Russian T-62 ERA Mod 1972
The T-62 is a Russian main battle tank, a further development of the T-55. Its 115mm gun was the first smoothbore tank gun in use. The T-62 was produced between 1961 and 1975. It became a standard tank in the Soviet arsenal, partly replacing the T-55, although that tank continued to be manufactured in the Soviet Union and elsewhere after T-62 production was halted. The T-62 was later replaced in front-line service by the T-72.
The T-62 has a typical tank layout: driver's compartment at the front, fighting compartment in the center, and engine compartment in the rear. The four-man crew consists of the commander, driver, gunner, and loader. Although the T-62 is very similar to the T-55 and makes use of many of the same parts, there are some differences. Those include the hull, which is slightly longer and wider, the different road wheels, and differences in characteristic uneven gaps between road wheels. Unlike the T-54 and T-55 main battle tanks, the gaps between the last three pairs of road wheels are larger than the rest.
The T-62 has better armor on the front of the hull and turret than the T-54/T-55. Although the armor on the front of the hull is thicker than in the T-55, the lower side armor and the roof armor are actually thinner. Later efforts were made to improve the protection of the vehicle with the addition of an appliqué armor systems. Explosive-reactive armor has been valued by the Soviet Union and now the independent Russian States since the 1980s, and almost every tank in the Eastern European military inventory today has either been manufactured to use ERA or had ERA tiles added to it, including even the T-55 and T-62 tanks built forty to fifty years ago but still used today by reserve units.
ERA tiles are used as add-on, or appliqué, armor to the surfaces that are most likely to be hit, typically the front (glacis) of the hull and the front and sides of the turret. Their use requires that the vehicle itself be fairly heavily armored to protect the vehicle and its crew from the exploding ERA. The T-62MV designation stands for the T-62 models retro-fitted with "Kontakt-1" explosive reactive armor (ERA) on the sides of the hull, the glacis plate, and in the front of the turret where it replaces the appliqué bra armor.
27 sprues and the turret top and a lower hull make up this kit; approximately 690 parts of a light grey plastic are included. The parts are well detailed with crisp raised and engraved features, cast texture on the turret, road wheels with separate black plastic tires and multi-part sprockets, individual link track, appliqué ERA armor, separately molded on-vehicle equipment (but no tools), optional position crew hatches, cylindrical fuel drums, stowage bins, DShK anti-aircraft machine gun, optional turned metal gun barrel, braided copper tow cable, and photo-etch parts (grilles, fine exterior details). Decals and color painting guide for a single, typical Soviet vehicle are included.
The instructions are spread over a 16 page booklet with over 20 exploded views of construction assemblies. A color painting and marking guide is also included, depicting a Russian green vehicle. The suggested paint color chart does include an error in the inclusion of Tamiya XF-20, Medium Grey, in the light green column.
The lower hull construction is quite basic with the tub being mated to front and rear panels, plus a few smaller parts. The upper hull construction is detailed on pages 5 through 11 with the ERA blocks being added in the final steps.
The fitting of the side ERA blocks mounted on the side skirts is shown on steps 11 and 12, with the placement of the skirt assemblies following later. I deferred installation of the skirts until everything was painted and the road wheels and tracks installed. I found there were no real positive attachment points for the side skirts, and therefore used Formula 560 Canopy Cement to fix the skirts in place. Some careful clamping was required to allow the cement to cure.
The road wheels are separate from the tires. The black plastic tires will require careful removal from their sprue attachment points to retain the raised tread pattern. The wheels fit into the tires from only one side, and the design should not permit the modeler to install the parts incorrectly. The swing arms are keyed to the hull openings, thus further eliminating any risk of misalignment. Nicely done, Trumpeter!!
The individual link tracks are robust, to say the least, and none had a single ejector pin mark! Again, bravo to Trumpeter! Each link has three attachment points to the sprue carrier, and the cleanup of each link went quickly. There are approximately 90 links per side, and therefore that task may be the most tedious part of the build.
Four pages of the instructions are dedicated to the turret and armament assembly. The crew hatches may be posed open, but there is no interior detail. The turret has multiple dimples for the placement of the individual ERA elements. With all the various smaller subassemblies, the turret construction becomes a rather busy event. The modeler must decide on using the metal main gun barrel, or assembling the multi-part plastic barrel. I built the plastic gun barrel just to compare the two options, but eventually decided on the metal barrel for the finished model.
The turret cheek-mounted ERA blocks require the assembly of support brackets that allow the various blocks to stand off from the turret surface. The instructions are quite busy at this point and require close study to place the parts correctly. I was concerned that a minor misalignment of the support brackets could result in the subsequent ERA blocks not fitting, but with some care I avoided that pitfall and was satisfied with the end results.
All parts were washed in warm water with a few drops of Dawn detergent added, rinsed in warm water, and allowed to thoroughly dry over night. Rustoleum’s Painter’s Choice flat while was used as a primer for the plastic and metal surfaces. Next, I applied a coat of Tamiya NATO black over the exterior surfaces to serve as pre-shading. I used Model Master Russian Armor Green for the finish color of the hull and turret. The individual ERA blocks were hand-painted with Valejo Russian Green. Since the topic vehicle had no markings shown, the kit-furnished decals were not used and a final finish of Model Master clear flat was used to seal the surface.
All green makes a fierce and threatening T-62 dull and boring. I painted one of the fuel barrels a dirty red-and-white just to add some interest as well as color contrast.
A small decal sheet is included, but there are no directions for placement. I opted not to use any of the decals for this build.
For those modelers interested in modern Russian armor, this is the kit. The inclusion of the ERA blocks makes for an interesting topic and will offer some challenges in painting and weathering. I enjoyed this build and highly recommend the kit for any modern armor builder whyo has some experience in building slightly more complicated kits. Some parts were misidentified in the instructions, but in the end created no problems. All the parts fit. The instructions do not identify the parts not used in the build. The finished model certainly looks very much Russian: low slung, mean and brutish!
I wish to thank Squadron and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review this product.