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Zvezda 1/35 T-80BV Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2005 Manufacturer Zvezda
Subject T-80BV Scale 1/35
Kit Number 3592 Primary Media Styrene
Pros DML quality kit Cons
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $29.98

First Look


The Soviet Union is well-known for producing capable main battle tanks (MBT). Unlike their western counterparts, the Soviet MBTs were low-profile, making detection more difficult at longer ranges. In combat however, the earlier Soviet MBTs like the T-55 and T-62 proved vulnerable to the 105mm main guns of US and Israeli tanks. The T-72 provided improved armor protection, though it is understood that the exported versions of the T-72 lacked some of these improvements. Against the 120mm main guns of US and Israeli tanks, the T-72 was no match.

The T-80 was built upon lessons learned from earlier tank designs. It retained the low profile of its predecessors and incorporated a 125mm main gun that could also fire the 'Cobra' guided missile. Like the M1 Abrams, the T-80 is turbine-powered, though the T-80U was a follow-on development returning to the diesel engine. The T-80BV adds explosive reaction armor (ERA) to its hull for additional protection against high explosive anti-tank (HEAT) rounds. These ERA add-ons are the brick-like devices that sit on key areas of the hull and turret.

Zvedza (Russian for 'star') has released their first in the T-80 series as the T-80BV, the turbine-powered MBT with ERA protection. The kit comes on four parts trees molded in olive green styrene containing the upper hull, turret, suspension, wheels, etc., plus the lower hull is molded without the tree. Two additional trees in dark gray styrene contain the track sections.

The suspension arms are molded onto the lower hull, so assembly here is limited to the road wheels, drive sprockets and various fittings. Once these are in place, the track is assembled with a minimum of fuss.

What will take a wee bit more time is adding on the various individual and groups of ERA blocks to the front hull and turret. The instructions do a nice job of laying out the puzzle.

The kit also includes the commander's shield that mounts ahead of his hatch. The hatches are molded separately allowing for positioning open or closed, but since there is no interior provided, the best option is to keep the hatches closed.

Markings are included for three examples, version 1 is tank number 703 wearing a tri-color camouflage of medium green, medium gray and brown. The instructions indicate that this scheme is typical of a 2004-era T-80BV. Version 2 is tank number 214 of the 10th Guards Tank Army, Group of Soviet Forces Germany (East Germany) wearing an overall field green paint. The third version is tank number 70 of the 81st Guards Motorized Regiment in the early 1990s, also wearing an overall field green paint scheme.

Zvezda continues to turn out some interesting kits of contemporary Soviet and Russian Federation combat vehicles, and the T-80BV is a nice example.

My sincere thanks to Squadron Mail Order for this review sample!