Tamiya 1/35 T-34/76 1943 Build Review
By Jack Bruno
|Date of Review||October 2006||Manufacturer||Tamiya|
|Kit Number||35059||Primary Media||Plastic/Resin Turret|
|Pros||Great detailing throughout/outstanding||Cons||Nothing really!!!|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||Kit $15.99 / Turret $9.99 (now Out of Production) / Tracks $32|
Without a doubt, I believe that the T-34 was the most influential tank in history. Its speed, punch, simplicity of production and sloping armor changed the way armored warfare was fought for three generations. This revolutionary medium tank took the Germans completely by surprise and scared the bejesus outta them, along with the two heavy tanks, KV I and KV 2. Without the T-34....well, who knows.
A few years ago when I worked in a hobby shop for money to support my plastic addiction, Tamiya reissued the T-34 and KV series of tanks after being out of production for several years, forcing many of us to pay collectors prices to build a decent Soviet tank from WWII. To say the least, Tamiya made my day. I hoarded a bunch of these kits and began to purchase some AEF Designs resin turrets to compliment the models and to add to the soup so to speak.
Among the several turrets AEF had in production at that time were the laminate, hard edge, soft edge and CHTZ. (Chelyabinsk Tractor Works) The T-34/85 turrets were just as plentiful. I must point out that this hollow resin turret variant from AEF was before Tamiya came out with their own version. To my knowledge, and looking at the AEF website, these turrets are no longer in production. If you happen to come across one on the Internet or swap meet, pick it up. Skimming thru the Modelart book, T-34 and KV Series, I came across a modification to the CHTZ factory turret that featured a raised commander’s cupola and additional periscopes. Since I had the AEF turret, I decided to go to the spare parts box and do some cutting and welding and here it is.
The Tamiya T-34/76 1943 (kit #35059) is the basis for the conversion and was built straightforward except the towing eyelids that were filled in the front. These were added on by the US at Aberdeen to tow them around. I also filled the locating holes that were the grab handle placements and the motorization holes on the undersides as these kits were once "toys." I took green putty and stippled the hull and turret to give that rough texture look and it came out very well. I decided to leave off the grab handles as my variant did not mount them. In the future I plan to do another and this time I'll add them using wire as I do on all my armor. I went for the hard ride and mounted three solid steel wheels in the center and two rubber rimmed in first and fifth position.
The turret was next and using my reference I simply did a little surgery on a spare turret top, of which the Tamiya kit gives you an extra anyway. The high top commander’s cupola and periscopes came this way too. The only hard part was trimming the periscope mount from the extra roof and sanding it thin to sit properly on the AEF roof.
As always, I painted the subassemblies flat black in preparation for the base color. Several progressive shades of green, starting with Tamiya Japanese Army Green, were applied. This followed by a coat of Future and several Winsdor-Newton Van Dyke Brown oil washes cut with turpentine. Again, using cotton panties, my favorite, wiped most of the film/residue off and in the tight places I utilized cotton swabs or a brush with a small amount of turpentine on it. The effect came out very well as you can see and I encourage you to give it a try. I then gave the entire tank a flat coat and placed a Verlinden dry transfer on the turret side for the slogan and number. I followed this act up with a little run of rust on key points using a chisel brush and pastels. Nice touch, but be careful not to overdo it. Celluclay mixed with white glue and water was next and after drying, it too was painted and washed.
The kit was further enhanced by using the fine Fruil tracks. These are the waffle pattern and are kept together using the wire pin method instead of the old crimp version. Believe it or not, after three hours one night I had both sides done. Very fast to use and makes a world of difference on your finished model. The tracks were painted in the same fashion with a flat black base followed by gray. A nice wash of Winsdor-Newton Burnt Sienna made everything okay in my world. These were mounted to the chassis and given enough slack to give that Soviet sag look that we all like so much.
As usual, my base was made from a little ditty, cutting board I believe, compliments of the local Goodwill Store. I picked it up for a quarter and applied the Celluclay at the same time I made a batch for the tank. Curbside residue was pressed in while it dried and it was painted and washed with the same stuff the T-34 was done with to have consistency with the colors. It came out well when the wash dried and a little dry-brushing was applied.
There you have it. A quick and easy T-34/76 conversion that will stand out in anyone's collection or contest table. I hope you enjoy it and I'll field any questions you may have in regard to the kit. Now.....go build a model.