Russian T-72B Mod 1990 MBT
Trumpeter 1/35 scale
Reviewed by Cookie Sewell
|Stock Number and Description||Trumpeter 1/35 scale Kit No. 05564; Russian T-72B Mod 1990 MBT|
|Media and Contents:||1,364 parts (590 in grey styrene, 404 in light brown styrene, 330 etched brass, 16 vinyl keepers, 15 clear styrene, 6 cementable vinyl,1 twisted copper wire, 1 plain copper wire, 1 length of vinyl hose)|
|Review Type:||First Look|
|Advantages:||First model of a late T-72B in styrene; second of many T-72 based vehicle kits to come|
|Disadvantages:||Parts content rivals DML Tiger I kits; many very tiny etched brass parts; once more wrong designation|
|Recommendation:||Highly Recommended for all Soviet and Russian armor fans|
In 1983 the Ural Railway Wagon Construction Factory, better known as the Vagonka or simply Nizhniy Tagil, upgraded their T-72A tank to stay competitive with the T-64B and T-80B tanks also going into prooduction. But where those tanks used a special design of hollow sections in their turrets - “skupy” in Russian - filled with cast aluminum over a matrix of ceramic balls, the new Tagil tank used a different design.
While they also had two big “skupy” added to the front of the turret, they filled theirs with spaced armor arrays using various plates of material - steel, aluminum, rubber and ceramic. The result was a turret nearly as impenetrable as those from its competitors. They also added a new sighting complex which had a through-the-bore ATGM capability with the 9K120 “Svir’” and other changes. The new tank was accepted for service as the T-72B in 1985; but some tanks were built without the “Svir’” and its sight as the T-72B1. Between 1985 and 1990 7,835 T-72B series tanks were built.
In 1990 the T-72BM tank - Article 188 - was scheduled to go into production, but due to the collapse of the USSR was held up until 1992 when it entered production as the T-90 Model 1992 tank. But due to the similarities, somebody suggested that they upgrade all of the T-72B models to near T-90 standards where possible. The first ones were built in 1990 using many of the T-90 components such as the DVSE wind sensor mast and the fitting of the new “Kontakt-5" reactive armor vice the older “Kontakt-1" fitted to earlier tanks. The new tank was designated as the T-72BA.
As only a handful of tanks were upgraded each year starting in 1992 – 31 to 62 being the usual numbers - they tended to get different parts and different fittings. Some retained their “Kontakt-1" ERA boxes, reportedly with “Kontakt-5" flyer plates inside them. Others got the new V-84MS engine in place of their older V-46 or V-84 engines, with the new thermal suppression system being the external indicator. Still others got similar wheels to the T-90, and after the UMSh tracks were adopted, they also received a set of those. Most of the tanks were sent in for rebuilding based on their age, e.g oldest first.
The existence of the T-72BA tanks was something of a surprise to Western analysts, as they had been looking at these tanks for nearly 20 years and missed the fact they were upgrades! They are still in service with the Russian Army, but they now also have a fully upgraded T-72B2 “Rogatka” version along with the “discount” T-72B3 tanks, and also 20 years of mixed versions of the T-90. Most of the main parts of the tanks are common to all so it does make them reasonably serviceable.
Trumpeter has announced a string of variants, and this kit is the second one to be released after the T-90 Model 1992 kit (No. 5560). As with their T-64 Model 1969 kit, they made an error on the specific variant: this is a T-72BA and not a T-72B, but it IS accurate. This kit adds over 100 different parts and drops about 50 from the earlier kit. The biggest differences are the lack of the “Shtora-1" jamming system, the original V-46/V-84 engine exhaust, and the lack of the 1EhTs29 remote control machine gun mount with the original NVST AA mount instead. It does have the later T-90 style wheels and UMSh tracks, which as noted were apparently only installed if the tank coming in for rebuild needed them.
As noted the model shares a great number of parts with the T-90 Model 1992 kit. Even though proven ineffective after the disaster at Chernobyl in 1986, the T-90s still were fitted with “nadboy” radiation protection cladding over the vulnerable parts of the tank to radiation penetration.
These kits seem daunting from the parts description, but other than single link tracks with separate teeth and all of the separate etched brass fasteners for the “nadboy” applique protection it is not any worse than any other modern armor kit. Those parts alone account for 50% of the parts in the kit.
Assembly follows the T-90 kit with the lower hull first. As these parts are for multiple variants of the T-72/T-90 family, there are a lot of holes to be opened up and other changes during the build sequence so close attention will have to be paid to the directions.
The kit is also one that provides the correct operating arms for its six shock absorbers (C-12-17) which is nice to see. Road wheels are nice and beefy as they should be and use vinyl keepers for assembly. Note if you want to swap the UMSh tracks for RMSh types you will have to have new drivers though as the pitch and spacing of the teeth on the drive rings is different.
The kit’s design is actually better than the other two (Zvezda and Meng) as it permits detailing the hull glacis and roof separately from the hull. In point of fact, the glacis/roof is not even installed until Step 7. The engine deck is neatly done and “rivet-counters” will be happy to know that the radiator grilles are offset a scale 30mm or so to the left. The stern plate is done properly with two UMSh spare links and the fittings for rail shipment bolted on in place of the older RMSh links (another area to watch for if you change tracks).
The UMSh tracks are not bad, but are not as simple and neatly done as the Zvezda ones. As a result, the kit comes with four assembly jigs for holding them while installing the single link teeth. At least these are nicely done and large enough to make the job a bit less foreboding.
All of the tie-down straps for fuel tanks and stowage bins are a PE strap and styrene toggle so some care is needed in assembly.
As with all late-model T-72 tanks, the fuel system is the “demand” type with the two 200 liter auxiliary tanks plugged into the tank’s fuel system; this one uses vinyl hoses and nipples to fit them rather than molded hoses. To backdate it to a straight B, these parts may be omitted and the holes filled.
Step 17 covers fitting all of the “nadboy” fasteners to the turret, but I suggest doing this prior to starting turret assembly in Step 16. There are a total of around 230 of them to be installed, and all of them are about 2mm in diameter. They could be left off if the modeler is not worried about “competition” level modeling. It also uses a different ERA fit than the T-90 as there are no “Shtora” searchlights to install.
Finishing directions are provided for four tanks: one with a black and protective green scheme, with a red/yellow Russian eagle marking; one with sand, black and protective green, searchlight; one in grey, maroon brown and protective green, white 420 with an insignia on the searchlight cover and a “Guards” badge on the commander’s searchlight; and a “parade” tank in overall protective green with white trim, the Russian flag, red star on the searchlight cover and white 410. Color data is supplied by MIG Jimenez for Trumpeter, and a small sheet of targeted decals is provided.
Overall, this is a very well done and accurate kit (other than the designation!)