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T-34/76 Mod.42 Hexagonal Turret Soft Edge

DML 1/35 T-34/76 Mod.42 Hexagonal Turret Soft Edge - Smart Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review November 2008 Manufacturer DML
Subject T-34/76 Mod.42 Hexagonal Turret Soft Edge - Smart Kit Scale 1/35
Kit Number 6424 Primary Media 555 parts (326 in grey styrene, 160 “Magic Track” links, 63 etched brass, 4 clear styrene, 2 twisted steel wire)
Pros Most accurate kit of this version of the T-34 now in production; fairly generic version of the tank Cons May not meet some modelers’ expectations of 'their' version of the tank
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $45-50

First Look

While the Soviet T-34 tank was the best tank in the world at the time of its introduction, it suffered from some severe operational drawbacks. Most critical were the fact that the turret was cramped and made conditions for observing the battlefield difficult. Also, the turret design was complex and required machining to prepare it for assembly.

Since they could not carry out massive redesign of the tank at the time – late 1941 – the Soviets instead designed a roomier turret better suited for casting which would fit the standard 1420mm turret race of the Model 1941 tanks. The new turret was rationally laid out to give the highest amount of protection to the frontal 60 degree arc of the tank, and used a simple modified hexagonal shape to achieve this. The new turret, quickly dubbed the “Gayka” (hex nut), went into production in early 1942.

Another major change in the tank was to switch from rubber tired pressed or cast steel wheels to internally buffered steel wheels which use a similar operating concept to those on the KV series tanks. But this was quickly found to be too fatiguing for T-34 crews, and therefore starting in April 1942 the first and last road wheel stations were fitted with cast steel wheels with rubber tires. This tank remained in full production until January 1944 when the T-34-85 series tanks began to enter production, but some factories continued to produce them for a few more months. Also, in 1943 a much-needed commander’s cupola was added to the design.

DML has now answered the requests of many T-34 fans and released a Model 1942 series tank with the “Gayka” turret. The kit also adds the cast wheels and an extra set of the rubber tired cast wheels, so the modeler has his choice of early or standard 1942 production tanks. The tank also comes with the seven-bolt rear plate and seven-bolt exhaust shrouds as well.

The turret is the generic T-34 cast turret which was produced by several of the factories, but this one appears closest to that from Uralmashzavod. It has the rolled and smoothed lower casting joint (referred to by modelers as “soft edge”) and the small bolted plate between the two hatches on the roof. While a number of variations exist, the lead factory – Factory No. 183 in Nizhniy Tagil – got full authority to standardize all components and by 1944 had managed to get most of the factories using the same molds and casting methods to create cast turrets (Chelyabinsk used pressed steel for theirs which was unique until they stopped manufacturing T-34s in 1944.) I’ve never really been able to find out how many of the “Gayka” turreted tanks were built, but a good estimate would be about 16,000 and another 3,000 with the commander’s cupola.

The kit adds several new sprues to the latest set of the molds and provides the cast wheels, cast wheels with rubber tires, new stern plate, new radiator exhaust grilles, and the turret and detail components. The shapes and angles match the Russian plans of the tank I have on hand. A new set of 500mm “waffle” tracks are provided in the form of a new set of “Magic Link” single link tracks. Each link does come with two ejection pin marks on the inner face, but these stand proud and while tedious are easily removed.

As noted many older but well-done parts are used in this kit. The late-model double bump stops on the lower hull molding are still present, as previously noted they can’t really be seen when the model is assembled and is a “so what” correction.

The kit comes with three different stern plates but only the one on the “Gayka” turret sprue is probably best for this version.

The turret sprue (L) includes a one-piece shell (thanks to “slide molding”) with even the holes for the mantlet bolts and mounting guides in place. The cast-in reinforcements under the turret are present as are some casting marks on the turret. When joining the turret top and bottom do not be too fastidious as the race section and top section were welded together after casting, and the weld bead could be pretty rough; also the cleanup of mold edging was done for speed and not finesse.

The model comes with a standard PT periscopic sight/viewer with the “acorn” shaped cover found on most T-34s. The modeler has a choice of but one barrels for the F-34 gun: a one-piece item with hollow bore from “slide” molding and muzzle cap molded in place. A gun breech and partial interior to the turret are provided as with all of the DML T-34 kits.

This project is listed as supervised by Hirohisa Takada, with drawings from Minoru Igarashi and the Dragon design team; technical assistance was provided by Nick Cortese.

Three different finishing directions are provided: Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front 1943 (4BO green with lozenge 2 - 71 in white); Unidentified Unit, Southwestern Front, Middle Don 1943 (whitewash over 4BO green, Red 252); and “Moskovskiy Kolkhoznik” (Moscow Collective Farm Worker), Moscow Kolkhoz, Eastern Front 1943 (whitewash with name in red during presentation ceremonies). A targeted set of Cartograf decals are provided.

Overall, this is a great improvement over the Italeri/Zvezda and Tamiya kits and should be quite popular, as well as herald the rest of the “Gayka” turreted 76mm tanks.

Thanks to Freddie Leung of Dragon Models USA for the review sample.

Sprue Breakout:

  • A 12x2 T-34 driver mounts, road wheel arms
  • B 21 T-34 40/41 turret roof and hull details
  • C 21 T-34 40/41 upper hull and details
  • C 19 T-34-85 details and gun barrel
  • E 16 T-34 tie-downs and brackets
  • F 20 T-34 42 hull detail components
  • H 6 T-34 engine intake vents, driver’s hatch
  • H 14 T-34 41 turret front and details
  • J 4 Clear styrene
  • K 13 T-34 41 F-34 gun assembly
  • L 33 T-34 42 “Gayka” turret assembly
  • M 18x2 T-34 95 liter round auxiliary fuel tanks
  • N 4x2 T-34 spring towers
  • P 39x2 T-34 center-buffered ast steel wheels and suspension components
  • P 4 T-34 rear grilles and stern plate
  • S 2 Twisted steel wire
  • W 8x2 T-34 Post-April 1942 rubber tired cast wheels
  • X 1 T-34 standard hull pan
  • Y 80 “Magic Track” waffle pattern track - flat link
  • Z 80 “Magic Track” waffle pattern track - toothed link
  • MA 63 Etched brass

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