Modelism's 1/72
BM-21 "Grad"

By Chris Banyai-Riepl

History

The BM-21 entered service in the early 1960ís and became the standard multiple rocket-launcher of the Warsaw Pact armies, as well as most Soviet client states. Variants were produced in China, India, Egypt, and Romania. Most BM-21 variants have been used in action, particularly in Afghanistan. In addition, customized versions were used by the PLO in battles around Beirut from 1982 onwards. The BM-21 is symbolic of Russian multiple rocket-launchers, being crude and simple to operate. Nevertheless, when used in batteries it could deliver devastating 122mm rocket firepower.

In 1976 the BM-21 was mounted on the URAL-4320 truck. The BM-21 is a 40 launch-tube affair, firing 122mm rockets. The tactical role of the vehicle, in the field, is to destroy enemy forces, including armor and transport units. It can also be used for distant laying of mine fields and for electronic warfare.

The vehicle continues in service with many ex-Warsaw Pact countries, such as Bulgaria, Slovakia, Czech republic, Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Yugoslavia. In recent years it has been present in many conflicts and other trouble spots, including Angola, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Georgia, Chechnya, and Yugoslavia, including very recently in Kosovo.

The Kit

This is a nicely molded kit of the BM-21 and I believe it's the first injection-molded kit of this vehicle in 1/72. The parts are molded in a light gray plastic, with black rubber tires. The kit is broken down into about as many pieces as possible, which means that there is a lot of assembly required here.

The main chassis is built up from the separate side rails and cross pieces. With the small size of the parts here you'll want to take your time here and make sure that everything is flat before moving too far, otherwise the whole vehicle will end up being slightly warped. The axles and leaf springs are fairly well done and after some slight cleanup should look quite nice. There is no engine provided in this kit, and no visible driveshaft. This should be easy to add from a piece of plastic rod, however.

The cab is a very complex assembly, with separate sides, back, cab roof, hood, grill and more. Another case where you'll want to go very slowly and make sure everything lines up with everything else. The interior of the cab is basic, with a bench, steering wheel, and simple console provided. Clear parts make up the windscreen and side windows, as well as the headlights.

The fighting end of the BM-21 is the rocket tubes, and in this kit these are made up from a solid nose and tail piece and separate stacks in the middle. This is an interesting way of doing things, but should build up decently. There are other small details such as crank handles that fit onto the rocket tube assembly, after which the entire thing sits into a turret on the truck bed. Notations are given throughout stating that you shouldn't glue this, allowing the final model to have its rocket tubes positioned in any number of ways.

There is a decal sheet included, with what looks to be options for Soviet, Russian, and Ukrainian BM-21s, although my example didn't come with any kind of painting instructions or decal placement diagrams. The decals have a flat sheen to them and appear similar to those seen in other kits out of the former Soviet Union.

Conclusion

With the wide variety of options available in terms of markings for the BM-21, having seen service all over the world, this is a welcome addition to any 1/72 armor collection. With some additions such as the driveshaft and perhaps some drilling out of the rocket tubes, this kit has the potential of being a showstopper.


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