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Czech T-72M4CZ MBT 1:35


Mike
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Czech T-72M4CZ MBT
1:35 Trumpeter


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The T-72 on which this variant is based was a mainstay tank design of the former Soviet Union, designed to bear the brunt of fighting and being produced in volume in much the same manner as the T-34 of WWII. It has been upgraded extensively since its introduction in the 1970s, and in Czech service has been taken from the original M, M1 and M2 designation from former Czechoslovakia, to the M4 via an aborted M3 that didn't see service.

In total thirty tanks have been upgraded with addition ERA explosive appliqué armour plus new forward facing blocks either side of the main gun, a new Firing Control System (FCS) and a powerful 1000hp engine and improved gearbox. Smoke dischargers are fixed to the turret, which overall has increased the vehicle's weight by some four tonnes.

The Kit
Although we've not yet reviewed any of this range of T-72s, they're turning into another of Trumpeter's comprehensive ranges of variants, with this being the third in the line. If you extrapolate this along the same lines as their T-62 range, which has eight kits so far, we're in for a fair few more! This variant is fairly niche, with only thirty examples converted from earlier M variants, but it is quite unusual in the looks department, with large ERA blocks sitting on the front of the turret, so it is well worth a look. It should also please the huge number of talented Czech modellers, as who wouldn't want a new and detailed model of your own country's armed forces?

Due to the modular nature of these kits, if you already have another mark you'll probably recognise some of the sprues, as there is commonality across the range, although some of the common parts will be buried under layers of armour along the way. There are ten sprues in light grey styrene, two in similarly coloured flexible styrene, hull and turret parts in the same grey, plus seven sprues in brown containing the track links. A clear sprue, a ladder of poly-caps, a length of braided copper wire, a double sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, decal sheet, plus the instruction booklet and separate colour painting guide round out the package, making for quite a full box, even after removal of the poly bags. As usual with Trumpeter AFV kits, detail is excellent, and use of slide-moulding has been made to improve this further, with the turret surface detail being particularly nicely done, having a restrained casting texture moulded into every facet. The lower hull is very highly detailed, as are the road wheels, of which there are plenty.

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Construction starts with these road wheels, as you might expect, with twelve pairs built up with a poly-cap in between. The same can be said for the two idler wheels, and the drive sprockets have a flat circular plate between the halves, plus the poly-cap that makes adding and removing wheels during construction so much easier. The idler wheel's axle and the final drive housing for the drive sprockets are added to the sides of the hull, as are the bearing points for the return rollers and a number of smaller suspension parts. The lower glacis skin is installed on the blank plate at the front, and additional mounting lugs are added for the self-entrenching dozer blade that is added later along with its actuating rams. The sides of the turret basket flare out at the top of the lower hull, and these are portrayed by a pair of curved armour panels, which have large fasteners moulded in. The suspension arms and dampers are added to keyed holes in the side of the hull, which obtains the correct ride-height for a stationery vehicle on flat ground, but if you are building for a diorama, you'll need to adjust this for any lumps or bumps on the surface. All the road wheels can then be added to be held in place by the friction-fit of the poly-caps, and removed at will during painting.

The upper hull is moulded with a separate engine deck, and immediately has a raft of ERA blocks added to the glacis in front of the driver's central hatch, with more added either side for good measure. His hatch is made up from two parts, and is added along with the light clusters to the cut-outs in the ERA panel at the front, after which it is added to the lower hull. The rear bulkhead is built up separately with spare track links, towing lugs and two mounting tie-downs for an unditching log, which is made of flexible styrene, probably to ease removal from the moulds. It is lashed in place by a pair of PE tie-downs, or those same tie-downs can be left loose on the mounts if a log isn't being carried. This too is then added to the lower hull, held in the correct place by a pair of slots and lugs at the edges. The engine deck is then built up from a pair of panels, to which seven PE grille covers are added, along with other small parts. This is then dropped into the remaining hole in the upper deck to complete the main deck.

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The tracks are supplied on seven sprues of twenty-three links, and are the same as you will find in the T-62 boxes, as can be seen from the markings on the sprues. They have three attachment points that are all on the curved interlinking parts of the track, and once you get in the groove, they shouldn't take too long to prepare, as they don't have any ejector pin marks to worry about. Ninety five links per side are required, and can be glued in a run using liquid glue, then draped around the wheels while still soft, and held in place with tape and soft packing to obtain the correct shape. The ends of the track-pins are a little simplified, having no end-bolt heads within a cylindrical hole, but once they are muddied up, that should hardly notice. The tread pattern is spot-on however, although much of this will be lost during the aforementioned weathering.

After the tracks are in place, the fenders and side-skirts can be built up. The main fender is a one-piece length that has a number of carriers added along its length, plus a pair of PE straps on the additional stowage that top the centre part of each track. The side-skirts are also one-piece, but have five rectangular ERA blocks and one triangular one, plus a few small PE parts added along the way. The port fender is slightly different, having the engine exhaust coming out over the top of the fender, breaking the run of stowage in two, and having a cover bridging the gap, and preventing the tankers from burning themselves on the hot exhaust. These are added to the sides of the hull with more PE straps, which are well-detailed and go together just like the real things. At the rear of the hull the two towing cables are made up from 80mm lengths of wire, and two towing eyes per cable, with a scrap diagram showing their correct fitting on the rear bulkhead.

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Work on the turret begins with the construction of the special forward facing ERA blocks that are ranked around the front of the turret either side of the main gun. There are five on the starboard and six on the port side, with additional standard box-shaped ERA blocks dotted around filling in gaps, and covering the roof. The main gun's fabric mantlet cover is portrayed by a flexible styrene part that has a small PE ring at the front, but make sure you choose the correct one, as there are three on the flexible sprues. Various sensors and targeting devices are added to the roof, along with the grenade launchers, which have been relocated to the roof due to the siting of the new ERA blocks. The bustle is built up around a large stowage box, which has two lids added and four ammo boxes on each side for the commander's machine gun. On top is a tubular container for wading gear, and the rear of the stowage area is detailed with a trio of closures, which have to be bent to shape to match the profile of the box. The commander's gun is well detailed with a slide-moulded flash-hider, a large ammo canister, and a thirteen part mount. The hatch is also made up from a substantial number of parts, so that it can hinge open and rotate if you are careful with the glue. A remote operation turret is added to the front of the cupola, and this has a clear part for the lens, as well as a PE part that is bent to fit. A side stowage bin and an angled PE rack are added between the appliqué armour and bustle, and the main sighting optics are installed on the roof in a box that will be familiar to anyone interested in modern MBTs. The barrel is produced in styrene, and the main part is split horizontally, which might induce a bit of moaning initially, but as it has a thermal jacket, this isn't really a problem, as the seams have been kept away from the joints, and the muzzle has been tooled as a separate part that gives the barrel a hollow tip. With this in place, the turret is finished, and the model is completed by dropping the turret into the turret ring, which in this case doesn't have the usual bayonet latching mechanism, so you'll need to either glue it down, or be careful when handling the completed model.

Markings
Only two markings options are supplied with the kit, with only one colour scheme between them, consisting of black, dark green and green camouflage. Vehicles 007 and 021 are depicted with Czech roundels on the turret sides, but three lines of 0-9 in white are included so that you can model any others if you wish. The decal sheet is simple, consisting almost completely of white markings, but the Czech roundel is in register, with just the hint of pixelation around the edges of the coloured portion that is only really visible on close inspection. Otherwise the decals are thin, appear to have good colour density, with a thin glossy carrier film.

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Conclusion
Another Soviet era MBT that has been upgraded with the times, and survives in service today. Trumpeter excel at this type of subject, and this one is just more of the same, with lots of detail from the box, with more appeal due to the unusual ERA system and niche operator (in terms of numbers).

Highly recommended and available from all good model shops now.


Review sample courtesy of
logo.gifUK Distributors for logo.jpg

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We don't tend to talk much about prices on the site, mainly because they vary wildly from place-to-place and country-to-country, but you can usually get a quick ready-reckoner by clicking on the Buy It Now link if there is one at the end of a review. There isn't one on this occasion however, purely because Pocketbond are distributors here in the UK, and don't sell directly to the public.

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  • 1 month later...

Well, the kit is a mixed bag. Nicely moulded, falls together rather good, but isn't a very well mastered copy of the original.

First - the turret shape - its frontal arc curves - resembles more the A/M1, but the M4 is based on Czechoslovak licence bulit 72/72M turrets. Seems to be a similar mistake Tamiya made more than 20 years ago. A lot of the error stays hidden behind the ERA boxes, but it is still quite noticeable.

If you want to see the proper turret shape w/o the ERA blocks, visit this link to SBS model replacement turret:

https://78462f86-a-1ae83386-s-sites.googlegroups.com/a/sbsmodel.com/www/resinsets/T72-M-early-03.jpg?attachauth=ANoY7cpRzUrw1Jd_TxVVdT38o0AnjqYhoCLxfVWqaom8tj11cpKzwW-i0yRtI_nZ0qbsedIn9jfE7v-LQ-GqcDF1amPKSW4uUdIjFon4NJav4EAasITZDo5KLN_g_rcLsPsWqwa6Rbqj96AZo-OaFfgrFywirGrfSLiFnDA5ax1dppOHcAEf4PStjTCpv8tlFOke-2cwWObH1ESp7t3a4R0xn4waiOf3BQ%3D%3D&attredirects=0

Furter problem is that the lower hull does not reflect many of the M4 changes - for example the new wheel arm bump stops (damped and on each station instead of solid and only 1, 2 and 6) and the new arrangement of inspection and draining holes of the Perkins powerpack. However, unless you leave the skirts off (which happens quite often in service), you do not need to bother.

The rest of problems is rather small as the T-72/90 kits from Trumpeter are of their finer pieces. Here and there little discrepancies one can live with. I give Trumpeter 7/10 for accuracy, 9/10 for buildabilty and 10/10 for making this happen at all.

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