Notes on Modelling Modern Russian Variants of the BTR-80: Part 2

This post is a continuation on my initial one from last year discussing conversion potential of Empress BTR-80 kit. My original post is from months ago, so some of the ideas behind that have changed somewhat in which variants I wound up creating.

I’d bought Empress Miniature’s BTR-80 platoon deal, with the intention in representing three variants of this vehicle. These being the BTR-80A, BTR-82A and Nona-SVK.

Since then I’d bought Spectre Miniature’s BMP-1, and wanting to differentiate it from the existing BMPs which I already own made by HLBS, I used the BTR-80A turret to turn that into a BMP-1 AM (featuring a 30mm gun) – a recent modernisation which the Russian army purportedly are supposed to be purchasing. Instead using the chassis I’d set aside for the 80A to make a regular 80, though adding a whole load of add on armour to suite a vehicle in use in the current war in Ukraine. 

In this post then I’ll show off these three vehicles and mention some more notes on these models as a follow up to my earlier post covering just what differentiates these variants from the base BTR-80 (which Empress Miniatures are currently using as a basis for the two variants they sell). 


BTR-80 – With Improvised Armour

The least finnicky in terms of the little details that had to be researched to make sure that Empress’ vehicles a bit more accurate to the real vehicles. This one is a field modified BTR-80 with slat armour intended to give it more protection against the shaped charged warheads common in post-Soviet arsenals. 

This vehicle has a mix of slat armour reinforced by sand bags and rubber mats over its wheels. A pair of metal plates are also added to the front to make that area a bit more interesting (made from 1/56 scale oil barrel lids). I’ll point out that the slat armour here is inaccurate, but visually close enough for wargaming without being too much of a hassle to build or paint. Which is fine, its not like people make this stuff in a practical manner in the real world either (mine is perhaps on the better end of the scale to be honest…).

I’ll mention how the slat armour’s made, as its been asked before.

  1. Measure the size of the area required. In the case of this BTR-80 for reference for the side slat armour panels – the foremost panels are 4.5cm x 1.7cm, and rear set are 5.8cm x 1.7cm.

  2. Now with these measurements cut out the required lengths of plastic rod. In this case I went for six horizontal and three vertical bars for the side panels. More bars can be added as you feel like. You’ll also need to add bars to attach the panels to the hull, but these can be made later.
  3. Initially I’ll mark out the positions of where each horizontal bar will be placed on their vertical supports. This helps making sure everything stays straight. In this case the distance between each horizontal bar is 0.3cm. The distance between the vertical bars is 2.2cm for the front sections and 2.7cm for the rear panels.
  4. I start with the vertical sections then layer on the horizontal bars across them. First take on of the vertical pieces and then line up one of the horizontal sections at its corner for the bottom or top rung (so as to form an “L” shape”).

  5. Then attach a horizontal bar on the opposite end of the vertical piece (forming a “U”)

  6. Following this glue the other vertical end piece onto the two horizontal bars – giving you a rectangle. Do this now, rather than trying to glue the other end vertical piece on when there’s only one horizontal bar – as you’ll just wind up with the whole piece of slat armour being twisted.

  7. Now that a basic frame has been built its time to add on the horizontal bars. With the frame built this is just a case of attaching each piece to the pre-marked points and making sure everything’s straight. 

  8. Having attacked all the horizontal bars, glue on any remaining vertical bars – in my own case just the one in the middle. I leave this till now instead of before stage 7 as the extra area to apply the horizontal bars to during their assembly tends to get in the way.

  9. Now its time to attach the cage to the vehicle. I just glue the cage right onto the vehicle where available – usually to a side skirt-, rather than having it stand off like is more useful against RPGs, to give it a bit more rigidity. However if you want it to stand off then just skip this stage.

  10. Now its time to add the last part- the supporting rods which hold the panels to the vehicle. One support at each corner is fine, but any number can be added by glueing them to the vertical rods. 

  11. If you followed stage 9 then stick the support rods through the slats and glue them onto the vehicle. Using longer than necessary lengths of plasticard for this. Once they supports have dried, cut off any excess plasticard – you don’t need to bother measuring them – they can look crude. 

  12. Alternatively if you want the piece to stand off a bit, attach each support piece onto the panel’s corners first then mount panel to the armour, followed by adding any remaining supports as per 10 and cutting off any excess. For my model the supports are 1cm long. 

  13. As an added step you can add weld seams to the supports by using a thick glue, or adding a bit of milliput to where the rod attaches to the hull as you glue them down. Or go through and individually sculpt on a little ring of green stuff afterwards. However at this scale this is maybe an excessive amount of detail, but an option.

Hopefully that’s a basic idea of how to assemble those cages. Rectangular panels like these will do for many irregular forces vehicles with a minimal amount of work required. You can complicate it by using thinner rods and adding more horizontal bars to look more involved, then start bringing in complex shapes or spaces in the armour – however that’s perhaps something to work on yourself. A picture tutorial may be possible in future, but sorry, I just don’t have any vehicles requiring them right now to spare the plastic rod (every set of panel’s is unique to a kit, otherwise it can look a bit daft …which is definitely a look). 

The creased rectangular panels beneath the slat armour are supposed to be rubber skirts. Something which has cropped up in the region for decades now as a cheap form of spaced armour against RPGs. You see it being used by itself or with other forms of armour, so its an option if you want to vary the protection on vehicle and not just have it being a cage covered mess. 

Other than the armour, there’s not much else going on with this vehicle at this stage. For some extra firepower a DShK Machine Gun is mounted over the turret- intended to be fired by passengers sitting on the roof. Its mounted a little lower than you usually see the real ones at to save it being broken off too easily and give the gunner some more cover – but still functional. The gun’s made by Spectre Miniatures, with an ammo belt bought from Antenocitis’ Workshop …I think (one of the Warhammer after market companies). The gun shield itself is from a Heer46 BergPanther, again for the sake of a plasticard shield will wind up being broken eventually. 

Besides that, there’s just the usual mess of stowage, empty bottles and rubbish (the polysterene food boxes are by Black Cat Bases, crate by Crooked Dice and backpack by Empress Miniatures). Barring any further little bits to add, It’ll be painted in the usual Soviet green, with a healthy level of grime of course. 🙂



The BTR-82A is a modernisation of the BTR-80 currently in service with the Russian military. Besides a load of upgrades for better ease of use, protection and crew comfort, when it comes to modelling the biggest difference with this new vehicle is its turret. However, as I pointed out in my earlier post detailing the smaller differences, there’s actually much more going on here than Empress’s BTR-80A kit actually represents.

Since penning this post last year Spectre Miniatures has released their own BTR-82A kit, making this section of this post more redundant than intended. But I have this converted BTR-82A now, so for those looking to build their own or compare Spectre’s model against the real thing I suppose, hopefully it’ll give some pointers. The first post already mentions a swathe of details to account for, though since then I noticed some other changes which weren’t mentioned there. I won’t go into the same depth as that post, but here’s a short list.

  • The mudguards are wider. And the side doors have a lip which connects to these instead of being completely flat.These have a rivet style texture on their top, however I left this off.

  • The fuel tank’s roofs are slightly different. With a raised section similar to some Russian BRDM-2 modernisations on the rear of the right one, and an extra access hatch at the front of the left one.

  • I also noticed on some BTR-82A that the right roof passenger hatch has a different configuration than on the 80. The firing port and hand hold are mirrors of those on the left hatch – instead of being reversed as they are on most other models (i.e. custom left/ right hatches, instead of a copies of one another).

  • The rear has a bit more details. An extra foot stand and I assume something related to towing in the bottom left. The Empress model’s also missing some other little details (i.e. A rectangular plate which the propeller cover mounts onto), but at this scale I wouldn’t be replacing the tail lights as they’re close enough.

Regardless this is the end result of this build. Special notice should go to the gun’s mount …which I lost at some point during the build and had to create a new one from balsa wood. This worked at least as I had to give the turret a new infrared sight anyway, so it saved cutting off the original.

(Yes that greenstuff still needs a tidying :P)

I left off much in the way of stowage compared to the BTR-80 as this would likely be used in a different manner. Instead of being something in constant use and a bit more lived in, I picture these being used on short campaigns, or in counter terrorism operations with the FSB, so having it laden in stowage or personal effects didn’t seem to fit. Which is a train of thought I also applied to the Nona-SVK futher down in this post.

I’ll likely paint this in some modern Russian camo, perhaps tan and green, similar to that garish scheme that I went for on the BMPT-Terminator 72 (though not with the jagged shapes). 


Nona SVK

Being developed as a SPG based on the BTR-80 chassis to give parity with mechanized infantry units (as opposed to VDV like the BMD based 2S9 Nona). The Nona SVK functions as both a artillery/ howizter piece on the battlefield. With a range of additional sights and equipment added over the base BTR-80 model to make it more suitable for its role. Otherwise other than changes for crew ergonomics, the original vehicle clearly shows through.

The Nona-SVK involved a bit more sculpting work than others, specifically related to the commander’s cupola – which I based on a Akatsiya model from Tank Mania (though the Akatsiya and Nona aren’t exact matches annoyingly ). The exact configuration of the cupola seems to vary. In my case I left off the additional infrared sight and machine gun, as those have a habit of being broken off when being stored (at least if my WWII German collection is anything to go by). Some vehicles also have additional IR lights besides the original headlamps, which I again didn’t install to make this a more basic version (…having forgotten I’d made those parts and lost them in a box somewhere…).

Most of the work involved here was tearing off the original raised roof for the BTR-80 passenger compartment to give the turret a flat area to fully traverse. Once that was done correcting the HLBS 2S9 Nona turret was the bulk of the remainder of the work. It really was surprising just how little externally the vehicles mentioned share parts, down to the little details (the Nona SVK using a BTR-80 part for the gunner’s hatch for instance). The middle of the turret’s 3.7cm back from the periscopes for reference. 

What was supposed to be a simple project became more involved as I noticed all the small differences between the BTR-80, and the 2S9 Nona, compared to the Nona SVK. I went into that in my earlier post covering this subject, but once the build began I was committed. With this post being a conclusion to these builds, you’ll want to reference that for any further specifics. 

Knowing that nobody probably has one of these in this scale does make me a little chuffed (though if HLBS / Empress if ever go back to producing moderns, this would be a simple conversion for them to start making models of. …If there’s much of a market in this obscure vehicle that is). 🙂

As for my intentions for the paint job, I was thinking something a bit weirder like this scheme. …Or just a plain green. We’ll see.


I do now have a spare BTR-80A turret as Empress provided me with a replacement in full after I lost the part I mentioned for the 82A (my experiences with their customer service have always been superb). That’s left me with the extra bits to make some of vehicle with those pieces. I’ve been pondering a BPM-97 Vystrel or a Gaz Vodnik for a while now. The Vystrel is based on a truck chassis not available in this scale, so would be similar to the Saxon I made a while ago  which I made earlier as far as effort required in finding reference material and building parts from scratch.

The Vodnik would be much easier to build. I’d buy a Gaz Tigr and use that for measurements, as the Vodnik uses that as a base. However, I haven’t gone ahead with that project yet as I hadn’t found an immediate use for the Tigr. I’d be more inclined to use it with my Syrian figures than European ones. When Radio Dish Dash’ modern Russian figures arrive later in the year maybe that will spur me to buy a donor Tigr kit.

That’s this leg of my modelling projects now set aside for other things. These vehicles really have been sitting around in 99% complete state for the better part of the time since my last post. Just finding the will between other projects to finish off the Nona SVK in particular is why I kept setting them aside. Right now I have no intention of painting them any time soon till something prompts me to come out with more modern figures. …I already haven’t used many of the vehicles I already made.

With future Syrian Civil War games planned this may find themselves in use by the Russian forces over there rather than Europe. Or in the hands of other actors. Though the BTR-80 with slat armour in particular is distinctly European (if it were in Syria it would definitely have its weight in more slat armour added…). 

As a last point I’ll mention that I do have a similar couple of posts planned for other Soviet vehicles. Going through and modernising or making variants of the MT-LB and BMD chassis. As well as pointing out details which can be corrected on the original HLBS kits to make them more true to life. There’s no ETA on when those will be posted however, but I’ll be sure to mention them whenever I do give them more work.

2 thoughts on “Notes on Modelling Modern Russian Variants of the BTR-80: Part 2

  1. Great post. They make for a trio of great models.

    My favourite is the slat armoured one, it has more ‘character’ than the other two, I guess from its lived in and modified apperance.I’d make on myself but I don’t fancy replicating your slat armour technique in 1/72nd….




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