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Trumpeter 1/35 Soviet T-64 Mod 1972 Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review October 2012 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject Soviet T-64 Mod 1972 Scale 1/35
Kit Number 1578 Primary Media 566 parts (486 in grey styrene, 61 etched brass, 11 grey vinyl, 7 clear styrene, 1 turned aluminum gun barrel)
Pros Superior kit of this seminal main battle tank; nicely done selection of features provides flexibility for making specific production year models Cons Plethora of parts for other versions requires attentive reading of the directions and good references
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $63.95

First Look

Back in 1998, when I reviewed the then-new SKIF T-64A (No. 202) kit, I wrote the following: Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Morozov was a driven man, and one of the things which drove him was that he was not the man who created the T-34 – the most beloved and respected tank of the Soviet Army. He had essentially led to its perfection, and used the concepts which went into the T-34 to create the postwar T-54, but he was still personally bitter that he was not the "father of the '34". As a result, he spent the last ten years of his career as a Soviet tank design bureau chief in developing a completely revolutionary tank to replace it in the hearts and minds of the Soviet Army.

The result of this work first emerged in 1962 as Object 430, which was a completely new concept in Russian tank thinking. It had a three man crew, a long-barreled 100mm gun with an autoloader, a flat opposed piston five-cylinder engine, and weighed less than 36 tons while providing better overall protection than any tank of 50 tons of the period could. But it was prone to problems, and the use of a 100mm gun – no matter how powerful – was vetoed when Marshal Chuikov selected the 115mm U-5TS for the T-62. The redesigned tank appeared in 1967 as the Object 432, which had vastly improved components. This tank was accepted for service as the T-64.

But the T-64 was not perfect, and so more redesign and modification took place. The tank received the 125mm D-81 tank gun, IR sights and searchlights, stereoscopic range finder, a remote control 12.7mm NVT antiaircraft machine gun, an improved engine, and a novel "flipper" armored shield which provided protection to the front 60 degree arc of the tank from ATGMs and HEAT rounds but added a minimal weight penalty – only one metric ton for all of the changes. This tank was accepted for service in 1969 as Object 434 or the T-64A.

Later, after several improvements along the product line, to include skirts, smoke grenade launchers, and more external stowage, the weight increased to 38 metric tons. Finally, a redesigned version of the tank appeared in 1976 with a laser range finder and the 9K112-1 Kobra through-the-bore ATGM (AT-8 SONGSTER). Early T-64s were also rebuilt to T-64A standards as the T-64R in the same time frame. In 1985, the T-64B added reactive armor, becoming for a short period of time the most formidable tank in the world. But by 1991 the tank was obsolete, the production lines were long shut down, and the Russians began to scrap them as fast as possible.

This tank – which was initially known from fuzzy, windswept photos as the Soviet Main Battle Tank Model 1967 and often confused with the early T-72 – is one of the most innovate tanks of modern times. It is the "sportscar" of modern tanks, as it provided the same level of protection as either the M60A1 or Chieftain on a chassis weighing no more than 38 tons in its early variant. Troubled by an engine which had years of teething troubles, it was never very popular with Soviet troops. The early model autoloaders also had a serious problem with "eating" stray arms or uniform components. But Morozov did create a tank design which has directed Soviet and Russian tank design thought to this day – 40 years after he conceived the original concept.

For 14 years, those of us who are fans of the T-64 have pretty much had to spend a lot of time and effort upgrading the old SKIF kit; it basically wasn't too bad, but suffered from "soft" details and probably the worst set of tracks with any model kit extant (the SKIF T-80 was the only second worse). Now Trumpeter has released the first in a series of new kits, and they are excellent.

There is only one problem with this kit: it is NOT a T-64, but a T-64A. I have one of the best references on T-64s around, "Osnovnoy Boyevoy Tank T-64" (T-64 Main Battle Tank) by M. Sayenko and V. Chobitok, and it is very good about showing the various models of the T-64 tank as it developed. This kit comes with a 2A26 gun, not a 2A21; the difference is that the former is a 125mm weapon and the latter a 115mm, which have different relationships with the bore evacuator and the barrel length. The plastic barrel in this kit is 1mm too long right behind the muzzle cap, and the muzzle caps are each 1mm too long, but it is clearly the 2A26 and a T-64A.

Once past that, the rest is a sea change over the old SKIF T-64A kit. It does provide sufficient options to build one of two different batches: T-64A Model 1969 or T-64A model 1972. The Model 1969 possesses a scraper blade, commander's searchlight, the snorkel fitting and the crew bins plus the four "ladder" bars on the glacis; it lacks the AAMG mount and has other fitting differences on the turret. The Model 1972 adds the NVST commander's AA MG mounting. The kit's directions only cover the option on the AA MG, so the rest is up to the modeler but can be made with only minor reworking of the kit.

The kit has a relatively large amount of photo-etch and uses them judiciously in a number of places, such as the scraper blades and grease access ports for the idler mounts, as well as the railway car clamps (B27/PE-A7).

Some modelers have asked, given the fact that Trumpeter tipped their hand by releasing a set of single link tracks for the T-64 family, if they come in the kit; the answer is no. The kit comes with a nice set of "link and length" tracks instead, which are actually easier unless you want to show one of the handful of destroyed T-64s from Moldova. Note that due to the fact Trumpeter is riding the molds for multiple kits the directions call out when and where some holes need to be opened in various parts like the hull roof.

A sprue of grey vinyl is included, and from what can be determined Trumpeter seems to indicate it is "glueable" like DML's DS Plastic. I would test it first, but it provides a nice option: two canvas covered mantlets, one at 0 degrees and one at 5 degrees elevation to give the model some "personality". Also the baffles for the engine air intake vents are made from this material. (Note that the T-64 family used "extraction" cooling whereby the exhaust draws air out of the engine bay and therefore cooling air in through the upper intake grill; no fans are used in this system.)

The early T-64s had extra fuel tanks on the left side and stowage ("ZIP") bins on the right, and the kit provides for the differences. Take care as they also provide the late model fender bins as well in the kit.

The unditching log (part J8, more vinyl) is attached as the prototype, namely etched brass straps are wrapped around it and then ACCed in place on the mounts. This may prove tricky so take care with this step.

In Step 9, "Estate One" is the Model 1972 arrangement and "Estate Two" is the Model 1969 as noted above.

There is no interior anywhere inside the vehicle so if you plan on opening the hatches you will need figures or a lot of work to fill the void.

Finishing directions only show the tank in dark green with white bort numbers, which is correct for these tanks as issued. The green did weather out to a much lighter shade, based on the 3rd Shock Army tanks I observed up close in 1981 from the British Berlin Duty Train, so anything in between 4BO green and FS34102 is fine for a start. Five different sets of bort numbers are provided as well as a "number jungle" and Soviet "Guards" badges.

Overall this is an excellent kit and one that shows more effort to "get it right" than the previous T-62 kits from Trumpeter. They are to be congratulated on their achievement.

Sprue Layout:

  • A 23x5 Road wheels, return rollers
  • B 46x2 Smoke projectors, road wheel arms, turret details
  • C 33 Fender bins, road wheel arms, searchlight
  • D 33 Hull top, engine grill, glacis details
  • E 45 Lower turret, hatch details, 2A46 gun
  • F 15 Fender fuel tanks and bins, final drives, scraper blade
  • G 19 Fender details, exhausts, glacis applique
  • H 20x2 200 liter fuel tank, rear details, tow cable heads
  • J 11 Grey vinyl - gun mantlets, unditching log, details
  • K 1 Engine deck
  • L 16 NVST machine gun and mount, commander's searchlight
  • M 27 Fenders, "flipper" armor, commander's hatch and details
  • N 6 T-64A parts (fender skirts, 2A26 gun barrel)
  • U 7 Clear styrene
  • V 21x2 Tracks
  • ‒ 1 Lower hull
  • ‒ 1 Turret shell
  • ‒ 1 Turned aluminum gun barrel
  • A 31 Etched brass
  • B 20 Etched brass
  • C 10 Etched brass