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Saturday, August 26, 2017

DDR BMP-1 OP - or - Advanced Moldeling Syndrome "Hold My Beer, I'm Gonna Try Somethin'" Edition - Part 1

It's an innocuous enough unit in Team Yankee, the BMP-1 OP. It serves as an observation post for any of your artillery units. It will pretty much sit there the whole game unless your opponent truly has nothing else to shoot at, or needs to find a way to nerf some particularly effective artillery - which is fairly rare. However, if you take a look at the stats or card for the unit, you'll notice something a little unusual:

The picture of the unit shows a normal BMP-1, though it has a few additional "dot" abilities at the top of the card. However if you look at the weapon entries, or in this case entry, surely there has to be something odd going on. There's no 73mm 2A28 gun. There's no AT-3 Sagger missile. So what's up? Well, it turns out there's a good reason that the OP version only has the machine gun armament - it's a different variant of the BMP-1.

The most common command and control variant of the BMP-1 is the BMP-1KSh (pictured above).  (EDIT:  ... and I've since discovered that the artillery units generally didn't use it, instead they had an alternate vehicle used for observation... more on that in a future blog - this baby's still getting done even if I just use it as an objective!)  You'll note it does away with most of the armament of the BMP-1, though it does retain a 7.62mm machine gun for close in defense. So I decided, "what the heck, why not convert one." I mean, after all, how hard could it be? Well, there's a reason this is called the "Hold my beer..." edition.

Using photos of the real thing along with images of a few 1/35th and 1/72nd scale kits as reference, I began to map out the project. The first thing I needed to do was remove the rear top doors and a few other details. The turret also needed to be re-worked a bit so I sanded it and then used Mr. Surfacer to fill any remaining holes. I also began work on a couple of stowage boxes (to the right of the photo above) which will end up on the back edge of the vehicle.

Once the Mr. Surfacer had time to dry I sanded it back ended up with 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper for a smooth surface. As this variant also uses the BMP-2 hatch, I got it ready to attach to the vehicle. After sanding I went ahead and glued on the turret, which is fixed in this variant.

Another key feature of this version is the very tall antenna mast which I'm modeling stowed as raised would be a foot tall or so! Some of the mast appears to be held in brackets on the top deck, so I used styrene rod and tubing to create it - capping the ends with circles punched from sheet styrene.

Once I had the ends on, I used some scrap photo-etched brass to create the brackets:

Then the fun truly began, I started putting it all together and working on some of the detailing I first had to build a small bracket for the middle stowage box (which you can just see underneath it).  I also added some tie downs for the turret itself (I've seen pictures where tarps or other bags have been attached to these - though the number and placement seem to vary greatly).

Once the mast was added to the rear deck, I began work on the front antenna. This was built with a combination of brass rod, aluminum tube, copper wire, and sheet styrene carefully punched and sanded to create brackets.

In the photo above you can even see what appears to be a winch to raise and lower the mast assembly. At this point I'm working on the last part of the forward antenna (seen in the photo below - the green putty will need overnight to dry), and I still have to build a few more detail items yet.

All that being said, this one is actually getting fairly close to being done and into the queue with the rest of the Volksarmee "stuff" which is awaiting paint. Stay tuned for "finished photos" of this fun little conversion, which has taken way too much time but I've enjoyed every minute of it.


  1. This is looking great Mike! I salute your use of 1/35 and 1/72 kits to get the detail you needed! I was forced to do the same for my Black Brigade howitzers... works a treat in my opinion. Looking forwards to the finished product :)

    1. I did the same on my Black Brigade as well. Having an exploded view, even if it is just a picture can really help get critical dimensions of parts so you can scale them properly.