Friday, December 11, 2009

Project: 1/35 T-64B

When the West first learned of the existence of the T-64, it caused quite a stir. Abandoning the evolution started with the late-WWII T-44, the T-64 was a radical departure for the time. Featuring a small, 2 man turret and a low profile hull, it incorporated advanced tank design features like an auto-loader for the main cannon, hydro-pneumatic suspension, and an advanced fire control system. The T-64 seemed to herald a new "tank gap" for which the West had to catch up.

With the fall of the Soviet Union and thawing of relations, much more information has come to light. The T-64 was not quite the threat the West believed it was, and the initial designs were nearly a turkey. Produced alongside to the T-72 , which was intended for Motor Rifle Divisions (rather than the T-64, for frontline Armored divisions), if the baloon had gone up in the '70s, the West would more likely had to face hordes of T-62s and T-55s, since the value of the T-64 was questionable.

Although many of the issues that plagued the T-64 were mostly resolved, and it still serves with the Ukranian Army, it was never exported, and still has issues to this day (such as reliability in very cold weather -- ironic considering its country of origin).

Over the years, I have built my fair share of Soviet Cold War era tanks, but the T-64 was always elusive. Lacking good photos or captured examples, the T-64 remained a garage kit until Skif (of the Ukraine) came along and produced a kit in styrene.

While one would think that a model manufacturer producing a kit of their country's tank would ensure a very accurate model. Unfortunately not. The kit I selected (T-64B) has a reasonable hull, but a very inaccurate turret. While the kit could be built out-of-the box with modification, to get a real show-winner requires quite a bit of work.

Luckily, Miniarm comes to the rescue with a very fine (if expensive!) turret for the T-64B, which I still have on order. Add to this the Eduard photo etch set (for general details -- though the picture shown is for the T-64BV, the set is suitable for the earlier variant) , and possibly the Miniarm track set, and you can have a very nice model. The last part I'm not sold on, beause the end connectors are attached to one track shoe, and thus do not bend realistically, but in the end it really depends on how well I can get the kit tracks to work. There is also a styrene set of tracks from Skif as well, and that might be a good, cheaper alternative.

All in all, I am very excited about getting this kit going, and should be a unique addition to my collection, especially next to the Chieftain.

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