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Soviet BT-2 Light tank. 1:35


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Soviet BT-2 Light tank

Hobbyboss 1:35




The KhPZ design bureau headed by Morozov barely changed any features of the original BT-1 chassis and Christie design, concentrating instead on the engine, transmission, turret and weaponry. The turret was of the simple “barrel type”, a cylinder made of several layers of steel, 5-6 mm (0.2-0.24 in) in all, which was designed to house a 37 mm (1.46 in) long barrel, high velocity AT gun. It was not ready for production at the time and was later in chronically short supply. Because of this, many BT-2s were delivered with a mixed armament of DP-DT machines guns only or a 37 mm (1.46 in) gun with or without a single coaxial DT machine-gun.


The standard configuration included the gun and a coaxial DT machine-gun mounted in an oblique fixed position, in the Japanese style. Its traverse depended on the turret. The “full machine gun” version consisted of a single coaxial DT machine-gun and a twin DP-28 (Degtyaryov model 1928) light machine gun mount replacing the gun. The other important point was the engine. The Soviets imported a licence for the American Liberty L12, a water-cooled 45° V-12 aircraft engine capable of 400 hp (300 kW), built as the M5-400. This first model, although powerful and light, was also found difficult to maintain and unpredictable. The power-to-weight ratio meant excellent performance, although less impressive than the original Christie M1931, mostly because of the added weight of the turret and all the military equipment.


The first run and trials of the BT-2 were successful and showcased a road speed of 100 km/h (62 mph), with an off-road speed of 60-70 km/h (37-43.5 mph) depending of the terrain. They were largely showcased for propaganda purposes and featured in movies throughout the thirties. In 1933, it was a completely new and unrivalled concept in the world, allowing “true” cavalry tactics built on speed, mostly for breakthrough exploitation and advanced reconnaissance missions. This emphasis on speed over protection also reflected the confidence in the naval “battlecruiser” concept, traduced in land warfare. The speed acted like an active protection on its own, since a target moving so fast was more difficult to hit.


The M5 engine gave a 39 hp/t power-to-weight ratio and a 400 litre tank allowed a 300 km (186 mi) range at cruising road speed, with a tactical range of just 100 km (62 mi). This was impressive for the time, giving that it was at an average off-road 60 km/h (37 mph). The Kharkov Komintern Locomotive Plant delivered 620 BT-2 until 1935. Most were equipped with the 37 mm (1.46 in) model 30 gun, provisioned with 96 rounds. Some also received a radio “horseshoe” antenna fixed on the turret. The latter had only two side small vision slits. The gun mantlet also varied slightly in shape during the production run. Another external modification included the front mudguards, not mounted on the earliest model, and headlights.


The Model

The kit comes in a fairly small top opening box with an artists representation of the tank in the field. Inside there are five sprues and two separate parts in the standard tan styrene,  two sprues of grey styrene, a small clear sprue, a very small sheet of etched brass and a decal sheet.  This si one of those models that you just know is going to be a nice, quick build, until you get to the tracks. The thinness of the instruction sheet tells you that it is a fairly simple kit. The mouldings though are up to the usual standard with some fine detail, including the prominent rivets. There is no sign of flash or other imperfections, but a fair few moulding pips.  


Construction begins with the drilling out of various holes before the upper hull section is glued to the lower hull, along with the rear mounted drive covers, towing hooks, drive shaft cover and suspension bump stops, three per side. The five external beams either side are then glued into position, followed by the drivers hatch, suspension units and the eight piece front steering arms. The side plates are the attached, covering all the suspension detail, and the front wheels are attached along with their hub caps. On the hull roof there are six PE grab handles that will need to be carefully folded to shape before fitting.






















The two piece idler, and road wheels are joined together and glued to the their respective axle, as are the rear mounted drive sprockets. Now comes the fun bit, the tracks. The 48 individual links per side are quite small with the hinge parts moulded into them, these are glued together making up the track run, there’s not a lot of surface to glue so be careful, and they look to be particularly fiddly to drape over the wheels. Fortunately there was very little sag on the tracks of these vehicles so it may be best to make the top and bottom runs to length, glued them onto the wheels, then add the sections that go round the idler wheels and drive sprockets separately so that they can be curved to shape before the glue sets.


The track guards are then attached, as is a large aerial looking item.  These are followed by the exhaust silencer, engine hatch and engine grille. Finally the single main turret part is fitted with the lower turret ring, commander’s hatch and four piece gun/mantle. The turret is then fitted to the hull completing the build



The small decal sheet is sparse to say the least.  What there are, are nicely printed and if previous experience has taught me, quite thin.  All the sheet includes are two sets of numbers from 0 to 9 so you can choose whichever tank ID you like. There two colour schemes on the paint guide, Russian green overall or a mixture of red brown and flat black over flat white.





There is something about these inter-war tanks. It was a time of great experimentation throughout the world and while this was a quick tank it wasn’t a great success, but still is an interesting subject for your collection. There can’t be too many more Soviet inter-war tanks left to kit now.




Review sample courtesy of


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Many thanks for that. I've acquired my own one now. 


As the very early type sans machine gun it's of historical importance as the start of the BT/T-34 story! From surplus parts on the sprues it's obvious HB are intending to do the other variants mentioned, plus the 75mm armed one with a very different turret. But these can't be made straight from this kit as the turret moulding provided is only for the earliest type.


I wonder if they will also do BT-5s? It will need new road wheels and (probably) hull sides and engine deck details for a start. But there are BT-5 style exhausts on the sprue, and of course the existing turrets from the T-26 kits should be useable.


However it would take a lot more work whether by HB or the conversion minded modeller to do a Christie tank - it had a pointed hull nose for a start. 


I'm partway through mine and although it doesn't quite achieve the quality of a Tamiya BT-7 (which is very good indeed) it is not far off. Not a lot of hiccups noted so far. It's not easy finding shots of this very early type, however. 


1. Check fit the hull top/lower hull, especially at the rear and around the turret - there is some flash getting in the way, I think. I had to clean up and fit again till it was OK.


2. You could leave the front mudguards off for a different look. Quite common with BT-2s.


3. There are slabby triangular fillets which support the transverse tube bearing the front idlers. Each is moulded integrally with the hull and HB didn't use slide moulding for this detail area or the driver's hood. Each fillet may need rivets added on the top face in two rows parallel to the outer and inner edges. The outer edge may be covered anyway if you use the front mudguards, I'm not sure. (it's just possible some examples were constructed by welding - it's hard to tell from photos.)


4.  The rectangular covers for the front side air intakes (?) on the hull top are a bit thick and could do with a cleanup to thin down the edges a little. The detailing on the hull top below the covers doesn't show the vents and I wonder if it is based on a misreading of drawings - but the area is almost completely covered by the covers and this probably does not matter. Some plan view drawings show that the front inner corner of each rectangular cover, next the turret, is cut off at an angle, but photos confirm that the kit shape is OK for at least some tanks. 


5. The two flaps for the central rear air outlet (?) are rather thick and if you have them even a little open they could do with a cleanup and a thin down of the visible sides and long edge - no need to bother with the rest as they are hidden. They will need to be almost shut as the engine compartment is completely empty - you will need to paint this a dark colour before assembly or add a mockup engine and radiators. 


6. There is a little round plate inset flush into the upper front decking of the kit turret. Photos seem to show this circular plate should be raised slightly. Others seem to show it missing - but whether that is a trick of the light or just poor photo quality I am not sure. 


7. The round air intake cover (?) on the engine deck hatch doesn't match my photos, but it would usually be hiden behind the raised air intake covers, so I may have missed it. However, a commoner design (perhaps a refit) on BT-2s even of this early type is a couple of thick concentric discs one above the other, the upper one wider than the lower, which is clearly (if partly) visible in side view. 


8. The transfers are modern typeface to my eyes and are wrong anyway when compared with the one photo of a BT-2 of the relevant type which bears a number 8, but this is easily enough handpainted and most were unmarked anyway. 


Steve Zaloga's New Vanguard on the BT tanks is a useful reference. 



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