Rail Cruisers of the Soviet Union

Late in the First World War, several Powers experimented with armoured trains as a means to protect the movement of troops and supplies and provide significant fire-power at the point where the troops dismounted.

The Poles in particular developed these trains, as did the Russians and the Germans. Even Britain and Japan flirted with the concept. Ideally suited to provide protection against small arms fire, the armoured train saw action during the Russian Revolution, the Winter War in Finland, and even during the Second World War in Poland and the invasion of the Low Countries.

In modern times we tend to look back on the concept with some puzzlement – how could these vehicles be expected to survive in wartime, especially since the development of aircraft. Well, essentially, they didn’t. And so the idea was abandoned eventually.

Probably the high point of their evolution was the “rail cruiser” of the Soviet Union – the MBV-2 railcar, fitted with three turrets and several machine guns.

CompanyB make a model of this beastie in 1:56 scale. It weighs in at a whopping 800g (1.75 lbs) and is about 34 cm (14 in) long. It’s easily the heaviest wargaming model I’ve ever come across!

I started assembling this today and decided up front that I would try to do it justice. The original vehicle has welded seams visible along the sides and a number of rivets etc. that the model is lacking. Also the prototype has pintle-mounted machine guns on each turret, which aren’t supplied with the model. So a little bit of kit-bashing is in order.

The resin model is crisply cast for the most part but unfortunately some of the detail has been lost due to air bubbles – typically around the step ladders and hand rails. I started by cleaning off any flash and mould lines, and then began smoothing out side panels of any imperfections that may have crept in – filling tiny air bubbles etc. I carefully cut off the hand rails and sanded back the surface once more, filling any gaps with Milliput.

Using brass wire, I made a number of parts and fitted them to the cruiser’s sides. This was all I could manage today (I had to come inside to cook dinner), so hopefully I’ll pick up the story next weekend and finish off the model’s assembly.

4 thoughts on “Rail Cruisers of the Soviet Union

  1. Sweet model and which game will you be using this with oh great guru of the mini’s 🙂

  2. Hi John,

    The model is ‘ok’ – not really great but I get what they are trying to do with it. As an ex-railroad modeller, I cringe a bit with the coarse details on it and feel an urge to try and super-detail it a bit. But as a wargamer, I understand that it’s going to be manhandled and abused a bit and so am ok with the lack of fine detail. It’s difficult for me to find a fine balance.

    The model is going to be used in a participation game I’m running next year at a couple of conventions – aerosans vs armoured trains. The train doesn’t really move on the tracks during the game, it’s more about the manoeuvring of aerosans trying to avoid the oncoming obstacles. I’ll probably use it for other 28mm WWII gaming too, using Rules of Engagement or the upcoming Bolt Action ruleset.

  3. would it not be better to just take a loco chassis and plasti card and make your own?

  4. Yup, of course it would! There are a few places that sell S-Scale engines and it wouldn’t be too hard to make a working armored version.

    Let me know when you finish it John 😉

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