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by Jose Rodriguez




Shanghai Dragon's 1/35 scale BRDM-3 is available online from Squadron.com



The Soviet BRDM-3 is a lightly armored tank killer based on the BRDM-2 scout vehicle.

The only difference from the -2 is that the -3 has anti-tank missile launchers and associated sighting system in lieu of the turret armed with a 14.5 mm machine gun. The designation BRDM-3 is in doubt as such designation is a NATO given name to differentiate this vehicle from its predecessor. The official name is more akin to be BRDM-2 ATGM in reference to the anti-tank missiles it can launch.

These vehicles, depending on the particular version, can launch the AT-2/SWATTER, AT-3/SAGGER, AT-4/SPIGOT, and AT-5/SPANDREL. The kit depicts a BRDM armed with five 9M113 Konkurs missile launchers (AT-5 Spandrels in NATO speak). The BRDM-3 carries ten additional missiles in storage that can be loaded from the inside of the vehicle using the top hatch behind the launchers. The 7 Kg (14 Lbs) HEAT warhead in these missiles can penetrate up to 600 mm (23.6 in) of armor at an incidence of 0 degrees. Effective range for the Spandrel is 4 Km (2.5 miles). To ensure a hit all the operator has to do is line up the cross hair in his sight onto the target, like a TOW missile.

Even the name BRDM-2 is in doubt with some analysts calling this vehicle BTR-40P-2. When it comes to things Soviet, everything is shrouded in the Cold War traits of secrecy and misinformation.

Instead of me getting you confused with all the designations and variants of this vehicle, I will let the experts do it for me. These links will take you to pages where information and history on this vehicle are well presented.




Trying to summarize we can say that this vehicle has a rather dull reputation. One reason is its thin armor plate with a maximum thickness of 14 mm (.55 inches). Such armor can be penetrated by a .50 caliber machine gun and by shrapnel.

I read once in Soldier of Fortune magazine how the Mujahideen in Afghanistan had discovered that a regular 7.62 mm x 39 mm (.30 caliber) round could penetrate the vehicle if placed in the wheel well area. The exposed tires are not puncture proof and a single round can flat them out. Now, before bashing this vehicle you have to consider that it was designed as a scout vehicle; its mission was to spy on the enemy's movements and report back while protecting its crew from small arm fire and light shrapnel. This it does well and it can be argued that it is better protected and it is more capable than the U.S. Hummer or Humvee. The Hummer is not amphibian and it can get high centered on a boulder or stuck trying to cross a trench while the BRDM has not much problem in these areas due to its amphibian capability and odd but effective small four ventral wheels. Of course, I might be comparing apples to oranges because the Hummer is a multi-role vehicle designed to replace the Jeep, not to serve as an armored recon vehicle but it is usual nowadays to see armored Hummers armed with a roof top machine gun.



Those of you who watched the movie Blackhawk Down need to ask yourself the question, would you rather be in a Hummer or in a BRDM while running amok through the streets of Mogadishu under a hail of bullets? Remember that at the end the U.S. troops had to be evacuated by Pakistani BTR-70's so the Soviets were not too off the mark regarding their AFV design philosophy, or maybe we need to take a look at the U.S. Marines decision to use a vehicle as the LAV-25, similar to the Soviet BTR's.

Another weak point in the BRDM family is the GAZ-41 gasoline V-8 power plant churning out 140 H.P. For a vehicle that weights 7000 Kgs (14000 lbs) this is rather anemic. 0 to 60 must be measured with a calendar. My Jeep's four-in-line puts out 120 H.P. and the vehicle only weights 3000 lbs (1500 kgs), and that motor is considered low power! The BRDM must have some very low gears to enable it to get away with just 140 H.P. which means it can crawl but cannot speed up to its claimed 100 Km/h (62 mph) top speed with its manual 4-speed transmission.

While production of this vehicle has ceased in Europe, the Red Chinese are still making their own version and have modernized the design by adding side doors for the crew and installing side windows next to the windshield.



Shanghai Dragon's 1/35 BRDM-3


This is the Shanghai-Dragon kit number 3514 in 1/35th scale, from their Modern AFV Series. This kit, or any other Shanghai Dragon kit for that matter, are not listed in the 2002 Squadron catalog but if you search in their web site by manufacturer you will find Shanghai Dragon listed, and the BRDM-3 listed for USD 14.96 (stock number SD3514). The box art is beautiful and depicts an Arab BRDM-3 in a convoy of other Soviet made vehicles crossing a military bridge in their way to - Kuwait? The few actual pictures I found on these vehicles matched the box art rather well so you can use it as a reference.

There are about 111 pieces on four sprues molded in light gray plastic with no flash. Ejector marks were not a problem and the fit of the parts is good. All sprues were bagged together and included the lower hull by itself, four vinyl tires (or tyres) two decal sheets, one clear acetate windshield to be cut to fit and the instruction booklet. The instructions were well drawn and easy to follow.

The kit has no interior even though it has a top hatch that can be opened. Eduard provides an instrument panel but nothing else for the interior, and there are no aftermarket bits to do the job.

As usual, I ended up buying the Eduard photo-etched kit for this vehicle, part number 35271 for USD 16.96 from Squadron. I believe the Eduard set enhances the final result but it requires work and patience to install all those tiny brass parts on your kit. If you are in a hurry then skip the Eduard set.

The sprues in this kit are mostly BRDM-2 parts, which is to be expected. Three sprues are marked BRDM-2 and the sprue with the missile paraphernalia is marked BRDM-2 AT-5 so there you go, a new designation.





There is nothing vicious about putting this kit together. The photo etched set is painful to install but the kit itself is real easy to build. I used very little putty to put this thing together. Let me talk about some small detailing I did.


The back of this vehicle has a hatch that swings upward to expose the water propeller and the jet way. The Eduard kit provides the inlet screen at the bottom of the vehicle. From this point the jet way moves upward and then bends 90 degrees towards the outlet on the rear. Eduard provides a propeller and the directional vanes that act like a rudder under water. I drilled out the molded in propeller and vanes from the kit's rear hull part with a motor tool. I wanted to create a 3-D view of the jet way and the propeller. I had a web picture of this area and I used it as a guide. I built the jet way by rolling beer can aluminum into a tube. Using more beer can aluminum I built the propeller brace and plugged the rear of my crude jet way. After I painted the parts I glued the assembly into the rear hull, from the inside. Remember to put some pitch into the propeller blades if going this route. Because I left the rear panel for last after the hull had been finished, I encountered some fit problems that I solved by cutting out the kit's locating tabs and going free style so the unmatched edge between rear plate and hull ended up at the bottom of the hull where was easier to trim, instead of at the top.


As far as the bottom of the vehicle goes, it is lacking detail such as brake lines, air pressure lines, the bolts that hold the differential covers in place, the drain plugs for the differential cover, the vent lines for the pumpkins (differentials in 4x4 language). This vehicle is supposed to have double shock absorbers per wheel. The front wheels came with only one shock each and there are no shocks for the rear axle. Try to drive a truck with leaf spring rear suspension and no shocks and you will be on for a rather unpleasant ride. This is all nitpicking if you don't plan to show your model up side down or on its side. I decided not to scratch build the missing shocks because all the work would mostly disappear behind the wheels. Because the differentials are somewhat visible I added the bolts and the drain plug with dabs of white glue. On my Jeep these items don't look like the bolts they are because they are covered with grime so the white glue blobs do the trick quite nicely. How many bolts per differential? I don't know. The axles look like a GM 12-bolt so I added twelve bolts. I must confess, I'm a gear head when it comes to Jeeps and I have spent far too much time under them. Can you spot a Dana 44 axle or an AMC 20 axle under a Jeep? I can, and sometimes I wonder if too much grease has dropped on my face that the chemicals make me start to look for stuff like that when I see a 4x4 on the trail.

Continuing with the kit build review, I replaced the grab handles, exhaust pipe from hull to muffler, and the tow hooks with brass rod. No piece from the Eduard set was left out and the best parts are the muffler covers, the radiator hatches, the sight box on the right top hatch, and the front hatches. As I said, this is a nice set but it takes time to put it on the kit.

The tires I built as per the instructions so now they spin. Now I can watch the model roll off the shelf. Because of the play required to let the wheels roll, they wobble. My advice is to forget about spinning wheels and glue those suckers to the axle unless you are planning tying a string to the kit and dragging it behind you around the house. There have been some negative comments about vinyl tires falling apart after a few months or years. Because of this bad rap there are resin wheels to replace the kit's original rubber. These resin wheels are just a copy of the originals so don't expect bulged or worn out tires. My opinion is that if the vinyl tire is tight around the rim, the radial stresses will eventually crack the vinyl. I sanded my tires down in the inside until they had a loose fit over the rim and used white glue so it would give instead of the vinyl. Only time will tell if I'm right. When installing the tires, remember that they are directional tires; this means that they are not your common variety radials that don't care which way they rotate because the thread is the same in either direction. These tires must be installed with the chevron thread pointing in the direction of rotation (check the box art for a good pic of what I'm saying). Reversing the thread on the real world means lost traction and handling. Of course, only a gear head would know that.

The circular gizmo on the left side of the hull is a detachable cable spool. I took me awhile to find out what it was because many BRDM pictures on the web were of disabled and captured vehicles that have been vandalized and picked clean of anything that wasn't bolted or welded to the hull. I finally stumbled on a picture of a Polish BRDM with the spool in place showing the cable as it is shown in my model. I'm not sure if this cable is a towing cable - looks kind of thin - but then I think of a 12000 lbs winch on a Jeep and the cable is not a thick cable like the one we are used to see on model tanks or real tanks, so I have to conclude that it is a tow cable.


In conclusion, this is an easy kit with no mayor flaws or headaches. As far as dimensions and slope angles matching the original, I don't give a hoot about stuff like that. It looks like a BRDM to me. For some the kit will be on the simplistic side but a BRDM vehicle is a simple machine designed to be mass-produced on the cheap so the kit is not far from the real thing. I recommend this kit to anyone, and the Eduard p.e. set if you are patient and willing to put some extra time.



Painting and Weathering


For starters, I finally accomplished my goal of going fully acrylic, almost. No more nauseating fumes and messy kitchen sinks. My wife is happy, so I am happy.

The kit provides decals for four vehicles, Soviet, East German, Czechoslovakian, and Iraqi. The first three are green of one sort of another and the Iraqi is sand with green blotches. The instruction's color chart references Gunze Sangyo aqueous hobby colors that happen to be the brand my local hobby shop doesn't carry. The instructions call for the sand to be RLM Sandy Brown 79. I looked at this color from another paint brand and it looked way too dark when compared to all the web pics I had found depicting Iraqi BRDM's in Kuwait.



What to do?

I did what many of you do. I asked the experten on this site and other armour related sites and I got a few answers. Thank you to all who answered my survey. I'm sorry I don't have everybody's full name but that is the way forums work:


Expert Color and Marking Opinions:

We examined and photographed several Iraqi BRDM-2s and a BRDM-2RKhB for the old Full Detail series. The best matches (from the paint box, in the field) were overall buff (Tamiya X57, Humbrold #94). Wheel hubs were left black, although there was often over spray onto tires and such. There was a lot of chipping to reveal the old Soviet colors underneath.

The paint jobs were done by conscripts who were none too enthusiastic about the job, so the elaborate schemes are fantasies.

For a photo of an Iraqi vehicle check Concord # 1013.


Iraq is not a sand lot, but has areas that are lushly vegetated, there are prairies, swamps, mountains and, of course, deserts. Taking this into account, there has always been a variety of paint schemes in the Iraqi army, with the four major colours being brown, gray, green and sand, either singly or in combination, with the green ranging from a very grassy green to a dark green similar to Russian green. They even have standardized camo schemes (to a certain extent) for the major regions.

Quite a lot of the equipment fielded by the Iraqis in Kuwait actually was painted in a sand base colour with green splotches or bands, including the BRDM 2 and variants. Not only have I seen plenty of these vehicles in the field and in captured equipment dumps from Dhahran to KKMC, they are also well documented:

Verlinden Warmachines No 8, "A Gulf War Eyewitness Report":

- p. 32 + 33 have the BRDM-2 with the "Sagger" in sand and green as well as a BRDM-2 in plain sand. The green might be the original Russian green over sprayed with sand, but it could also be a green over spray over sand

Squadron/ Signal "Ground War Desert Storm":
- p.45 has a SA-6 and a SA-6 transloader in sand and green
- p.48 a Panhard AML in sand with green splotches
- p.53 an Engesa EE-9 in sand with very dark green bands
- p.56 T59 in sand with green stripes
- p.57 T55/59, sand with green splotches

These are the sources I just have on hand, if I scanned my personal photos and dug a little deeper into online sources, there are more photos of bicoloured Iraqi vehicles.

From my personal experience, which results from my then job as a DoA "technician" during "Desert Shield" and "Desert Storm", and which took me from Dhahran to the Wadi al Batin and on to Basra and Kuwait, I'd say the ratio of uniformly sand coloured to sand and green vehicles was about 50-50, with T-72s almost always sporting a scheme of uniform sand, but this ranging from sandgray to sandyellow.

As for your statement "The paint jobs were done by conscripts who were none too enthusiastic about the job, so the elaborate schemes are fantasies", I cannot quite subscribe to this, either. The Iraqi army believes in physical punishings (beatings, even with a stick, denial of food and water) as much as did the Russian army, so those conscripts would apply those camouflage schemes when ordered to do so, although the quality of the paints used wasn't always that good. Just like any other army, the Iraqis weren't in combat constantly and there is always something to paint, police or grease in the barracks.
No conscript is too enthusiastic about painting equipment, but nevertheless the Dutch, French, Swiss, German and IDF equipment does have a tendency to be well painted.

Just my 2 Eurocents


This is a colour I developed, for Vallejo, especially for this use. It is as close as I could come to a good all around Iraqi sand colour. The elements, wear and tear etc will also play a role. I still think this is a good place to start:

Vallejo 819 Iraqi sand

James Welch

I was with C CO, 8th TK BN, 2nd MARDIV during DS. We breached the minefields for 2nd MARDIV. There were many colors, and shades of color on the Iraqi vehicles. I saw everything from a very yellow colored sand, to a very faded and pale sand color. Most of the vehicles had paint on the yellower side of MM Armored Sand, but paler than Tamiya Dessert Yellow. I know this wont help much, but it's the truth. The point is, you have some freedom here, so paint it to suit your likes and you will still be close to reality.

Best Regards,

Joe Bakanovic

Sooo... I used Tamiya Dark Green X-61 for the blotches and Model Master Tan 4697 for the hull. I have no idea what this tan color is made for but it looked close enough to the pics I found.

The launchers use Polly S Israel Khaki. I got a color picture of a Soviet BRDM-3 in Afghanistan and the launchers' colors match the khaki best but this could be an optical illusion so you are welcome to do your own research. I used the dark green as a base color, including the bottom. My philosophy on applying the sand was that a conscript with a spray gun did the job so there would be no sand paint underneath the vehicle and the wheel wells would be over sprayed with sand. The paint would be applied in such a way that original Soviet green blotches would remain. Applying a light sand color over dark green gave me the opportunity to experiment with shading. Varying the thickness of the sand coat I was able to create a shadowing effect on some areas. Once the paint dried for 48 hours I applied a thick coat of acrylic Future floor wax. The Iraqi decal sheet has Arabic numerals for many combinations of ID numbers. The problem is that I don't have any pictures of Iraqi BRDM's with ID numbers or any markings of any kind. I took an artistic license and I used the Arabic slogan you see on the model. I have no idea what it says and I hope I didnít place it up side down.

Next step was scratches, chipping and scuffing. If you stretch sprue with a match (under the supervision of a competent adult, with a fire extinguisher next to you, blah, blah, blah) you end up with the section closer to your hand tapering from full diameter to a fine threat. Cut the section close to your hand so you end up with a whip about 2 to 3 inches long. Dip this whip in dark paint and proceed to scratch your model. I went from front to back to simulate a vehicle running through the bushes. I did chipping with a fine brush and dark green paint. I went easy on this technique because it is very easy to overdue. Some of the chipping was done with a hobby knife and a dental pick by scraping the sand paint to expose the dark green below. Easy or you will end up showing the bare plastic.

The wash was burn umber and raw sienna using acrylic artist colors made by Liquitex of the UK, mixed with soapy water. I removed them after dry using gun cleaning patches slightly damped in water. No smell, no mess and they work as good as oil paints and turpentine.

Disclaimer: No dry brushing was used in the making of this model. I have never seem a real life machine that has been dry brushed; then, why in the world we dry brushed models while seeking the look and feel of the real thing? Dry brushing may look pretty - I use it in aircraft cockpits to speed things up - but it is not real. Some conditions may benefit from this technique but I don't see it as a panacea that makes a model "weathered"; it is more like a crutch for the lazy. I'm bracing myself for the flaming email to come from the dry brushing followers out there.

Next step were rain marks using Tamiya Buff. I diluted the buff with soapy water, about 9 to 1 water to buff and used a wide and flat brush damped with the diluted buff to run vertical lines on the sides of the vehicle. You won't be able to see this rain mark effect at first sight and that is a good thing because rain marks are not paint but a subtle effect that mimics dust and pollen streaks running down the flat sides of the vehicle. You need to take a closer look to observe them, just like in a real truck. Next I took the diluted buff and splashed random drops of it all over the vehicle. The drop sizes range from pinhead to corn kernel sizes.

I needed to dirt up the bottom of the vehicle and the wheel wells so I used a mix of sand chalk pastel dust mixed with soapy water. I slathered this paste on the model and that was enough for me.

Polly S makes a paint called Dust. I used it to spray the bottom and the wheel wells. It did nothing. I still have to figure out if the paint can paint or it is just dirty water. Maybe next time. I just used the sand chalk pastel applied dry with a brush to dust the vehicle and the wheels. I painted the vinyl wheels Polly S NATO black to take the shine off. Wet and dry chalk pastels are the only things on the wheels for weathering effects.

Remember that the vehicle is still covered with a healthy coat of glossy Future. By now all of you are thinking, "well, now comes the flat coat to seal things in place." Wrong. Question authority. The pics I have show that the Iraqis used sand paint with a nice shine. To tell you the truth, the only 100% flat paint job I have ever seen has been on U.S. Army Cobra and Apache helicopters, and this is an expensive low infrared signature paint. I think the Iraqis bought their paint on a hardware store so the shine is going to stay. Because the hull in this vehicle is a three-dimensional prism, the light impinging upon it gives each panel a chromatic uniqueness. The buff dried flat so every panel has a mix of shine and drab spots that contributes to give the model that elusive metallic sheen. I didn't use any flat coats of anything in this model; after all, real vehicles are not uniformly "flat" or shinny but a mix of both.

I'm still working on my rust. It is getting better but I still not satisfied. I use Liquitex acrylics. I start with Red Oxide then over paint it with Burnt Umber. By now the blotch is thick and has swirls of dry paint so I dry brush the ridges with Red Oxide and Raw Sienna. It looks good but I still think I can do better. Next time I will come up with something else to see if I can improve.


The stop lights are Testor Silver, the only enamel in this project, over painted with a coat of Tamiya Clear Red.

I used an extra soft 6B pencil to highlight the grab handles, all the sharp edges and the rims around the hatches. I also used the pencil on the shovel.

The Iraqi flag came from the kit's decal sheet. I placed two Iraqi flag decals next to each other on a piece of aluminum foil. After trimming the flags from the foil I wrapped the trimmed foil around the piano wire antenna and glued both halves together with white glue. I finished the job by painting with a brush any sliver of silver and gave the flag a realistic fold around the antenna.





Hey, this is why I build models for - to experiment.

Buy yourself some cheap kit and go ape wild with new ideas, ideas that you are itching to try but are afraid of using on a forty bucks kit with another thirty bucks worth of resin and brass that took you half a year and a divorce to finish. Get a ten to fifteen dollars kit, built it straight out of the box and dare to be different while having fun. If your ideas don't work you are out of a little of money and you can email me to tell me what you think of my pea brained ideas and where to stuff them but maybe you will stumble on that effect that has been eluding you for years, or you may discover a better way of doing things.



Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Model, Images and Article Copyright © 2002 by Jose Rodriguez
Page Created 21 July 2002
Last updated 04 June 2007

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