“Great SKOT!” Some Warsaw Pact APCs in 15mm…

1980s Polish infantry disembark from their SKOT-2A APC.

Those of us who like to wargame the ‘Cold War Gone Hot’ in 15mm (1/100th scale) are truly living in a Golden Age of model-availability…  It’s not so long ago that the choice was limited to QRFSkytrex and Peter Pig, or the increasingly-rare and long out of production range by Roskopf.  We well-remember the frustration of having armies of tanks and APCs with no infantry, or having to perform hefty conversion-jobs on models (thanks Martin! 🙂 ), or using models that were ‘similar-ish’ to what we wanted.

Now seemingly all of a sudden, we have Flames of War producing their Team Yankee range and an expansion of the offerings from the other existing companies, plus other new players such as Khurasan MiniaturesThe Plastic Soldier Company, Totentanz Miniatures Oddzial Osmy and Butler’s Printed Models.

Our Mug (Folding), Field Equipment, ’58 Pattern doth truly runneth over!

There is still the odd ‘capability-gap’ in available models, but those gaps are rapidly being filled.  One such gap was the USSR’s Warsaw Pact allies, but East German infantry are now available from two manufacturers and I recently picked up a load of Oddzial Osmy Polish infantry, as Fighting 15s were selling off their stock cheaply.  However, nobody produced the key Polish wheeled APC, the SKOT (Średni Kołowy Opancerzony Transporter – known in Czechoslovakia as the OT-64).  This made assembling a complete Polish (or Czechoslovak) army somewhat difficult, so the Poles have spent some months in the Painting Pile of Doom, waiting for the day when something SKOTish became available.

A Polish mechanised infantry platoon on the march during the 1980s. At the front and rear are SKOT-2As, with a Soviet-designed turret (as fitted to the BRDM-2 scout car). In the centre is a SKOT-2AP, with a Czech/Polish-designed turret, allowing high elevation of the 14.5mm gun for local air defence.

That day finally dawned recently, when I noticed that Butler’s Printed Models had added a range of SKOT variants to their catalogue! 🙂  Their initial listing showed a SKOT-1 (the original, basic flat-topped type), a SKOT-2 (with an octagonal ‘plinth’ and pintle HMG), a SKOT-2 with shielded gunner’s position, a SKOT-2A (with the Soviet BPU-1 turret) and a SKOT-2AP (with Polish/Czech-designed hi-elevation turret).

I must admit that I was a little bit wary, as I’d never seen a 3D-printed model ‘in the flesh’ and photos I’d seen of printed model vehicles hadn’t impressed me – mainly due to excessive ‘stepping’ on sloped or curved surfaces caused by the printing process.  However, the photos looked good and I really NEED those SKOTs!  They are also only £4 apiece (compared to £5-£8 for a typical model of the same size from other manufacturers), so I ordered a sample of three vehicles (a SKOT-2, a SKOT-2A and a SKOT-2AP).  They were delivered in only three days and I was very impressed!  So much so that I immediately ordered another nine models.

Having never seen a 3D-printed model before, I’m absolutely fascinated by the ‘supporting structure’ that underpins each model and even completely encases parts of it.

This supporting structure all needs to be cleaned away and BPM kindly provide at least one cleaned-up model with each order as a guide to what needs to be removed.

Some of the supporting structure snaps away very easily between finger and thumb.

The rest of it comes away easily enough with the aid of a small pair of snips or pliers.  I found that the join between the supporting structure and the model itself is always the weakest point and I haven’t yet managed to damage a model during clean-up.

The trickiest bit of the clean-up process for these models is the turrets.  The lower half of each is completely encased in a ‘tube’ of supporting structure and you do need a knife or snips to pierce it.  It then peels off easily enough, as shown above.

Here are my first twelve models cleaned and based, ready for painting.  The whole process took about an hour, so roughly five minutes per model.  This takes somewhat longer than the clean-up time for a metal or resin model, but there is no construction required aside from attaching the turrets or pintle-mounted MGs and it takes considerably less time than building a plastic kit!

The process to generate a lot of waste, however!  This is the rubbish left over from the first twelve models.

Having now got all the infantry-carriers I need, I started thinking about command vehicles, artillery OP vehicles and anti-tank vehicles.  I dropped a quick e-mail to BPM to ask if they had any plans to release the SKOT-R2 command vehicle or the SKOT-2AM anti-tank missile carrier and quick as a flash, they got back to me asking if I had any photos… Within four days they were available on their website and I had them within the week!  How’s that for superb customer service?! 🙂

The primary difference between a command SKOT and an ordinary SKOT is the addition of vision-blocks to the forward five sides of the octagonal ‘plinth’ on the superstructure, so the SKOT-R2 battalion/regimental command vehicle model is basically a SKOT-2 with those details added, while the SKOT-R2M company command vehicle is a similarly modified SKOT-2A.  The SKOT-2AM model includes a modified turret and a separate AT-3 ‘Sagger’ missile and blast-shield to attach to each side of the turret.  In the field, the SKOT command vehicles would normally also have an auxiliary generator box or two carried on top, as well as additional whip-antennae, antenna brackets and telescopic antennae, so I added these from spare parts.  The artillery observer’s SKOT-R2AM variant also has a folding frame aerial, so I added these simply with a bit of bent brass wire (see above).

I’ve now completed eighteen SKOTs; mostly SKOT-2A, but with a few SKOT-2AP, a pair of SKOT-2, a SKOT-R2, a SKOT-R2M, a SKOT-2AM and a pair of SKOT-R2AM.  I found that some models were slightly worse than others in terms of ‘stepping’, but none were in any way bad and mentioned earlier, the slight imperfections are invisible when viewed at normal tabletop distances.  Here are some close-ups of the various types:

Above:  The basic SKOT-2 APC, here fitted with a DShK 12.7mm HMG.  The original SKOT-1 lacked the octagonal ‘plinth’ on the top deck and had additional internal seating.  When the plinth was added it became the SKOT-1A and when armed it became the SKOT-2.  The Czechs simply called all of these the OT-64 and did not distinguish between the sub-types.  The Czechs also fitted some of their OT-64s with a small 7.62mm LMG turret.

The SKOT-2 was either armed with a 7.62mm LMG or a 12.7mm HMG and NATO referred to these types incorrectly as ‘OT-64A’ and ‘OT-64B’ respectively.  Many HMG-equipped SKOT-2s were fitted with all-round shields for the gunner.  By the 1980s the Polish People’s Army had largely relegated the remaining SKOT-1 and SKOT-2 to secondary roles such as internal security, heavy-weapons transport.  Most were converted to other types.

Note that Butler’s Printed Models produce both the SKOT-1 and the SKOT-2 with gun-shields, but I haven’t bought any yet.

Above: The SKOT-2A was the majority type in the Polish People’s Army of the 1980s.  It was fitted with the standard Soviet BPU-1 turret, as fitted to the BRDM-2 scout car and BTR-60PB APC.  The BPU-1 turret mounted a KPVT 14.5mm HMG, but had a severely limited range of elevation or depression.  The Czechs referred to this vehicle as the OT-64A, while NATO incorrectly referred to it as the ‘OT-64C’.

Above: The SKOT-2AP was a further development of the SKOT-2A, which replaced the BPU-1 turret with the locally-produced WAT turret.  This new turret retained the KPVT 14.5mm gun, but had much better elevation, enabling it to provide local air defence and making it much more useful in urban and mountain warfare situations.  Never as numerous as the SKOT-2A, the SKOT-2APs seem to have been mixed in with SKOT-2As, with perhaps one SKOT-2AP per platoon.  The Czechs also used a few of these, but only in small numbers and they didn’t give it a special designation, simply grouping it under the heading OT-64A.  NATO incorrectly referred to the SKOT-2AP as the ‘OT-64C(2)’.

The WAT turret was also fitted to Poland’s large fleet of TOPAS tracked APCs (their version of the Soviet BTR-50), creating the TOPAS-2AP.

On a critical note, I’m not keen on the gun.  I’m guessing that it’s a limitation of current 3D-printing technology, but the gun is rather over-sized and ‘rough’, when it should be exactly the same as the gun on the SKOT-2A.  I’d have preferred the model to have the gun pointing horizontally, as the AA role was only secondary to its primary infantry-carrying role.  even so, this is still an excellent model.

Above: The SKOT-2AM was a fairly rare conversion of the SKOT-2A, with a 9M14 Malyutka (AT-3 ‘Sagger’) anti-tank guided missile fitted to each side of the turret, behind an armoured blast-shield.  These vehicles were probably issued to regimental anti-tank companies in lieu of the 9P122 Malyutka anti-tank vehicle (BRDM-2 with AT-3 ‘Sagger’).    The Czechs also had a few of these vehicles, but again don’t appear to have given it a distinct designation other than OT-64A.  NATO incorrectly referred to this type as ‘OT-64C(1A)’.

There was an earlier anti-tank variant of the SKOT-1, which had a single large deck-hatch at the very rear of the vehicle, with two 9M14 Malyutka missiles mounted on the deck in front of the hatch.

Above: The SKOT-R2M was the battalion/regimental command post version of the SKOT-2.  The Czechs referred to this as the VSOT-64/R2.  Butler’s Printed Models provide it with a DShK HMG, but all the photos I’ve seen show it as unarmed, so I’ve left it off.

The main recognition features of the command variants of the SKOT are the vision-blocks placed in the forward five sides of the octagonal ‘plinth’.  However, I’ve also added some other common features such as the auxiliary power generator on the rear deck, the telescopic mast stowed on the right-hand side of the hull, an antenna bracket at the rear-left corner and some whip-antennae.

Above: The SKOT-R2AM was an artillery observation and command vehicle, which was externally much the same as the SKOT-R2, with the addition of a folding frame-antenna.  Higher-level command and signals vehicles such as the SKOT-R3 also looked much the same as this.

Above: The SKOT-R2M was a turreted version of the SKOT-R2 that seems to have been used primarily as a company commander’s vehicle.  In Czech service this was known as the VSOT-64/R2M.

Now to get the Polish infantry finished and get them into a game! 🙂

 

This entry was posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: First Echelon, Battlefront: WW2, Cold War, Painted Units, Warsaw Pact Armies. Bookmark the permalink.

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