Russian BREM-1 Armoured Recovery Vehicle
Trumpeter, 1/35 scale
Reviewed by Cookie Sewell
During WWII only the US created fully functional repair and recovery vehicles, fielding first the T2/M31 on the M3 medium chassis and then the M32 on the M4 medium chassis. Other nations essentially only had armored tractors, most made from defrocked tanks, to use to simply pull damaged tanks from the battlefield.
This was the option the Soviets took – their first major recovery effort saw them having to harness five T-60 light tanks together to drag the first Tiger I captured off the battlefield. Later they developed interim KV-T and T-34T tractors for battlefield recovery. But these vehicles did not carry many repair parts and were limited in what they could do.
In the postwar era they developed dedicated tractors with some repair capability, mostly the BTS-2 based on the T-44 medium tank and the BTS-4 based on the T-54/55 chassis. But they only had a small outrigger crane ill suited to major repairs or engine and transmission replacements; while they had a platform capable of carrying those items they did not have any ability to them move them.
In the meantime, the Czechs and Poles worked on their own recovery vehicles with cranes to solve this problem. The Polish vehicle was the T-55 based WZT-3 and the Czechs had a VT-55 and later a VT-72 based on their T-72M/M1 chassis. Finally, the Soviets finally developed their own version, the BREhM-1 (bronevirovannaya remontirnaya i ehvakuatsionnaya mashina) armoured repair and recovery vehicle in the 1970s as Object 608 by KBTM in Omsk. Accepted for service on 13 June 1975, this was a state-of-the-art vehicle when introduced and had many things that the Soviets had desperately been missing over the years.
The vehicle had a heavy duty winch capable of 25 metric tonnes pull with a 200 metre cable for extraction. It now had a crane with up to 12 metric tonnes lift capability as well as a cargo platform with a 1.5 metric tonne capacity to carry spare parts such as complete engines, transmissions or sets of road wheels or tracks. Among its equipment was an EhSA-1 electric welding set and ST-10-1S generator set.
The vehicle had a crew of three – commander, driver, and rigger. For defence it was armed with a 12.7mm NVST machine gun with 350 rounds.
In the 1990s the BREhM-1 was upgraded to the BREhM-1M with a new V-92S2 engine of 1000 HP and newer fittings that permitted the crane to lift 20 metric tonnes (25 with bracing) and fittings to permit the crew to connect the main cable to a stricken vehicle without the crew exiting the vehicle.
A total of 342 BREhM-1 vehicles were built, but now the Russians are building the BREhM-2 on the T-90 chassis as well as offering prototype of the T-16 on the “Armata “ tank chassis.
Trumpeter has been going to town with derivative Soviet and Russian vehicles and have produced kits of the “Buratino” MRLS and “Msta-S” SP 152mm gun using T-72 parts. They now offer this vehicle which is a key member of the T-72/T-90 family. While they mistranslated the designator – the Russian letter “?” being correctly transliterated as Eh – they have done an excellent job of rendering the machine in plastic.
While not covered in the directions, the tool chest/spare parts bin formed by parts W1 and E9 may be left off to use the platform for mounting spare wheels or a spare engine. The crane may be rotated, elevated and have line paid out (it take a single 800mm long section of brass wire to simulate its cable). The front entrenching spade/brace may also be posed. Hatches may be left open or closed for the driver/mechanic, commander and crane operator.
Construction is relatively straightforward. Steps 1-5 cover the lower hull and suspension with single link tracks provided; there are 91 needed in each wrap so there are around 35 left over as spares for use with the model.
The upper hull is constructed in modules with the forward armored casemate covered in step 6 and the fenders in steps 7 & 8; the engine deck is assembled in 9. Step 10 covers the assembly and installation of the blade assembly but is not clear on how to attach it so it can be posed or even workable with care. (This is one thing I hate about “point and stick” directions!)
Step 11 covers the APU (part W3) and the tow bar assembly, and 12 covers five different size and weight tow cables. 13 covers the commander’s 12.7mm NVST machine gun and mount and 14 his cupola. Step 15 covers the flexible plastic unditching log which is a matter of taste; it looks wrong to me so I will replace mine. 16 is the assembly of the cargo platform and optional tool/spare parts bin assembly; if you have a spare V-2 type engine this is a great place to use it where it can be seen.
Step 17 is a bit out of place as it is the wiring diagram on how to rig the lifting cable for the crane, but the crane is only assembled in the following steps. This is relatively tricky and will take some care and consideration of how to rig it. Parts C8, B13, B16, B17 and B7/B86 and B8/B87 are the main lifting hook which is shown attached to the lower right side of the boom in travel mode. The connections are listed as “in” and “out” in Step 17 but the ends clearly connect to the hook at the bottom of Step 19.
Step 20 covers final assembly of the crane and spare sheaves and 21 shows the initial installation of the auxiliary fuel tanks. Note that this vehicle, like all upgraded T-72s, now has demand feed from those tanks into the main fuel system and the hoses are run them in Step 22. The last item to be assembled is the wading snorkel (parts C32/33 and S1/2) which goes to the right of the platform.
Three color schemes are offered, all essentially generic: overall protective green with bort number 121 and the large warning “NE STOY POD STRELOY” (do not stand under the crane boom); same markings but tricolor protective green, black and light grey; and same markings, tricolor protective green, black and sand. A “number jungle” sheet is provided along with an optional “NE STOY POD GRUZOM” (do not stand under cargo load).
In summary, this is a nicely done kit and should be a centerpiece for some repair or recovery dioramas or just a different stand-alone model.
Note: like many others at the moment I do grimace about buying from China, but when they do make a unique product not available elsewhere it is hard to avoid making such purchases. It is also an expensive kit, but at least Trumpeter does seem to be going a good job on their research and production work.