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The Soviets were the second nation in the world to field automated artillery
fire control systems (AAFCS) and did so in the mid 1970s with the 1V12 "Mashina"
(Machine) system based on the MT-LBU command vehicle chassis. The heart of this
system was the APK data system, but it had a number of drawbacks. It was later
upgraded with the "Fal'set" (Falsetto) APPK system into the "Mashina-M" system
in the 1980s. A wheeled system based on GAZ-66 and Ural-4320 trucks was also
offered later for multiple rocket launcher systems and towed artillery.
However, they did not get around to automating all of their systems by the time
that the Soviet Union collapsed in1991. One of the systems they were going to
field was the "Kapustnik-B" which used a new wheeled armored command vehicle,
based on the BTR-80KShM chassis and Ural-4320 trucks. These were to be
compatible with the automated fire control systems for the 2S19 "Msta-S", the "Uragan"
and "Smerch" heavy MRLs, the 2S9 "Nona-S" and 2S23 "Nona-SVK," and other towed
weapons. All used standard computers and data modems so that they would provide
a high degree of flexibility.
"Kapustnik-B" (cabbage field) is based on the "Kushetka" armored command vehicle
version of the BTR-80 which has no armament and a raised roof to accommodate a
crew of 5 or 6 for artillery fire control and target designation missions. It
carries multiple radio sets, Baget-41 laptop computers, modems, and is also
fitted with laser range finders, laser target designation equipment, and thermal
vision devices, based on customer needs.
Alas, with the collapse of the Soviet military budget and the military
industrial complex (VPK in Russian) none of these projects received funding. "Kapustnik-B"
was been accepted for service as the new AAFCS of choice in 1993 – but the
Russians haven't bought many yet. It is also offered for foreign sales with any
of the above mentioned artillery systems.
Nevertheless, SP Designs, a new Ukrainian resin manufacturer, now has a kit
available to convert the DML BTR-80 kit in any of its offered versions – be it
from Italeri, Dragon or Revell – into the "Kapustnik-B" vehicle. The parts are
cleanly molded and appear to use some of the more modern (and less toxic)
Western resins rather than the nastier and oilier eastern European ones.
The kit consists of a drop-over shell with the main changes to the hull and the
enlarged personnel compartment formed in one piece. To fit this to the BTR-80
hull, rather than cut the hull in sections as most western kits, SP Designs has
the modeler cut off details on the basic hull, fill in the driver's hatch with a
resin plug, cut off part of the fenders, and attach the top to the hull
piggyback fashion. The parts appear to fit reasonably well, but the turret (Part
2) has a bullet splash guard on the hull roof which is too small and will have
to be removed and replaced.
Most of the conversion is pretty straightforward, which is good as the
directions are hard to read as to what to cut and what to keep. However, there
are two new lower center sponson boxes (Parts 6) to replace the kit parts (C10
and C11) with a major problem: the new larger access doors for the "Kapustnik-B"
split in the middle of the parts, which is going to make getting a good fit and
removing the seams a royal headache (think of the old AMT aircraft kits that
split the fit for the wings in the middle of the elevators and ailerons and you
have an idea of how dumb a choice for splitting the parts this really is.) Mark
1 eyeball checks show that you may well have to simply sand off the upper
section of the doors and rebuild the lower sponsons from sheet to get them to
look right and fit correctly.
Overall this is a neat kit and a nice idea, but hopefully SP Designs will think
a bit more on design in the future to make it easier for the modeler to get a
nice result without a lot of rework.
Thanks to Bob Lessels of Eastern Front Hobbies for the review sample.
Review Copyright © 2002 by Cookie
Page Created 29 September, 2002
Last updated 22 July, 2003
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