|T-34/76 Model 1942|
|Review by Doug Chaltry||Unimodel Kit No. 325|
Although UM has marketed several versions of the T-34 for the past several months, I finally got around to buying one only last week. Not being the first one on the block to review the kit has given me the advantage of seeing what other people feel about this kit first. Compared to many of the comments I have seen, I actually think this model is better than I was led to believe, although not without some weaknesses.
I guess the first thing to address is the version of tank. I have read that some people feel this model is inaccurate as far as the combination of turret, wheels, details, etc. But perhaps they are talking about a different kit? I think this kit is quite accurate for what it represents, but what exactly is that?
First of all, the boxart does not correctly depict what tank is in the box. Specifically, the box shows this tank to have the "hardedge" variety of hexagonal turret, when in fact, the kit more closely represents the "softedge" style. But to be honest, it's not 100% correct in its shape anyway. In order to make a better softedge turret, I would round off the corners of the lower turret edge just a little bit more, in particular, under the forward turret walls. If you do this, then I think it would be a perfect match for a T-34 Model 1942 built by the UTZM tank factory in their "winter 1942 to summer 1943" production batch.
Here is the turret sprue:
You can see the lower turret edge as being mostly rounded and without the "step" indicative of a hardedge turret, but again, the front half could be a little more rounded to better represent the softedge turret. There is a second turret roof included, for the version with a commander's cupola (the cupola is included in this kit, but there are no markings included for that version).
Another alternative is to round the turret edges as above, but use the alternate infantry handrails included in the kit (the rounded-corner ones). This then would give you an accurate T-34 Model 1942 built by Zavod (Tank factory) 174 in their "autumn 1942 to winter 1942-43" batch.
And if you want to do a little more, you can sharpen the lower turret edge on the front side, and round a little more the lower edge on the rear (consult drawings), and then you would have a very passable "hardedge" turret, as shown on the box top. If you do this, then you would have a tank built by Zavod 183.
In all three of these cases, the wheels are the correct style (solid dish with rubber tires). Of course, you can kit-bash this kit with other T-34 kits and wheel accessory sets to produce any number of specific T-34 variants.
So, once that question is answered, then we move on to the kit dimensions. According to my references, this kit is likely the most accurate T-34 available in this scale, as far as length, width, height and shape. But there are conflicting drawings available, and the other T-34 kits are only slightly different than this one in size and shape. But compared to the M-Hobby drawings, which I take to be the most accurate available, this kit is about perfect.
The following scans show the main hull parts:
This is the only T-34 kit that comes with separate fenders, which is neat. There is also some additional detail on the lower hull sides for the wheel suspension springs that is not seen on any other T-34 kit (except Revell). The driver's hatch is molded open. One aspect of this kit that has caused modelers to complain (including me) is the engine deck. UM has chosen to represent the main engine access hatch in a very unusual way, that being to mold it closed and completely smooth with no detail at all. The ventilation screen is provided as an etched brass piece to be glued onto the plastic hull. I think this is a very poor way of doing this. Considering the attention to detail paid by UM to all other aspects of this kit, it was a surprise to see this.
This is the etched brass fret:
In addition to the engine screen (which is not very detailed compared to others available in aftermarket sets), there is also a saw and armored cover for the hull machinegun mount. Although the instructions don't tell you to, I highly recommend cutting an opening in the engine deck below the screen.
The following scans are the wheels and tracks, front and back:
These are really nicely done. The wheel hub detail is the best I've seen in plastic, and the tracks are also very detailed, equally as good as those produced by Revell and Eastern Express.
And here we have the rubber tires that have generated so much discussion over the past several months:
I've assembled one of the wheels, and it looks very good. I understand that other versions of the UM T-34 series have different styles of wheels, which will make it easy to mix and match between kits in order to build different versions of the T-34. Some people have complained that this kit should have come with all-steel wheels, and indeed, there are many variants of T-34 that would be suited by the inclusion of steel wheels. But as I point out above, there are also several versions that can be correctly built as this kit comes out of the box.
Some other notes: the tow cables aren't very good at all, and should be replaced. The exhaust pipes are molded separate from their armored covers, which makes them better formed than in other kits. The periscope covers on the driver's hatch are separate parts as well, giving even more options for the modeler. The instructions are very good, and the decals are also very well done. They are thin, printed with sharp edges, and the colors are bright and vivid. Markings are included for six different tanks, which is very nice to see.
My final conclusion is that with the confusing exception of the engine screen, this is the best T-34 kit on the market today.