Miniarm 1/35 T-64B Turret w/Anti-Radiation Cladding
|Date of Review||July 2005|
|Subject||T-64B Turret with Anti-Radiation Cladding|
|Primary Media||46 parts (44 in tan resin, 2 turned aluminum)|
|Pros||Fixes many of the major flaws with the SKIF kit; very petite details on turret and accessory components; amazing detail on commander's cupola; partial interior for turret included|
|Cons||Directions are the "stick here" type with little explanation; no material provided for barrel thermal jacket seals|
For years I have been a fan of the T-64 series tanks, which always struck me as the "sports car" of the armor world. Designed over a tortuous 20 years by A. A. Morozov, one of the designers of the famous T-34, the T-64 was not an evolutionary tank but a "revolutionary" one, combining an autoloader, opposed piston flat air-cooled diesel engine, and three man crew in one package. The idea, a Soviet favorite goal, was to get the protection and firepower of a heavy tank on the chassis of a medium, thus creating the "osnovnoy boeyvoy tank" or main battle tank.
Well, the idea didn't quite work out as well as planned, and many of the tanks were, to be blunt, dogs. Out of the first 897 T-64s built 575 suffered catastrophic engine failure in the first three years of the tank's entry into service, and many reports indicate it was freakishly temperamental below 50 degrees F (10 degrees C). The running gear was not reliable, the electronics unreliable, and the three man crew had a lot of problems trying to carry out local (crew) maintenance on the vehicle. While the tank is still reportedly popular in the Ukraine (where it was built) the Russians have parked most of theirs and only seem to use them for training.
But even though this was the seminal vehicle of the late Cold War period (1965-1990) only ONE manufacturer has bothered to kit it; naturally, it was SKIF, who is a Ukranian company. But SKIF tends to be schizophrenic in its kits, and some have good features, some have bad. Most of their T-64 kits (T-64, T-64A, T-64B, T-64BV, T-64AK) have undersized turrets and absolutely the worst set of vinyl tracks put in a model kit in the last 10 years. It's truly a shame, as the hull and running gear of the kit are pretty decent.
Now help is on the way in the form of a new Russian company, Miniarm. They offer an initial release of 23 1/35 scale resin and plastic accessory kits to correct many existing kits on the market, such as those for the BMP, T-72, T-64, MT-LB, 2S1, KV-1, and IS-1/2. Many of their kits are oriented on SKIF kits, which is good for the modeler.
This kit provides a new turret with all accessories for the SKIF T-64 series kits, but it appears that the target is the T-64B or BV kit (as they come with skirts, which this turret has to have with it; "flipper" armor panels are incorrect.) This corrects the biggest single flaw of the SKIF kits, namely their undersized and straight-sided turrets. I compared this one with the SKIF BV turret and it is much, much better shaped and defined. I compared the resin turret with the one in "Osnovnoy Boyevoy Tank T-64" by Sayenko and Chobitok (Exprint, Moscow 2002) and it is pretty much a dead match for the B less reactive armor. The correct model nomenclature would probably be T-64B Model 1984 as the initial B came out in 1981 (also offered by Miniarm as their kit B35008) but without the external radiation cladding. It could also be used for a T-64B-1 Model 1984 without the 9K112 (AT-8 COBRA) ATGM control box in front of the commander's hatch.
The resin parts are delicate and fragile, and some of the ones on the review sample components were dinged as a result. The worst damage was to the bases for the Type 902B "Tucha" smoke grenade launchers, but can easily be fixed with some thin styrene strip. All of the covers and canvas bits are well done, and are most complete. Resin molding plugs are present, but not bad and large indented lines indicate where to separate the parts.
The directions indicate that the modeler must come up with some 0.7 mm wire for hand grabs and handles (0.030") but the modeler also will need fine wire (0.3 mm or 0.015") for the connector from the electrical feeds to the smoke grenade sets.
The only items I noted as missing were the joints (two flaps with bolts connecting them) on the sections of the barrel where the thermal jacket sections are sealed. These can be made from styrene strip; I think 0.010" x 0.030" (0.2 x 0.7 mm) is about right for the joints, along with some bolt heads. The other item missing is the tank's storage tarpaulin, which goes up on top of the OPVT wading tubes at the rear of the turret.
As noted, the weakest part of these kits are the directions. The class act here is Chesapeake Model Designs, and since they are one of the main agents for Miniarm perhaps they can show them a better way to package their kits.
Overall, this is a really decent kit that fixes one of the major problems with a so-so kit and gives it a real chance to be a gem.
Thanks to Bill Miley of CMD for the review sample.