BAT-M Engineering Vehicle
IntroductionIn the late 40’s the Soviet troops required a heavy artillery tractor to tow their super heavy guns and the upcoming nuclear missiles. One of them was the legendary AT-T based on the very early chassis and lower hull of the T-44 and later T-54 tank with 500mm wide tracks and a 13 teeth sprocket wheel. On the basis of this very strong artillery tractor several other heavy engineer vehicles were also derived. One of them, the BAT-M (also known as a “Way Builder”), featured a huge blade that was pivoted back when marching or being transported and a 2-ton crane installed at the rear part of the vehicle. My model represents an NVA version used by the former Eastern German Army until its end in 1990, at which time they still had 158 BAT / BAT-M in service. This vehicle had a V12 Diesel Engine with a cylinder capacity of 38.800 cm3, was water cooled, with a 415 hp rating.
The modelThe basic kit I used is from “Panzershop” from the Czech Republic. They are a small resin kit producer with some very nice Warsaw Pact vehicles. It comes with Fruil T-72 metal tracks which look ok (but are not the right ones as I will explain later), PE parts, and some clear foil for the windows. The resin quality is really good and very easy to work with due to the fact that it is resin, not plastic. The only bad thing was the “instruction manual”: there were only some copied b/w pictures which showed an idea of how to put things together. That was bit disappointing and cost a lot of time to sort out the right parts for the right locations of the parts on the model during construction.
First stepsFirst it was very important to get good pictures and info on this vehicle, so I started searching and after a while I met a person that offered me a ride on and a very close look at an original BAT, the precursor of the BAT-M (but mainly the same vehicle) with the chance to take as many pictures as I wanted to. On this way I want to thank him again for this great opportunity and also the rest of the very nice people in the German NVA-forum who helped me a lot with this project. After finding everything I needed, I started to reconstruct the lower hull to add the missing equipment to tighten the tracks. After this, I got a first impression of the putty and sanding work that awaited me here.
Lower hullIt was easy to fix the tread plates on the lower hull and to obtain the drive arms, but the wheels needed some extra work as you could see the form edges. Since the sprocket wheels are part of the Fruil metal track set, I needed new ones. The tracks of the T-72 are not only too wide (580mm) but also have 14 tooth sprocket wheels instead of the required 13. If you count on an original BAT you will see only 13 teeth like on a T-54 / T-55 / T-62 in the early versions. So I took the sprockets of a Tamiya T-55A kit and purchased another Fruil metal track set for the T-54 / T-55 / T-62. This set also needed to be modified as I needed to cut away the outer connectors to make it to scale and look like the T-72 tracks but with the right width and an accurate track link profile for the BAT-M. I also had to cut away the tooth of every 5th link for the ice grippers. But that is no problem because the tracks are out of tin, so quite easy to cut. After this tricky work I started to add some Diesel-tubes to the engine and to construct the break mechanisms out of some plastic card and Evergreen profiles. Now it was once again an enormous advantage to have had the chance to take my own pictures of such details on the actual vehicle. Further I added some small details and painted the whole engine compartment in anti-rust protection color and light blue. For now, I put the lower hull away and started with the cabin.
Drivers cabinThe most important thing here is: dry fit, dry fit, dry fit! I put all the small resin parts together for the inside. The fit of the bench is way out of scale and I reworked it a bit, then it seemed to be at least ok and the fit was alright. I cut the windows, fixed them in with some “Humbrol Clear Fix” and covered them with masking tape. I didn’t glue the doors yet but attached them to the cabin temporarily. Now some more details: the hatch on top got a small lever, some small eyes at the rear, and another small hatch in front of the middle window. Now I added the cabin to the lower hull and another time: dry fit, dry fit, dry fit... and finally it worked and looked even right! The back was another problem to work with because there was no real information for a BAT-M in my pictures (because the back of a BAT-M looks quite different to a BAT because of the crane installment) and I mentioned the missing real instruction manual in the kit. So I got some help another time in the NVA forum with a wonderful picture of the back of a BAT-M. The cable winch opening was easy to install and also the rolls were no problem.
Copyright ©2018 by Marian Gunzel. Images and/or videos also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. The views and opinions expressed herein are solely the views and opinions of the authors and/or contributors to this Web site and do not necessarily represent the views and/or opinions of Armorama, KitMaker Network, or Silver Star Enterrpises. All rights reserved. Originally published on: 2007-11-26 00:00:00