ARM: Review (finally!) DML 1/35 Scale T-34 Model 1940

Kit Review: DML 1/35 Scale ‘39-‘45 Series Kit No. 6092; T-34/76 Model 1940; 415 parts (412 in grey styrene, 2 clear styrene lenses, 1 section of nylon
string); price around $28-34
Advantages: first good kit of this seminal vehicle; turret molding is truly amazing, especially the fit; captures the good looks of this tank; excellent detailing
Disadvantages: due to the fact that the Soviets did not mark these tanks, nor camouflage them, only one paint scheme – "Protective Green 4BOP" (FS 34102)
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all early war armor and Soviet armor fans or "34 freaks"!
F I R S T L O O K
    I am an unabashed T-34 freak, and loudly admit it. The story behind the creation of the tank itself, let alone the legendary combat utilization that it received in WWII, Korea and even up to the present day, cries out for a movie. Ignoring the fact that making movies about tanks is probably about as well received as a society to "Save Scorpions, Fire Ants, and Coyotes" would be in Texas, it is probably only a fond wish.
    To provide a bit of background about what makes this tank - the first series production model of the T-34 – so important, a bit of background is required.
    In May 1937 Mikhail I. Koshkin was sent to take over KB-190 – the tank design section – at Khar'kov Steam Locomotive Factory No. 183. Until he arrived, the factory produced steam locomotives on its own and tanks under the guidance of the Leningrad "Kirov" Factory. At the time Koshkin took over, they were building the BT-7 fast tank, armed with a 45mm gun and able to operate either on wheels or tracks.
    Koshkin got bedded down in the factory (this was during the Purges of 1937, and as a point of reference both the factory manager and previous chief designer were denounced and summarily shot) and found he had a good assistant in Aleksandr Morozov, who was in charge of transmission designs. Koshkin soon received a task to "improve" the BT-7 tank; one improvement going on nearby was that Khar'kov Engine Factory No. 75 was gearing up to produce the BD-2 high-speed diesel engine – what would become the V-2 diesel, progenitor of over 200,000 tank engines that have followed it. Koshkin's first task was installing the BD-2 in the BT-7 to create the BT-7M.
    But Koshkin was no fan of the complex transmission design, and also was aware of another proposal to put sloped armor on the BT-7. This was tested in a tank dubbed the BT-SV-2 but it came to naught. Another modification was the BT-IS which was to have all-wheel drive to supplement its tracked drive. This nearly got into production as the high command liked the concept of wheel and track tanks, but Koshkin wanted it eliminated. As it would figure, an engineer from Leningrad nearly got it to work; this poor soul had the unfortunate name of A. Dik. Koshkin managed to keep Dik so busy he eventually nearly collapsed from stress.
    With the BT-IS off the table, Koshkin proposed a new tank dubbed BT-20. He promised a prototype of this tank, but at the same time gathered his team and announced he wanted a second tank prototype – one with a fully tracked drive, wide tracks, sloped armor and a 76mm gun. This tank, the A-32, was built at the same time as the A-20 prototype for the BT-20 proposal. But the A-20 used the same four road wheel convertible suspension as the BT-7, even though it shared its hull and turret design with the A-32.
    When the new tanks were shown in September 1939 to the command of the Red Army, Koshkin was proud of the new A-32; while this tank was clearly superior to the other offerings – the A-20, BT-7M, and the new KV tank from Leningrad – it was not what the command wanted. But the new Peoples' Commissar for Medium Industrial Production (a euphemism for tanks), Vlacheslav Malyshev, loved it and was very emphatic about it. Even Stalin liked the idea of a powerful, fast and nimble tank, and while he still preferred the wheel and track concept, he permitted the A-32 to proceed.
    However, the "competition" in the form of Zhosef Kotin from Leningrad was not happy. Kotin wanted his KV design – named for his wife's godfather, Kliment Voroshilov – to be the "only tank" for the Red Army. Voroshilov agreed and when both the KV and improved A-32 were ordered into production in December 1939, Voroshilov pulled a fast one: he approved that the A-34 version, the improved A-32, go into production.
    But there was a catch. Since the A-32 had passed all of the state tests, and the A-34 had not, Koshkin had to go back to square one and build 10 prototype tanks before April. The command in Moscow kept tightening the timeline on Koshkin, and as a result in early March he was ordered to report to Moscow with the first two T-34 tanks for a command performance. In a driving snowstorm and the dead of winter, Koshkin and a small group of technicians drove the two tanks to Moscow, arriving in the middle of the night and having to quickly put on a demonstration for the command. Koshkin had caught pneumonia on the drive, and as a result annoyed Stalin as he coughed badly while explaining the virtues fo the tank. Stalin was impressed, and the tank was ordered into full production. While Voroshilov and Kotin tried a couple of other times to dethrone the T-34, when war broke out in June the T-34 was the only useful tank in production.
    Mikhail Koshkin died from the results of pneumonia in September 1940 and never got to see his creation vindicate itself in combat.
    The first production tank, the Model 1940, was a transitional tank from the peacetime VT series to the stripped down and highly compact and functional T-34 tanks of the war. It came with headlights and a lot of concepts that were later proven to be poorly thought through, such as its early and unreliable 4-speed transmission. (The later 5-speed was much more reliable.) It was armed with two 7.62mm DT machine guns and a 76mm L-11 gun – ironically produced in Leningrad. This gun – a "powerful" gun for its time but one blessed with a barrel length of only 30.5 calibers – was a woeful design, highly inaccurate due to its being suspended from its cradle. When the superior F-32 gun became available, however, Voroshilov and Kotin ensured that the entire production run would only be used for the KV-1 and not the T-34. The result was that the T-34 team was offered a new gun – the 41.5 caliber long F-34, which became the reason that the Model 1941 T-34 was so highly feared by German tankers.
    One myth which Morozov let out about the T-34 is why the Model 1941 used a cast turret. Supposedly during the withdrawal from Khar'kov to Nizhniy Tagil the rolling machine needed to roll the turret armor plate into the components for the welded turret was lost on a siding, and as a result the factory bravely created a new design in a matter of days for a cast turret. This is not true, for we know that Model 1940 tanks had both the welded and the cast turret, as did early Model 1941 tanks.
    DML has done a bang-up job of creating the first of the T-34 tanks – the Model 1940, with its short L-11 gun and underslung cradle giving it the "boar's head" type of mantelet. Having spent the last six months of 2001 building a T-34 Model 1941 out of a Zvezda Model 1942 and a Tamiya "Model 1942" (Model 1941) I got very familiar with all of the detail differences in the tanks and the Model 1940. This kit has nailed every one of the key details spot on.
    The Model 1940 comes with headlights (which are not symmetrical due to the machine gun mount) as well as a single tail light; all are there, and the headlights come with clear lenses to boot. Vehicle stowage consisted of four 33.5 liter rectangular fuel tanks, two jacks at the right rear, one or two tow cables on the right side, two sets of spare track links at the rear of the fenders, and a variety of small bins, with two irregular ones mounted on the rear mudguards. Depending upon the individual command, anywhere up to 45 grousers could be carried on the fenders; the kit only provides about 21, but that is more than sufficient. (They stopped using most of them when they came up with the "waffle" track, which had more traction.) All present.
    The Model 1940 also had a different driver-mechanic's hatch with three offset viewers, a concealed hinge, and vertical louvers on its radiator intake and air intake vents. A single rectangular hatch in the rear provided access to the engine. All present.
    The suspension is the same as that found on the T-34-85 series tanks, but since it did not change, no problem. The wheels are the original solid disk wheels with rubber "bandazhi" or tires, perforated with "cheater" holes to save rubber. The tank also has the early style idler with rubber "bandazhi" and roller drivers. Track links have faint ejection pin marks on the inner face, but these are easily removed; the tracks are the original pattern "longitudinal cleat" type hated by Soviet tankers as it tended to let ice build up and gave no traction in mud or snow.
    There are things one could wish for but with this kit the only thing I would have asked for is an open rear engine radiator air exhaust grille with an etched metal screen, but that can wait for another day.
    The rolled welded turret is an amazing piece of work. Even dry fitting this yields no seams or cracks. The mantelet is composed of several pieces but – suprise! – so were the originals. (You can even find a huge seam on at least one of the actual tanks here at the Ordnance Museum in Aberdeen! So much for what model railroaders call "it ain't prototype!")
    The model does offer two finishes on the back of the full-color directions: either the previously mentioned "protective green 4BO" scheme or a color scheme used by the 1st Mechanized Division (not Motor Rifle as it states in the directions, they came much later) in the summer of 1941. This combines "dark green 4BO" with "dark brown 6K" and "yellow earth 7K"; one is a dark reddish brown and the other is a brownish tan.
    Overall I only wish this kit had come out two years ago! This is my personal choice for "Kit of the Year" but then again I am biased towards ‘34s.
    Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell AMPS
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