Zvezda 1/72 T-34/76 (mod 1943)
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The T-34 was a Soviet medium tank produced from 1940 to 1958. Although its armour and armament were surpassed by later tanks of the era, it has been often credited as the most effective, efficient and influential design of World War II. First produced at the KhPZ factory in Kharkov (Kharkiv, Ukraine), it was the mainstay of Soviet armoured forces throughout World War II, and widely exported afterward. It was the most-produced tank of the war, and the second most-produced tank of all time, after its successor, the T-54/55 series. In 1996, the T-34 was still in service in at least twenty-seven countries.
The T-34 was developed from the BT series of fast tanks and was intended to replace both the BT-5 and BT-7 tanks and the T-26 infantry tank in service. At its introduction, it was the tank with the best balanced attributes of firepower, mobility, protection and ruggedness, although initially its battlefield effectiveness suffered from the unsatisfactory ergonomic layout of its crew compartment, scarcity of radios, and poor tactical employment. The two-man turret-crew arrangement required the commander to serve as the gunner, an arrangement common to most Soviet tanks of the day; this proved to be inferior to three-man (commander, gunner and loader) turret crews.
The design and construction of the tank were continuously refined during the war to enhance effectiveness and decrease costs, allowing steadily greater numbers of T-34s to be fielded. In early 1944, the improved T-34-85 was introduced, with a more powerful 85 mm gun and a three-man turret design. By the war's end in 1945, the versatile and cost-effective T-34 had replaced many light and heavy tanks in service, and accounted for the majority of Soviet tank production. Its evolutionary development led directly to the T-54/55 series of tanks, built until 1981 and still operational as of 2010[update].
The Model 1943 (T-34/76D, E, and F), differed from the initial production versions by having a new cast hexagonal turret, nicknamed "Mickey Mouse" by the Germans because of its appearance with the twin, round turret-roof hatches open. Main production had a new commander's cupola
This is the first Zvezda snap-kit that I've seen and I have to say they have done a superb job on this one. The castings are crisp and clear, unlike many other easy build kits I've seen in this scale. This kit is perhaps aimed at the war gamer, though the box lists it as "My First Model Kit".
The kit has an ingenious method of snapping the upper and lower hulls by using beveled tabs on the lower hull to snap into receptacles in the upper portion. It comes with preformed plastic tracks that are held in place by the trackguides and by connecting tabs on the sprocket and idler inner races. These are then covered by the outer section making the tabs invisible. It has been very well thought out.
Instructions are superb including several hints and tips for assembly. Color information is via Model Master paints. Two markings options are provided. One is a dark green and dark tan camouflaged version of the 8th Heavy Tank Brigade in the summer of 1943. The other is the box art vehicle from the 22nd Heavy Tank Brigade, also in the summer of 1943. the small decal sheet is well printed and should work quite well.
This really is a great idea, and as a first kit, it is a good choice as the T-34 was not festooned with all sorts of gear as were many other tanks. It will be interesting to see what they come up with next. It is a great small kit for the youngsters in the house or the older modelers who simply want something that builds rather quickly. Those who want to add more detail to it probably can with various aftermarket aluminum barrels and photo etch sets.
Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours today at your local shop or on-line retailer.
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