BTR-3E1 Ukrainian APC & BTR-3RK Ukrainian
Anti-Tank Vehicle

Kit #: 72175 & 72176 Preview by Stephen Brezinski - sbrez1(at)comcast(dot)net
Edited by Al Magnus

Wee Bit of Vehicle History for the Modeler

The BTR-3 8x8 armored personnel carrier (APC) I understand is based on the old Soviet BTR-80 (ACE kit 72172) and is produced by Ukraine. This armored car is amphibious like the older BTR-70 and BTR-80 and has been given a new engine and new more potent armament by Ukraine. Though described by ACE Models as an APC (like the BTR-70 or M113) an online reference classifies this as an Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) like the BMP-2 and M2 Bradley, I believe because of the heavier armament. My reference listed about 60 BTR-3's in service during the Great Ukrainian Patriotic War of 2022. I understand this APC carries a crew of three and six passengers (dismounting infantry).

Box Art (or what is supposed to be in the box.?)

Looking at the box art, up on the turret we see the two launch tubes for the Barrier 130-mm anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM), the long barreled 30-mm auto cannon, and six smoke dischargers. Not visible is the barrel of the medium coaxial machine gun on the left side (our right) of the main gun. The hulls have the characteristic boat-like hull similar to the Soviet BTR-60 through BTR-80 series with eight large tires and trim vane folded down on the bow. Novel to this and Soviet/Russian 8x8 BTR's are the constricted side doorways located between the center wheels along with roof hatches, contrary to the rear entry of common NATO 8x8 vehicles and the Ukrainian BTR-4.

In these very nice box art paintings, I see no unit or vehicle markings visible, but the vehicle does have what I understand is referred to as a pixel camouflage pattern of brown and tan pixels over olive green.

The BTR-3RK kit is a tank destroyer variant with basically a new turret atop the same hull as the BTR-3E1 model kit box art above. The 30-mm auto-cannon appears to have been deleted in favor of four ATGM launchers.

Kit Parts

These two 1/72-scale kits include over 200 gray-color, injection-molded styrene plastic parts each, and about 15 and 29 etched metal parts respectively. No resin parts nor crew figures are included. The parts are well molded with many fine detailed parts which appears to me to represent a higher step in molding and design quality than the early thick, white plastic parts of original short-run ACE molds. I cannot say anything about fit of parts at this time. Some parts from this model are common with ACE's BTR-80 kits; one sprue actually is labeled "BTR-80".

Above in center are the eight soft plastic tires, and the engine vent hatches on sprue-G, common to both kits. At left is the sprue-F from kit 72176 for the BTR-3xx tank destroyer variant. At right is sprue-F from BTR-3E1 kit 72175 for the APC variant. Extra, unused parts are crossed off in red. Though no interior detail parts are included I appreciate that the front visors, hatches, and the side doors can be modeled open.

Reflecting the large number of kit parts, the exploded-view assembly instructions are very detailed and, in my opinion, very complicated; this is not a quick-build beginner's model kit. The above view of the suspension sub-assemblies is a good example of the complexity. The only real negative I will express is that ACE prints their assembly instructions in a less readable Kelly-green ink (I have darkened the scans to better show the details). Assembly of the hull and suspension is basically the same for the two model kits but the turrets differ greatly. Immediately below we see assembly of the APC turret for kit 72175 while at bottom is the turret for the tank destroyer variant kit 72176. The etched metal fret is for kit 72176 and differs from the fret in kit 72175.

The scan below displays painting and marking instructions and the two water-slide decal sheets that come with each model kit. The small sheets has some vehicle markings while the large decal sheet holds pixel camouflage patterns which I presume we cut out and apply over the base olive color and gloss coat. I've not yet used this approach to this camouflage scheme but my first impression is positive! I recently tried to replicate this pixel pattern in 1/72-scale by masking and airbrushing, and found it difficult and unsatisfactory. I apologize that the markings on the small decal sheet is hard to discern due to light color paper; see Henk of Holland's website for a better view.

References (List of equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine: Anti-tank guided missiles) (List of equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine: Wheeled armoured personnel carriers) (List of equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine: Infantry fighting vehicles)

Preview sample purchased by the author.

Back to Ace List Back to Home Page

Article Last Updated: 21 January 2023