Kit Review: Trumpeter 1/35 scale Kit No. 05546; Soviet T-10M Heavy Tank; 631 parts (371 in grey styrene, 180 in brown styrene, 78 etched brass, 2 twis ted copper wire); retail price US$74.99
Advantages: one of two new kits of this elusive tank; does not mirror Meng kit; simpler single-link track assembly
Disadvantages: unknown due to dissimilarities between the two kits and also the fact these tanks were built at two separate factories
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for Soviet armor and Cold War fans
At the very end of WWII the Soviets paraded 52 brand new tanks at the Vict ory Parade in Berlin. These turned out to be the very first IS-3 heavy tank s and they impressed and scared the West. But the IS-3 was a dog - subject to sudden breakages and failures, and a cramped and miserable tank to serve in for Soviet tankers. After several different options were tried, an impr oved tank, dubbed the IS-5, was proposed. During the late 1940s progress continued on this tank, and after some fals e starts an improved version was offered as the IS-8. This tank managed to pass all tests and was accepted for service, but between the time it was ac cepted and the first tanks rolled out in 1953 Stalin died, so the new tank was redesignated T-10.
The T-10 was essentially an "IS-3 2.0" with many corrections to that desig n but also a lot of pricey changes and upgrades. Over the years they were f itted with a single axis stabilizer (T-10A), a two-axis stabilizer (T-10B) and finally a new turret and new gun with new fire control system (T-10M). The Soviets finally had their perfected heavy tank - but...
In the meantime Western ammunition gun and munitions development had found easier ways to defeat this tank, as it only had monolithic armor protectio n. The new sabot (APDS) and antitank (HEAT) rounds and guided missile warhe ads could all defeat its armor from the frontal 60 degree arc, so the tank was no major threat. With the advent of the Article 432 (later T-64) tanks on the horizon, less than 1,600 T-10s of all types were built.
Oddly enough, the tanks were built by two factories - the Leningrad "Kirov " factory and the Chelyabinsk "Kirov" factory (later Chelyabinsk Tractor Fa ctory after 1958). Production in Leningrad ceased in 1962 and in Chelyabins k in 1966, but both factories - neither one liked the other's work - made s lightly different versions of the same vehicles.
Over 45 years ago Tamiya released kits of what it called the "T-10 JS-III" tanks but they were clearly based on the T-10B and T-10M tanks. At least f our different versions of this tank were kitted with different parts and co mponents in each one (I have one of each and found that out the hard way) b ut none of them really represented an accurate T-10 of any sort.
Some resin kits from companies like Navigator and Brigadyr in Russia and C ommander Models in the US have come out over the interim period of time, bu t now two brand-new kits have been released at the same time by Meng and Tr umpeter of the final variant, the T-10M. But both kits are slightly differe nt, and with the fact that two different tanks were built it appears at fir st glance they each used a different preserved vehicle as their source. But without detailed analysis and serial numbers it is not possible to determi ne which kit represents which factory!
This kit is the simpler of the two as it uses simple "stick them together" single link tracks, one set of links for the left track and one for the ri ght. Meng uses three-piece ones which you either love or hate based on succ ess, but this one is old fashioned if tedious. I wish they had followed the very useful track sets in their KV series of kits with "link and length" w ith premolded droop.
Having converted two Trumpeter IS-3M kits into a T-10M back in 2008 I did a great deal of research on the T-10M and can comment reasonably well on th is kit. It starts out with the lower hull (as do most tanks) and all of the suspension components are separate items. Six of the road wheel axles are fitted with shock absorbers and fluid reservoirs which is correct. As Trump eter apparently is going to share these molds with other kits (the tracked SCUD launcher already being announced, which uses a large number of T-10 pa rts) separate driver faces are used by this kit.
The next steps cover the turret, and give the modeler the option of either leaving the turret smooth or adding the bustle bin to the rear of the turr et. This comes with a separate hatch and details.
Oddly enough the coaxial KPVT machine gun was molded in the middle of the sprue so its conspicuous flash hider must be hollowed out by the builder. T here is no mantlet cover (the actual tanks were fitted with a canvas cover, which the builder will have to add from putty if desired) but all other de tails appear to be present. The commander's cupola consists of 19 parts and looks the part; "clear" part fans will be disappointed as all parts are so lid.
The M-62T2S gun barrel comes in four parts - two halves and two collar hav es. Care will be needed in smoothing the multibaffle muzzle brake but the r est should be easy with a "Flex-i-File". A large 14.5mm ammo can stores on the right side of the turret.
Construction of the hull is very straightforward and all of the weld lines are present, albeit some may wish to enhance them. The "cages" over the he adlights are nicely done and should be simple to assemble and install. PE f ender flaps are provided for the mud flaps at each corner.
The only error I have found so far is that for reasons best known to thems elves Trumpeter shows the tank fitted with four smoke canisters; this is no t right, as all of the photos of the ones in Czechoslovakia were fitted wit h two 200 liter auxiliary fuel tanks carried at the rear (and some had two extra ones tossed on top of the first set. The fuel tanks are carried low a nd the smoke canisters mounted high, but you will have to find a suitable d onor. The Trumpeter IS-3M comes with the tanks and the mounting racks which should fit here.
Other minor details are missing but in most cases understandable. There is a small line leading from a side boss on the rear external fuel tanks (E-28/29) into the tank at the front outside corner of the rear engine deck pla te. Both the bosses for this line are missing. Also missing are a part of D
-shaped towing clevises on the left side glacis behind the single headlight .
This tank is fitted with the grillwork over the top of the exhaust opening s (the smaller outer grills on the engine deck with covers PE-D2). Others a re not but the grid pattern inside them is quite different so the PE parts should be used.
The KPVT machine gun is OPTIONAL - only one in five T-10M tanks was ever f itted with the weapon. The one in the kit is very nicely done - but it is m issing the predictor gun sight fitted to most of those tanks with this weap on. Note that the gun requires both an ammo box and a connector/casing coll ector box on opposite sides of the gun.
Four finishing options are provided: 95th Heavy Tank Regiment (TTP), 9th T ank Division, 1st Guards Tank Army, Plzen, CSSR, August 1968 (dark green wi th white "cross" stripes and diamond markings - either 5-10 / 37 or 23 / 3-4); Unidentified Guards Unit (overall green with Guards badges); Unidentifi ed tank regiment, Unidentified Heavy Tank Division (green with diamond mark ing and white 202). A "Number Jungle: sheet with targeted markings is inclu ded.
Overall, other than the curious errors noted in the review this is a very well done and simple build with less etched brass than many recent Trumpete r kits.