ARM: Review - Trumpeter 1/35 scale PT-76B Amphibious Tank

Kit Review: Trumpeter 1/35 scale Kit No. 00381; Russian PT-76B Amphibious T=
ank;=20
188 parts (181 in grey styrene, 4 etched brass, 2 black vinyl tracks, 1 nyl=
on string); retail price US$47.95
Advantages: makes changes to the earlier kits to represent a PT-76B for 196=
2 and later series tanks; nicely done details=20
Disadvantages: wrong lower hull bow angle for this model of the PT-76; some=
dimensional differences with recent plans; vinyl tracks so-so
Rating: Recommended with Reservations
Recommendation: for all Soviet and third world light tank fans
Trumpeter is now becoming another company like DML and Tasca to make a =93=
full court press=94 on its chosen subjects when they pick one. This is the =
third of four kits released covering the basic Soviet PT-76 amphibious tank=
series of vehicles (they have also released a BTR-50PK among other kits).
As I wrote in the review of the PT-76 Model 1951, the PT-76 was developed =
out of a postwar requirement for a light amphibious reconnaissance tank (in=
the mold of the prewar T-37 and T-38 light tanks) with no more than 15mm a=
rmor protection and mounting a 76mm gun to protect itself. The PT-76 was cr=
eated by the Chelyabinsk Kirov Factory under the auspices of Zhosif Kotin, =
who was the chief of all tank designs from both Chelyabinsk and Leningrad a=
fter the war. A task force of designers was created from Chelyabinsk, Lenin=
grad and the VNII-100 research institute under designated project head desi=
gner Nikolay Shashmurin.
Based on work done at the Factory No. 112 (=93Krasnoye Sormovo=94) just af=
ter the end of the war, Shashmurin=92s team created two vehicles on one cha=
ssis: Article 740, which was the amphibious light tank; and Article 750, an=
open-topped amphibious armored personnel carrier (which became the BTR-50)=
. They worked on the project from 1949 to 1951, after which Article 740 was=
accepted for service as the PT-76 (P for =93Plavayushchiy=94 or amphibious=
, T for tank, and 76 for the 76.2mm D-56T gun). A number of enterprises thu=
s shared in the award of the =93Stalin Prize=94 for the creation of the PT-=
76 and BTR-50 in 1953. Most of the vehicles were built by the Stalingrad (n=
ow Volgograd) Tractor Factory even though it was designed =93up north.=94=
=20
The vehicle underwent several upgrade programs in service: these included =
work on a =93Zarya=94 gun stabilizer, an upgrade to an 85mm gun, and variou=
s minor improvements. In 1955 the original D-56T gun with its multibaffle =
muzzle brake was replaced by the D-56TM with a two-chamber type as well as =
finally provided with a HEAT round which gave it better ability to deal wit=
h tank type threats. In 1957 a TDA smoke generator system was installed, as=
well as a new R-113 VHF radio to replace its 10RT type HF set from WWII.=
=20
In 1958, a new and heavily modified version entered production, the PT-76B=
. This tank used the D-56TS gun with the =93Zarya=94 stabilizer, a radiatio=
n and chemical protective filter system (FVU and PAZ systems), the hull was=
increased in height by 60mm at the turret centerline area to increase buoy=
ancy reserves and seakeeping qualities, the turret handrails were moved up =
150mm on the sides, twin 90 liter auxiliary fuel tanks were fitted, a third=
(IR) headlight added, and a number of minor changes were also made.=20
In 1962 the vehicle hull was redesigned, with the sides increased another =
70mm and the lower front plate angles changed from 45 degrees to only 35 de=
grees.=20
Between 1951 and 1969 a total of 4,172 PT-76 tanks of all types were produ=
ced, of which 941 were exported to a variety of countries to include China,=
Vietnam, Egypt, and India. Widely popular with Russian forces, especially =
the Naval Infantry, the PT-76 was still in service in 1990 and declared in =
CFE =96 but as a =93light armored vehicle carrying heavy armament=94 so it =
would not count against tank strengths.=20
The PT-76B kit changes out the early D-56T gun for the stabilized D-56TM g=
un with the two chamber muzzle brake. This kit also adds the correct upper =
hull profile with the final raised sides, but it uses the height of the Mod=
el 1958 which is 2 mm too low. It also uses the lower hull from the first t=
wo kits which is not correct for the B model. That changed the lower bow an=
gle from 45 degrees to 35 degrees but the kit alas will have to be correcte=
d. Still, it is easier than correcting the upper hull height on the Model 1=
951.=20
Note that in 1/35 scale the upper hull of the Model 1951 should be 12.3 mm=
; for the Model 1958, 14 mm; and for the PT-76B,16 mm, point of measurement=
is the break in the hull side beneath the forward part of the turret. This=
is based on 1/35 scale plans by Aleksandr Koshchavtsev, who is a very accu=
rate draftsman. =20
As a result this causes the error in the suspension units making them slig=
htly strung out, with the lead one being about 70mm in scale (2mm) too far =
forward and the rest graduated down the line until the rear units match. Ag=
ain, I doubt many modelers will correct this error. (Note that the EE kit i=
s of the 1958 version of the PT-76 with the 60mm raised hull and dual baffl=
e muzzle brake.)=20
That being said, whereas the EE kit had nice details the Trumpeter one has=
excellent ones. It comes with useful etched brass for the engine deck gril=
les (air intake and exhaust/ejection cooling) and also the headlight guards=
; formers are thoughfully provided for their complex shapes. For some reaso=
n Trumpeter includes the entire water jet trunking even though I doubt many=
will put the model on a mirror to see it! There are some major pin joints =
inside the trunking as well as the barrel, but a few minutes with a Dremel =
Minimite should solve that problem.=20
The gun barrel is as nice as anyone could wish in plastic, even though lik=
e the Model 1951 it had to be done using conventional molding methods and t=
hus there are assembly pins in the bore to rout out. A gun breech is provid=
ed for the kit as well but as no basket comes with it for the turret you ma=
y wish to just =93button it up=94 for simplicity=92s sake. =20
With the exception of the tracks, all bits on the Trumpter kit are just th=
at much better. Trumpeter now does offer a working single link track for th=
is vehicle, but as the track links are each three parts (two guide teeth an=
d a pad) I am not sure how many modelers will use them. The kit tracks indi=
cate they are cementable vinyl (e.g. like the DS plastic used by DML or the=
type used by Tamiya) but are thin and somewhat flimsy. Given that an EE ki=
t probably goes for $10-12 at flea markets, you may wish to pick one up for=
the single link tracks that will fit on this kit.
Engine deck hatches are separate parts so detailers may install an engine=
and driveline, and the crew hatches also are optional position items..=20
Two sets of markings are included for a Naval Infantry tank with exercise =
stripes in 4BO green and a tri-colored one, also Naval Infantry, but withou=
t the flag insignia. Note that Bison has a new set of Naval Infantry markin=
gs out which will be suitable for this kit as well as Trumpeter=92s BTR-60P=
kit.
Overall it is still disappointing that Trumpeter missed the fact that all =
three PT-76 tanks use different height hulls and the lower hull changes on =
the =93B=94 itself.=20
Cookie Sewell
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AMPSOne
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