BT-7 Model 1935 Fast Tank
u m m a r y
|Stock No. &
||35109 - Tank BT-7 model 1935 late
|Contents and Media:
||around 200 parts of injection molded
parts on five sprues
||AUD$43 (at NKR Models)
||Petite and impressive detail; highly
accurate; appropriate tracks for this model; "link and length" tracks
supplied; authentic rivet detail
||Some shortcuts, errors, sink marks,
etc; solid-molded rear grille cover; no marking instructions
||Highly Recommended for all "Between
the Wars" and early WWII Soviet modelers
Of all of the nations who were struck by the forward thinking of J.
Walter Christie in 1930 when he burst on the scene with his fast tank
chassis, none were quicker to embrace his efforts than the Soviet Union.
Striving to create an "instant" tank industry, their representatives went
abroad and bought two tank chassis and the rights to build them in Russia.
The two chassis (unofficially dubbed "BT-1" for Bystrokhodniy Tank or
"fast tank") were used to create the BT-2 fast wheel-and-track tank in
Even before that tank came off the production line, a replacement,
later to become the BT-5 in 1933, was on the drawing board, and by 1932 a
follow-on to that tank, the future BT-7, entered the design phase. Based
on the experience with the fast tanks, the BT-7's design evolved and was
more sophisticated than the first two.
The BT-7 had a slightly wider hull and some ballistic improvements to
the bow and driver-mechanic's hatch area. It was also extensively welded
and used new production techniques. The main external difference was a new
hull rear, which was designed to increase the amount of onboard fuel
carried, and the rear-mounted muffler was then moved into the rear of the
radiator exhaust grille area, with twin pipes exiting the raised grille
cover. It switched to a new short-pitch track which was better for moving
at high speed across country, and also to the more powerful M-17 aircraft
engine. The latter caused problems early on, as it had far more torque
than the predecessor M-5 (copy of the US Liberty engine) and tore up
drivelines with great regularity.
The first model to see service was the BT-7 Model 1935, which came in
line, commander's and artillery (BT-7A) variants, the latter with a short
76mm howitzer. The tanks remained in production from 1935 until 1941 with
the last few rolling off the lines as the first production T-34 tanks
began to come off as well. BT-7 tanks fought in a number of conflicts,
such as Khasan Lake in 1938 and the Kalkhin-Gol River in1939 against the
Japanese, against the Finns in 1939-40, and against the Poles in 1939. One
of the most widely produced prewar tanks, when the Germans struck in June
1941 over 4,500 of them were still in service with the RKKA. Many were
awaiting repairs or servicing, and were easily captured or destroyed by
the advancing Germans. Those which did work put up a stiff resistance, and
their 45mm cannon proved capable of knocking out any German tank in
service in the summer of 1941. Some tanks remained in service throughout
the war, and took place in the final offensives against the Japanese in
August 1945. This was a major combat vehicle, and one which contributed
heavily to the defense of the USSR in the first six months of the war.
Some remained in action in Leningrad for the course of the entire 900
days, and it was a fast and relatively capable vehicle.
Two new kits of the early model (Model 1935) have appeared in the last
few weeks, one from Italeri using parts from their BT-5 kit, and this one
from Eastern Express using the standard turret sprue found in their BA-3
and BA-6 armored car kits. The EE kit has a completely new hull and
suspension created from scratch, and it is an amazingly accurate model.
When dropped on the plans in the Armada BT-7 book (BT Tanks Part 3, Armada
No. 17) all of the components matched the plans perfectly (with the
exception of the 45mm gun barrel, part L8, which is uncorrected as of this
writing; the second "step" back from the muzzle is 2.5mm too short at its
rear end, towards the mantelet).
Click the thumbnails below
to view larger images:
Detail is very petite for an Eastern European kit, and the rivet
details are very well done indeed. Since this is a "flat kit" – all parts
are essentially flat other than the turret sides and the bow – unlike the
one-piece bodied armor cars, all rivets are in place and you don't have to
add any to the basic kit. The fenders have raised ejection pin marks on
the bottom sides, but are reasonably thin and the marks are easily
removed. EE wisely included "link and length" tracks, something other
manufacturers should think about more often. Tracks are thin and petite
with strengthening ribs molded in place, and look to be dead on the money.
(Note to "heavy track" fans: these were very thin and light, as they were
designed for high speed over open country and the vehicle was expected to
run on wheels on the highway.)
The only major complaint most modelers will have is that the rear
grille cover (part D24) is molded solid, and that no vanes for the
radiator efflux are included in the kit. The exhaust pipes (parts B10)
have the curved section coming up from the muffler (parts B9) but fit
flush with the hull roof (through the grille one could see where they
curved down to the header pipes, as the tank had no muffler). The tank has
the later large air cleaner (part D33) which would indicate this tank may
have been built in early 1937.
Decals are included for what appears to be two separate vehicles: a
command vehicle with twin turret stripes and a square "3" with white
exercise cross marking on the roof, and a WWII early model with turret
number "452" and a white triangular friend-or-foe marking. No directions
or examples are included, and the only marking scheme suggested is overall
green. It's kind of bizarre that EE would make a kit this nice and then
slough it off without any marking instructions!
I have not seen the Zvezda kit, but early reports are that it uses
their BT-5 kit's heavier turret and suspension with the older long-pitch
tracks from that model. While this is possible (the tracks were
theoretically interchangeable) few photos or comments exist on BT-7s with
that track, most sport the new six-roller drive wheel was developed for
the -7 to get the most out of the shorter pitch track.
To me (but hey, I'm biased towards BT tanks) this is a really exciting
kit, and we can hope that someone does up a decent set of markings for it.
At least three more versions are forecast: the BT-7RT Model 1935 with rail
antenna, the BT-7 Model 1937 with conical turret, and the BT-7A with
76.2mm howitzer turret. Hope they come out soon!
Cookie Sewell AMPS
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Page Created 29 July, 2001
Last updated 22 July, 2003
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