Kit Reviews AFV Club 1/35 Soviet T34/76 (1942-43 Factory 183) with interior and Eduard detailing

Smeggers

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AFV Club 1⁄35 T34/76 Model 42 Factory No. 183

History

During the Russian participation in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the most numerous Soviet tank models were the T-26 light tank, and the BT series of fast tanks. The T-26 was a slow-moving infantry tank, designed to keep pace with soldiers on the ground. The BT tanks were cavalry tanks, very fast-moving light tanks, designed to fight other tanks but not infantry. Both were thinly armoured, fine against small arms but not anti-tank rifles and anti-tank guns, and their gasoline-fuelled engines were prone to catch fire easily. From the lessons learned in Spain, it was determined that a new tank design was needed.
In 1940, an A-32 prototype, named after its 32 mm (1.3 in) of frontal armor was modified to a heavier version with 45 mm (1.8 in) of front armor and wider tracks and was approved for production as the T-34. It had the proven Christie suspension, well-sloped thick armor, a rear-drive system, a 76.2mm (3 in) gun, and the new model V-2 diesel engine. With its speed, survivability, and relatively large gun, it could easily defeat the German Panzer III and IV tanks it would face.
In 1942 a new hexagonal turret design known as a Model 1942 or “Gayka” (Hexnut) turret, was produced at Factory 183 in Stalingrad. The new design improved the cramped turret conditions. Limited rubber supplies also led to the adoption of steel-rimmed road wheels, and a new clutch was added to the improved five-speed transmission and V-2 engine.

The Kit
AFV Club released the third kit in their T-34 series – a T-34/76 Model 42 from Factory No. 183. This kit shares most of its parts from the previous two kits (the T-34 Model 1941 Factory No. 112, kit #35143; and T-34/85 Factory No. 183, kit #35145). It does include a few new sprues with parts for the older road wheel set-up which has three steel wheels in the middle and rubber-tired road wheels at the front and rear. Also included are new sprues for the updated turret and two sprues with black plastic for the rubber part of the road wheels, not vinyl as in some of their other kits.
The box contains:
• 11 main sprues in light gray plastic
• a decal sheet with markings for 5 vehicles
• 1 small PE fret
• 1 bag containing transparent sprue for vision ports and a headlight
• a lower hull shell
• one-piece vinyl tracks
• and a metal barrel.

All the above items are individually bagged to keep them from being damaged during shipping. The kit also includes eight steel springs for the Christie suspension; which looks convincing, and if installed properly, will function just like the real thing. I defy anyone to fit these correctly simply by using the instructions. A little tip here, ensure the holes at the top and bottom of the suspension arm face the same way. I also added a spot of superglue on either end of the spring, to hold the arms in place. The multi-fold, 29 step instructions manual rounds out the box.
The instructions are well written and have good illustrations for some of the parts placement location, although one of two of the instructions are not clear where pieces should fit. Care needs to be taken when fitting the mounting legs for the transmission and brake assemblies. The assembly steps follow a logical sequence of the suspension and lower hull; engine, transmission, road wheels, then on to the turret and exterior details. There are paint colours called out throughout the assembly sequence. The decals look to be in perfect register with very thin film.
The kit comes with marking options for five vehicles; two tanks in green and three in winter whitewash:

• Winter of 1942 (a two tone white upper hull and green lower hull with red Cyrillic on the turret)
• Winter of 1943 (whitewashed with a green area around the turret numbers)
• Kursk, February 1943 (green hull with white Cyrillic lettering)
• Winter 1943 (whitewashed)
• Panzergrenadier Division, Brandenburg, East Prussia, January1945 (whitewashed with turret numbers and black Balkenkreuz), a captured tank used by Germany.

The individual parts on the sprues look to be sharply molded and free of any flash. The three larger sprues consist of parts mainly for the interior. There are also five smaller sprues which hold the suspension parts, road wheels, and black plastic for the rubber on the road wheels. The PE fret is small, but very nice. It includes a screen for the air intake. I bought The Eduard photo-etch set to add some finer detail.
The lower hull and running gear detail looks very good. The lower hull tub has detail on both inner and outer surfaces. The outer surface includes access plates and the opening for the separate driver’s escape hatch. On the inside, control linkage cables and locator pins for the engine and transmission are moulded in place.The upper hull and turret pieces are also moulded well. The turret race is complete with bolt head detail on the interior and exterior, as is the opening for the engine access plates on the upper hull rear.

Interior Details:
The fully-detailed interior in this kit is a big plus. It includes pretty much everything you could want, and see, inside the hull. The driver and bow gunner’s area are nicely outfitted with separate control rods for the foot pedals, nicely detailed driver’s hatch, seats, air tanks, and ample side wall details. Ammo boxes are provided for the floor of the fighting compartment as well as nice sidewall details for the spring covers and fuel tanks. There are parts for the circular ammo drums and well-detailed MG’s for the hull and turret. There is also 76mm ammo for the sidewalls and the shell-shaped ammo racks. The ammo for these racks is only moulded as half-shells, but this isn’t an issue and it makes painting them easier as opposed to them being moulded with the rack on the shell.
The turret is nicely cast in an upper and lower shell, both in clear plastic. The level of detail continues here with interior fittings moulded into the turret parts and extra details such as sight mechanism and vision ports added on. There is also a very nice 76mm gun breech and gunners station, including a well cast coaxial MG and more stacks of circular ammo drums for the MG.
The next area with lots of detail is the engine compartment. The V-2 engine is nicely moulded and full of details. It looks very good in the equally well detailed engine compartment. There is an issue with the instructions for the engine though. AFV Club carried over the same parts for the older version V-2 intake set-up here. The large circular air cleaner (parts A31 & A32) as shown in the instructions is not correct for a Model 1942 T-34. It is an easy fix to correct this though, and all the correct parts are in the kit. The correct air cleaners are the turbine (or turbo-charger) looking ones on the transmission firewall (parts A2, A4, A19, & A58). These should be used and the circular air cleaner and plenum (A14) should be left off. The intake manifolds, parts A54, are the incorrect type for the later engine as well. The correct ones, without the connection points for part A14, are on the sprues as parts A52. Put them in place of parts A54. There should be pipes that come from the air cleaners to the intake manifolds (A54) as well that can be added if desired.
The transmission area is also nicely moulded with the well detailed drum brakes moulded onto the final drives that also look very good. All transmission linkages are nicely moulded as well. There are also lots of smaller parts to add such as the generator, filler caps, exhaust pipes, etc., that fill this area nicely. Also included is a very nicely moulded circular fan that is a real gem. The radiators and batteries round out the engine/transmission compartments and fill the areas well.
The upper plate that covers the engine/transmission area is moulded in grey styrene, so if you wish to view this area well, you will have to leave it off or settle for the meagre view through the cooling louvres, which can be positioned at any angle you desire. The only PE part in the kit is used on the cover over the cooling louvres here as well. Alternatively, you could carefully cut out the engine covers and manufacture new ones displayed in an open position! The same could also be done for the transmission and the Driver & Radio Operator's areas.

Conclusion
Overall the kit looks very nice and I highly recommend it. The interior and exterior parts look to be very nicely detailed, finely moulded, and free of flash. Assembly looks straight-forward and with no noted problem areas. The complete interior is a big plus in this kit and I hope we'll see more kits going this way. I see no major flaws in the kit, its dimensions, or details. With a bit of work and creative painting, it looks like it will build into an accurate replica of the tank. My big bugbear with this kit is the lack of tank crew - why go to the trouble of adding an interior without putting someone into it to give some sense of size! I intend depicting this model in a breakdown scenario with engine covers open.
 
My favourite WW2 tank. Looking forward to seeing some pics of the build.
 
Impressive read, Smeggers.
Which option are you going with?
The box pic looks interesting, as the whitewash has worn off in parts - could be an interesting experiment to see how best to replicate it.
 

Smeggers

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Impressive read, Smeggers.
Which option are you going with?
The box pic looks interesting, as the whitewash has worn off in parts - could be an interesting experiment to see how best to replicate it.
I'm going to be doing the "Winter 1943 (whitewashed)" , hoping to show it as a mechanical casualty.

Regarding the box-art, I shall attempt to replicate that by spraying the hull Russian Green first and then dry-brushing off-white followed by a watered down wash of Ice White. This will be done without any external kit added. I will experiment on an old 1/48 scale kit first.
 

Helm

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I'm going to be doing the "Winter 1943 (whitewashed)" , hoping to show it as a mechanical casualty.

Regarding the box-art, I shall attempt to replicate that by spraying the hull Russian Green first and then dry-brushing off-white followed by a watered down wash of Ice White. This will be done without any external kit added. I will experiment on an old 1/48 scale kit first.
Might be worth trying it with oils on the edges and small areas, with the slow drying time you could blend the green and white in together.
 

Smeggers

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Might be worth trying it with oils on the edges and small areas, with the slow drying time you could blend the green and white in together.
Sounds like a good idea, I'll give it a try.
 

Smeggers

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The story so far: Driver and Radio Op's section installed into lower hull. The boxes behind the seats are the ammunition boxes, while the two compressed air tanks at the front are to aid starting in cold weather. Notice the engine firewall has been installed at this time.
IMG_20211130_144047.jpg

full view of lower hull.

After painting up the engine, you begin to realise just how much power there was in these early tanks. The powerful V12-34 engine was sufficient to give the tank a maximum speed off 55kph (38mph). Not a bad performance for a vehicle that weighed 34.1 tons! The yellow and grey transparent marks are to simulate oil and fuel leaks in the engine-bay. Something that bugged the T34 throughout it's service.
IMG_20211130_144409.jpg

engine fitted to its mounting blocks

Fitting the engine is relatively easy, just ensure the engine is flush against the firewall. If not, you won't be able to fix the transmission and cooling fan! The engine mounting blocks fit perfectly between two guides on the lower hull floor.
IMG_20211130_194033.jpg

above picture shows the engine in its "bay" with the fan and transmission unit fitted behind in tandem.

The transmission (gearbox) is an easy build as too is the cooling fan assembly. The twin filters for the transmission are mounted onto a sub-firewall with the fan fitting directly onto the engine. The transmission is then fitted directly to the fan giving a shorter drive train than in other tanks of the same era. The twin clutches fit into recesses on the inner drive wheels, while the gearbox itself sits on it's own raised section. This is where it is important that everything fits as it should. There is no wriggle room in the drive-bay, so test-fit, test-fit and test-fit again before glueing in position! That's it for tonight, time for a brew.
 

Smeggers

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there's a real pleasure in internal details with tanks, I know the old argument, why install it if you can't see it, well you can see it, right here for all the world to see. great to see the anatomy of a tank, where the crew ate, slept fought and sometimes died. Beats an empty shell.
 

NSP

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Something that bugged the T34 throughout it's service.
Last known in service: Laos, early 2019. Possibly still in service: Cuba, Yemen, the Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Namibia, North Korea and Vietnam. Last known combat action: Yemen 2017. Rumoured to be large numbers stored in subterranean bunkers to equip third-line reserve units of Russian forces should "the balloon go up" and they be stripped of more modern equipment (like stored T-55s and T-62s) to replen' second-line units, apparently.

It's the gift that keeps on giving. The AK-47 of armour...
 
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Last known in service: Laos, early 2019. Possibly still in service: Cuba, Yemen, the Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Namibia, North Korea and Vietnam. Last known combat action: Yemen 2017. Rumoured to be large numbers stored in subterranean bunkers to equip third-line reserve units of Russian forces should "the balloon go up" and they be stripped of more modern equipment (like stored T-55s and T-62s) to replen' second-line units, apparently.

It's the gift that keeps on giving. The AK-47 of armour...
Yes. a real 'two spanners and a screwdriver' maintenance gig as well, probably.
And many parts interchangeable with a Lada/other tanks and AFVs.
 
Had to be simple to operate didn't it, even today the Russian army is made up of peasants with superior firepower. And that's no insult, you average Ivan doesn't lack guts, look how many them Nazi's knocked off......
 
One of their defectors said that the selection process for conscripts was crude and designed to filter the good ones uphill, so the air force and the strategic rockets units got the best and the tech branches got the best of the rest. Units competed to make sure that they got the best of what came in the depot gate. One Russian regarded the entry into conscript service as the equivalent of a death in the family. He was advised to turn up in rags and pissed.So he did. He said that he started out broke and stayed that way for three years. he had his eyes opened by being posted to East Germany and thought he'd died and gone to Heaven.
 
Had to be simple to operate didn't it, even today the Russian army is made up of peasants with superior firepower. And that's no insult, you average Ivan doesn't lack guts, look how many them Nazi's knocked off......
Indeed.
Must run in extreme cold, extreme heat, easy to fix, and with a life expectancy of days/weeks.
I'm sure @Smeggers will be well aware of this as he assembles the beast - it cannot be 'perfect' as none of them WERE perfect ex factory!
IIRC, at the first oil change at 100kms, they'd expect to find a kilo or so of swarf in the filters.
 

Smeggers

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Indeed.
Must run in extreme cold, extreme heat, easy to fix, and with a life expectancy of days/weeks.
I'm sure @Smeggers will be well aware of this as he assembles the beast - it cannot be 'perfect' as none of them WERE perfect ex factory!
IIRC, at the first oil change at 100kms, they'd expect to find a kilo or so of swarf in the filters.
An excellent resource is;
T-34, an illustrated history of Stalin's Greatest Tank by Wolfgang Fleischer
Foreword by Anthony Tucker-Jones. ISBN: 978 1 78438 495 1.
And reviewed by an extremely handsome Reviewer/Moderator
 

Smeggers

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Two other books which I have found very helpful are both from Osprey Publishing; The T34/76 Medium Tank is from the Vanguard series, while Modelling the T34/76 is from their "Modelling" series.I

9781472805362_28.jpg
9781841769295_1.jpg


I' l! say here and now, Osprey Books are one of my main "go to's" when it comes to researching a subject whether it's an AFV or a Uniform for a figure. I am sure I am not alone in thinking this and may they long continue to do so. I just hope they start doing a series on British WW2 Trucks!
 
Indeed.
Must run in extreme cold, extreme heat, easy to fix, and with a life expectancy of days/weeks.
I'm sure @Smeggers will be well aware of this as he assembles the beast - it cannot be 'perfect' as none of them WERE perfect ex factory!
IIRC, at the first oil change at 100kms, they'd expect to find a kilo or so of swarf in the filters.
Certainly the Soviets were not to concerned with perfection the quality of the builds can only be thought of as rustic, when researching my JS II build I came across a number of photos that show just how much perfection did not matter when welding or the casts.

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