|PT-76 Amphibious Scout Tank||by Doug Chaltry|
|28 January 2004||email: doug(at)ontheway.us|
As mentioned above, there are three kits available of the PT-76: ACE, ARMO and PST. The first kit to be made available to modelers was the resin ARMO kit in the late 1990's. ARMO got its start in the business by producing kits of modern Soviet and Warsaw Pact vehicles, which until recently were long overlooked in small scale. ACE and PST both released plastic kits of the PT-76 in 2003. The recent surge in production of plastic kits of Soviet vehicles may spell the end of the useful life of the ARMO kits, but perhaps their simplicity and the nice detail of the resin casting method may keep their appeal alive.
The following abridged reviews are presented alphabetically, and not necessarily in order of preference.
The ACE kit is molded in a very soft, bright white plastic. Although at first this can be dangerous if you are not careful with your knife and sandpaper, I actually find it quite enjoyable to work with. Especially considering that the small parts have large flow gates attaching them to the sprue, which could be difficult to trim if the plastic was brittle. As I mention in all of my ACE reviews, this kit is limited-run, with the consequent characteristics of such.
My general observations of this kit is that it is very well made. The dimensions of the model are very accurate, and the detail on the master parts is not only correct, but also surprisingly delicate for a limited-run model. The kit features an open hatch on the turret (detailed inside and out), though the driver's hatch is molded closed. There is even the beginnings of a rudimentary interior, including a gun breech inside the turret, and a bulkhead in the hull behind the turret basket area. I assume the reason for these parts is because much of the interior would be visible with an open turret hatch, but unless you place some crew in the open hatch, more interior detail will need to be added. The kit includes markings for six vehicles.
Please refer to the ACE PT-76 Preview for complete scans of all the kit parts.
This was one of ARMO's earliest releases. Although some of ARMO's other early kits had accuracy problems regarding kit scale, this one is actually quite accurate. Overall shape and dimensions are correct, though the surface details are slightly off in some areas, though not noticably so, unless comparing to scale drawings. The detail on the hull and turret is obviously hand-crafted, but done to a very high standard. Being a solid-body kit, both the turret and driver's hatches are molded closed. Many of the vehicle stowage items are molded onto the hull, such as tools and towing cables, but because of the excellent detail possible with resin casting, these parts look very good, and need only a decent paint job to make them look entirely real.
The tracks are a paradox, being very highly detailed, though much too wide. Because of the excellent tread detail, it is not possible to simply trim the edges of the track to make them more narrow, so one must either replace the tracks from some other kit, or simply accept them as they are. No markings are included in the kit, and the instructions are quite poor, so additional reference photos will be needed to construct the kit. (Note that my kit is a very early release, prior to the time when ARMO was distributed by JADAR, so I would be curious to hear from anyone who has purchased this kit in a JADAR box, to know if there are any differences from my version.)
Please refer to the ARMO PT-76B Preview for complete scans of the kit parts and additional comments.
The most recent kit to join my collection is the injection-molded PST offering. Coming on the heels of their T-54/55 kits that have some serious accuracy flaws, I was concerned about this kit as well, but thankfully that concern was unfounded. This is an excellent kit, and highly accurate in size and shape, and only a little less so in details.
Molded in a brittle, dark green plastic, it is a very clean kit, with no flash and only a couple of sinkmarks. Initial fitting of the hull and turret parts is mostly good, with a few gaps at the front and rear corners. There are many, very small detail parts that the other kits lack, which makes this kit the most complex of the trio, but not in a bad way. The kit also offers several optional-position parts, which will be described later. It includes markings for four vehicles.
Please refer to the PST PT-76B Preview for complete scans of all the kit parts.