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  1. Pz.Kpfw.T-34-747(R) (35370) 1:35 ICM Models via Hannants The T-34 gave the German invaders something of a shock when they first encountered it during operation Barbarossa, their attempt at conquering the Soviet Union, and they were instrumental in reversing the tide through both their impressive performance and weight of numbers, due to their simple construction and the overwhelming industrial capability of the Russian factories. Even when the Germans were knocking on the gates of Moscow and Stalingrad, production was shifted lock-stock-and-barrel further east with barely a flicker, and in Stalingrad there are stories of fresh tanks rolling off the production lines and straight into combat. The simple design used tried and tested technology, together with innovative sloped armour that increased its effective thickness when hit in the horizontal plane. It was initially fitted with a powerful 76mm gun, while It's diesel power plant gave it a good speed over most terrains, and as production ramped up there were over 1,000 produced each month, plenty to replace losses and more besides. The Germans had a habit of pressing captured equipment into service, which didn't help their already stretched resources, but they still did it. The T-34 in German service was given a standard designation that included its original name and the (R) designation to signify its foreign origins (Russich). They were fairly well-used on the Eastern front due to their armour and ruggedness, as well as the fact that they were better engineered to withstand the harsher conditions of the Russian winters than the technically superior engineering of the German tanks, which suffered badly with frozen tracks and had higher ground pressure than the T-34. Sometimes a more Germanic cupola was fitted on the original commander's hatch, but this was by no means a standard fitment, especially when the going got tougher for the Nazis. The Kit Stemming from a relatively recent 2015 tool from ICM, this is a release with new parts to depict a captured vehicle, and it arrives in their usual box with the extra flap over the lower tray. Inside are six sprues and two hull halves in green styrene, tracks and towing cables in flexible black styrene, decal sheet and the instruction booklet, which is printed in colour and has profiles at the rear for painting and markings. From the description above, you'll note that these are rubber-band tracks, which suits some and not others, and if you're a fan of metal or individual link styrene tracks, you've probably got your favourite brands already. The detail is nice, especially the sand-cast texture of the turret, which was often rougher than a badger's bottom in their haste to get them out of the door and at the Nazis in defence of their homeland. The rest of the armour is moulded smooth, and has some rather good-looking weld-beads around the various parts of the hull. There's room for improving the detail with some etched grilles etc., but for most of us the detail is pretty good out of the box, and even though this is an exterior only kit, you get an almost complete breech if you want to pose the turret hatches open, plus a driver's position. For a change the build begins with the upper hull, detailing it with bow machine gun installation with a movable ball, the armoured vents and filling in the other cut-outs on the engine deck, plus the driver's large hatch at the front, which is best left closed unless you're planning on scratching a full interior to back up the seats! The rear bulkhead, armoured exhaust spats and the pipes themselves are all added at the back, and it is then put to the side while the lower hull is prepared with some holes that need drilling, the suspension boxes gluing in behind the hull sides, and the fender extensions added at the rear. After saying there's no interior, there is a pair of control levers and two comfy seats to fit inside the lower hull, but unless you're crowding the area with some beefy figures, there's still a big gap behind them that might be seen. The axles with their swing-arms are all fitted to the hull after the two halves are joined, with two attachment points, the final-drive housing is built up at the rear, and the idler axle slots into the front in preparation for the road wheels, which are supplied individually to make into pairs before they are glued onto the axles. The same happens to the idler and drive sprockets on both sides, then some light detail is applied to the hull in the shape of towing shackles, tie-down bars, and the tracks are joined, then installed. The tracks are in two parts each, which link together seamlessly, but don't react to liquid cement at all, so use super glue (CA), although the instructions are mute on the subject. Aligning the joins at the centre of the track run should hide any visible seams, especially if you're going to paint and weather them with some mud and grit. The turret begins with the breech, which has a coaxial machine gun on the right along with a dinner-plate mag and sighting gear, which slots into the inner mantlet once it has been trapped in place by the exterior armoured part. The lower turret is then glued into the inner lip of the upper part to hide the join, and the front moving section of the mantlet is glued in place along with the tip of the coax MG. The prominent gun sleeve is made up from three parts and fits to the mantlet inside its weld-bead, and has the two part barrel slid through it and into the hole in the inner part. It might be as well to deal with the barrel's seam before you insert it, and with careful alignment it should be fairly simple work. More tie-down rails, lifting lugs and a rotating periscope are fixed to the outer turret, and it is then inserted into the hull, locking in place with a bayonet fitting. That's not the end, as there are four large stowage boxes that you may need depending on which decal variant you opt for. The rear boxes are angled to fit the aft bulkhead, while the side boxes are simple rectangles with moulded-in clasps and lid. Additional track-links are attached to the fenders, barrel cleaning rods in a box, plus the Germanic convoy lights and rolled up tarpaulins, plus the two towing cables, which are in flexible plastic with styrene eyes at each end, and finally you are entreated to cut a piece of 0.3mm wire to 86mm for the radio antenna. Markings Russian green? Nope. These Beutepanzers were a horse of another colour, and two of the examples shown here have a base coat of Field Green, while the other two are Dunkelgelb and winter white, so if you can add up you'll discover that there are four options out of the box. If you can't add up, there are four options in the box You can build one of the following: GrossDeutchland Division, Russia, Winter 1943 – white distemper finish Kursk, July 1943 – Dunkelgelb squiggles over Field Green Kursk, July 1943 – Dunkelgelb Kursk, July 1943 – Field Green The decal printing is unattributed, but has good sharpness, colour density, and registration between the black and white is fine on my sample. All the decals are crosses either in white, or black and white, with one cut into three sections due to being applied over the hatches on the turret top (Option B). Conclusion Another nice model of a T-34, with the added interest of being a captured example. It should also confuse the heck out of some people, which is an added bonus! The decal sheet is heavily weighted toward Kursk, but it was an important battle, so hardly surprising that the Germans threw everything into it. Lovely detail on the turret and weld lines, and even the tracks are well moulded. Highly recommended Available in the UK from their importers, H G Hannants Ltd. Review sample courtesy of
  2. Die Wehrmacht Beutepanzer 1939-1945 Robert Johnson & Uwe Fist - Casemate UK BEUEPANZER literately translates to bootytank, we would describe this as a captured tank. The Germans had a knack for taking captured equipment of all types and returning it for use within their own forces. It is safe to say there is very little material available which concentrates on this area of "re-use" within the German Army. This book will hopefully go some way to filling this gap. The book arrives in a slightly larger than A-4 size Landscape form with hard covers. There are 262 pages and the book is broken down into 8 chapters; Polish Campaign, French Campaign, United Kingdom, Russian Campaign, United States, Italy, Hungary & Lend-Lease. The Russian Campaign and the French Campaign feature most in the book, as this is where the majority of vehicles were captured. The book brings all areas of vehicles from abandonment, through evaluation; and eventual reimplementation. The quality of the printing and photographs are excellent. Example - French Campaign Example - United States Conclusion This is a great looking book into an often forgotten part of the war. This was an area in which the Germany Army invested time and resources. Highly recommended reading if you like the more eccentric areas of WWII. It also gives some great diorama ideas for the modeller. Review sample courtesy of
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