by: Darren Baker [ ]
Originally published on:
When ICM announced news of the upcoming release of this T-34/76 it received a lot of negative comments from those members in the know when it concerns the T34. Having had this model land on my doorstep and the negativity it received, I decided to take a look and assess the comments made against what I have in my grubby little hands. As it would seem most of you here respect certain writers, I used a Squadron/Signal Publication titled ‘T-34 in Action’ written by Steven Zaloga and James Grandsen and illustrated by Don Greer and Steven Zaloga and T-34 Mythical Weapon written by Robert Michulec and Miroslaw Zientarzewski for reference.
ICM has changed their packaging for all models, or so it would seem from the last samples that arrived with me. The product is now packaged in a plain cardboard flip top box. The usual box top lid made of thin card is then placed on the cardboard flip top box. I feel this is an excellent move on the part of ICM now that large numbers of models are being ordered online and have to survive handling by various postal services. Well done ICM. Inside this new packaging you will find:
5 green sprues
4 vinyl track runs
2 vinyl cables
A decal sheet
An instruction booklet
A close inspection of the box contents reveals that the green plastic used for this release is not of the same type or quality that I have seen in other ICM releases. The plastic is softer than usual, but it does not appear to have affected the quality of the moulded parts as indicated by the finesse of the mesh detail present. There are of course ejector pin marks, but these are also smaller and less pronounced than on earlier ICM releases and look to be placed where hidden on most occasions. My inspection also revealed that one of the wheels had not mould fully on one of the hubs; however in this kit that does not matter as there are plenty of spares. There are some sink marks present which will be covered in greater detail during the rest of the review. One very nice feature in a large number of locations is the weld bead detail.
Wheels and Suspension
The all steel road wheels look to match the reference in the title I have referred during the introduction, this detail also extends to the correct number of bolts on both the cap and hub of the wheels. The pierced rubber-rimmed road wheels also look to match this reference, the holes in the rubber tyre do look a tad on the large side, but I personally am not too concerned about that. The rear drive sprocket is also a very good match to the reference of the later type and applicable to this vehicle, I have noted no concerns here. The front idler wheel is well moulded, but only has 5 bolts around the hub instead of the 10 indicated in my reference; this is something some of you may wish to correct.
The suspension arms and suspension springs do match reference in the second title mentioned, but the bolted plate detail on the back edge of the arms where they enter the hull does not match reference in either title, with that said they do match reference images I took of a T-34/85 on display at Bovington Tank Museum. The bump stops on the hull sides are not accurate matches for the real vehicle due to being overly simplified and under sized, but as these cannot be seen I doubt this will concern many.
The tracks included with this model are vinyl rubber offerings, each of the track runs require two lengths be joined together. The tread pattern does not match any of the listed examples in my reference, but they are close to Standard Summer version from the beginning of 1942. This track type is 500mm wide, the tracks in the kit scale up to 507mm and so close enough scale wise. There is an issue with the tracks as there are either 1 or 2 ejector pin marks on every other track link, which being vinyl will be impossible to fill; the location of marks inside the detail of the ground contacting face would make this impossible even if they were plastic links.
The lower hull appears to be correct from my examination with one exception; the point where the upper and lower hull meets at the rear is a match for a Factory 183 produced tank. Removal of the three hinges and replacement with two wide hinges near the outer sides could make this a Factory 112 offering. Moving to the upper front hull I noted concerns about the placement of the drivers hatch and the size of the armoured build for the MG; The MG blister looks a match for my reference in both titles. The drivers hatch detail is good and also has interior detail that may prove of use, its position on the hull looks to match the information in T-34 Mythical Weapon, but T-34 in Action indicates that it is very slightly to far towards the side by 1 or 2mm. one missing detail on the model that is very easy to correct is the missing grab handles that should be on both sides of the front face.
The sides of this model best match the drawings in ‘T-34 in Action’. The grab handles are correct as are the side mounted light, left track guard tool box and spare track link placement. The bow saw is present, but should not be placed where the instructions indicate it should be; this is not an issue as there are no locators for this part. The toolbox indicated for right track guard is not present in my reference, but is suitable for T-34’s that have the side mounted fuel tanks. The rear mounted external fuel tanks are a very good match in both shape and placement. You also need to add spare track link further up the right hand track guard, but this has been missed in the instructions.
The top of the upper hull came in for some stick about being a pick and mix. Having checked the deck against reference I was only able to find two errors. The rear mounted intake only has 3 hinges present and there should be four. The inner intakes behind the turret have been partitioned into six segments instead of five; I do not see this as a big issue but some may. On the inside of the hull ICM has included seats for the driver and radio operator/machine gunner and the tillers.
The turret supplied with this model is the hard edge type as indicated by the acute angle on the front lower edge. The rear portion of turret has the correct rounded edge detail, but I believe there should be a joined just above the rounded portion of the turret. The pistol ports in the front sides of the turret are correctly located. The turret sides have a quite nice sand casting texture present; the texture is random and so very convincing. The bottom of the turret has not been ignored detail wise as the ribs are correctly represented both at the front and the rear despite the rear area being hidden. One issue I do have with the lower portion of the turret is that it is a sloppy fit and has a good 2 or 3mm of movement.
The turret top is correctly laid out and also has the metal plate between the two hatches present. The turret hatches have reasonable detail on the outside, but only a moulded on handle on the inside. The hatches also have sink marks present on both faces, these are worst on the inside, but should be easy to fill and sand. The single periscope is the PTK-5 intermediate type and is reasonably detailed and suitable for this tank variant. The grab handles are well replicated and correctly placed. The housing for the main gun was questioned, but I feel it matches reference very well as regards shape and size and even correctly positions the main gun off to the right side. The weld detail is nice but here is where there is an issue, the detail matches drawings in 'T-34 in Action' but does not match drawings and photographic evidence in T-34 Mythical Weapon. The tabs on the outer edges of the mantlet need to be removed, as does the weld seams on the turret face; the weld detail should follow the shape of the mantlet from the half way point down to the bottom of the mantlet.
The main gun is split in two halves and I would defiantly consider replacing this with a turned metal barrel. The mantlet is the correct standard type and has the rivet detail correctly placed. Also included with this model is the gun breach, the breach is fairly accurate as regards general appearance and even has the machine gun present and even includes the sight on the left hand side of the gun.
The model is supplied with six finishing options, which are:
1st Leningrad front red banner tank brigade, Summer 1944
1st Leningrad front red banner tank brigade, Winter 1943/1944
Revolutionary Mongolia tank column, Winter 1943/1944
Komsomolets – Severomorerts tank column, Winter 1942/1943
Stalingrad front, Winter 1942/1943
5th Guard tank corps, Kursk, July 1943
This release from ICM does have some issues, but none of them look to be insurmountable. The sink marks are a pain and unexpected from ICM as is finding one of the wheels not fully moulded. I do suggest that the barrel and the tracks are replaced at a minimum, as this will I feel greatly improve its appearance. Other than the issues I have indicated in the review I see nothing else of concern when checked against my reference; that is of course viewing the model parts before assembly which may highlight some other issues. With some good reference and a clear idea of what is important to you should result in a pretty good model. One thing this review has highlighted to me is that different reference provides conflicting evidence, regardless of how good the book or who has written it.