The UAE ordered almost 600 BMP-3s including some BREM ARVs. The deliveries took place between 1992 and 2000. These BMPs are significantly different from the Russian models. They feature an air conditioning system, an improved fire control system including a French Namut thermal viewer and more stowage boxes on the outside.
The UAE army deployed their BMP to Kosovo within KFOR from the very beginning of the operation in 1999.
The kit comes in a sturdy cardboard box with the sprues wrapped in plastic bags. An internal compartment accommodates the hull halves, the turret top, the track links and the clear parts.
The kit comprises more than 780 plastic parts dispatched on 12 sprues, one bag for the track links, the turret top and the hull halves. There are also 17 photoetched parts on two sheets, 1 sheet of decals and a 12-page instructions booklet. An additional color sheet serves as color and marking guide.
The sprue A (x2) mainly contains the suspension parts;
sprue B various exterior parts;
sprue C interior parts (some being protected by a film of foam);
sprue D turret parts (interior and exterior with some protected);
sprue E exterior detail parts (trim vane, fenders ...);
sprue GP clear parts (headlights glasses, sight glasses);
sprue J roadwheels;
sprue N hull roof hatches;
sprue P specific parts for the UAE version (stowage bin, thermal viewer);
sprue T (x2) guide horns;
90x2 track links
The main focus of this review is on the UAE BMPs features so it won't go into details covered in other reviews like the one at Armorama
The cast is nice with overall crisp details. Very few flash is present so a minimum cleaning work will be required. Concerning the ejector marks, they are generally small and hidden. However, some remain visible on the hull hatches inner face, inside the turret add-on armor plates, on the vision blocks glasses, inside the thermal viewer doors and inside the entrenching blade.
They come in nice and clear diagrams. I noticed at least one mistake in the step 6 with the inversion of the parts E9 and E10. The build is divided in 13 steps starting with the running gear and concluding with the fitting of the turret to the hull.
The running gear
This is definitely not for those in a hurry with 236 parts to assemble for
the tracks only! The detail is quite good but the track links are missing the
rubber pads that is present on the UAE tracks. The only picture I saw of tracks
without the pads were of the first battle group deployed to Kosovo in 1999.
So, check your references if you intend to build within a definite timeframe. The sprockets are of the correct type with 12 teeth and the retaining ring.
It is built as shown in the instructions and is not that different from the
Russian versions. However, there again you will have to check your references to
place some detail parts. On the early BMPs, the fire extinguisher was present on
the glacis close to the left headlight protection not on the fender as per the
instructions. Sometimes it is not present at all.
The other point is the position of the unditching log on the left side. Trumpeter want you to put it on top of the hull a la Russian way. According to the pictures I have, the log is carried on the side of the hull when it is present. Most of the BMPs deployed to Kosovo are pictured without it with the exception of the first rotation.
On some vehicles it seems that the grab handles on both sides of the upper glacis are not present. But this is far from a general feature.
For the grille at the rear right corner, Trumpeter provide you with a PE part. This one is nice but it appears that most if not all of the UAE vehicles have the louvers not protected by the grille.
On the back of the vehicle there are two additional stowage boxes on each side of the access doors. You can decide whether or not you glue them but they appears to be a common feature even for the early vehicles.
The only real option Trumpeter give concerns the bow MGs that can be depicted with or without the plastic cover to protect them from sand and dust.
Recently, the UAE army added two foldable stowage racks on the right side of the vehicle. With some good reference pictures an average modeler should be able to scratch them.
This is where the major differences with the Russian versions are present.
To begin with, the UAE BMP have a Namut thermal viewer which is nicely represented by Trumpeter. You can put the doors in the open or closed position even if the instructions do not show the open doors option. Take note that if you choose this option, you'll have to sand the ejector marks on the inner face of the doors and add the glass which is omitted in the instructions.
According to the instructions the 1D16-2 laser range finder must get its top cover (part P18). This is a late production BMP feature. For an early model as deployed to Kosovo, you need to use the standard part which is still present in the box (part D35).
The co-axial 30mm cannon is curved on the sprue. So you'll have to get it straight by gently pressing it between your fingers before gluing it to the 100mm main gun.
The other typical feature of UAE turret is the stowage box on the bustle.
Now your BMP is built accordingly to Trumpeter's instructions.
But if you want to depict an accurate UAE BMP you will have to add the turret baskets that Trumpeter omitted. BMPs without them fitted are exceptions. You just have two options, the first is to scratch build them from pictures, the second is to use the Eduard PE set which was timely issued under the ref 36178. Take note that on the real baskets the frame is made of rods and not slats. So you may have to use the PE parts as a template for the frame and only use the mesh.
If you choose this option, be aware that the mesh is welded on the outer face of the frame.
The painting and decoration
Trumpeter give two options on a separate color sheet. One is for a BMP
deployed to Kosovo within the KFOR. It sports a NATO like three tone camo the
UAE army copied on the French color scheme when they trained in France before
being deployed. However, the brown did not match the
French brown at all.
The second decoration is the homeland force two color camo made of light sand and brown. The markings are colorful and quite attractive looking like British markings.
Unfortunately, those willing to represent the vehicle with the hatches open will have to do their own research about the interior colors as Trumpeter didn't give any indications about them in the instructions.
Trumpeter capitalized on their previous BMP models to release this exotic
variant. However, they did not make their research deep enough thus omitting the
rubber pads on the track links and the turret baskets.
These flaws set aside, it remains a nice kit with a detailed interior I didn't comment on as it has already been done in other reviews.
To get an accurate rendition the modeler will have to check the available references that are still quite scarce.