard component of their kits.

The decals are very comprehensive, and include markings for four vehicles, plus the black and white unit marking will come in handy for any additional vehicles you'd care to to model.

To date, the only other BT tanks available in this scale are in resin, and this UM kit tops those resin kits in almost every way. This is an outstanding model, and I anxiously await UM's future releases.

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