Chesapeake Model Designs 1/35 Soviet 76mm F-34 Gun Barrel First Look
|Date of Review
|Chesapeake Model Designs
|Soviet 76mm F-34 Gun Barrel
|1 turned aluminum barrel
|Right barrel for the new DML Model 1941 kit; matches photos and scale drawings
|Specific product for a specific function; will require other kits to be used in other situations (e.g. KV-1 Model 1941 or Tamiya, Maquette or Zvedza offerings)
Following up on the heels of their very nice L-11 barrel, CMD now offers the 76mm F-34 "long" barrel in 1/35 scale as well.
As noted earlier in both the article I did for "Military Modelling" (UK) that looked at the development histories of the Soviet tank guns prior to WWII, the Soviets had decided initially that the short L-11 gun produced in Leningrad would be the standard tank gun for medium tanks. This was a 30.5 caliber weapon barely able to fire a round faster than 612 meters per second, not a good set of numbers for armor-piercing functions.
The L-11 was a very short barreled weapon on purpose. The Soviets felt that if the gun barrel overhung the hull it would soon be damaged or cause the tank to get stuck in a ditch or trees and thus be lost. But it suffered badly in regard to accuracy due to the fact that the barrel was suspended from its cradle, not riding on top of it like most guns. As a result, it tended to wobble in the cradle, preventing any real accuracy beyond a few hundred meters.
While it was designed for the KV tank and was used in the KV Model 1939, the designers from Khar'kov also used this gun in their T-34 Model 1939 and later in the Model 1940. As a result, it placed both a strain on production and caused divisiveness among the plants. Leningrad was told, after a shooting competition, to drop the L-11 in favor of the Grabin-designed F-32. While only one caliber (e.g. 76mm) longer, this gun used a cradle under the barrel and was far more accurate. But its top muzzle velocity was only 613 meters per second, not a major improvement.
After weeks of fighting, Leningrad lost and had to adopt it. But when they did, they demanded all production support the KV-1 Model 1941 and the Khar'kov designers were out of luck. Fortunately, as they had no problems with overhang, they were offered the 76mm F-34 (41.5 calibers long).
The initial version of the F-34 had a muzzle velocity of 662 meters per second, and later got bumped up to around 800. With the later tungsten cored "arrow" shell this remained a reasonably potent antitank round up until late 1943-early 1944. More than 25,00 tanks were fitted with this gun, and the KV had to adopt the modified ZIS-5 gun based on the F-34 to become at least tolerable on the battlefield.
As with their L-11, CMD has nailed this gun and purpose-made it to drop-fit right into the DML kit without a single modification. As such, it's hard to find such a "modeler friendly" accessory. Other barrels, such as Jordi Rubio, usually need drilling out to fit, but then again they are "universal" barrels. Note that the F-34 barrel is based on the one found on the Aberdeen Proving Ground T-34 Model 1941 that was the subject of the article mentioned above.
Thanks to Bill Miley of CMD for the review sample.