BMP-1 vs BMP-2

Kit # 72137 - 72135

Preview by Stephen Brezinski sbrez(at)
Edited by Rob Haelterman

My purpose in this review is to look at the ACE model’s BMP-1 and BMP-2 Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) and see how they are similar and how they different from each other, to examine them for accuracy, and to look at them as models and, as such, to the quality of the molding.

Vehicle History For The Modeler
The BMP-1 and the BMP-2 are Cold War era infantry transport and support vehicles developed in the late 1960’s and early 1970s respectively. The BMP-2 is kind of an upgraded BMP-1 based on evaluation of experience of the Egyptian and Syrian Armies during the October 1973 War with Israel.
The BMP-1 is armed with a low velocity 73-mm main gun, machine gun, and 9K11 Malyutka (NATO name AT-3 Sagger) AT missile; the BMP-2’s larger turret is armed with a 30-mm autocannon and machine gun and a 9M113 Konkurs (NATO name AT-5 Spandrel) guided missile.
The BMP-1 has a crew of three and room for eight infantry while the BMP-2 has seating for one fewer infantry. Both are amphibious, lightly armored and have two rear doors for the infantry to exit. Their hulls are almost identical except for obvious external differences of the side skirts. Furthermore the BMP-1 has four roof hatches for the troops while the BMP-2 has only two, though larger, roof hatches because of room taken up by the larger turret. There exists a veritable plethora of variants, upgrades and modifications to both the BMP-1 and BMP-2 IFVs.

A Look at the Box Art, What is supposed to be inside.
The box art for the BMP-1 kit 72137 appears to be an actual photograph of a BMP-1 or else an exceptionally good painting; using a photo seems an interesting anomaly to me. We see the small round flat-topped conical turret with the half-circle hatch open. There is no Sagger missile mounted on the launcher visible in front of the open hatch but the main gun is evident. To me this appears to be a standard, initial-production BMP-1.
On the rear deck we see one of the four hatches open. On the rear side of the hull we can make out four teardrop-shaped rifle ports below the roof-mounted periscopes. On the rear we can make out the two passenger doors that bulge out because the doors are designed to also be fuel tanks. There are periscopes at the top of the doors and a gun port in the left door.

The IFV runs on of six rubber-tired roadwheels with torsion bar suspension, a drive sprocket in the front and idler wheel in the rear, and all-steel track. The vehicle in the photo appears to be front heavy, perhaps due to no load of troops and ammunition in the rear?

The vehicle color appears to be gray green with soft edged olive green patches, but because of photography and the box printing these colors may not be reliable.

With ACE’s BMP-2 Late Version box art we are back to a dynamic painting of the vehicle that I am used to from ACE models. The vehicle appears placed in Afghanistan during the 1980’s. I understand that this BMP-2 variant is called “Late version” due to the appliqué armor mounted on the turret. The vehicle appears painted in a gray-green color with black patches.

Starting from the turret we see the long 30-mm autocannon, several small searchlights, and appliqué armor plates on the turret sides. No Konkurs AT missile launcher is mounted atop the turret though it is included in the kit.

On the glacis is the large engine access hatch with horizontal slats which I understand help deflect water while the vehicle is in the water. The bow looks pretty much the same as the BMP-1. On the forward quarter is a short tow cable running back to amidships. Except for the side-skirt and the turret this looks very much like the BMP-1 from this angle.

The Kit Parts
The ACE BMP-1 kit 72137 consists of about 56 white injection-molded styrene plastic vehicle parts, and 48 link & length track parts, and 15 etched brass parts.
The ACE BMP-2 Late Version kit 72135 consists of 80 white, injection-molded styrene plastic parts not including 48 link & length track parts and about 19 etched brass parts. ACE has produced many variants of their BMP models so the number of plastic and brass parts can vary greatly depending on the kit.

Both kits are made from “short- or limited-run” molds which are less expensive to produce than the molds used by the likes of ESCI, Revell, Hasegawa, etc., though the short-run molds wear out sooner leading to parts with flash and soft detail.

Above we have comparable sprues for the BMP-1 at left and the BMP-2 at right comparing upper hull parts and turret parts. The overall shape of the hulls looks pretty much the same.

The BMP-1 has a smaller turret ring, and the four roof hatches for the infantry compartment. The driver and commander hatches are molded open. At top are the top and bottom turret parts 38 & 31 with an open gunner’s hatch. At upper left we see the Sagger AT missile (a NATO designation for this missile). Detail looks good though my sprue here has a lot of flash in places which I understand indicates a worn mold.

The BMP-2 hull on the right sprue displays the larger turret ring and turret. Detail looks good with less flash than on my BMP-1 kit. All the hull and turret parts are molded closed unfortunately. I recommend small parts like the shovel (part 41) and tow cable (part 43) be carefully scored with a sharp blade to remove them from the sprue rather than using clippers so they do not break. The 30-mm gun for the BMP-2 is a little thick and I plan on replacing it with some brass tube; oddly, this gun barrel part is labeled part 39 on the parts diagram, but part 47 on the assembly instructions.

In a close-up of the two hulls we see that the open commander’s hatch behind the driver is different from the comparable hatch on the BMP-2. A reason for this is that in the BMP-2 the commander is stationed in the turret and this hull position is occupied in the BMP-2 by an infantryman. It is too bad that ACE molded the BMP-2 roof hatches closed.

The BMP-2 hull looks well cast with sharp features. The glacis of my BMP-1 upper hull looks deformed and irregular, probably due to a worn mold.

A significant issue with the BMP-2 are the infantry hatches on the rear deck which here are the same hatches as on the BMP-1 kit, just two fewer of them. My references show that the actual BMP-2 had different, larger, roof hatches. For a historically accurate BMP-2 we’ll have to cut these two hatches off and build new ones.

These sprues above showing the lower hull parts are essentially the same and appear interchangeable between the BMP-1 and BMP-2 kits. It is interesting to me that ACE flipped some of the parts around which is why we see the hull sides in the same orientation but the rear doors flipped to the other side of the sprue and the hull bottom turned over.

The axles for the wheels are molded very short. On other ACE kits I built, this lead to wobbly wheels. You may want to drill out the axles and wheels and install longer axles made from brass tube or plastic rod.

The sprue of plastic link & length tracks and wheels appear identical for both model kits. The track detail looks good and I personally prefer these over etched brass tracks included in some ACE kits; they are not as nice as the soft band tracks included in the newer ACE models, however. Some cleaning and shaping with a small file is expected. These are “dead” track so there will be some sag on the top run but which will be covered by the side skirt.

The wheels look well detailed and again may need sanding and clean-up of flash. I recommend drilling out the mounting holes and installing longer axles.

Assembly Instructions
Both ACE kits have exploded-view line drawing instructions in minimal steps, typical of other ACE models. Instructions are adequate but look a little busy to me so study them carefully and test fit before you glue.

At upper right of the BMP-1 instructions is a small etched brass fret containing the gun port covers, headlight guards, and rear fender pieces to replace kit parts 10 and 22. Atop the turret (lower left) there is a sight fixture assembled from etched brass pieces and a clear window that we have to supply.

BMP-2 hull assembly looks pretty much the same as for the BMP-1 but with significant differences in the turret. The etched brass fret is notably larger containing parts for the turret’s appliqué armor. I commend ACE for supplying etched brass that are well rendered.

One of the best things about ACE kits are the colorful decals for a variety of vehicles. With this BMP-1 we have a choice of Czech, Soviet, East German, Polish and Finnish armies. At right is the sprue diagram. There are no part numbers on the sprues so refer to this diagram to identify the parts. Several unused parts have been X’d out.

This ACE BMP-2 kit offers a similar parts diagram and assortment of water-slide decal vehicle markings for Soviet vehicles serving in Chechnya or Afghanistan. Camouflage patterns are only shown in two views so we’ll have to use “artist’s license” and common sense to finish the paint schemes.

Overall, despite some rough molding, I very much like these kits. At this moment, the ACE BMP-1 and BMP-2 kits are out of production but I predict and hope that ACE will start making them again, and perhaps BMP-3 kits as well.

At this time, ACE is the only manufacturer that has produced the BMP-1 and BMP-2 IFVs in plastic. Considering how many thousands of these have been produced, and by a half dozen nations, I am surprised no other plastic kit maker has produced them; I mean, do we really need another Panzer IV or Tiger tank?????

ARMO produces resin kits of both IFVs and there are aftermarket gun barrels, wheels and etched brass frets available, e.g. from OKB Grigorov.

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Article Last Updated: 21 March 2013