by: George Keseyan [ ]
IntroductionThe T-72, regardless of version, falls into category of military vehicles that need no introduction. Ragged, reliable, well armed and simple to operate, T-72 fully full fills its role of the soldier tank. However, this concept also has some significant drawbacks, mainly diminished combat performance and modernization potential in favour of ease of production and operation. Nonetheless, when properly deployed and given appropriate ammunition, even low-grade versions of the tank still pose a significant threat to its more advanced and modern opponents.
The kitReleased a short while ago, Verlinden’s turret replacement continues sudden surge of major conversion sets for Tamiya’s 1/35 T-72 kit, provoked by other resin aftermarket producers such as Modelpoint, Miniarm and JS Models. However, unlike those, Verlinden’s turret replacement, along with their T-72 upper hull conversion, is designated to build replica of a tank used by military forces other than Soviet or Russian Army. As a matter of fact, given specific details, found in both conversion sets, Verlinden provides conversion for early T-72A export model used primarily by the GDR, in this case vehicle is referred to as T-72GM or M(G), or Czechoslovak Republic military.
The set contains 17 resin pieces, cast in light olive-yellow polyurethane resin without any impurities or bubbles, at least in my copy, a fret of PE, with some various 36 parts, etched in copper, length of copper wire and small instruction sheet, composed mainly of photographs of assembled turret from different perspectives.
In DetailTurret body is given in one piece, hollow, and has very definite and delicate detail on its outer surface. First thing worth noting is simulation of cast armor surface. Circular weld seam connecting roof piece to the rest of turret is quite good and can make whole model stand out when properly painted and weathered. The biggest improvement over Tamiya’s original piece here is gun mantle cover. Moulded in gun loading position, it effectively simulates folds of the soft tissue along with accurate sew seams and bolts on barrel ring. The night sight, upper cover of day time/laser range finder combined sight, main hatches and airtight hatch for deep wading are provided separately. Gunner’s vision port is moulded solid, though hollowing out should not be too big of a problem.
First odd looking part of the turret is electrical cable to the Luna IR projector. It appears to be a bit thick and abruptly cut right after the front edge (the cable should continue on and connect with Luna’s body at its upper right side when viewed from commander’s position). The first major spoil comes when one looks at the auxiliary machine gun. PKT machine gun barrel has no diverging end piece and is exactly 1mm in diameter and 2.7mm long (from turret opening to barrel tip). Furthermore, MG well is completely out of proportion. Unlike one on the real tank, its outline is not elliptical, but an oval with parallel vertical segments. Additionally, well opening is set perpendicular to ground level as well as turret’s x-z section plane (see pic). This, along with some armor alignment issues (read below), is the biggest downside of the set.
The sets biggest flaw are the armor cheeks and the angles at which they are set in relevance with turret’s roof. First off, the edges are too sharp when compared to the real turret. The kits turret has some curvature of cheeks and front segments connecting to the roof and bottom ring, whereas, judging by pictures of the real thing, front segments should have pronounced, but not as much, edges whilst the cheeks’ edges are considerably smoother on top and bottom. Also symmetry of the front segments and their shape, when comparing left to right, is exaggerated. The right side is almost identical to the left one whilst the right front segment, as well as right cheek, viewing from CO position, should be shorter than the right and have a much smoother edge with top when compared to the left segment. Also photographs reveal that frontal segments are curved smoothly off when their lower outlines approach main gun well and ‘badges’ of the cannon mount. Unlike so, kit’s plates continue dead flat making gun holders stick out way too much.
Verlinden provides basic interior detail which includes the outline of the gun mount and stabilizer mechanisms along with anti-neutron lining. Lining has very basic detailing, but this should not be such an issue since it won’t be seen when turret is assembled. On the bright side, set contains fine sights and front instrument panels for both commander and gunner stations. You will however need to either scratch build more interior details or place a crew inside in order for them not to just stick out in rather empty space.
The set also contains standard outfit items for the turret, which include a major overhaul, of two large stowage baskets, various locks and hinges (that’s when most of PE is used). The baskets will now have delicate detail inside and outside. Their walls (PE) and hatches are thin enough to model the baskets opened. The connecting hinges and hatch locks are all PE parts and really improve overall detail.
The kit also provides a replacement barrel, composed of two pieces. The locating pin is long enough to align two parts perfectly; however, there is no pin for the mantle-barrel junction. The barrel is moulded with the thermal shroud on, locks in PE, and has good detail except for straps which are a bit too thick and will have to be trimmed.
ConclusionVerlinden’s set now fills the void for an accurate replica of T-72 version used by the ‘more trusted nations’ of the former Warsaw Pact. While not perfect, it is nonetheless a big improvement over the original Tamiya parts, also intended to represent a Warsaw Pact 72, and does not have faults impossible to resolve. Those pursuing spot on accuracy, will spend one evening at most improving upon the existing details, on the outer surface that is, while it will be a good starter kit for those who are new to joys and challenges of resin sets. Now if only Verlinden would continue on and give us turrets for original Ural and 72A versions…