I was quite excited to see Trumpeter start releasing some of the more modern Soviet armored vehicles. Not only are the kits nicely detailed, but they tend to go together quite well. Also, Trumpeter has no problem releasing several variants, unlike some other manufactures that release one base type and leave us modelers scrambling for aftermarket resin to do other variations. So, needless to say, after years of resisting the urge to purchase some resin “updates” to the old Skif T-64 kits, I was delighted to have a state-of-the-art tooling in my hands.
Within the box you get 566 parts in all.
- 486 in grey plastic
- 61 etched brass on three frets
- 11 vinyl parts (much like Dragon Styrene)
- 7 clear plastic
- 1 turned aluminum gun barrel
- Everything is individually bagged in the usual sturdy Trumpeter box.
T-64 bonanza under the wrong label
First of all, what is within the box is not a baseline T-64 (Ob'yekt 432), but the parts for a T-64A (Ob'yekt 434). Several differences between the T-64 and T-64A include a different main gun, sights, additional shock absorbers on the suspension, and some other details. Thus, without some serious modification, building a T-64 (Ob'yekt 432) out of the box is not possible. As mentioned, the T-64 had a 2A21 115mm gun, while the T-64A had the later 2A26 125mm gun. This gun was originally installed without any thermal wrapping, but later versions were. The kit actually provides both, with non-wrapped being provided in both metal and plastic, and a thermal-wrapped barrel in plastic.
Other than the slightly misleading label, what is in the box is outstanding, and light years ahead of anything previously offered. First thing to notice is that the box is packed full. Trumpeter has shown their hand a bit with a taste of some upcoming versions (two of which are released as of this writing), and we will certainly see some later T-64A’s, as well as a T-64B. I truly hope we will see some of the later T-64B’s with reactive armor as well. Enough parts are included in this kit that you can make several versions of the T-64A with the right references.
As for what the instructions within the box cover, you have the choice of a base model T-64A with the hull stowage boxes on the right sponson, short side skirting with “gill” armor, and unmodified glacis. The turret is the baseline type without any additional anti-radiation cladding, but does give the option for having a commander’s station with or without the AA machine gun. The addition of the AA machine gun changes the layout of a few of the stowage boxes and turret fittings slightly, so be sure to decide before starting construction which “Estate” you desire.
Parts that are left in the box in the unused list include additional armor plate for the glacis, thermal wrapped barrel, later sponson with fuel tanks, external fuel barrels and brackets, various hatch options, rear turret stowage bin, wind sensor, smoke grenade launchers and brackets (for ERA equipped T-64BV), some anti-radiation cladding bits, and other various fittings. Of what is left over, many of these items can be used to make a remanufactured T-64A. Also, the external fuel drums could be used on the T-64A as well, so they are an option than can be used on this kit, but the instructions do not cover them. Another oddity left out of the instructions is the tow cables. The kit instructions have you attach the cable retaining clips, but make no mention of the cables themselves! The ends are included on the same sprue as the external tanks, so just find the appropriate-sized cable and use them. One should go on the rear of the left sponson and the other on the glacis below the “V”.
Overall parts impressions
Before digging into construction, a quick look at the parts shows some very nicely molded plastic with crisp detail. Trumpeter seems to continue to improve their molding quality, and several areas on the sprues show the signs of slide-mold technology. The NVST AA gun is very nicely detailed and looks to be a small model of its own. There is a decent amount of photo etch with this kit, but is kept to a minimum and hits the areas that would benefit from its properties the most. Of interest is a sprue of soft plastic, similar to the Dragon Styrene we have become familiar with. This has items like the intake baffles, unditching log, mantlet cover, and rear mud flaps included. All those parts look fairly nice except for the log, which in my opinion would be best replaced with real wood.
The turret looks just about spot-on in texture and shape. Only one area of slight concern is around the commander’s hatch. The outline looks just a hair too rounded and bulbous, and almost has the contours of later turrets with added armor and anti-radiation cladding. It’s hardly noticeable, and I didn’t even bother trying to correct it.
The tracks are length and link type, and are quite nice looking. However, the end bolt detail is a little lacking, so if you are a stickler for detail you may want to look into the individual track set that Trumpeter makes, or those from another manufacturer. Out of the box, though, these tracks will satisfy most modelers and are a far cry from any previous renditions.
As with many of Trumpeter’s recent armor kits, this one is virtually painless to construct, though the numerous parts and inclusion of PE does take some additional time. I did opt to add some additional details that are not OOB, mainly using bits from the Voyager update set and some scratchbuilt tow cables. Honestly, in retrospect, the additional benefit by using detail added from the Voyager set was marginal, as I opted to do the “estate two” without the AA gun and used several of the kit parts in lieu of the Voyager parts. Voyager also duplicates many of the PE parts provided in the kit, though with some refinement and better detail. Having said that, I won’t spend much time mentioning the Voyager parts as they really didn’t add much to my particular build.
Starting with the lower hull and suspension, everything went together smoothly. Be sure to note that the idler wheel has a different cap than the road wheels. Spend some time removing the seam on each wheel, as these are solid metal and will appear as polished metal on the model. The sprockets are beautiful, as well, and fit the included track perfectly. I did have a slight issue with a small gap resulting from the track run not completely connecting. It isn’t very large, but on the next build I will either go the individual link option or start/terminate the track construction under the skirts vs. on the deck like I did here. That way, if a gap does show, it will be hidden under the skirt.
One other small item is the mounting holes for the T-64B skirt supports. These are located directly above the suspension arms and look like small square holes. These need to be filled, as the T-64A uses the short skirts as provided in the kit. Either fill with putty, or else a liberal application of your favorite “mud” will do the trick.
Steps 4 through 5 have you assemble the hull in traditional Trumpeter fashion, where you add all the details, then assemble the main hull components. I have found this counter-intuitive, as the additional details would hinder the ability to clamp down the main hull pieces if needed. So I scanned ahead and made sure I opened any needed holes and assembled all the major hull components before adding the various details. In this particular kit, the hull parts are a fantastic fit, and didn’t require any filler!
Also note that it is within step 4 that, if you wanted to deviate a bit from the instructions and build one of the later T-64A’s with the additional glacis armor, this would be the time to add it. Doing so, you will be on your own, though, to figure out which holes in the armor plate you need to open to place later parts, but I imagine it would not be too difficult.
The intake baffles (J1, J3, J4) are provided in the soft styrene plastic, which is appropriate as the real ones are thick rubber. I replaced them with items from the Voyager set, as the PE items were more in scale than the thick, soft styrene ones. However, the kit parts are quite nice and would still look good.
Working through the next few steps, I found that the mud flaps, parts J10, had to be trimmed to fit a little better. By the time I was up to step 8, most of the hull fittings had been placed. Trumpeter would also have you attach the gill armor at this point, as well. Hold off on these and attach them at the very end. They tend to impede handling of the model and there is no reason to glue them on this early. Speaking of the gill armor, the Voyager set would have you completely replace these. On looking at the kit parts, I found them quite satisfactory, and the rubber skirt portions are realistically thin. If you are modeling a later tank, you could leave these off, along with the mounting points (M19, M15, M16), and drill corresponding holes in the fender where the mounting bolts would have been. These gills were also found on T-72 tanks, so your spare parts could be used on those kits.
Step 9 has you mount the un-ditching log, where a small omission in the instructions becomes apparent. Per the instructions, the hardware to mount the log should already be installed at this point; however, nowhere in the previous steps is it shown! Luckily, it is not a difficult part, as some simple folding of parts numbered PE-A2, PE-A4, and PE-A5 help in placement. Look closely at the back hull and you will see scribed location marks where these parts should be placed. As for the log, I tossed the soft plastic one provided in the kit and went searching in the backyard for a suitable stick. I found one slightly oversized, which after whittling down the bark became the right diameter for my log.
Moving onto the turret, this is where you must decide which version or “estate” you desire. Basically, as far as the instructions go, the option is either with or without the NVST AA gun. Pay careful attention to which parts are appropriate to which version you are doing, as Trumpeter doesn’t make this extremely clear. You will see an occasional “only for estate one” in small text, but other than that you are forced to refer to the diagram on instruction page 9 and the last page of the instructions to be sure you mount everything correctly. I opted to do the “estate two” without the NVST AA gun. One omission from the “estate two” instructions is the radio mast, which should go on the small flat circle directly in front of the commander’s station. There is actually a provision to drill a small hole from inside the turret to mount the antenna. I opted to substitute the Voyager antenna base instead of using the kit part.
I also opted to mount the 200L external fuel barrels. The full barrel and mounting brackets are included on Sprue H. If you desire instructions on this part, you can look up one of Trumpeter’s later boxings, or just assemble using some working knowledge. There are only four parts to each barrel, plus the two brackets for each. I used more filler on these barrels than anywhere else on the kit! They are not a bad fit, but the time spent completely removing the seam pays off well in the end. You will need to remove the bolt heads on the deck where the barrels mount. Line up the left barrel with the PE part on the far left of the engine deck. It will force the baffle to bend, and you can either bend it down (as I did) or I have seen some photos with ½ of the baffle cut away where it conflicts with the barrel. Once the left one is aligned, it will be obvious which bolts to remove from the deck, as the feet of the mounts will fall directly on top of them.
The tow cable ends are also provided on Sprue H and should be used, as I have rarely seen any photos of tanks without the cables unless they were abandoned in a stowage depot. I found some braided copper wire the appropriate size and just cut it to the right length. The end without the molded bracket was snapped onto the tow hook and the cable was wrapped and secured with super glue.
With that, the build was done! It was a great pleasure to construct and the result is a distinctly Soviet-looking tank. Overall, this is a fantastic kit, with my only gripe being the later half of the instructions covering the turret. It would have also had been nice if Trumpeter had included a few inserts covering some other options, if desired. Regardless, this model will display well with the triad of Soviet MBTs, including the T-72 and T-80. Many thanks to Squadron-MMD for the review sample and IPMS-USA for the chance to review it.