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BM-8-24 1:35 MiniArt The T-60 was the result of the ongoing development of light tanks that had started well before WWII. This particular tank started development in 1938 as an attempt to replace the T-26, T-40, the failed T-46 project and the T-50. Whilst such a large number were produced, it was hated by all who had to deal with it – all except the Germans, who found it to be a substandard and underwhelming opponent, and a rather nice ammunition carrier or gun towing tractor, once captured. As a result of its poor armour, substandard armament and sluggish performance, it was more dangerous to its crews than anybody else, earning it the title Bratskaya Mogila Na Dovoikh, literally: “a brother’s grave for two.” The basic design was completed in a mere fifteen days, and Astrov, seconded by Lieutenant Colonel V.P. Okunev, wrote to Stalin contrasting the advantages of the mass-producible T-60 with the more complicated T-50, which had already received the go-ahead. An inspection from a senior minister resulted in two decisions: firstly, the 12.7 mm (0.5 in) machine gun was to be replaced with a 20 mm (0.79 in) ShVAK, although it was still inadequate against the Panzer IIIs and IVs that the T-60 would almost certainly engage whilst there was a shortage of T-34s. Secondly, the Main Defence Committee (GKO), headed by Stalin, ordered 10,000 T-60s to be produced immediately. Some sources have claimed that Stalin’s interest in the vehicle is because he attended the vehicle’s final trials in person. The Katyusha multiple rocket launcher is a type of rocket artillery first built and fielded by the Soviet Union in World War II. Multiple rocket launchers such as these deliver explosives to a target area more quickly than conventional artillery, but with lower accuracy and requiring a longer time to reload. They are fragile compared to artillery guns, but are inexpensive, easy to produce, and usable on any chassis. The Katyusha of World War II, the first self-propelled artillery mass-produced by the Soviet Union, were usually mounted on ordinary trucks. This mobility gave the Katyusha, and other self-propelled artillery, another advantage: being able to deliver a large blow all at once, and then move before being located and attacked with counter-battery fire. With the T-60 being cancelled with the introduction of the T-70 in late 1942, the T-60’s were put to other tasks, one of these being converted to be Katyusha carriers with the launchers fitted in place of the turret. The Model The kit comes in the fairly standard, yet sturdy and colourful top opening box MiniArt use, with an artists impression of the vehicle on the front. Inside there are fifty two sprues of varying sizes, mostly small, in a medium to dark grey styrene, along with one sprue of clear styrene, a small sheet of etched brass and a smallish decal sheet. The mouldings are superb with no imperfections and very few moulding pips. Some of the smaller parts, and there are a lot of them, do have a fair number of sprue gates, but fortunately they are relatively small and shouldn’t cause too many problems. The sheer number of parts is explained by the fact that this kit is equipped with a full, and I mean full interior, which for a model/vehicle this size will mean you will need a magnifying glass/Optivisor when building. The build starts with the lower hull floor, to which the drivers position is attached, complete with detailed gearbox, levers and brake drums. Then there is the comprehensively detailed engine, which is a model in itself, and has more parts than some whole kits, around 22 in total. The two batteries and battery tray are then added to the left hand side of the hull adjacent to the drivers position, followed by the right side panel which is fitted with a fire extinguisher and four support brackets. The rear bulkhead is fitted out with several parts on the outside, before being attached to the lower hull, as is the lower glacis plate. The engine assembly is then glued into position and connected to the gearbox via a couple of drive shafts. The interior is slowly built up with bulkheads, ammunition racks with spare ammunition drums and boxes and another fire extinguisher. The left hull panel is then attached, along with the outer drive covers, idler axles, internal longitudinal bulkhead and several pipes. The upper hull plate is fitted with several panels before being glued into place. The drivers hatch is made up from five parts, while the drivers vision block is made up from six parts. Both assemblies are then glued to the driver position, and can be posed either open of closed. Depending on which colour scheme the modeller has chosen there are two options for the style of headlights to be used. The suspension arms are then glued to the hull, followed by the road wheels, return rollers, drive sprockets and idler wheels. The engine cover is next made up of three plastic and two etched grille pieces. This is then glued into position on the top deck, along with the drivers access and viewing plate. The tracks are each built up from eighty five individual links, which, unfortunately are not click able, but have to be glued, making it a little more awkward to get the sag and fitted around the idlers/drive sprockets. But with plenty of patience and care they can be made to look the business. The track guards are fitted with many PE brackets, as well as storage boxes, pioneer tools and a nicely detailed jack. These are then fitted to the hull and the build moves on to the turret. There is a large PE grille fitted to the rear engine deck along with a PE surround. There are two covers that go over this if winterising the vehicle; each plate is fixed with four to six PE wing nuts, with the fitting of more PE brackets around the hull and the engine exhaust glued into position. With the tank assembly completed it’s on to the rocket launcher. The base unit is made up from fourteen parts with the option of the launcher to be in assembled in two different elevations with the fitting of option actuators and put to one side. Meanwhile, the tubular framework on which the rocket rails sit is made up from five parts. The rocket rails, all twelve of them are slid onto two rods, which fortunately have well marked placement points, before the framework is attached and the retaining clamps fitted. Each of the 24 rockets are assembled from three parts and there is detailed painting instructions for the different types of rocket used. The completed rockets are then fitted above and below the rails which already have the firing lead moulding onto them. There are an extra eight rockets included in the kit and these are to be able to be displayed in their transport boxes which are made up form eight parts, if you include the lid. The launcher base is fitted onto the tank followed by the launcher and some ancillary pipework and other fittings including a three piece sighting unit, completing the build . Decals The small decal sheet contains markings for four different vehicles, but these decals are the least of the modellers problems as there are three sets of markings for each of the 32 rockets and to say they are small would be an understatement, there are also identifying markings for the transport boxes. The vehicle options include:- BM-8-24, No 13 or No 11 of the Red Army, South-Western Front, May to July 1942 in Russian Green overall. BM-8-24, of the Red Army on the Don Front, December 1942, in overall Russian green with whitewash covering most of the vehicle. BM-8-24, No. 43/2 of the Red Army, Southern Front, during the Summer 1943 painted in a sand colour. BM-8-24, of an unidentified unit of the Red Army 1942 to 1944 Conclusion This is another amazing kit from MiniArt and brings yet another lesser known military vehicle to the mainstream modelling community. With the numerous parts count and the large number of very small parts, this kit is really aimed at the more experienced modeller, but looks like it should build up into a superb model, absolutely full of detail, so much so that there shouldn’t be any need for aftermarket parts. The additional rockets will be useful if you wish to add this to a diorama. Review sample courtesy of Miniart - Distibuted in the UK By Creative Models