Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/72 Armor Pro Kit No. 7224; T-34/76 Model 1942 w/Cast Turret; 116 parts (91 in grey styrene, 21 etched brass, 2 tan DS plastic track runs, 2 twisted steel wires); price about US $13.98
Advantages: Modified and improved version of earlier kits; nicely done pressed steel turret
Disadvantages: DS tracks cut long for sag and will require care in fitting; somebody needs to do more research on which tank is which!
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all small scale Soviet armor fans
There are times I wonder who's minding the store. The T-34 is a favorite subject of mine, to be sure; but when basic items are missed I do tend to get annoyed, and this kit is a typical example of somebody not paying attention.
The T-34 went into production with two types of turrets, one welded up from rolled steel armor plates and one in cast steel. the latter was easier to make but was also heavier as it took 15% more thickness to yield the same level of protection as the welded one (52mm sides versus 45mm sides.)
In late 1942, the Chelyabinsk Tank Factory (AKA the Chelyabinsk "Kirov" Factory, AKA "Tankograd") was ordered to begin production of the T-34 Model 1942 tank. While not happy about it (this factory was home to the KV series tanks, and later the IS series) they did as ordered. They also received support from the Ural Factory for Heavy Machinery Construction (Uralmashzavod or UZTM) However, instead of building cast turret tanks as were being carried out elsewhere, the the UZTM instead developed a pressed steel version of nearly identical external dimensions that had a unique smooth surface and softly rounded edges. UZTM built 719 tanks on their own, as well as provided turrets to the ChTZ for installation on their T-34 hulls; the ChTZ built another 5,094 T-34s in 1942-1944 before changing over to IS-2 production. of this number, 2,067 tanks were fitted with the UZTM pressed steel turret ("shtampovannaya bashnya" in Russian.)
This is NOT a cast turret, which was made in several factories and generally dubbed the "gayka" or "hex nut" in Russian.
All that being said, DML has done a bang-up job of getting the turret right!
The tanks from both the ChKZ and UZTM were noted for having handrails fitted at the top of the hull, and later production models also had the twin cylindrical spare fuel tanks on the flanks of the hull replacing the angular ones at the rear of the hull. Strangely enough the kit only comes with one long handrail on the left side, and no spare fuel tanks of any sort. Other than that, the fittings provided in the kit match photos of the ChKZ/UZTM tanks pretty well.
The kit comes with the same parts breakdown as other DML T-34 kits. Only one set of the very nicely done "slide molded" wheels is provided, the early production rubber tired pressed steel wheels (later ones were cast solid disks) and "waffle" tracks are provided in DML's DS plastic.
The hull comes with optional rear grilles, either solid styrene or open with an etched brass grille and an etched brass set of louvers to go under it; the Mk 1 eyeball says to be careful as it may interfere with mounting the grille. At least it is bored so the alignment pins in the engine grille will pass through it for solid attachment.
A sprue of Soviet external details is included, but most of the items which were found in previous kit No. 7266 are now missing.
Decals and paint schemes are provided for five examples: Unidentified unit, Leningrad Front 1943 (4BO green with brown patches); Unidentified unit, Eastern front 1942-43 (whitewashed); Unidentified unit, Eastern front 1943 (worn whitewash over 4BO green); Unidentified unit, Leningrad Front 1943 (4BO green with red stars); and Unidentified unit, Eastern front 1944 (same unidentified unit as the first one with different brown patches and side number.)
Overall, misnomer aside, this is an excellent kit and fills another gap in the T-34 saga.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.