Pen and Sword - T-34 Russia's Armoured Spearhead
Pen and Sword recently launched the "Tank Craft" series. This interesting concept combines historical background/development, technical description, operational history, color plates, model reviews and built models all in one book.
It's an interesting idea, and comes at a very affordable price. I think the concept is sound. However, the execution is lacking. With this particular volume, on the Soviet T-34, we have numerous errors, odd organization, mediocre color plates, uneven models, and uneven kit reviews. It makes for a package that modelers should probably avoid. The title is also poorly worded; the T-34 was of course a Soviet design, not 'Russian'.
The book is 64 pages, 8.3 X 11.5 inches, of high quality paper. There are over 200 illustrations, including black and white photos of real T-34s andother tanks, color model photos, kit photos and color plates.
As one would expect, the first few chapters introduce the subject and describe the design of the T-34. However, the book then digresses into scale models, T-34-related model products and kit reviews, before returning to the T-34 operational history, the T-34-85, and some postwar history.
Some of the technical development history is great, reaching all the way back to the MS-1 (T-18) shown here.
However, we also have misidentifications.
There are some nice details such as this engine photo.
A typical set of pages, with text and multiple photos.
The color plates are OK, although they show a few features that are not present on real T-34s.
Presumably, the models shown in the book are intended as good examples of well-researched, well-built T-34 models. This 1/16 scale T-34 from Factory 112 is a pretty good example. We could argue about the driver's hatch interior color, but overall it is a good model.
This 1/35th ICM T-34 hex turret is also a good, if not advanced level, example. Better kits are available for this subject, but the text does not tell us that.
This 1/35th T-34 Model 41 has several major errors including missing armor parts on the turret, (the part-locating slots are visible on either side of the gun mount), missing tie-down brackets on the rear-deck cover (provided in the kit) and missing ribs on the engine-deck mesh (provided in any PE set). The markings are also incorrect for this vehicle type. Beginners or modelers not familiar with T-34s would be advised to stay away from this example.
The kit reviews include a few newer kits as well as some very old kits. I find reviews of older kits very useful since I like building them, but, these reviews are free of any truly informative content. The text below gives a pretty good flavor for what is there; a modeler looking for a recommendation on kits to seek or avoid will be disappointed, if not misled.
Pros: Really interesting concept to combine historical, technical and modeling content in one book. Nicely illustrated.
Cons: Numerous inaccuracies; repeats old historical myths; superficial reviews and variable model quality could lead newer modelers astray. Combined, this makes it a poor resource for a T-34 model builder.
Thanks goes out to Casemate for this review sample.
Reviewed by Danny Egan
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