T-34 round-up. All the info and versions
by Paul Gibson © 2004 Modeler Site
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Mod. 1940 & Mod. 1941
Nowadays the "best" 1/35 T-34/76 kit is DML's Model 1941 (Ref. 6205). Aside from the later F-34 gun / recuperator / mantlet assembly, this kit has some small - but useful- improvements over their 1940 kit (Ref. 6092): p/e rear deck fan cover screen (the biggest eyesore of the '40 version), wire tow cables, p/e fuel tank straps, and a wider selection of decals (some of which are bogus for the Model 1940). Other than these, the Model 1940 is almost as good. Relatively few Model 1940's were built before the change to the improved F-34 gun (Model 1941). The Model 1941 can be considered the first major production version -- but even so, there were many more Model 1942 and 1943 T-34's made, which give the modeler more building options.
Maquette offers both Model 1940, and 1941, kits (Mod. 1940 Ref. 3511 and Mod. 1941 Ref. 3512). These are well under the quality of the DML kits, but do have the advantage of lower cost. You get exactly what you pay for, though. Maquette has also released a kit labeled as a "Stalingrad" T-34 (Ref. 3504). However, by the box art, this is just their '41 kit with all steel wheels in place of the rubber-rimmed wheels, later style towing hooks (and maybe later style engine deck grilles - I couldn't tell).
Maquette has issued some useful (and very economical) T-34 parts. These include two types of individual link track (Ref. 35021 y 35025), a V-2 engine and transmission set (Ref. 35024), a 1941 welded F-34 turret (Ref. 35026), road wheel sets (both rubber-tired and all steel, Ref. 35028 and Ref. 35029).
Mod. 1942 & Mod. 1943
Unfortunately, there is no "best" 1/35 kit of either the Model 1942 or 1943. Tamiya and Zvezda/Italeri each have versions of these, but all these have some problems.
The Tamiya kits have motorization holes, rather incomplete suspension detail (although this shortcoming is not readily noticed after the roadwheels are installed), overlarge driver's hatch, the contour of the forward end of the raised engine/radiator covers is sort of a compromise between the shape of the T-34/76 and T-34-85 covers -- and not quite right for either (although this is mostly hidden by the turret rear overhang), a level of detail not up to current standards, and a number of minor errors and omissions. The Tamiya Model 1943 cast "hexagonal" turret has sides which are not angled steeply enough - particularly at the rear - and the turret is not sufficiently tapered toward the rear. This results in a too-wide rear, and undersize turret top.
Tamiya offers a cast turret '42 (Ref. 35049), the '43 hex turret version as mentioned (Ref. 35059), and the relatively rare late '43 with drop-forged ("Uralmash") turret - this is the one with the very rounded top (Ref. 35149).
The Zvezda/Italeri kits are equally flawed.
Their Model 1942 (Zvezda Ref. 3535), supposedly a replica of a '41/'42 STZ vehicle, has the later style round transmission access cover on the rear plate - instead of the correct (early) rectangular cover. The turret does have the correct flat rear plate and "chisel" nosed recuperator housing peculiar to the Barrikady-built 76's used on STZ-built tanks.
The Zvezda/Italeri '43 hex turret (Zvezda Ref. 3525; Italeri Ref. 282) is (in my opinion) too narrow at the rear, and a little too wide at the center. These kits have awful vinyl tracks - very stiff and too short. The general standard of detail is poorer that the Tamiya kits, with engraving noticeably "softer" than the Japanese brand. Zvezda/Italeri kits suffer from similarly incomplete suspension detail. The Z/I kits have a large, molded Zvezda logo on the hull bottom (but how often do you look at the bottom of a completed model?). As with the Tamiya kits, there are a number of other small problems.
With all of this said, any of the Maquette, Tamiya, or Zvezda/Italeri kits can be built into good-looking replicas. It all depends on your abilities, how much time and money you want to invest, and what you deem an acceptable finished product. The Osprey Modeling book on the T-34 has a beautiful T-34/76 '42, built from the Tamiya kit with the upgrades being mostly scratchbuilt. This is fine example of skillful modeling - rather than heaping on the aftermarket parts. I personally prefer the Tamiya kits. They display a bit more finesse in the engraving, offer a nice supply of optional parts and stowage, and include usuable figures. Zvezda offers a bit lower price, and a slightly lower level of detail. Please remember these are MY opinions, and others have their own.
The ultimate T-34 Mod. 1942 or Mod. 1943
A basic '42/'43 hull requires curved front fenders; these are included in the "UTZ" kit, but the molded-on angled front fenders must be cut off; after-market p/e fenders may be used also; replace vee-shaped hull nose with half-round nose (from split plastic tubing 3/16" approx. diameter); remove turret "support plates" from top of hull sides and glacis; shave off rear plate oil lines for '42's and most '43's; fill clearance notches at forward engine/radiator covers and convert covers to four-bolt pattern (can be cut from Tamiya hull); add diamond-shaped spring cover plates, and access/cover plates with spherical bulge, cut from upper hull of donor kit (Tamiya preferred).
Early '42's did not have armor cover on hull MG barrel; this is an easy scratch build, or can be sourced from DML '40, or '41, kit.
Depending on version, and/or specific vehicle, roadwheel fitment varied and for most '42's and '43's these will also have to come from donor kit. The turret opening of the -85 hull was larger than on the 76mm gun tanks, but it's far easier to shim the turret ring of the selected turret, than to fill and re-cut the DML opening (or to replace the upper deck).
The list of 2004 kits included a DML T-34/76 '43 as a November release. I have read that it is has the Uralmash turret, but I hope I'm wrong! The '43 hex turret was the most common, but we've yet to get a really good 1/35 version of that. Tamiya's Uralmash turret seems spot-on to me (unlike their hex turret) so I don't think we need another copy of this rarity (by T-34 production standards). Also, the DML '43 is supposed to be a captured tank, in German service, and presumably with the common German additions of side stowage bins, and possibly side skirt armor. Hopefully, these can be easily omitted for an "under original ownership version"! The extra decals from the DML '41 will be useful here.
List of T-34/76 permutations based on available kits
Next a list of the variants could be done, with available kits and aftermaket, to get most of the T-34/76.
Model 1940, L-11 gun and welded turret: DML stock kit (Armo makes a welded L-11 turret with interior detail).
Model 1940, L-11 and cast turret: DML kit, with Armo cast turret kit.
Model 1941, early, F-34 gun and welded turret: DML stock kit.
Model 1941, late, F-34 gun and welded turret: DML kit with 1st pattern late-style tow hooks (Tamiya, Zvezda, or DML hooks, with reworked early molded DML bases) and longitudinal bar-type engine grilles from DML T-34-85 or after-market p/e set. Later '41's, and all subsequent models, used only a single headlight; use of early pannier-type auxiliary tanks (as per DML '40 and '41) seems to have stopped, but the later rear-mounted fuel "boxes" have not appeared.
Model of 1941, early/late, F-34 gun and cast turret: DML kit with turret from Tamiya Model 1942; Include the additional changes noted above for the late version.
Model 1941/1942 STZ-built "transition model": reworked DML T-34-85 "UTZ" hull; rear hull plate & rectangular transmission cover from DML Model 1941; Zvezda 1942 STZ turret (w/ DML '41 gun breech) and Barrikady-pattern recurperator housing (or after-market barrel/mantlet/recuperator housing)and all-steel roadwheels; cut file, and fill front and rear corners of upper hull to form STZ interlocked joints; single headlight mounted on glacis.
Model 1942, early: reworked DML T-34-85 "UTZ" hull; DML Model 1941 welded turret (probably more common on early '42's), or Maquette welded turret (Tamiya 1942 cast turret OK, but far less common on early '42's); Tamiya, DML, or Maquette rubber-tired roadwheels; add rivets across hull front; un-armored hull MG from DML '41 kit (or scratchbuilt); fill mounting holes in glacis for spare track, and in hull sides for auxiliary tanks; Tamiya, Zvezda, or after-market rear-mounted "box" type auxiliary tanks are appropriate, if desired.
Model 1942, late: reworked DML T-34-85 "UTZ" hull; Tamiya 1942 cast turret (most common type on later '42's); Tamiya, Zvezda, or Maquette all-steel roadwheels (most common type); hull MG w/ armor jacket (from "UTZ" kit) standard from late '42 models onward; hull nose welded in place - no rivets; fill mounting holes in glacis for spare track; headlight moved to driver's side front corner of hull for late '42 and subsequent; rear-mounted fuel "boxes" or side-mounted cylindrical tanks ("UTZ" kit) if desired.
Model 1943, early: reworked DML T-34-85 "UTZ" hull; Tamiya, Zvezda, or after market hex turret (Tank Maker offers hard-edge, soft-edge and laminate replicas, but they are turret shells only, are clones of the Tamiya hex turret and inherit that turret's errors; you'll have to provide mantlet, gun, and turret top from the Tamiya kit or a Tank Maker top); other hull changes per the '42 late as above; Tamiya, Zvezda, or Maquette all-steel or rubber-tired (Tamiya, Maquette, or DML) roadwheels - all-steel wheels almost universal on very early '43's due to rubber shortage; as shortage eased, rubber-tired wheels re-appeared; rear-mounted fuel "boxes" or side-mounted cylindrical tanks if desired.
Model 1943, mid-late: reworked DML T-34-85 "UTZ" hull -- some later vehicles had glacis-mounted spare track; Tamiya, Zvezda, or after market turret hex turret (as above), or Tamiya "Uralmash" turret (there were only about 2,500 of these made);hull as per early '43; all-steel wheels on some vehicles, with rubber-tired solid-disc wheels common and rubber-tired "spider" pattern wheels (per "UTZ" kit) coming into service; late-production often equipped w/ commander's cupola (Tamiya hex turret kit offers alternate tops and cupola; cupola is undersized, but accurately-sized cupola will not fit either Tamiya or Tank Maker turrets); side-mounted cylindrical tanks most common type by far.
Model 1943, very late: reworked DML T-34-85 "UTZ" hull -- very late '43's had the vee-shaped hull nose and angled front fenders common to T-34-85's; hex turret (as above); rubber-tired "spider" pattern wheels common; cupola common; side-mounted cylindrical tanks; This is obviously the easiest '43 conversion, but probably the least commonly seen and with the least available reference info for modeling specific vehicles.
This list doesn't address minor variations such as command tanks or flame-thrower vehicles, nor does it deal with stowage differences (on-board jacks and jack blocks disappeared as standard storage after early '41 models).
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