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German Artillery Tractor T-60(r) with Crew Towing Pak40 7.5cm Gun (35395) 1:35


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German Artillery Tractor T-60(r) with Crew Towing Pak40 7.5cm Gun (35395)

1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd

 

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Pak40

As WWII loomed, Nazi high command got wind of new tank developments in Soviet Russia, and realised that their 3.7cm Pak36 was inadequate for the task ahead, starting work initially on the 5cm Pak38, which was abandoned in favour of a 7.5cm barrel once the rumours were confirmed.  It was essentially a re-engineered Pak38, with everything enlarged to suit the bigger rounds, in development between 1939 and 41, with the name Pak40 given to it during its gestation.  As Operation Barbarossa began, the project was given a higher priority, and early examples reached the Eastern Front in late 1941, becoming the Wehrmacht’s standard artillery piece from then on, with a total of over 23,000 built before the end of WWII.  The success of the weapon was such that it was also re-developed into a main gun for use by tanks and other armoured vehicles, such as the StuG III and Panzer IV, as well as a relatively makeshift mount on the Marder series of self-propelled guns.

 

It was an effective artillery piece, capable of penetrating the armour of everything the Allies fielded, from the Sherman to the Pershing in US service, and the IS heavy tanks that the Soviets operated.  It was a heavy piece however, and that affected its mobility, particularly in bad weather where it was prone to bogging down in muddy terrain.  It shared projectile with all German 7.5cm rounds, but was mounted in a larger brass cartridge casing that gave it more power and range than the smaller rounds fired by the KwK variant use in the armour installations.  Other variations included the driver bands around the projectile and the method of initiating firing, using traditional percussion caps for the Pak40, and an electrical mechanism for the KwK.  Three types of round were able to be used, an armour-piercing explosive round, an armour-piercing kinetic penetrator with a tungsten core, and the standard HEAT or High Explosive Anti-Tank round, each of which differed in shape and colour of the projectile, and were marked with stencils accordingly.

 

Artillery Tractor T-60(r)

The T-60 was originally a Soviet light tank design, and the Romanians pressed captured examples into service, hacking some about to create the TACAM Self-Propelled Anti-Tank Gun.  The Germans also pressed many captured examples into service in various guises, using the suffix (r) to indicate the Russian origin of the type, often after heavy modifications, of which one such modification was into an Artillery Tractor to go where wheeled or half-track vehicles would find the going difficult.  The turret was discarded entirely, leaving the turret ring as the main entry and exit to the vehicle, but leaving it open to the elements that must have made it difficult and unpleasant to crew in the winter months.  It wasn’t meant to be a front-line vehicle per se, but it did have to take its charge to where the fighting was, so it was equipped with a bodged MG34 machine gun mounted on the deck in front of the turret ring for self-defence, and it was flanked by a pair of angled stowage boxes, one on each side.  At the rear was a sturdy towing hook to couple its charge, its diminutive size making the artillery piece look quite large.

 

 

The Kit

This is a reboxing of three existing kits from the MiniArt range, the T-60(r) based upon a 2017 tooling that has been extended and augmented over the years, although only two previous boxings have had the turret removed and no other weapon installed instead.  The Pak40 is a brand-new release, and highly detailed too, topped off by the inclusion of a figure set containing artillery crew in transit, this portion of the set originating in 2007 and lending itself nicely to this kit that wasn’t even contemplated at the time.  The kit arrives in a standard top-opening box with a painting of the tractor towing its gun, and festooned with the crew of five that make the vehicle look even smaller.  Where they all sat when the weather turned inclement, we can only guess at.  There are forty-two sprues of grey styrene, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) and small decal sheet in a card envelope, and the instruction booklet with a glossy colour cover and profiles on the front and rear pages.  Detail is excellent, and although the figures predate the other components by a decade or more, they are well-detailed because figures have always been MiniArt’s strong suit.  We’ll deal with each component of the kit separately, and to save you clicking away, we’ll reproduce the review of the new Pak40 kit in its entirety, as apart from the PE fret being extended to encompass the rest of the model, it is identical to the included sprues.

 

 

Artillery Tractor T-60(r)

 

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The PE sheet above includes parts for both the main models

 

Construction begins with the floor of the hull, adding driver’s controls, seat and a comparatively small transmission unit offset to one side with clutch and flywheel plus linkages to the driver’s levers.  The 70hp straight-6 GAZ engine is built up with ancillaries, fan belt, mounts and a small gearbox at one end, plus a two-part manifold that has a long exhaust added later, exiting near the front of the chassis after passing the driver, which must have been comfortable in the winter, but less so in the heat of the summer.  The engine is also mounted offset to the right, and at the front left a pair of lead-acid batteries take up the rest of the space, adding more linkages to the engine, including one to the front bulkhead for manual starting.  The side walls, rear bulkhead and the short front bulkhead with accessories are all placed on the floor, fitting a radiator on a bulkhead that runs across the vehicle behind the engine, then adding the coolant hoses to and from the core, and plenty of other small components.  On the front and rear of the sides, the final drive housing and idler-wheel axle are installed respectively, adding a longitudinal bulkhead behind the radiator that strengthens the assembly further and sections off the radiator path.  The road wheels are installed on short swing-arms, fitting an identical wheel to the idler, and a toothed drive sprocket on each side at the front.

 

The hull roof is mostly made from a single part with the turret ring moulded-in, adding a large square access hatch over the transmission unit, then building up the driver’s hatch and enclosure, adding a hinged vision port with slit in the centre that has armoured hinges and a PE shade over the slot to deflect incoming rounds from some angles.  A single headlamp is mounted on a folded-up PE bracket and fixed to the deck beside the driver’s hump, and at the rear the cooling louvres are slotted into the space in the rear deck, and each of these has a thicker armoured top edge, and a flange at the very rear.  The space in the deck to right of the turret ring is filled by another cooling vent that has an armoured grille over the centre, and can be mounted on its two hinges without glue so that the engine can be exposed if you wish.  The track links are small and finely detailed, with three sprue gates per link that are on the curved mating surfaces, so don’t take long to remove.  You should to treat them gently though, as they are quite delicate, and you need eighty-six per side, fixing them together with liquid glue, then wrapping them around the road wheels while the glue is still flexible, holding the track run in position with clips, sponges and tape as you see fit.

 

The large cooling louvres on the rear deck are covered by a fine PE mesh that has a further perimeter strip applied over it to hold it in place, adding nine tiny wingnuts down one side that allows it to be lifted for maintenance on the real vehicle.  The fenders that run down each side of the tank have several small pips removed and have triangular fillets and a PE flange added to the front, with an axe that is held down by PE clamps, a series of rectangular and triangular profiled stowage boxes installed on both sides with a choice of two layouts, plus a selection of pioneer tools held in place by more PE clamps.  The fenders are glued to the sides of the hull and have triangular PE supports added along their length, fitting more small brackets and couplings to the sloped glacis that secure them in place.  The final sub-assembly for the tractor is the MG34, which has a separate breech top, a choice of deployed or stowed bi-pod, and a single drum magazine feeding it rounds.  This is mounted for one decal option on the roof of the driver’s enclosure, completing the tractor.

 

 

Pak40 75mm Field Gun

This a new tool from MiniArt, and detail is exactly what we’ve come to expect from MiniArt, with options to pose the model in transport mode or ready for action.  You also get a few shells and wooden cases to dot around the gun if you intend to place it in a diorama.

 

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Construction begins with the chassis of the gun, on which the wheels and trails are installed, fixing many parts on it, adding brakes to the axles and a front fender, then cutting some lengths of wire from your own stock to link the brake cylinder to the pistons, with PE tie-downs holding them to the underside, and additional scrap diagrams showing the completed loom to help you with location.  The trails are detailed with tools, grab-handles and spades at the rear, plus additional parts that differ depending on whether you are opening them up for combat, or ready for transport.  They are mated to the chassis and locked in place by the top pivots, again changing some parts and their positions depending on the option you have chosen.  A choice of two methods of attaching a shovel to the bottom plate are offered, one using a simple pair of PE clasps, the other creating a fully articulated retention clamp for the handle.  The finished plate is fitted vertically for transport, but tipped up horizontally for action.

 

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There are actually three configurations for the gun, the traditional ready-for-action pose with the trails spread, plus two transport options, one for towing by a vehicle, the other for moving the gun off-road with a third wheel perched behind the trails, raising them off the ground for manual fine-tuning of position by the crew.  The trails have a pair of cross-braces to hold them together during towing, with a split towing bar made from two halves connecting it to your choice of prime-mover.  The wheels are laminated from three layers plus a central boss, making up two of these and a third without the boss that sits across the trails for the vehicle transport option, held in place on a sturdy bracket.  For the manual transport option, the bracket is reused and fixed to the towing arm from underneath with the third wheel attached on an axle to raise the trails above the ground.

 

The gun barrel is a single part with a keyed peg on each end, the thicker end inserting into the eight-part breech, which includes a sliding block if you leave it unglued.  The barrel slide is made up from three sides and an end-cap, adding more details on the sides, and a cover on the front portion made from three sections.  The barrel drops over the slide with the addition of a small PE crutch and is surrounded by a pair of pivots to the sides, the elevation arc-gear under the slide, and a few other detail parts, popping the pivots into the trunnions that glue to a detailed bottom plate, holding the gun in position from there.  Dampers with corrugated gaiters are attached to the trunnions, with different parts for transport and combat positions, then the adjustment wheels and their actuators are fixed onto the left side, with a stubby axe on the right, again with PE socket and clasp on the handle.  The sighting gear is also installed on the left, then it’s time to protect the crew from incoming fire.  A U-shaped armour panel is built from two layers of styrene with a PE layer in between them, slotting it over the barrel from above and mounting on four supports, adding an additional link on each side using scrap diagrams to locate them properly.  The cheek armour panels are also two layers per side, with cylindrical stowage items including a torch to the inner face before they are mated with the centre armour and braced by additional links to the sides of the trunnions, with an angled PE lip on the inside just below the top edge.  There are three choices of muzzle-brake, each one made from similar but slightly different shaped parts, plus an optional part that is covered with a bag and PE ring to prevent debris ingress.  The gun is then lowered onto the chassis, locating the pin in a corresponding hole in the top.

 

To add detail around your model, a set of ten ready rounds are included on a sprue, with another four empty brass casings on another, plus a pair of shell boxes that have slots for three shells each, and are made from individual sides, bottom, and lid plus handles, and can be posed open or closed if you wish.  Stencils for the shells and boxes are included, as well as a full painting guide next to the colour chart that gives codes for Vallejo, Mr Color, AK Real Color, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, as well as swatches and generic colour names.

 

 

Figures

The sprue containing the figures is actually a pair of sprues linked together, providing a driver figure with his hands out in front of him on the control levers, plus four seated crew that are relaxing on the deck as they move from one position to another.  Each of them has a different pose, and all of them are wearing a standard Wehrmacht Field Grey uniform with calf-length jackboots and either a forage cap or peaked cap typical of the period.  There are a selection of Stahlhelms on the sprues for a more battle-ready look, as well as a selection of Kar98 rifles, ammo pouches, canteens, and a single pistol in its holster.

 

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The parts for each figure are found in separate areas of the sprue for ease of identification, and parts breakdown is sensibly placed along clothing seams or natural breaks to minimise clean-up of the figures once they are built up.  The sculpting is typically excellent, as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt’s sculptors and tool-makers, with natural poses, drape of clothing and textures appropriate to the parts of the model.

 

 

Markings

There are two decal options included on the sheet, both on the Eastern Front, but different enough to give you some options.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • Eastern Front 1943
  • Eastern Front 1943

 

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Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas.

 

 

Conclusion

It’s worth it just for the superb new Pak40, and when you consider you’re also getting a T-60(r) and five figures that are all well-detailed, it’s an appealing offering.

 

Highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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