T-34/76 Model 1942/43, OT-34 & PT-34
Manufacturer: Eastern Express
T-34/76 Model 1942 Kit # 72050; T-34/76 Model 1943 Kit # 72051; OT-34 Kit # 72052; PT-34 Kit # 72053
These four kits are identical, and are differentiated only by different boxes, decals and instruction sheets. All the necessary parts for all versions are included in each kit, thus they are treated to a combined Preview. The exception is the PT-34, which was just recently released. This kit comes with the PT-3 mineroller, which is not included in the other three kits. I do not yet own the PT-34 kit, so I will add a scan of the mineroller parts when I get one.
Most of the parts are the same as were included in the earlier SU-85/122 kits. All of the Eastern Express (Samara) kits share the same lower hulls and tracks, and the rear portion of the upper hulls are the same also. This means that they all pretty much have the same strengths and weaknesses.
The Model 1942 kit does not follow the "Zaloga" naming system, but rather the system used by Ledwoch, i.e. it is a hexagonal turret without the commander's cupola. The Model 1943 includes the cupola. The OT-34 box shows the cupola being used, but you are free to use it or not, as both versions could be fitted with the flame nozzle.
The kit represents the "soft-edge" style of the hexaganal turret. The lower edge of the turret has the rounded edge of the soft-edge version, but it should probably be rounded a little bit more. With a little sheet styrene and putty, it should be fairly easy to convert it to the "sharp-sdge" version.
The common sprue shared by each of the T-34 kits includes all the optional parts needed for any version, so you can build any version from any one of the boxed kits. The flame nozzle is the only part unique to the OT-34, and can be used on practially any of the T-34 kits which can be found in the market today. The commander's cupola is included as a separate part, but the commander's hatch is molded shut on the turret roof. The plastic is thinner in that area, and on the turret underside the spot is marked where you should cut a hole in the roof to accomodate the cupola. The cupola hatch is also closed, but the cupola is not a solid lump of plastic, so it would be possible to open this hatch, without having to construct an entirely new cupola from scratch. The periscope and hinge detail on the cupola hatch is really very good.
These kits are extremely finely molded, and are some of the best small scale models marketed today. The detail is exceptionally well done, although there are a few points about the kits I don't like. For example, all of the hatches are molded shut, with the exception of the driver's view hatch. I imagine that someday soon, we will be treated to T-34 engines and interior detail sets from an after-market company, but it will be difficult to open up these models to show the interiors. According to the reference material listed in the T-34 article, these kits scale out very well to 1/72nd. The hull width is spot-on, and the length is a tad bit short, by about 1.5mm. Although if you line them up immediately adjacent to an ESCI or AER kit you can see a small difference in length, it won't be noticeable if they are not right next to each other.
The wheel axles are molded onto the hull sides, like all T-34 kits, and are a little flat, but at least the spacing is correct. The spare fuel drum are best replaced with scratch-built or after-market items. All of the other details are very well done, such as the gun mantles, mufflers, siren and headlight. The driver's hatch has detail molded onto the inside which is nice, but there is no interior detail to the hull. The spare track links for on the hull front look fantastic, and are a nice touch, but unfortunately, you need to use them for the track runs around the wheels, because otherwise the tracks won't be long enough.
The wheels are the early, sold disk, rubber tire style, and although the hubs are not pronounced enough, I feel that these are better wheels than those included in the ESCI T-34/76 Model 1942 kit. They have very good bolt detail around the rims, and the perforated rubber tires are very good.
The tracks are the hard plastic, link and length style, and represent the finest T-34 tracks available. The detail is magnificent, inside and out, although the hinges between each separate link need to be cleaned up a bit to make them fit with one another, a task which can be very tedious. As I mentioned above, there are not enough track links to make the track run long enough to fit around the wheels. I haven't counted the number of links included, because I don't know how many were on the real thing, so I don't know if it's a matter of simply not having enough links, or if the links are a bit too narrow. Regardless, as I said above, you'll have to scavenge the spare links which are meant for the hull, to add to the track runs to make them long enough.
The various decals sheets are very comprehensive, each giving several different marking options. They are printed in single colors for the most part, so registration is not a problem, and although the carrier film is spread over most of the sheet, it is very thin and with a matte surface texture. They look like they should be pretty decent decals, although I haven't tried them yet.
These are most excellent models, and I highly recommend them.
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