Starting in early 2014 and through 2015, parts of eastern Ukraine experienced open armed conflict, known as the War in Donbass, and although a ceasefire was brokered in late 2015, the peace remains fragile in and around the areas of the two self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. The conflict has included the use of AFVs by the separatist insurgents, some being captured from the Ukrainian armed forces, some re-activated examples from collections, and latterly some coming from over the border with Russia.
New Penguin, a designer and producer of water slide decals in Russia, has taken on the challenge of producing decals to enable the creation of authentic representations of some of the AFVs used in this very recent conflict.
Content and Review
Set 35001 contains a single quite large decal sheet and a comprehensive set of instructions, enabling the following vehicles to be modelled:
2S9 Nona: 120mm SP mortar based on BTR-D APC. Unless I’m missing something, kits of this vehicle in 1/35 scale seem relatively rare, Eastern Express made one, but it may not be too easy to get hold of, depending on where in the world you live. The vehicle represented operated in Slavyansk in April – June 2014 and originally served with the Ukrainian 25th Airborne Brigade from whom it was obtained by the rebels. The original camouflage paint is retained, but the Ukrainian markings were blanked out with bright green paint, and the Russian words "народное ополчение донобасса" (People’s Home Guard or Militia of Donbass) stencilled on with spray paint. Notice in decals 3 and 5, what appears to be a misprint in fact represents the stencil being applied first in red, then it was possibly realised that the red showed up poorly on the green camo, so it was over sprayed with white paint, hence the interesting “double vision” effect. This vehicle apparently broke down and was abandoned. Uses decals 1, 2, 4 and 5. See photos A and B.
BMD-2: infantry fighting vehicle, of which there is a Zvezda kit and a 2015 Panda Hobby kit. This vehicle operated in the same area and time as the above, and features similar blanked out Ukrainian markings, replaced by the same stencilled slogan as above. This vehicle was destroyed in action. Uses 1 and 3. See photo C.
BMD-1: infantry fighting vehicle. Kits of this vehicle have been put out by Eastern Express, Skif and Zvezda, but, once again, more recently by Panda Hobby. Also ex-25 Airborne Brigade and operated by rebels in Slavyansk in mid 2014. This one broke down and was abandoned and booby-trapped. Uses 1 and 4.
BTR-D: tracked APC. This is also kitted by Eastern Express, and the subject here again captured and operated as the above vehicles, also with green over painting and white stencilling. Uses 1 and 3.
BMP-2: tracked APC. Less obscure in kit form, with several manufacturers producing versions, most notably Trumpeter’s 2015 kits. This single vehicle can be marked up in two ways, with original number “568”, then with that painted out and replaced by “001”. The Russian flag also appears along with a large slogan, that isn’t translated in the instructions, but I think means something like “People of Lugansk” and something about “a brain”…? Uses 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14.
BMP-2: vehicle 014 operated by “оплот” (Oplot = Stronghold) battalion, plain green with Oplot skull insignia and name. Uses 15, 16, 17.
BMP-2: vehicle 125, featuring the word “новороссия” (Novorussiya) on the front plate and the slogan “на лвов” (Lvov) stencilled one side and “киев” (Kiev) on the other. Uses 18, 19, 20, 24, 25, 26.
BTR-80: 8x8 APC, another fairly available kit in 1/35 scale, notably from Trumpeter, but other makes as well. Numbered 101, this features the colourful state flag of the Donetsk People’s Republic. Unfortunately on the sample sheet I received, there is a printing error on this particular decal, where the black has come out somewhat too heavily and obscured the white text, while the red band has mostly missed being overprinted, and appears faded. Uses 27, 28.
BTR-80: bearing a tiny yellow “Golgotha” sign, a form of cross said to represent Jesus Christ as Conqueror: IC = Jesus, XC = Christ, NI KA = nika or “Conqueror”. Uses 30. See photo D.
An additional decal is included for use on a roadblock rather than a vehicle, with the Russian words “бандерлоги не пройдут” (No Pass for the Banderlogs), Banderlogs being an insulting term applied to Ukrainian nationalists, so this would appear on roadblocks operated by the separatists. Decal 31.
2S9: finally, another example of a 2S9, this time in plain green, with small flags of the Donetsk PR and again the words Lvov and Kiev stencilled in large white letters. The tiny decals 21A and B seem to be original army vehicle designations, one clearly says “2с9 нона” (2S9 Nona). Uses 18, 19, 20, 21A B, 29.
Denis Anikanov, one of two who together make up New Penguin, provided the reference photos (A, B, C) on which some of these decals are based. He sent photo A to demonstrate to me that the double stencilled white over red wording (decal 5) was authentic, when I asked if it was a misprint. This and the other photos I think demonstrate the commitment to primary sources for their research. When asking the question, I also fed back about the flawed printing of the flag decal, 28, mentioned above, and he said that he would pay careful attention to this aspect of the sheet in future.
The black and white instructions included in the pack are very thorough, indicating the positions of all the decals, but if that’s not enough, full colour instructions with paint schemes are available as a PDF via the New Penguin website, an example being shown in photo E.
The decals themselves appear to be accurately printed on the sheets, with perhaps a slightly larger surround of carrier than you might see on decals from the major manufacturers, though they also seem to have a relatively matt / satin finish, and are certainly not glossy.
Although I didn’t cut any of the decals from this sheet to use, I have tested a decal from New Penguin previously; please see the review of their WW1 Mk.I Tank Decal Sets
where the test application and result is described. Photo F illustrates the resulting decal applied over camouflage.
These decals are very different from the WW1 set I reviewed previously, and are 100 years apart, and yet they share something in that both have the look of being improvised on the spot, and often hand painted, rather than being carefully worked out “official” markings with a long history of development. They demonstrate the care that New Penguin have taken with this sheet, in that each decal has been hand drawn in order to authentically represent a marking seen in a photograph of a real vehicle.
This set certainly provides finishing options outside of the usual schemes used by military regulars and are an interesting alternative for modellers of recent Russian AFVs. New Penguin have another two sheets of decals relating to this same conflict in 1/35 scale, both specifically for BTRs. Fans of braille scale are not left out, as there are three similar sheets in the smaller scale, and of course kits of suitable subjects in the small scale are well provided for by Ace Models. Prices are generally 5.50, 6 or 7 Euros per sheet, and further details can be found on their web site.