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Mike

Object 279 Heavy Tank - 1:35 Panda Model

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Object 279 Soviet Heavy Tank
1:35 Panda Model


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Following WWII, the major powers were convinced that large heavy tanks with huge guns were the way forward in tank warfare, possibly because of the way that the Germans were heading with their Maus project at the end of the war. Each had their own gigantic, unusual tank that never saw active service. The British had the A-39 Tortoise, the Americans the T-28 Super Heavy tank, and the Russians the Object 279. While physically different from the other vehicles, it had four sets of tracks like the T-28, although they were laid out very differently.

It was designed to be effective across rough country that would have been previously considered impassable to standard armour, and went from drawing board to completed prototype in around two years. It was also designed to withstand the blast from a nuclear explosion without flipping, due to its elliptical hull design and low centre of gravity from the four track units. Armour was incredibly thick, with a maximum of over 300mm in the cast turret, and around the saucer-shaped hull there were stand-off aerodynamic panels that both contributed to the ability to stand the huge forces of a shockwave, as well as pre-detonating shaped HEAT rounds, draining their piercing potential before they hit the underlying cast armour. Its main gun wasn't massive by today's standards, but at 130mm it was impressive for its day, and was capable of penetrating any rolled steel armour of the time. It had a semi-automatic loading system that placed the shell and charge in the barrel, giving it a fast rate of fire of between 5 and 7 rounds per minute. A heavy machine gun was mounted coaxially, and both weapons were stabilised in both axes to improve accuracy.

The prototypes suffered from some issues with their drive train, a high unit cost, complexity of engineering, and a change of armour doctrine meant that the super heavy tank was withdrawn from the Soviet military arsenal, which coupled with Krustchev's enthusiasm for missile firing tanks, the 279's card was marked.

The Kit
This one came out of the blue only a few weeks back from Panda, and here it is on my workbench already. The box is smaller than I would have expected, but it is fairly closely packed inside the lid, with five sprues of green styrene, three of brown styrene, two separate hull parts in green, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass and a length of braided copper wire/rope. The instruction booklet is glossy covered, and a separate sheet has a replica of the box art on one side, and painting instructions on the reverse. There are no decals included with the kit.


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These super heavy tanks seem to shape a common theme of being not over-busy on the outer hull, and the majority of parts are used in the running gear and four lengths of track that come with the kit in the shape of individual links in brown styrene. Construction starts with the building of the two blade-like suspension sponsons, which have seven swing-arms on each side, and three return rollers on the upper edge. The roadwheels are glued to the axles, and the idler wheel has a different hub pattern, fitting to a cylindrical mount at the rear of the sponson. The twin drive sprockets are fixed to a separate cylindrical mount that sits on another blade-shaped projection from the underside of the hull through a circular aperture. Presumably the tank would turn into the oncoming blast to present the lowest frontal area in the shape of these aerodynamic "blades".

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The largest job is undoubtedly the building up of the tracks from individual links, which are very nicely moulded with only two sprue gates per link, which are attached overlapping the inside edge of each end of the link. Once liberated from the sprues, a quick slice with a sharp blade should see them ready for installation, however there is a single ejector pin in each link, right in the centre of the outer face of the track, which could be tricky to deal with. Perusing the sprues shows that most of them are very shallow, and a few are pretty much flush with the surface, so leaving them and ensuring that a quantity of mud is used to weather the tracks should obviate any filler work. Each run has 82 links, and although they are shown being added to the suspension sponsons after they are joined to the hull, it would make the task much easier if they were joined later.

The lower hull bears more than a passing resemblance to a shallow bottomed boat, with a central keel section and upward sloping "bow". The suspension sponsons fit into grooves that run fore to aft, terminating just before the drive sprocket apertures. Some small parts are added here and there, but overall the lower hull is pretty sparsely populated if you ignore the tracks. The upper hull is similarly streamlined, having a central driver's hatch with opener, forward light cluster with cages, and some pioneer tools at the front and a pair of circular intakes just behind the large turret ring. The engine deck is a little less streamlined by nature, having two rectangular louvered grilles running along either side, which receive finer mesh covers in the shape of PE parts and some smaller latches to the sides. More pioneer tools are stashed at the rear of the engine deck, and a step/grab-handle arrangement is attached around the sides of the turret ring. Next to the PE grilles are the exhausts, which are rectangular upstands with a PE mesh interior. They give the impression of being retractable, although nothing about their construction would indicate I'm right, and they seem to be deployed on the surviving example that is on display in the Kubinka tank museum in Russia.

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The upper and lower hull parts are mated at this stage, but I'd consider mating them earlier, as they are a tight fit on my review sample, and might need some squeezing, which could result in damage to the small parts or the running gear. Another concern at this stage is the addition of the final side panels from separate parts, which will result in some minor seam work unless you're very careful, which could again jeopardise the small parts. I'd certainly look into building the hull before undertaking any assembly of the other parts, as there is no interior, and nothing that is installed from within. A pair of auxiliary fuel tanks are added to the rear, and these have been slide moulded to improve the ribbed detail on the outer faces. They have end-caps, a rear panel and filler cap on the top, with large mounting lugs to secure them to the rear bulkhead of the hull. Unusually, a pair of feeder hoses are included, which link the tanks to the main hull, and it makes a refreshing change to see these small touches out of the box.

The large upper turret is a one piece moulding with a very nice cast finish to the outside, and a narrow turret ring is added to the underside to complete the skin following the installation of the main gun. The barrel is a two-part assembly, with a vertical seam running all the way to the mantlet, which might discourage some who are used to turned metal barrels. Due to the complex ridged flash-hider, it would have been difficult to make it any other way without increasing the cost of the tooling, and I'm sure that there will be an aftermarket barrel available soon if you don't feel up to the task of removing the seams. The barrel slots into the small mantlet part using a keyed stub, and the barrel of the 14.5mm coaxial machine gun slots into a hole next to it. They then sit within a locating trough inside the lower turret, and are trapped in place when the upper turret is glued to it. Commander's periscope, various vision blocks and crew hatches are installed on the top of the turret, along with a searchlight for the commander, and a large infrared searchlight mounted coaxially to the main barrel next to the machine gun. Some grab handles are added to the sides of the turret, and some PE trays are added to the middle, that are perhaps for additional crew served weapons that never made it onto the prototype vehicles. The turret drops into the turret ring, with a click-fit retaining clip on each side, which may not last too long if you remove it too many times, but should be fine if you don't subject it to continual use. A travel lock is situated at the back of the engine deck, and lays flat until needed, with the barrel locked in a slightly raised attitude and facing aft for transport.

Markings
There are no decals included with the kit, and the colour options for the existing machine is Russian Green. If you wanted to go for a What-If option however, the world is your oyster, but you'd need to source your own stars and other markings. The lens on the infrared searchlight of the Kubinka resident is very dark, so you might want to add some smoke to the lens before installing it. The Kubinka vehicle also has black rears to the headlights, both of which are visible on the six-view painting instructions, but not marked by a colour callout.

Conclusion
If you'd said that we'd have all three of the super-heavy dead-end projects from the early Cold War in injection moulded styrene a year or two ago, I'd have laughed heartily, but here they all are - from different manufacturers, but readily available. The detail is good throughout, but it can't have been very comfortable for the crew, as there doesn't seem to be much room inside, especially taking into account the thickness of the hull. It appeals to my sense of the eccentric, and as I already have a T-28 and A-39 Tortoise, it will look great beside them when I finally get them all complete.

Highly recommended.

Review sample courtesy of

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and available soon from major hobby shops

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That looks great, another one in the must have list. :frantic:

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Although armour isn't normally my thing - I must get one of these kits.

I've been fascinated by it ever since I photographed it at Kubinka in 2001........

object%20279.jpg

I'm only sorry that I didn't do a 'walkround' of it at the time :doh: - but who'da thought ????

Ken

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That looks like something from "The Empire Strikes Back". Just paint it white and you could use it on the ice planet Hoth. If someone had done that as a "what-if" I wouldn't have found it very believable.

Regards,

Jason

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Here are those rather unfortunately placed ejector pin marks on the outside face of each and every individual track link:

panda35005reviewcl_4.jpg

Image from Missing Lynx - For discussion purposes only

Considering the arrangement of the running gear on this vehicle, that minor looking issue could actually constitute a complete & utter nightmare! :doh:

Answers on a postcard please.....

Edited by Sgt.Squarehead

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Here are those rather unfortunately placed ejector pin marks on the outside face of each and every individual track link:

Answers on a postcard please.....

Mud ???? :whistle:

Like I posted earlier, I'm not a treadhead - but I find the tank so fascinating, I bought the kit.

I'll be looking out for build advice......

Ken

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Knowing the Russians, it probably worked quite well, kept the weight to a not unreasonable 60 tonnes.

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Just noticed I'd forgotten to include the pics of the track sprue in the review :doh: Corrected that - sorry! :blush:

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