ARM: Review - Zvezda 1/35 scale "Terminator" Russian Fire Support Combat Vehicle

Kit Review: Zvezda 1/35 scale Kit No. 3636; "Terminator" Fire Support Comba t Vehicle;
T-90 Russian Main Battle Tank; 526 parts (502 in grey styrene, 21 clear sty
rene, 2 sections of nylon screen, 1 length nylon string); retail price US$4 9.95
Advantages: nicely done, simple build kit of new T-72 family vehicle; has m any of the latest model features; quality of moldings equivalent to most We stern kits; best link-and-length tracks of any kit
Disadvantages: use of nylon screening vice etched brass an odd choice; some dimensional discrepancies shared with T-90 kit
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all modern Russian armor fans
    The Soviets had experimented with tank escort vehicles for some time after they found the BMP series to be too lightly armed to survive in some situa tions, and tanks by themselves were too "blind" to deal with all threats. T his was crystalized into a series of prototype vehicles carrying different armament combinations and onboard personnel, some with dismount teams and s ome with more heavy weapons, but all based on the chassis of the T-72 main battle tank. The feeling was that they could easily convert them from early model T-72 tanks which were no longer suitable for modern tank-versus-tank combat in Europe.
    After the slaughter of the New Year's Eve 1994-1995 attack on Groznyy in C hechnya, this brought such a vehicle back to the fore. The revived project was given the project designator "Ramka" (frame) and when a vehicle was pro duced to meet the requirement, it was designated Article 199 by the Uralvag onzavod.
    The new vehicle was very heavily armed and designed as a tank escort under urban combat conditions. It carried the following armament: two 30mm 2A42 automatic cannon; two AG-17D 30mm grenade launchers; one 7.62mm PKTM machin e gun; and four 9K120 "Ataka" antitank guided missiles. The vehicle had a c rew of five: commander, gunner, driver-mechanic, and two grenadiers. The co mmander and gunner controlled all but the grenade launchers, each of which was in its own sub-turret and had its own operator.
    The reason for the armament is as follows. The 30mm guns are its main weap on, and the idea is to have one loaded with HE-FRAG rounds and one with AP. The machine gun is for suppression of infantry, and the missiles are fitte d with specific warheads based on threat and mission. They carry tandem war head HEAT rounds for tanks, but in city conditions they are more likely to be fitted with thermobaric (volumetric) ones to deal with bunkers and apart ment buildings. One of these is capable of wiping out all living creatures within a confined area the size of a two room apartment as well as causing it to collapse. The grenade launchers are for dealing with pockets of infan try (in this case fighters and "illegal armed bands" to quote the Russians) .
    The BMPT is heavily protected with tank level base armor, at least "Kontak t-5" explosive reactive armor, and "reshetka" grill armor over less vulnera ble spots of the vehicle.
    While the "production" version of "Ramka" first was shown in 2002, so far only three have been sold to Kazakhstan. But with all of its armament the R ussians soon dubbed it the "Terminator" after the Arnold Schwarzenegger cyb org character. A new variant dubbed "Terminator 2" is now being shown, whic h has a modified turret but eliminates the hull mounted grenade launchers a nd their two operators. But so far only Kazakhstan has bought the machine, and then only three vehicles for initial testing.
    Following several months after the release of the excellent Meng kit, Zvez da has now come out with their take on this unique and interesting vehicle. Like their earlier T-90A kit (No. 3573) this one has only 1/3 of the numbe r of parts of the Meng kit, and as such is much easier to build. It does ha ve less details than that kit, and appears to retain some minor dimensional errors from the base T-90A kit.
    This kit also comes in a flimsy end-opening box but with a sturdy tray tha t is closed with an internal cover similar to a Western "pizza box" lid. Th e moldings are among the best I have seen from Zvezda and the detail is qui te petite - even the front fender mudguard springs are separate parts and n icely done. Nitpickers will be happy to find that the engine radiator grill es are offset to the left!
    However, this kit only retains some 214 parts from the original kit in the form of the wheels and suspension parts (D sprues). Like the T-90A it uses the new "Universal" tracks, which the kit replicates as link-and-length wi th separate guide teeth. These are my personal favorite tracks of any curre nt line of kits, as they look good and are incredibly easy to assemble; on the earlier T-90A kit I built once the tracks were cleaned up I installed b oth runs in about 15 minutes.
    As should be obvious from the lower number of parts (note that it IS still more than 500!) the kit is much easier to assemble. However, all of the ma jor details are present and well done.
    One odd thing is that Zvezda uses nylon screening instead of etched brass for the gratings and grills on the engine deck. These have to be cut out to a pattern - old fashioned but once in place they do look reasonably well. One odd feature is that the fording cover is attached to the exhaust outlet instead of the normal thermal snorkel (parts C11/C31) seen on V-92S2 engin e vehicles. I am not sure why Zvezda chose this option.
    Both of the wing turrets (actually control stations for the 40mm grenade l aunchers in fender pods) appear to rotate if care is used during assembly. Zvezda refers to "Variant 1" and "Variant 2" but all that is for is to desc ribe hatches open or closed on the wing turrets. The rear supplemental shie lds are provided for the turret race from styrene vice the etched brass on the Meng kit, but are reasonably thin and look the part.
    The lower hull is composed of four main components - belly pan, sides and rear plate - and is not started until Step 11. Once basic details are in pl ace, the upper hull with a goodly amount of its detail is jointed to it bef ore moving on to the suspension. I think those of who assemble the lower hu ll and paint the wheels and tracks before attaching the upper hull and skir ts would reverse the order of some of the steps, but that is just me.
    The T-90 series adopted road wheels which were 10mm wider than the T-72B o nes and the kit reflects this with the latest variant of the "six bolt" whe el sets. The inner wheels are installed, then the tracks, and then the oute r wheels. This goes for both the drivers and idlers as well if their order of assembly is followed. Once done the skirt armor is attached and detailin g of the upper hull continues with viewers and sights. The kit provides cle ar plastic parts for the lenses and windows.
    The kit's "reshetka" - bar grill - armor is reasonably think and looks goo d, and with some careful painting and drybrushing should be both durable an d look the part.
    The armament comprises the last 10 steps of the build and covers the twin 30mm guns - the muzzle brakes are clear side to side but will need their bo res drilled out with a .035" drill bit as they are solid. Canvas is replica ted at all places on this kit by injection molded styrene unlike the flexib le black vinyl of the Meng kit.
    Each missile rack comes with very petite injection molded styrene firing c ables and connectors, but these appear to be scale and nicely done.
    The kit offers two finishing options: one for the IX International Arms Ex hibition in Nizhniy Tagil, 2011; the other is a similar vehicle in 2013, Th e patterns are different but the colors change: light brown, dark brown and sand, or red brown, sand and dark green. No decals are included as no Russ ian units have used the vehicle and the Kazakhs have only given them parade order numbers.
    Overall, while this kit is not as detailed as the Meng kit it is not a bad representation of the original and is a much simpler kit to build. If you want a "Terminator" you should keep this one in mind.
Cookie Sewell
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