Cold War Vehicles

by Matt Moran

Pendraken have been going since 1992, and of course T scale railway modelling in 144th scale has been around a fair bit longer. But Pendraken’s 10mm models and excellent customer service have encouraged hundreds if not thousands of wargamers to join this intermediate scale between 15mm and 6mm, and enjoy the benefits of the cheaper terrain that can be easily sourced for these 1cm high models. Yes, I’m one of them. It should be borne in mind that 1:144 works out at 12mm, so Pendraken’s models should be a little smaller. I’ll compare it though so that both 10 & 12mm players can draw some benefit from this review.

Cold War mechanised combat has been a staple of modern wargaming since it was considered “ultra-modern”. For those of us who can’t see well enough to send micro-armour through the Fulda Gap, Pendraken are there to provide us with comprehensive ranges of post-war and modern vehicles centred on Indochina, Vietnam and the Falklands, with lashings of extra Western and Soviet armour to fill in any gaps. Today’s reviews are based around the “BTR-50PU Command”, “T54/55” and “Centurion Mk 5” packs. These models are all crisply cast with almost no marks from the sprue and barely any mould lines, all of them tiny. The metal is of good quality, ready to act as a key to almost any paint.

The Centurion first entered British service in 1945, and is still in service around the world today – albeit in heavily modified forms. It performed sterling frontline service for thirty years. With a hull that’s 22.4mm wide, 54.6mm long and 18.9mm tall (including the turret), Pendraken’s Centurion is a millimetre shorter and longer than a true 144th scale model – though you won’t begrudge them those minor changes in proportion when you look at the kit. For £9, you get two solid white metal tanks with six parts each – parts which go together beautifully. Although the model is missing its real life counterpart’s Browning .50cal, it would be no chore to add one with a little wire, and the model does not suffer from its lack – it’s still a cracking piece. The turret connects to the hull via a small peg, so it can be posed or left to swivel as the player wishes.

Amphibious vehicles don’t necessarily gel with the pop culture view of Soviet Russia’s involvement in Afghanistan being the epitome of its Cold War efforts, but the tracked BTR-50 APC was a staple of its armoured forces. The BTR-50PU was designed in 1959 as an unarmed command vehicle. The Pendraken model is 42.2mm long, 15.5mm high and 19.9mm wide, making it exactly the right height but a little shorter and narrower than it should be to be true 144th scale. That said, it is still entirely recognisable as what it is, and a lovely sculpt, especially at £5.50 for two.

Like the Centurion, the T54/55 comes in six parts, and the turret is connected via a (very small and slender) peg. In a nice touch, the flash marks on the track sections are found underneath, so you needn’t tidy them up at all. The hull is 48.3mm long, 24.6mm wide and 18.8mm high – including the turret. Therefore, it is longer, wider and taller than might be expected for a 144th model. It goes together beautifully, and looks just the part for Arab-Israeli, Indo-Pakistani and/or any other wars they were used in.

I really like these models and thoroughly recommend them to all the modern and ultramodern 10mm & 12mm modern gamers out there. For price, quality and customer service, Pendraken can’t be beat.