ARM: Review - Trumpeter T-90 MBT Cast Turret

Kit Review: Trumpeter 1/35 scale Kit No. 05560; Russian T-90 MBT - Cast Tur ret; 1,331 parts (561 in grey styrene, 404 in light brown styrene, 330 etch
ed brass, 16 vinyl keepers, 15 clear styrene, 4 cementable vinyl, 1 twisted copper wire); retail price US$73.99
Advantages: first kit of the early model T-90 in styrene; well-thought-out kit means many more T-72 and T-90 variants to come
Disadvantages: parts content rivals DML Tiger I kits; many very tiny etched brass parts
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all Soviet and Russian armor fans
    As I noted in an earlier review, timing, as the advertising men say, is ev erything. In 1989 the Ural Railway Wagon Building Factory (Uralvagonzavod) under its chief designer, Vladimir Potkin, reworked their T-72B design to b oth add built-in second generation reactive armor and the new ?Shtora-1" active protection defense system among other modifications. They dubbed the new Article 188 tank the T-72B Modified (but it was also called T-72BU for ?usovershenyy? or ?improved?) and prepared to offer it to the gove rnment for acceptance and foreign sales in 1990. But...
    The disastrous performance of the Iraqi army in Desert Storm in early 1991 with the total destruction of T-72s in Iraqi service by M1A1 and Challenge r 2 tanks with no confirmed friendly losses turned any T-72 offered for sal e into a drug on the market. While the UVZ knew their new model could survi ve against most foreign tanks , being a ?T-72" meant nobody wanted it. Fa ced with this dilemma, and then the collapse of the Soviet Union in Decembe r 1991, the UVZ was not in a good position.
    However, President Boris Yeltsin solved the problem when the tank was acce pted for service in October 1992 as the ?T-90 - the First Russian Main Ba ttle Tank? as it was announced to the world. Dubbed the T-90 Model 1992, the new tank was now offered for sale as a new vehicle (which it was not).
    The T-90 Model 1992 was basically an extended version of the T-72B series tanks and initially the only major external difference with late model T-72 B tanks was the presence of the ?Shtora? active protection system. This had two combination searchlights/IR jammers to defend against IR guided an titank missiles. But they soon realized that most western systems either us ed wire guidance or laser beam riders (and now ?fire and forget?) with the sudden realization that the jammers left two open spots in the turret f or missiles to penetrate as they had no ERA coverage.
    ?Shtora? also had laser warning sensors on the rear corners of the tur ret (?coarse? sensors) and just above the main gun (?fine? sensors) to warn the crew and home in on the source of the laser illumination.          Even though proven ineffective after the disaster at Chernobyl in 1986, th e T-90s still were fitted with ?nadboy? radiation protection cladding o ver the vulnerable parts of the tank to radiation penetration.
    Trumpeter now offers the third T-90 kit in the last 18 months, and in this case their first kit is of the Model 1992 with the cast turret and early f ittings. As such, it is easy to convert into a T-72B Model 1985 or T-72BA o f nearly any given year (with references as they all changed just a bit fro m year to year!)
    This particular kit is of a mid production run tank (note that less than 6 50 T-90 cast turret tanks were built before the improved T-90A Model 1999 r eplaced it in production) as it has early features but the now standard UMS h universal twin pin tracks vice the older RMSh single pin rubber bushed tr acks. It also has the later V-84MS engine exhaust with nozzle for the ?si l?fon? cold air injection system. Lastly, it has the 1EhTs29 remote mac hine gun cupola/commander?s cupola so a backdate to a B would need the ol der cupola like those on the Tamiya T-72M1kit. As noted, most other improvements in the Model 1992 were internal so there is little else to change to backdate it into an earlier B model.
    This kit seems daunting from the parts description, but other than single link tracks with separate teeth and all of the separate etched brass fasten ers for the ?nadboy? applique protection it is not any worse than any o ther modern armor kit. Those parts alone account for 50% of the parts in th e kit.
    Assembly follows those of the other two T-90 kits with the lower hull firs t. As these parts are for multiple variants of the T-72/T-90 family, there are a lot of holes to be opened up and other changes during the build seque nce so close attention will have to be paid to the directions.
    The kit is also one that provides the correct operating arms for its six s hock absorbers (C-12-17) which is nice to see. Road wheels are nice and bee fy as they should be and use vinyl keepers for assembly. Note if you want t o swap the UMSh tracks for RMSh types you will have to have new drivers tho ugh as the pitch and spacing of the teeth on the drive rings is different.
    The kit?s design is actually better than the other two (Zvezda and Meng) as it permits detailing the hull glacis and roof separately from the hull. In point of fact, the glacis/roof is not even installed until Step 7. The engine deck is neatly done and ?rivet-counters? will be happy to know t hat the radiator grilles are offset a scale 30mm or so to the left. The ste rn plate is done properly with two UMSh spare links and the fittings for ra il shipment bolted on in place of the older RMSh links (another area to wat ch for if you change tracks).
    The UMSh tracks are not bad, but are not as simple and neatly done as the Zvezda ones. As a result, the kit comes with four assembly jigs for holding them while installing the single link teeth. At least these are nicely don e and large enough to make the job a bit less foreboding.
    As noted some surgery will be involved if you wish to go back to an early T-90 Model 1992 with the older V-84M engine with the T-72 style exhaust. Th e V-84MS one is installed in Steps 10 and 12.
    All of the tie-down straps for fuel tanks and stowage bins are a PE strap and styrene toggle so some care is needed in assembly.
    As with all late-model T-72 tanks, the fuel system is the ?demand? typ e with the two 200 liter auxiliary tanks plugged into the tank?s fuel sys tem; this one uses vinyl hoses and nipples to fit them rather than molded h oses.
    Step 17 covers fitting all of the ?nadboy? fasteners to the turret, bu t I suggest doing this prior to starting turret assembly in Step 16. There are a total of around 230 of them to be installed, and all of them are abou t 2mm in diameter. They could be left off if the modeler is not worried abo ut ?competition? level modeling.
    You are on your own as to getting the ?Shtora? projectors (Step 17) to ?glow? properly orange. The best look I found is to use a small circle of exposed 35mm film header which has the right orange tint and a silver p ainted styrene plastic backing to it. This gives the right dull glow for on e operating in daylight. Like the others before it, there are around 450 to tal parts to the turret of this model.
    Finishing directions are provided for two tanks: one generic T-90 A with n o markings and the popular ?Russian Eagle? one with the large eagle car toons and Russian flags on its skirt ERA panels. While that tank has ?bor t? number 113 and specific unit markings, a number jungle is provided to match any tank one can find in service as well as ?Guards? badges.
    Overall, this appears to be the best of the modern Soviet/Russian tank kit s yet from Trumpeter.    
Cookie Sewell
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