Italeri T-34/76 Model 1943
Introduction & what comes in the box
The distinguished T-34 was a revolutionary design which significantly impacted armor designs following it's initial fielding in 1940. With sloping armor, a 76.2mm main gun, a crew of 4, a powerful V12 diesel engine, and wide tracks it was a good balance of armor, mobility, and firepower. The T-34 was produced in some of the greatest numbers of any vehicle in the history of armored warfare. Italeri's 2020 release of this kit is a rebox of the original molding by ESCI dating back to 1976. This latest boxing offers 5 new decal marking options, but is essentially the same kit from 44 years ago. While some details are a bit on the soft side, it still builds into a decent representation of a T-34/76 Model 1943.
The kit includes 4 sprues with the hull, turret, wheels, and other details molded in dark green styrene and the tracks molded in metallic grey styrene. The styrene is somewhat soft, but thankfully not brittle. All four sprues are packaged in a single clear plastic sealed bag within the box with very attractive box cover artwork. Five decal marking options are offered including markings for one Polish vehicle in 1944, two Red Army options from 1944, one Czechoslovakian marking option from summer '44, and a captured vehicle (AKA beutepanzer) with sand brown camouflage and large balkenkruez for the turret. The instructions are in color and the kit builds in 8 relatively simple steps.
Lower Hull parts
1943 production turret and steel road wheels. Unfortunately the outer ring of these rims is a bit thick and out of scale.
Unused model 1941 turret and stamped/rubber rimmed road wheels
Link and length tracks
Construction begins in steps 1 & 2 with the road wheels, return roller, and drive wheel. The option of stamped steel rubber wheels or cast iron wheels are included. Check your references to determine which is appropriate. The instructions denote which marking option should have which wheel set up, but my limited T-34 references don't show the majority of the vehicle marking options in this kit. I waited to attach the wheels to the hull until later to aid painting. Step three sees the assembly of the link and length 550mm "waffle" tracks. These are nicely detailed on the outer and inner faces. Fit of the tracks pieces was somewhat difficult requiring some extra trimming to get some of the interlocking pieces to fit well. Unfortunately no sag is molded into the upper track run. Step 4 sees the hull sides, bottom, and rear plat married to one another. Step 5 is comprised of the upper hull and detail parts assembly. Here the builder is presented with the option of either the round side mounted saddle fuel tanks, or the rear mounted box type fuel tanks. I chose the round tank option for my build. I wasn't satisfied with the level of detail on the upper hull due to the absence of any grab handles and a solid molded mesh engine grill. Because of this, I chose to scratch build some details, cutting out the molded in mesh and adding some PE replacement screen as well as fabricating my own grab handles using .010 brass wire. More detail parts are added to the upper hull in step 6 including the hull mg, tow hooks, tools, tow cable, and round fuel tank option if used. At this point I added another detail of my own by drilling out the solid dark green styrene headlight to add a MV lens for increased detail of the headlight. This really helped the look of this little kit!. The turret assembly makes up step #7. While there are parts for a model 1941 from a different boxing included, I stuck with the 1943 production turret. Important to note here is a bit of compromise in the molding regarding detail. In some ways it looks like a "soft edge" turret, but in other ways it looks like a "hard edge" turret. Here I again used .010 brass wire to add the grab handle details to the turret sides after stippling Mr. Surfacer 500 on the turret sides to simulate cast texture which is absent out of the box. The perisopes lacked the holes for the lenses, so I drilled this detail into each. A commander figure upper half is provided, but I opted not to include him in my build at this time. Step 8 sees the turret, upper hull, lower hull, and an infantry figure catching a ride on the rear deck (who I also opted not to use at this time). Fit was good for the most part, although the turret has a very tight fit, and I had difficulty getting the tracks to fit into the allotted space of the front fenders. This required some shaving off for both issues to improve the fit. I was disappointed that the tracks have no sag, or ability to be modified to sag as they come in the kit. All in all construction was quite straightforward.
Hull sides and suspension assembled and tracks with tape added while the glue cured.
Upper hull assembly
As seen here, I cut out the solid molded mesh and added some scrap PE mesh. I also drilled out the ends of the exhaust pipes to open them up.
Turret assembled, cast texture added with Mr. Surfacer 500 being stippled on, and more .010 brass wire for grab handles.
The upper hull would not fit with the tracks installed inside the front fenders. I remedied this by shaving enough material to allow them to fit.
Painting, decals, and weathering
I used Tamiya XF-58 Olive Green for the hull, wheels and turret, airbrushed in light coats from dark to lightening shades of increased mixes with Tamiya XF-3 Flat Yellow. The tracks were painted XF-84 Dark Iron with Gun Metal highlights on the protruding track detail.
MV Lens headlight added
highlights airbrushed on.
Decals added and finish weathered with a light dusting of Vallejo Russian mud.
All in all I enjoyed this build. I love adding simple scratch built details to improve older kits like this one which lack some details that are found in newer kits on the market. The biggest difficulty I encountered was getting the upper hull to fit over the tracks while assembling the upper hull to the lower hull. The instructions were clear and easy to follow. Fit was decent overall with some modification required as previously noted. The decals went on great and I was very pleased with the results of this build. In spite of this kit's age, it still builds into a decent model.
T-34 in action by Steven Zaloga and James Grandsen. Illustrated by Don Greer and Steven Zaloga. Squadron/Signal Publications, Carrolton, 1981. ISBN 0-89747-112-1
Images of Kursk: History's Greatest Tank Battle July 1943 by Nik Cornish. Brassey's Inc, London, 2002. ISBN 1-57488-576-6
Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders.
Thanks goes out to Model Rectifier Corporation for this review kit.
Reviewed by Ben Brandes
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