|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The T-64 was conceived in Kharkov (Kharkiv, Ukraine) as the next-generation main battle tank by Alexander A. Morozov, the designer of the T-54 (which in the meantime would be incrementally improved by Leonid N. Kartsev's Nizhny Tagil bureau, in models T-54A, T-54B, T-55, and T-55A).
A revolutionary feature of the T-64 is the incorporation of an automatic loader for its 125-mm gun, allowing a crewmember's position to be omitted, and helping to keep the size and weight of the tank down. Tank troopers would joke that the designers had finally caught up with their unofficial hymn, "Three Tankers"—the song had been written to commemorate the crewmen fighting in the Battle of Khalkhin Gol, in 3-man BT-5 tanks in 1939.
The T-64 also pioneered other Soviet tank technology: the T-64A model of 1967 introduced the 125-mm smoothbore gun, and the T-64B of 1976 would be able to fire a guided antitank missile through its gun barrel.
The T-64 design was further developed as the gas turbine-powered T-80 main battle tank. The turret of the T-64B would be used in the improved T-80U and T-80UD, and an advanced version of its diesel engine would power T-80UD and T-84 tanks built in Ukraine.
The T-64 would be used only by the Soviet Army and never exported, unlike the T-54/55. It was superior to these tanks in most qualitative terms, until the introduction of the T-72B model in 1985. The tank equipped elite and regular formations in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, the T-64A model being first deployed with East Germany's Group of Soviet Forces in Germany (GSFG) in 1976, and some time later in Hungary's Southern Group of Forces (SFG). By 1981 the improved T-64B began to be deployed in East Germany and later in Hungary. While it was believed that the T-64 was "only" reserved for elite units, it was also used by much lower "non-ready formations", for example, the Odessa Military District's 14th Army.
With the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, T-64 tanks remained in the arsenals of constituent republics. Currently, slightly fewer than 2,000 of the old Soviet inventory of T-64 tanks are in service with the military of Ukraine and about 4,000 remain in service with the Russian Ground Forces.
This is another of Trumpeter's superbly molded armor kits that comes with features you would normally expect to get from aftermarket sources. The kit is molded in grey plastic and most of the sprues are individually bagged. I found no instance of flash or sunken areas. A segregated compartment provides the hull along with the wire tow cable, the newly cast turret and an aluminum barrel.
There are three photo etch frets that provide several small parts that attach to the hull as well as intake and exhaust screens. Unlike their previous T-62 kit, this one does not have individual track links. Instead it has the link and length setup, which is preferred by some modelers. Another difference from the earlier boxing is that the road wheels are a single piece, making construction a much quicker task than when you have to deal with a bunch of separate parts.
The kit has no interior or engine detail and while all of the various hatches are separate, they are shown as to be built in the closed position. I also found it interesting that the turret is not keyed as on many kits, but simply fits into the depression in the hull. The hull as a large variety of storage compartments that are separate and designed to fit into specific locales. There are quite a few of these containers to fit onto the turret as well. The turret has a spotlight and IR light as well as the usual defensive machine gun.I am sure that most modelers will use the included aluminum barrel for this one. An option for the gun is to have it eitherstraight ahead or slightly raised. This is accomplished by having two different barrel attachment pieces.
Instructions are superbly drawn and typically have no color information in any of the 14 construction steps. Some holes will need to be opened for this version and those are clearly shown. Markings are provided for several vehicles which differ only by the tank number. As is usual, no unit information is provided. The box art vehicle is in a pretty standard overall olive green. The full color painting and markings guide provides references to several different paint companies so finding something locally should not be difficult. The small decal sheet is well printed and from previous use of Trumpeter decals, will go on and react well to setting solutions.
This looks to be another fine Trumpeter armor kit and the lack of individual track links will be an attraction to those who do not like them. The end product will be a pretty neat early T-64 and will fit in nicely with any Russian armor collection.
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