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  1. T-72B3M w/KMT-8 Mine Clearing System (TS-053) 1:35 MENG via Creative Models Ltd The T-72 was the ultimate replacement of the poorly engineered T-64, which was over-ambitious for its era, so struggled with the requirements placed on it by the Russian hierarchy. After much improvement on the flawed original it became such a different beast that they renamed it, after even the hull was re-engineered to take the punishment of the improved power plant. The new T-72 (Objekt 172M) suffered from teething problems however, and initial deliveries were slow, plagued with issues until the factories were properly tooled up and the production started to run smoothly. Along with the earlier T-55 it became one of the most commonly used tanks of the Soviet Union, and has been in service for years with many upgrades and variants. The T-72B was introduced in the mid-80s with improved armour, a new engine with more power, and a complete overhaul of the main gun system from sights to stabilizer. The B3 variant was a substantial upgrade to the previous versions, beginning in 2010 and took reserve tanks, overhauled the systems that would be retained, and replaced many of the electronics, especially the sensor suite that would improve survivability on the modern battlefield. The hull and running gear were also upgraded with new tracks that have two pins instead of the earlier one, and the crew/hardware are protected by an improved fire suppression system. The gun didn't escaped improvement, and the auto-loader that reduced the crew to three was been improved to feed the new 2A46M5 gun, which fires kinetic penetrator rounds in a discarding sabot outer, similar to the western tanks. In 2014 a new sub-variant bearing the M suffix was designed to address some of the issues experienced after the B3 entered service. New 4S23 Relikt explosive reactive armour panels were installed on the hull and turret, and slat armour was added to the rear to defeat shaped-charge anti-tank missiles that are common on the modern battlefield, with the extra weight countered by a new V-92S2F diesel engine that outputs 1,130hp. The type has entered Russian service in large numbers since 2018, and some have left service violently and involuntarily since February 2022. The Kit If you have any other MENG T-72 based kits, such as the Terminator and the earlier T-72B3, on which this boxing is based, only with different coloured plastic used to mould it. The box is typical Meng, with a satin finish, and a thick lower tray to protect the contents, which is good to see, as many modellers stack their models in the stash and a weak box is a pain if your piles are large (ooer!). Inside the box are nineteen sprues in grey styrene; a sprue of flexible styrene, the two hull parts and turret top in the same colour; a clear sprue; four sprues of black styrene track links and seven sprues of the interlinking end-caps in flexible black styrene; a length of braided metal wire; a run of black poly-caps; a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass; a clear T-shaped suspension positioning tool; decals, and the usual glossy instruction booklet with painting and marking guide to the rear. There are also three thick card sheets printed on both sides in four languages that give you information about the model, and if you’re a collector of these things, there are three punched holes in the top edge, although only one side of text will be in your language, plus a few drawings with bilingual English/Japanese titles. This boxing includes new parts for the KMT-8 Mine Clearing System, which is attached to the front of the vehicle, clearing a pair of pathways for the tracks through any minefields that the tank may encounter, and slat armour around the rear of the vehicle. It's a Meng kit, so of course the first impression is one of a professionally presented and highly detailed model. There's a lot of detail included in the box, and the construction proceeds logically, which as you'd expect begins with the road wheels, idlers and drive sprockets, all of which have poly-caps trapped between the inner and outer portions. Return rollers and suspension parts are added to the lower hull at the same time as the self-entrenching tool is installed in the lower glacis. The suspension is torsion-bar driven on the real thing, and this is replicated in styrene here, with long bars going through the lower hull and short swing-arms holding the stub axles at their ends. A clear styrene tool is provided to get everything in alignment here, so that if you elect to have your suspension level for a display model, everything will touch the ground. With the rear bulkhead detail panel added along with some spare track links, the road wheels are pushed into place on the by-now cured suspension, and that leads us to the tracks. The tracks have a three-part jig to facilitate construction. Firstly, the guide horns are glued on and later cut from their sprue. With six links on the jig, a top jig part J2 is clipped over the lower, holding the links in place. You then insert a section of sprue containing five flexible styrene end-caps into the third part of the jig J1, and cut them loose with a sharp blade. These are then offered in the jig en-masse to the pins on one side of the tracks, pushing in only one way due to the shape of the keys on the sides of the jigs. Here you have to be careful to insert the end-caps in the correct orientation according to the scrap diagrams in this section. Finally, you install a set of track-pads to each link to finish off the run, although I believe you can leave them rough and ready for cross-country travel. The pads fit into recesses in the outer surface of the links, and glue in quite easily, but be sparing with it, as you'll ruin all your work if the glue gets into the pins. In conclusion on the tracks, they are a bit fiddly, delicate and really require your full attention, so don't expect to have them finished in an hour. I was already speeding up production by the time I'd tested them on a previous boxing, and the results are worth the effort, being detailed and workable, but be prepared to put in the effort – you need 2 runs of 81 links. With the tracks out of the way, attention turns to the upper hull, which is based on the large part as seen in the sprue pictures. The raised portions for the driver's compartment, the turret ring armoured sections, PE engine grilles, armoured covers, and the exhaust are added to the upper, with a detail insert forming the glacis, plus fuel and equipment stowage boxes covering most of the length of the fenders, leaving them smooth and uncluttered. The shaped front mudguard is delicately moulded with thinner edges to give a more scale look, and are glued to the front of the fenders. At the rear a smaller pair of simple fenders are installed, and the engine deck is completed with more parts, including another pair of PE grilles in a sloped rear section, with two flaps mounted diagonally to assist with cooling. The light clusters are built up and added, as are the four brackets for the slat armour, with a larger light cluster at the front in a protective cage, and the rear unditching beam added later, moulded from a single part with plenty of bark detail. The side skirts are multi-parts, with lots of detail moulded in, and they have further ERA blocks to the front, once they are hung on a trio of brackets on the hull sides. On the rear deck an armoured cover is applied over the existing part, and a long delicate actuator is threaded across the deck. Back to the rear, and a pair of towing cables are fabricated from 100mm lengths of the braided wire, adding two-part styrene towing eyes and draping them as suggested in the diagrams. Speaking of drums, there are parts included in the box, but not used in this edition due to the slat armour, which comprises two parts each for the sides, and three for the rear of the hull, all shown again on scrap diagrams for your ease. The soft-bagged ERA packages are a particularly noticeable aspect of this variant of the T-72, and these are supplied as eleven single bags per side that have mounting straps moulded-in. The KMT-8 mine plough is attached to the glacis of the vehicle in two halves, and is made up in two halves as a result, one being a mirror image of the other. They are each a bundle of rams, struts and levers, plus the teeth that tear up the ground as the tank moves forward, exposing and then detonating the mines. Each one is built in successive steps, then glued onto the lower glacis in line with the tracks. The turret is always a fun part of the build for me, and this one starts with the big barrel, which is built up in sections, some of which are moulded complete, while the longer sections are split vertically and will require careful alignment and seam sanding to get a nice tubular barrel. There is no interior to the turret other than the commander's instrument panel at the front of his hatch, so the turret lower is used to close up the assembly early, after which a host of ERA blocks are glued all over the place, which is why the bare turret looks like it has already been peppered with small-arms fire, as well as bearing little resemblance to the shape of the finished article. Equipment, grab-handles, smoke grenade dispenser and sensors are dotted around between the armour, and the mantlet is installed with a flexible styrene cover giving it a realistic crumpled look for good measure. Around the rear are stowage boxes, one of which has a portable missile launcher lashed to it on the centre station. There is a three-part set of slat-armour supplied for the rear to protect the rear of the turret from shaped-charge missiles again, covering over and squaring off the stowage and stowed missile launcher. The commander's cupola has vision blocks around it, a protective shield at his rear and the big anti-aircraft machine gun on a mount to the front, which can be posed horizontally or raised for anti-aircraft work by swapping out the support strut under the breech. When advancing, the shield is pointed forward to provide protection, and has a reinforced viewing slot to keep the commander safe and give him better situational awareness for longer during a skirmish. The gunner's hatch is a much more straight-forward flap with handles and latch on the underside, and this, like the rotation and activity of the commander's hatch can be left mobile by leaving off the glue. Finally, the barrel is mated to the mantlet via a keyed lug, and the turret is attached to the hull via the usual bayonet twist-to-fit mechanism. Markings If you're expecting Russian green for the three decal options, you'd be right. One is in Great Patriotic War Parade decals and isn’t wearing the bagged ERA blocks, while the other was an attendee of a technical show. I won’t mention the third decal option or show its picture, as it is from a contentious time, and seems a little tone-deaf on Meng’s part. From the box you can build one of the following: Victory Day Parade marking the 76th Anniversary of the Soviet Victory in the Great patriotic War, Moscow, May 9th, 2021 Russia International Military-Technical Forum “Army-2017”, Alabino Military Training Grounds, August 2017 An option that's likely to be a little raw to most people, 2022 Decals are printed in China in good registration, sharpness, and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion A solid and detailed model of this modern Russian tank that will go together easily, although the tracks will keep you pretty busy for a while. The addition of the KMT-8 mine plough adds extra interest, but the last decal choice could have been more thoughtful under the circumstances. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  2. Soviet KMT-7 Mine-Roller (37045) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd. Mines are a problem for AFVs, softskins and foot soldiers alike, and there are different types used for different circumstances to inflict maximum damage to man and machine. Mines intended to disable tanks generally have larger charges to penetrate the thinner underside armour and tear off tracks and drive wheels, with a higher pressure required to trigger them. The resulting explosion can cripple or destroy a tank, leaving crew dead or injured, a valuable tank out of action and sometimes blocking the way. Most Soviet and Russian tanks are fitted with attachment points for mine-rollers that can be fitted as needed and clear a path for the tank's tracks to allow them to proceed. Other tanks without a mine-roller must follow in their tracks exactly or risk detonating mines that are outside the cleared paths. It's not an ideal solution, more of an expedient one that probably requires a more complete detection and cleaning later when the enemy aren't shooting at them. The KMT-5 saw service until the 60s and was used until the T-64 after which it was replaced for newer vehicles with the improved KMT-7. It operates by breaking the ground up with toothed rollers of substantial weight to simulate the footprint of an AFV, ploughing up the ground and detonating any mines it finds. Its rugged construction means that it can survive explosions, although they do take their toll on the hardware eventually. The improved KMT-9 eventually replaced the 7 in use. The Kit The KMT-5M and KMT-9M have already been seen individually and included with various MiniArt kits, but if you need a 7 to fit to another suitable kit you already have, now's your chance! It arrives in a figure-sized top-opening box in shrink-wrap with nineteen sprues in grey styrene inside plus a length of chain in shiny silver. The instruction booklet is like that of a complete kit, which is for good reason as it's a fairly complex build and there are plenty of steps. Construction begins with the toothed rollers, which each have three two-part wheels on a central axle plus two shallow T-shaped end-caps. These are joined by short tubes that have small sections of chain attached in strategic places for later fitting at the end of the suspension arms. These are next to be built and each has a pair of pads at the tank end and a hinged arm that is long enough to keep the tank away from the brunt of the blast, as well as absorb some of the upward momentum and reduce damage to the rollers. The arms spread apart near the hull so that the rollers are placed at exactly the same spacing as the tracks, and there are parts supplied to fit the roller to MiniArt models, and other parts if it's another manufacturer's kit. There are a couple a styrene cable parts in the box to further secure the assembly, with another momentum-absorbing spring at the roller end. The bogies are attached to the arms via the short lengths of chain fitted to hooks fore and aft, acting as a further damper for asymmetric detonations. If your model has a bow-wash panel on the glacis plate, you will need to leave that part off the model as they were not fitted with the mine-roller. Markings There are none! There aren't any decals and you're not even given any clues as to what colour to use other than the boxtop colours. Use your Google Fu or references to check before you start spraying your tank's main colour on it, just in case. Conclusion A useful addition to make your mid Cold War Soviet AFV stand out from the crowd, to add in the background of a diorama, or even as a stand-alone – maybe being repaired after a big bang? Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  3. Soviet KMT-5M Mine-Roller (37036) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd. Mines are a problem for AFVs, softskins and foot soldiers alike, and there are different types used for different circumstances. Mines intended to disable tanks generally have larger charges to penetrate the thinner underside armour and tear off tracks and drive wheels, with a higher pressure required to trigger them. The resulting explosion can cripple or destroy a tank, leaving crew killed or injured, a valuable tank out of action and sometimes blocking the way. Most Soviet and Russian tanks are fitted with attachment points for mine-rollers that can be fitted as needed and clear a path for the tank's tracks to allow them to proceed. Other tanks without a mine-roller must follow in their tracks exactly or risk detonating mines that are outside the cleared paths. It's not an ideal solution, more of an expedient one that probably requires a more complete cleaning later when the enemy aren't shooting at them. It has been in service since the 60s and was used until the T-64 after which is was replaced for newer vehicles with the improved KMT-7 and KMT-9. It operated by breaking the ground up with toothed rollers of substantial weight to simulate the footprint of an AFV, ploughing up the ground and detonating any mines it finds. Its rugged construction means that it can survive explosions, although they do take their toll on the hardware eventually. The Kit The KMT-5M has already been seen when included with various MiniArt kits, but if you didn't get one with yours or need one to fit to another suitable kit, now's your chance! It arrives in a figure-sized top-opening box in shrink-wrap with sixteen sprues in grey styrene inside plus two lengths of chain of differing widths. One of the sprues has been nipped in half to fit the box, and a number of elastic bands have been used to group sprues of the same type together and reduce chaffing. The instruction booklet is like that of a complete kit, which is for good reason as it's a fairly complex build and there are plenty of steps. Construction begins with the toothed rollers, which each have three wheels on a central axle plus two end-caps. These are fitted into short bogies that have small sections of chain attached in strategic places for later fitting at the end of the suspension arms. These are next to be built and each has a pair of pads at the tank end and a hinged arm that is long enough to keep the tank away from the brunt of the blast, as well as absorb some of the upward momentum and reduce damage to the rollers. The arms spread apart so that the rollers are placed at exactly the same spacing as the tracks, and there are parts supplied to fit the roller to MiniArt models, and other parts if it's another manufacturer's kit. There are a couple a styrene rope parts in the box to further secure the assembly, with another momentum-absorbing spring at the roller end. The bogies are attached to the arms via the short lengths of chain fitted to hooks fore and aft, with another chain linking the two together with a bobbin-like part loose along its length, acting as a further damper for asymmetric detonations. Markings There are none! There aren't any decals and you're not even given any clues as to what colour to use other than the boxtop colours. Use your Google Fu or references to check before you start spraying your tank's main colour on it, just in case. Conclusion A useful addition to make your early Cold War Soviet AFV stand out from the crowd, to add in the background of a diorama, or even as a stand-alone – maybe being repaired? Highly recommended. At time of writing, this is on heavy discount at Creative, so strike now! Review sample courtesy of
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