During the build for the Leopard 1 A5, research inspired me to create one of the possible adversaries Leopard would engage with, if the Cold War ever began. Of course, the perfect match was clear from the start- the T-72.
Unlike the Leopard 1, there were a multitude of options to choose from when it came to finding what model I wanted. My initial choice was MENG again with their T-72B3 kit, but the price tag of the Tamiya T-72M1 Kit ultimately won me over in the end. While at the store I also picked up a Tamiya M1A2 to be built next. Stay tuned for that!
Tamiya’s a very well-known company based in Japan and they have very wonderful kits, Though most of them are hit-or-miss on the historical accuracy department. The T-72M1 is known to be a pretty good match, however, so I wasn’t too worried. If anything, I figured I’d get what I paid for.
The first step is always building up each large portion separately. The Tamiya Kit includes a bathtub style hull.
One of the first things that struck me as nice was the low part count! There were only four sprues. This came as a nice change of pace from the many sprues that came from the Leopard. Though, I can more-easily credit fantastic Soviet Engineering, Tovarish.
The roadwheels are pretty standard. Poly caps in the middle with two or three pieces per wheel. Suspension looks acceptable since you won’t really see it beneath all of the wheels anyway.
One other thing I noticed right off the bat is the stark lack of crew equipment for maintenance. No shovels, axes, tank bars, nothing. I guess the adage of soviets hitting things with wrenches worked out?
The rear-engine deck contains a mix of photo-etch parts and mesh parts. The mesh (in black) was the hardest material to work with, but a little patience and luck was all it took to get it on right. Tamiya provides the size required within the instructions.
I was surprised how well this kit fit together. I’d bought some fresh putty for the Tamiya Kits expecting some seams, but I was pleasantly surprised the kit lacked any visible seams.
The turret is easily the best part of this kit. Tamiya modeled the cast armor perfectly. When molten metal is poured into the cast to create the turret, obvious imperfections will occur on the exterior of the armor plating as the liquid metal cools. Furthermore, weld seams and wiring throughout the exterior also help to sell the effect.
I should add that Tamiya includes instructions to create a desert-themed or forest-themed T-72 since the equipment the crew would use is different for both biomes. For this build, I’m choosing the forest T-72M.
After construction of the turret I decided to try out a new technique since I had so much leftover putty.
By placing a small amount of putty onto the turret and using the back of a safety-pin (or other curved object), I added even more of a cast-effect.
Looking more at it, it looks somewhat like snow, which gives me some more ideas as to what I should build next or down the road.
Then I realized I made an oopsie. There was an obvious hole in the back of the tank upon dry-fitting all of the parts together.
I had placed the rear-armor upside down! Luckily I’d only glued one side of the plate, so it was a simple case of prying it off and then placing it back on the right way.
Afterwards I build up the smaller details of the tank such as the external fuel tanks and the NSVT 12.7mm Machine Gun.
There is a surprising amount of detail on the NSVT despite it being in 1/35th scale. This machine gun is designed to be a counter to air targets (presumably helicopters). Of course the concept is impractical but it has seen use suppressing infantry. I mean, More dakka. why not?
The external fuel tanks are entirely optional on the tank both in real life and on the model. A popular myth is that these will explode when shot. Not really. If anything, there’ll just be a fire on the outside of the tank- not really a threat to the crew or the tank itself.
I kept the commander on the sprue for now- I’ll include him in the finished kit.
The tracks that come with the kit are rubber tracks that come together using a simple interlocking system. The picture on the right is the area where the two are linked. The seam is very hard to spot, and it’ll be hidden behind the skirt anyway. I’m impressed at the level of detail on these tracks- I was initially worried I’d have to buy a set of after-market tracks to make these look good.
The Tamiya kit also includes the mounting point for the dozer modification if the modeler wishes. However, it does not include the actual dozer.
And… that’s it!?
I had heard that Tamiya kits were also popular because of the low parts-count and ease of fit/ build, but doing it firsthand absolutely blew me away.
The T-72M1 is a wonderful tank to behold when it’s all put together. Imagining this beast charging across a field with Soviet infantry and Personnel Carriers alongside them is absolutely intimidating.
Seeing as how the T-72 was also a popular export tank, using this kit to depict Syrian or Iraqi tanks is not out of the bounds of possibility for those modelers wishing to paint a desert version.
I intend to paint this model in East German colors and weather it as if it was used in real battle.
Stay tuned for more posts, “On the way!”-Chris