BMP Comparison

ACE versus S Model

Article by Simon Barnes
Edited by Marc Mercier

ACE burst onto the small scale scene with a range of much needed modern Soviet vehicles, one of the first was the BRDM 2 followed by the BMP. Since their release (despite the growth of Eastern European companies) there has been very little modern Russian released in plastic, until now with Model Collect and S-Model both releasing Modern Russian Vehicles.
I am not going to go into detail about the history nor commenting on the box art as this information can be found elsewhere. This will be a direct comparison between the ACE BMP and the newer S-Model kit, with the BRDM being dealt with in a separate article. I have also realised that the ACE BMP has never been reviewed at "ontheway", so this will fill that gap. I should, at this point, state that ACE are 'only' short run moulds which cause a bit of flash whereas S-Model use steel moulds producing a sharper model, although I should also point out that S-Model is a wargaming kit and simplified around the track area as you will see.
So what do we get? Well the ACE kit comes in its usual form of soft-ish white-ish plastic, the surface shows good detail, the sprue attachment points are a little crude and there is a slight amount of flash, but nothing major or problematic. The S-Model comes in a harder green plastic which shows good detail.


Both kits measure out to 1/72nd scale when completed, the ACE kit seems a bit wide, but once the sides have been sanded, it becomes the correct width. I have used the M Hobby Drawings as a reference, as they are considered to be the most accurate. Both vehicles fit the drawings, with just the details being the difference.

    (These pictures are a bit misleading as both hulls are closer to the camera than the plans and so seem larger.)


Both hull tops are similar with the newer ACE kits having both the drivers and commanders hatches open (the older kits having all the hatches closed) The S Model kit has the commanders hatch open, but the drivers hatch shut. The kits differ slightly in layout, starting from the front.

The engine access hatch on the bow differ in size, with the ACE being slightly too large and the S Model being slightly too small, this is really only a problem when both kits are together.

Behind that and next to the driver, is another panel with a smaller panel and two circular access plates. The position of these differ from the drawings, but going by photos are correct. The S-Model ones seem to be in the correct position, but lack the diagonal bend of the real thing as shown by the yellow line. The ACE ones seem to be too far apart, but has the diagonal bend however in the wrong position. Both drivers hatches have the correct number of episcopes, the ACE although open lacks the raised lip around the hatch. The S-Model has the lip on a closed hatch and lacks the forward tilt of the real thing. Behind is the commanders cupola which is open on both models and correct. To the right are the radiator covers. Both models have mesh depicted, but the edging on the ACE kit is too low whilst on the S-Model it is raised instead of being flush. The S-Model also has a weird diagonal line through it, presumably from the moulding process; whether it will disappear with paint is unknown as it doesn't seem to be a flaw in the mould. Further to the right is the exhaust, the ACE part is separate but solid, the S-Model is missing the lip surrounding the exhaust.

This picture of the real thing shows some of the missing items and the diagonal bend

Behind comes the turret, which will be covered separately. From this picture they both look to be about the same, but the ACE one is slightly larger in diameter, which will cause problems shortly. On the left hand side, just to the front of the turret, is a small circular access plate. It is raised on both kits, with the S-Model having a line that runs to the NBC pack. The drawings shows this to be just a flush access plate and this is backed up by a lot of photos. However, the S- Model variant is also correct and can be found on some vehicles, although it is some sort of breather pipe. Its exact purpose is unclear, so far I have found it on some NVA, Czech and Hungarian vehicles but not on Iraqi. I have even seen the port welded over, so check references when building. To the left of that is the FTP 200M air filter for the NBC system, the ACE one is too raised with the dome in the middle being too small, the S-Model looking better.

Lastly comes the crew compartment. As can be seen, this is where the two kits differ the most, with the S-Model being slightly longer. This is because of the larger turret diameter of the ACE kit : it has "squashed" the rear end making the hatches shorter in length and the crew scopes slightly out of place. Although the S-Model hatches looked slightly odd at first, they are in fact correct.
Between the hatches at the top, is the snorkel, which is better detailed in the ACE kit and lacking in the S-Model. Missing on both kits is the fuel vent that sits on the left hand in the red marked area. The ACE episcopes are moulded solid with the S-Model scopes being hollow. If being built as a model they would have to be filled, as a wargaming kit it is up to the owner as to how far they go. The more adventurous of you could fill this S-Model episcopes with some transparent plastic in order to simulate the glass.

S-Model open periscopes.

The ACE kit also has the rear fenders attached to the top hull, whereas S-Model have them attached to the bottom. There is no detail along the sides of the ACE kit and so the gun ports will have to be added. S-Model has the gun ports, but they are raised instead of being flush. S-Model also supply them as PE parts with enough spares to make a BMP 1P (minus smoke launchers) should you so choose.


The hull bottom in the ACE kit comes as a multi part item made up of the floor, sides and the rear doors. S-Model provide a hull tub, which already includes the rear doors and fenders, onto which a plate with the wheels is attached, which makes for a much more solid and easier build. As can be seen the S-Model lacks any underneath detail, which unless you are going to put it upside down, isn't a problem. ACE have gone the extra mile and added the detail, although it differs slightly to the drawings. Don't worry about the proportions of the different areas as the photos are deceptive, with the ACE hull being tilted back and the S-Model being tilted forward.

As can be seen the road wheel positions in the two kits are correct, with both having the shock absorbers, however none have the bump stops for limiting suspension travel. The keen eyed among you will have noticed that there is no idler mount and that the trailing arms project out more on the S-Model. This is because, having a one piece track and wheel section, there is no idler mount and because the ACE side is too deep and covers more of the trailing arms.

The red line in both cases is the bottom according to the drawings.

Here we can see that the rear is also deeper, with the red line being the corresponding point.

Due to the S-Model rear being attached to the hull it is impossible to show it against the drawings, but have checked and it is correct.

As can be seen, the water vanes are already attached to the fenders and are solid in both kits. On older ACE kits some were issued with PE.


There is some difference in the turrets with the ACE turret being slightly larger in diameter at the base, this has caused problems as previously mentioned to the hull roof. It also creates a problem with the turret itself, with the top diameter being slightly smaller and this results in the turret front slope to be to sharp.

As can be seen the S-Model fits the drawings, whilst the ACE is slightly bigger.


This is where the kits differ in a big way, ACE provide separate wheels with link and length track, whilst later releases will have a new flexible track with greater detail. S-Model being basically a wargaming kit provide a one piece track and wheel unit.

ACE provide a two piece sprocket with separate road wheels and a one piece idler which should actually be a two piece with a central gap, the softness of the moulds means a lot of clean up to get a good fit on the tracks. S-Model provide a nicely detailed part with a solid sprocket and one piece idler which provide the same amount of outside detail as the ACE when assembled (the later flexible tracks will provide greater outside detail than both). The problem for modellers with the S Model track, apart from the sprockets, are the track guide horns, which are solid running the width of the track instead of just on the outsides.

The only way to fix this is to replace the whole affair with after market items. Unfortunately, apart from the ACE track, I only know of the Calibre 72 or Armory wheels, so unless ACE release their new tracks separately (as they have with the BMD series) or until someone comes up with some, you're stumped.


Both kits provide other items such as lights and hatches separately. Below are the pictures which, I believe, speak for themselves. There are no faults in either and the only difference is the moulding process. ACE does however provide a tarpaulin round the turret, but no depiction of the retaining straps. I must point out however that the ACE is an old kit and I have included small pictures of the New ACE kit from their website. For larger pictures, visit the ACE website.


Commanders and gunners hatch

ACE drivers hatch with the exhaust.


Gun mantle with S-Models Commanders and turret lights.

S-Model antenna and coaxial MG.

The AT 3 Sagger


Track guards

Bow plane and lights.

New ACE sprues

The New highly detailed ACE tracks.


S-Models provide a set of PE containing the light guards, firing point covers, new wings for the Sagger ATGW, tow hooks and eyes and also the trim vane retainers in both the closed and open positions so the vehicle could be displayed just entering or leaving water. All these are fine with the exception of the tow hooks, which are too thin, these items are plastic in the ACE kit and so better proportioned.

ACE has in the past released variants of the BMP with a small PE fret covering items such as the gunners sight and more importantly the water vanes on the rear track guard. Unfortunately it doesn't look like the new releases are going to include any.


S-Model provide markings for 8 countries (Russia, NVA, Poland, Czech, China, Iraq, Vietnam? and Greek, technically this should be a BMP 1A1) although only four are shown in the instructions. The markings are generic and so not complete for any, the difference is in the countries flags displayed on the BMP. The Iraqi lack any sort of Arabic numbers or registration. ACE provide specific and complete markings for different vehicles and it depends on which kit you have as to which markings you'll get. The new release has markings according to the website for 5 different vehicles (4 Russian and 1 Iraqi). Earlier releases had markings for 5 vehicles (NVA, Czech,Soviet, Polish and Finland). The S-Model decals, although in register, are quite thick when compared to other makes. ACE decals are normally thin and in register.


It would be unfair to ACE to cite the sharper detail of the steel moulds of S-Model, however that said there is the small dimensional error of the turret and crew compartment. The turret can be replaced with a correct sized one without too much trouble and as long as the two aren't mixed the error is not so noticeable, which leaves just the tracks gear, the detailed ACE or the single piece S Model. To make a detailed model, you will have to mix the two, which ever way round : S-Model turret and details on to the ACE kit or the ACE tracks onto the S-Model. I am not going to say which is best, I have given you the facts to make your own minds up.

This is an old ACE kit with closed hatches

As can be seen both kits look like what they are meant to represent when assembled.


The main reference for this comparison, was done using the M-Hobby BMP drawings, which are considered to be the best.
There are plenty of walkarounds on the internet for those wishing to add more.

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Article Last Updated: 03 July 2013

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