What a great little kit. If this is UM's first effort then I will definitely pick up their T-70 and SU-76 kits. With one exception everything fit like a glove, which is a bit bizarre really as you don't see a lot of AFVs wearing gloves. Even the etched parts fit as they should and I quite liked the fact that they were thicker than most brass etched parts. They were a bit harder to work with, especially getting the rounded shape of the deck grill, but they were very robust and stood up to my best accidental efforts to squash them.
The strengthening strips on the turret sides were too prominent and didn't reach the top as they should have done so I sanded them off and replaced them with .005" sheet after the turret roof was on. This also made it a lot easier to fix the seam between the roof and sides.
The one exception to the excellent fit was the tracks. They ended up being half a link too big, even with a considerable amount (too much really) of sag induced. Normally this wouldn't be much of a problem as the last link could be cut down and hidden under a fender, but there is far too much space between the tracks and the fenders to get away with this on the BT-5. Add to that the fact that the track links are quite large and very simple and any attempts to shorten a link or two will be very noticeable. After removing and regluing the left hand tracks several times - and discovering new and innovative swear words - I managed to hide the cut down link under the rear road wheel. The right hand tracks were much easier since I knew what to expect.
I figured that was the end of the story. Oh well, they screwed up, it happens. However, I read Matt Bittner's build of this kit on Internet Modeler and he didn't seem to have any problems at all with the tracks. In fact, he didn't have to add excessive sag and they still fit! So it would seem that somehow I have caused the problem although I can't for the life of me think how. There seems to be little if any play in the set up of the wheels and his don't seem to be spaced differently to mine so I have no idea why his tracks fit and mine didn't.** Oh well....
I tried something different when the time came to paint. The few pictures I could find of camouflaged BT tanks showed them to have hard edged colour demarcations. I tried my usual thin strips of masking tape but there were just too many lumps and bumps to mask over. I decided to use Humbrol Maskol, a latex based liquid masking agent. This worked very well although I was still picking bits of dried latex out of every nook and cranny days later which was a bit of a pain. I sprayed a thinned down dark earth colour over the lower hull and running gear and the tracks were given washes of rust and black with the hinges and teeth dry brushed in silver. Final weathering was added with pastels.
Other than that and the tracks this was a pretty standard and very enjoyable build for me. Added MV lights and drilled out guns and exhausts as usual. Kit decals were excellent although there should be a red square around the number 2 on the hull sides but this was printed far too large so I just cut out the numbers and used them by themselves.
** Matt was kind enough to email me and let me know that he did in fact have the same trouble with the tracks so this is obviously a fault with this kit and something to keep in mind when building it.
Also note the exhausts should exit on the bottom of the four pipes and not to the rear as I have modelled them. Oops....
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