Dragon T-34/76 Model 1941 (7259)
by Cookie Sewell
Dragon Models Limited 1/72 Scale "Armor Pro" series; 98 parts
(93 in grey styrene, 2 in tan DS plastic, 2 twisted steel wire, 1 etched
metal); price US $10.95
Advantages: improved version of Model 1940 kit with all parts needed for
the F-34 gun; again, mimics its 1/35 scale "big brother"; wheels
are an amazing accomplishment in injection molding; decal sheet now applies!
Disadvantages: didn't come out when I was building 1/72 armor kits!
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all small scale and Soviet armor fans
The T-34 Model 1940, and the even better Model 1941, were a major shock
to the Germans when they invaded in June 1941. This tank was the work
of the legendary designer Mikhail Koshkin, who unfortunately died before
he got to see his creation validate itself before the Soviet government
and the world.
Companies like DML need to be aware that the Soviets never called these
"T-34/76" tanks, as that was a German description and did not
come into being until the 85mm tanks appeared in 1944. In point of fact,
many Soviet era documents show that the tanks were only differentiated
by their number of turrets (as with the T-26) or gun carried (here either
L-11 or F-34). The Soviets did dub later tanks T-34-85 to show the differences.
DML has now added the more widely built Model 1941 (T-34 with 76.2mm
F-34 gun) to its "Armor Pro" series (a select part of its 1/72
scale series with additional parts, different moldings, and extras included
in the kits). The kit retains the welded turret of the early T-34s and
does not yet provide a cast turret for the more widely produced late Model
1941 with longitudinal grilles. Like the Model 1940, it follows the design
of their 1/35 scale kits, and again DML has managed to shrink the level
of details down and at the same time compact the number of parts by some
clever molding tricks.
One of the most impressive tricks is the use of what DML calls "slide-molding"
in which multi-part molds with moving parts are used vice the older "sandwich-type"
two piece molds. As a result, they can do larger pieces without either
ejection pin marks or sinkholes, and get depth or undercuts in smaller
parts. This shows up in this kit in two areas: first, the fact that even
in this scale the gun barrel for the F-34 cannon has a hollow muzzle as
molded; and second, the wheels come in 14 ready-to-install assemblies
vice 28 separate wheels and perhaps axle caps. The wheels are nicely done,
with a nice deep grove in between (unlike another company's 1/72 scale
kits with solid road wheels or most HO scale armor) and detailed on both
sides. Purists will want to drill out the thin flash in the drivers (parts
C2) and idlers (parts C1) though, but that is an easy task if you have
a pin vise and small drill bits.
The hull comes with the correct early T-34 (Model 1940/early Model 1941)
hull with vertical grille openings in the radiator intakes and a choice
between either a solid radiator exhaust grille or one with an etched metal
grille instead. This is the same nice touch now offered in the 1/35 scale
kits, and DML is to be congratulated for providing it in 1/72 as well.
The turret also mirrors its "big brother in construction, and as
many modelers have found, if done carefully no putty is needed to fill
the gap between the glacis (part A22) and the turret sides (parts A43
and A44). The turret also includes a partial interior as well. (It should
be noted that both the Model 1940 and Model 1941 appear to come off the
same set of molds, with "gates" opening or closing to provide
the correct section of the sprue for their respective kits.)
Most of the details parts are crisp and well done as well, but the twin
jacks for the tank are provided as one part (A63) and are probably the
least well done of any component.
The kit provides single-section tracks as before, but DML has now changed
over to use their DS plastic vice the original black vinyl. This means
that standard plastic cement can be used to assemble them and get them
to "sag" on the model. However, some modelers indicate these
tracks may be a bit short; unlike the 1/35 scale kits that provide an
eccentric idler axle that can be used to adjust tension for shorter tracks,
the idler mounts on the 1/72 kit are fixed and thus care is needed in
mounting the track on the model.
The kit comes with an absolutely gorgeous sheet of decals with many patriotic
sayings and markings, but as the original sheet with the Model 1940 was
more suited to the Model 1941, most of them are now quite useful. However,
many early production Model 1941s carried no markings (they weren't around
long enough to do that) so care must be taken in using the decals.
Three basic tank finishes are shown: one "protective green"
with numbers from early 1942; one in winter scheme with the famous "tire
tracks" camouflage; and the 130th Tank Brigade from the 21st Tank
Corps, with another 12 options shown for use of slogans on turrets. Again,
you may want to get photo references as many of these, from what I recall,
went on cast turret tanks.
Overall, based on its continued excellence from the Model 1940, this
is a real winner.
Thanks to Freddie Leung of DML for the review sample.