Dragon 1/35 T-28 Super Heavy Tank

KIT #: 6750
PRICE: $69.95 SRP
DECALS: Several options
REVIEWER: Dale Rannals
NOTES: New tool kit

HISTORY

The rejected M6A2E1 project proposed that a limited number of assault vehicles be improvised by modifying the stock of T1E1 heavy tanks. However, a far more extensive program to develop a heavily armed and armored combat vehicle had been initiated in September 1943. Studies by the Ordnance Department indicated that such a vehicle would be required after the invasion of Europe to penetrate heavily fortified areas such as the German West Wall. The original concept proposed mounting the new 105mm gun T5E1 in a tank with the equivalent of 8 inch frontal armor using the electric drive system developed for the T1E1 heavy tank and the medium tank T23. The high velocity 105mm gun had excellent penetration performance against concrete and when installed in a heavily armored chassis was expected to be extremely effective in reducing heavy fortifications. The Chief of Ordnance proposed that 25 of the new tanks be produced and estimated that they could be completed in eight to twelve months. Such a schedule was expected to make them available in time for operations in Europe. The Army Ground Forces did not agree and recommended that only three pilot models be constructed and that the electric drive be replaced by a mechanical transmission. After a conference with the various parties concerned, the Army Service Forces in March 1944 authorized the procurement of five vehicles, designating them as the heavy tank T28. The original specification was modified to increase the frontal armor to 12 inches raising the estimated combat weight to 95 tons.

The proposed tank was a low silhouette vehicle without a turret. The 105mm gun T5E1 was to be mounted in the front of the hull with a traverse of 10 degrees to the right and left of center and an elevation range of -5 to +20 degrees.

The power package in the T95 was essentially the same as in the M26 Pershing tank, although the weight of the new vehicle was more than twice that of the latter. To handle the T95, the 500 horsepower Ford GAF engine and the torqmatic transmission required a final drive gear ratio that reduced the maximum vehicle speed to about eight miles per hour. In fact, the maximum recommended sustained speed was seven miles per hour at 2600 rpm. The great weight of the vehicle also required considerable ingenuity in design to reduce the ground pressure to an acceptable level. This objective was achieved by the use of two sets of tracks on each side. The outer set, along with the four inch thick armor side skirts, could be removed and towed behind the vehicle when operating on a hard surface. Removing the outer tracks also reduced the overall width from 179 1/2 inches to 124 inches permitting rail transportation. At Aberdeen, an inexperienced four man crew removed the outer tracks under field conditions in four hours on their first try. An equal amount of time was required to reassemble them onto the vehicle. By the third try, the same team had reduced the time to remove or replace the outer tracks to 2 1/2 hours.

A crew of four was carried with the driver and gunner in the front hull on the left and right of the cannon respectively. The loader was at the left rear of the fighting compartment and the commander at the right rear behind the gunner. The driver and the commander were each provided with a vision cupola. A ring mount for a .50 caliber machine gun was installed around the commanders cupola. It could be used only with the commander standing in the open hatch and was the only secondary armament on the vehicle, except for the individual crew weapons. The gunner was equipped with a telescope alongside the cannon and a periscopic sight in the hull roof.

On 7 February 1945, a memorandum from the Chief of Ordnance requested that the T28 be re-designated as the 105mm Gun Motor Carriage T95 because the cannon was not turret mounted and because of its limited secondary armament. Because of the pressure of the wartime production program as well as the size and weight of the proposed vehicle, there was some difficulty in finding a facility to manufacture the five pilots. However, the Pacific Car and Foundry Company agreed to take on the project. They were supplied with the basic vehicle design as well as detailed information on the gun mount and the horizontal volute spring suspension. Final design work began immediately. The first front end casting was delivered on 20 June and welding was completed on the first hull in August 1945.

After the end of the war in the Pacific, the number of pilots was reduced from five to two with number 1 being shipped to Aberdeen Proving Ground on 21 December 1945 followed by number 2 on 10 January 1946. The first pilot was used for engineering tests at Aberdeen, and the second was transferred first to Fort Knox and later to the Engineer Board at Yuma, Arizona where it was used for testing floating bridges.

The heavily armed and armored T95 did not quite fit any of the usual categories for U. S. Army fighting vehicles. For example, tanks were expected to carry their armament in fully rotating turrets and self-propelled guns usually were lightly armored to achieve maximum mobility. (It has been argued that it was neither a super-heavy tank nor a self-propelled gun, but that it was in fact a very heavy tank destroyer, more accurately as an American version of one of the German Jagdpanzer-style tank destroyers, intended to take on German heavy tanks.)  The T95 did not meet either of these criteria and in June 1946, there was another name change. At that time, OCM 30758 re-designated the vehicle as the Super Heavy Tank T28. It then was considered that the combination of heavy firepower and heavy armor was more appropriate for a tank than a gun motor carriage.

 

Regardless of the name, the T28 (T95) was under test at Aberdeen Proving Ground until late 1947, primarily to evaluate the durability of components on such a heavy vehicle. A total of 541 miles of operation was completed consisting of 128 miles on roads and 413 miles on gravel. Needless to say, the mileage accumulated slowly because of the low normal operating speed of five to six miles per hour and the low priority assigned to the project. Work was terminated before completion of the program in compliance with a War Department policy to discontinue development on combat vehicles in the 100-ton class. One of the T28 (T95) pilots is on display today in the collection of the Patton Museum at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

THE KIT

Previously the only way to have one of these beasts in your collection was a very nice but pricey resin kit from Accurate Armour -  kit # Nr. K098.  Dragon now gives us an injection molded option.  Dragon's T95 kit arrives in a very large box adorned with a nice picture of one of these during testing (I presume anyway).  The box back has cad drawings of all the kits features.  Opening the box shows it is filled to the brim with plastic, all done in Dragon's normal gray styrene.  Each sprue is typical of Dragons flash-free detail, and there are lots and lots of sprues.  You will have lots of parts parts left over, as many sprues have only a few parts used from them.  Typical of Dragon, they include whole sprues from other kits just to use a part or two from them.  I'm sure this is a cost-effective way to do things, and I don't mind having the spare parts at all, but it can cause some confusion.  I will explain in a bit.

There are over 700 parts in total, including somewhere around 33 sprues, both small and (mostly) large.  Also included are a small PE fret of brass, 8 sections of Dragon's DS (deformable styrene) tracks, 32 small metal springs for the suspension bogies, and a section of metal wire for the tow cables.  Instructions take the form of a large fold-out containing 12 construction steps, printed in their normal blue and black.  Sprue layouts are included and it is wise to pay attention to this as many of the sprue have the same letter code because they are from different kits.  Decal sheet is very small and includes the serial number of the first prototype, but also additional numbers to make any serial you desire.

I am glad Dragon included their DS tracks, as I am not a fan of individual link types.  But this time it wasn't so easy, as there are about 400 little tiny track guides to install on them.

CONSTRUCTION

Construction started with the suspension.   And there are lots of it too.  I hadn't really thought about it until until I was looking at the sprues, that 90% of this kit is suspension.  And it was going to take some tedious work. I started out by assembling all the various guide wheels.  I put each set in labeled zip-lock bags so I wouldn't forget what went where later on.  Then I started on the wheel bogies.  Each of these very detailed assemblies contains 23 parts and there are 16 bogies to make.  In each, one needs to capture two metal springs between two plastic retainers ..... amazingly I did not lose a single spring.  These are designed to articulate if carefully assembled, but as I had no such ambitions everything was glued solid.  Once I had all these assembled I attached them all to the hull and side skirts, then painted these areas a desert sand color (ANA Sand, to be exact).  I needed to paint here before I put the tracks on, and I needed to put the tracks on before I attached the side skirts to the hull. So I now needed to attack the tracks.  Eight sections of DS tracks needed individual track guides installed, about 50 per section.  I did this in two 2-hour sessions, and it was mind-numbing at best.  I did manage to lose several of the tiny pieces, fortunately many spares are included.  Now for this builds major screw up, I had just finished up the first two track sections when I realized I was gluing the guides on the wrong side!  DOH!!  Well, I wasn't thrilled about re-doing 100 tiny bits and, somewhat fortunately, they were quite reluctant to part from the tracks, so I, um, rolled with it.  I figured with those heavy side skirts and four tracks I should be able to hide most of this.  I decided to glue each flubbed section to a correct section, then put that track on the inside of each pair with most of the bad area up underneath the skirt.  Only a small portion will show at the rear.  So...........

The sections were glued together (two per track) and painted a very dark (almost black) gray.  I did not bother to weather the tracks now, I decided to save this for the end and, since this machine is heavily skirted, just weather what can be seen.  For the same reason, I did not bother to paint the guide roller rubber portions that were up under the skirts.  Would be hard to see them if you tried, so why waste the paint? 

One of options of this kit is to leave the side skirts off and towed behind.  Though I think that would make for a very interesting diorama, I decided to build her all bolted together.  So the skirts were glued on after the tracks were attached.  The front part of each skirt has a nice attachment lip, the rear two-thirds do not.  So I attached each side, gluing only the front portion and letting it dry.  Then I glued the rear of each using tape and clamps to get the best join I could.  No worries about the seam, as it is there on the real thing obviously, but I didn't want major gaps either.  The body was left to dry thoroughly. 

The main gun is a simple affair, it allows for elevation but not for transverse.  The elevation pivot is somewhat too loose for the long aluminum barrel, so mine was a bit droopy.  I ended up gluing it in a more battle-worthy position.  The copulas were assembled but left off, I needed to paint these and then attach the clear vision ports, then glue them on.  Adding all the little bits was  frustrating for me, for silly reasons.  I looked for a long time to try to find the headlamps . part C2 ... I studied sprue C for a long time and found the right numbered part, but it wasn't a headlamp.  It took a while, but I finally realized I was looking at part C2, when I needed to find part C2 (it was denoting sprue C [blue ink] whereas I was looking at sprue C [black ink] on the instruction page).  A disadvantage of using sprues from other kits that are labeled the same.  Sprue B also has a blue and black, FYI.  Also, be aware that the Q sprues are cut up into sections (so everything fits in the box) so you need to look at them all to find the correct parts there too.

My other bit of frustration was dealing with the storage boxes on the hull side.  Dragon includes these as PE.  Why exactly?  I don't mind PE, but only when it serves a purpose.  Boxes can be easily injection molded and would look every bit as good.  I tossed the PE boxes in the trash and made my own from Evergreen plastic sheet.

COLORS & MARKINGS

 I decided on a late war tropical camo for this one, and started with Model Master ANA Sand  I then sprayed areas using olive drab and, interestingly enough, Panzer Red, for it was very close to the hue I wanted.  What little decals there are were applied next; I did not bother gloss-coating the kit for this, I just applied a drop of Future under each decal to prevent silvering. I then went over everything with a black oil wash to bring out the details, followed by numerous raw umber washes.  Some Tamiya weathering pastels were brushed around to highlight raised areas.  The tracks got the same umber washes, along with some highlighting of steel and a final sand wash consisting of Tamiya pastels and water (and a drop of dish washing liquid to break up the surface tension). 

CONCLUSIONS

A monster of a kit, that's for sure.  Sitting next to other tanks, its size is certainly impressive.  An easy build it is not.  It's not a hard build either, but the sheer number of suspension components, along with the individual guides on the tracks, make it a tedious build.  But if one is interested in armor prototypes and oddities, the result is certainly worth it. 

REFERENCES

The internet

Dale Rannals

March 2013

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