ARM: Review - Miniarm 1/35 scale T-90 Resin Conversion Components

Kit Review: Miniarm 1/35 Scale Resin Conversion Parts and Sets
Kit No. B35005; T-72B, T-72BM, T-90 Wheel Sets, Late Version (For
Tamiya and Trumpeter Kits); 24 parts in light grey-green resin; price
Kit No. B35031; T-90 Model 1992 Turret, also for T-90S; 109 parts
(107 in grey-green resin, 2 turned aluminum); price US$58.00
Kit No. B35032; T-90 Model 1992, T-90S, T-90A, T-90 "Bichma"
Conversion Set; 24 parts (23 in light grey-green resin, 1 length of
soft brass wire); price US$40
Kit No. B35034; T-90, T-90A, T-90S Workable Track Set w/Drive
Sprockets and Idlers; approximately 178 parts in light grey-green
resin; price US$40
(NOTE: These items are distributed and marketed by Chesapeake Model
Designs, PO Box 393, Monkton, MD 21111 or
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purchased from them as a set the price of the unit (T-90 CK) is US
Advantages: Turns the T-72M1 into an early model T-90 or T-90S
Disadvantages: need some work on the part of the modeler, heavy pour
blocks on some items
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all modern Russian or Indian armor fans
The T-72 has not had a happy time of it since the fall of the Soviet
Union. While one of the "best sellers" for the Soviets and the
"Uralvagonzavod" in the 1980s, with the fall of the Union in 1991
combined with the debacle of Operation Desert Storm in that same year
put the factory in a tough spot. The T-72, long vaunted as one of the
most powerful tanks in the world, lost both its prestige and its
backers within a year.
While former Soviet flacks tried to spin the Gulf War to their
advantage, the fact of the matter was that most prospective customers
believed the American version of events and not the Soviet one.
(Soviet Claim: only 14 T-72s were lost by the Iraqis and most of them
were destroyed by their own crews to prevent capture. American Claim:
B Company 4th Tanks of the USMC destroyed 34 T-72M and T-72M1 tanks in
less than 14 minutes.)
Meanwhile, back in Russia they had been working on improving their
domestic version of the tank. First they produced the T-72BM which
made a number of changes to the vehicle, including replacing the 4S20
add-on reactive armor ("Kontakt-1") with the new second-generation
4S22 ("Kontakt-5") reactive armor in new arrays. The vehicles received
a new 1A40-1 fire control system backed up by a 1K13-2 sight for a
through-the-bore antitank guided missile system. Other changes were
made, but there was no real quantum leap forward in this tank and only
a few were procured by the Soviet Army.
This was followed by a far more modified dubbed the T-72BU. This tank
added a modified version of the 1A45 "Irtysh" fire control system from
the T-80U which both improved the fire control of the T-72B as well as
standardized most parts with the two tanks. It got a new V-84 diesel
engine of 840 HP (780 HP in early models), new radio sets, and a
meteorological sensor mast. Lastly, it was equipped with the brand-new
"Shtora-1" passive/active protection system that detected laser
rangefinders and target designators. This system would then either
slew the turret to face the threat or fire smoke grenades to blind the
enemy; it also used "dazzlers" on either side of the turret to disrupt
the tracking control of enemy ATGM gunners.
But with the T-72 designator being a drug on the market, in 1992 new
Russian President Boris Yeltsin wisely (at least from a marketing
standpoint) changed the designator to T-90 and proclaimed it the
"First Russian Tank." Unfortunately even with all these changes the
Russians were broke, and over the course of 15 years they have only
been able to purchase less than 350 tanks for their own use. Happily
the Indians stepped in and purchased 310 of the tanks fitted out for
hot climate operations as the T-90S, so the production lines have kept
Over the years the T-90 has undergone a number of changes. The very
first one was to replace the old single-pin RMSh tracks with new twin-
pin RMSh types that were improved versions of the tracks used on the
T-80 family of vehicles. These are now called the "Universal Tracks"
and are being fitted to all Russian vehicles using T-72 or T-80
chassis and components.
In 1999 a new welded turret was introduced and while not formally
identified resulted in a tank called either the T-90 Model 1999 (T-90S
Model 1999) or T-90A (T-90SA) on Russian blog sites. This has better
armor resistance than the cast turret.
Also the tank received first a modifed version of the V-84 engine,
the V-84MS, and later the new 1000 HP V-92S2 engine. Both of these
engines are externally identified by a long, curving "anteater" type
exhaust tube that has baffles over and under it as well as a grille in
the duct itself. These draw cold air from the air cleaner and reduce
the tank's overall signature.
Miniarm's new series of kits now permit regular modelers to produce
the members of the T-90 family; the "T-90A" welded turret will follow
along later this year and the only component not yet offered by
Miniarm is the new exhaust mounting and tube for the V-84MS/V-92S2
engine installation. Picking up kits B35005, B35031 and B35032 will
permit the modeler to make one of the very earliest of the T-90 series
with the standard RMSh kit tracks; adding B35034 to the mix provides
for the standard production Model 1992 or the early version of the
T-90S, dubbed "Bishma" by the Indian Army. (The Russians named the
tank the "Vladimir" in honor of designer Vladimir Potkin, who died of
a heart attack shortly after the vehicle was accepted for service.)
The kits are typical of the fine product line from Miniarm, and all
of them seem to match the profiles of their prototype very well.
However, these are older technology products, which in resin says
sizeable pour plugs that must be removed. Most are at least logically
sited so they can be removed without damage to the part, but great
care will have to be taken with the bins on the turret.
That being said, the kits all state that they are for either the
Tamiya or the Trumpeter
T-72M1 kits. In good conscience, I must heartily recommend that only
the Tamiya kit be considered. The Trumpeter T-72M1 kit is literally a
cheesy knock-off of the Tamiya kit (the directions are xeroxed from
the original with the logos cut off) and, like all second-rate copies,
the kit possesses lousy fit and finish. Ergo, plan on the Tamiya one
even at twice the price.
Once you have the right kit, the rest is relatively simple as the
directions, while "point and stick" photos, show what has to be cut
off the original and where the new bits go.
The wheels are literally a one-for-one replacement. Note that you
will have to drill out the holes for the axles in each rear wheel, but
if done carefully the original Tamiya "keepers" will fit so the wheels
can be left loose until final assembly.
The tracks are nearly identical to those used on the T-64 upgrade
kits and simply snap together as they are a slightly flexible resin.
However, while the correct new drivers are provided as well as new
idlers, the drivers do not come with the track guide disks so those
will have to be taken from the base kit or the spares box. (The good
news is the new ones are simply the kit parts but with the proper
"teeth" added for the twin-pin links.)
The hull parts are more extensive than some in the past, as it
provides both the new glacis and fender section to replace the T-72M1
glacis (this one has the built-in "Kontakt-5" armor arrays in it) as
well as some of the details added, such as reinforced rubber "flapper"
covers for the rear air exhaust vents, new final drive drain
assemblies, and the "Kontakt-5" panels for the front half of the side
skirts. They also provide directions for the "stagger" to these panels
for installation. There are a number of kit parts used, so the
directions show where the kit parts fit on the new glacis. These
include the tow hooks, headlights and guards, and marker lights, and
the wire is provided to run new control wires down to the stub control
connectors for the mine plow fittings. It also provides new attachment
fittings for the front of the hull to replace the somewhat anemic kit
The turret is complete and requires very little from the kit. This is
a good idea, as very few items from the T-72M1 turret transfers over
directly to the new T-90 turret. Having just done one the hard way
with a Tamiya T-72M1 turret and an old DML "T-72M2" (T-72B1) turret I
am impressed with the quality of the base molding. Basically the
actual vehicle also shows the fact that the T-90 took the entire
remote control machine gun cupola from the T-64BV series tanks and
fitted it to a T-72B turret, so all of that has to be new. The
gunner's hatch is better detailed than the original, so replacing it
is a good idea as well.
The turret has a ton of new parts, so they must be carefully fitted
after studying the plans. Some are very tiny and require care. For
example the "Shtora-1" system is complete and need a lot of care as
the coarse laser detection heads (parts 25) have optional position
covers (parts 26) as do the fine laser detection heads (part 24) and
its covers (parts 27). Each smoke grenade launcher barrel assembly
(parts 35 I think!) mount individually to the two brackets. There are
also 22 separate "Kontakt-5" bricks for the turret (not listed but
very obvious as they are on a "wafer" of resin) and no less than 17 of
them are called for (there are some fits seen with as many as 19 used,
so three must be spares) but location here is pretty much shown in the
The "dazzler" searchlights are an amazing bit of molding, as most
modelers who scratchbuild would not attempt them due to the "hedgehog"
heat sink pins located all over their surfaces. Miniarm has done a
beautiful job of them and adds a separate top to give six-surface
finishing to them.
The barrel is the only really tricky part, as only one end of the
bore evacuator (resin) is tapped with a hole for the assembly pin.
Drilling out the other will be somewhat tedious. Also for no reason I
can find the flange where the barrel thermal jacket is sealed is
missing; Miniart has engraved a fine line in the top of the barrel
where it goes, but no material is provided for it. You will need
strips of very thin brass or styrene to add this feature.
No finishing directions are provided by any of the sections, but all
of the Russian ones seen so far are in some variation of their new
standard camouflage of sand grey, dark green and black. Since the
colors vary nearly from vehicle to vehicle, there aren't any really
good color matches to give for them other than suggesting FS37038
black and FS34088 dark green.
Overall, these kits do provide a chance for the modeler to create one
of the more current tanks in Russia or to create the Indian Army
Bishma tank. For those wanting a later version, the welded T-90
turret, combined with the other three elements of this grouping,
should provide a model of that tank later this summer, and if Miniarm
releases the new exhaust assembly a current production version can be
Thanks to Bill Miley of CMD for the review samples.
Cookie Sewell
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