Thursday, 15 December 2011

Four T-34 'quick build' models compared - Part 4


I didn’t know that much about the ’76 (m43) version of the T-34 before getting back into modeling. Like most I was more familiar with the original T-34/76 (model 1940) and the later large turreted ’85 variant. So this is all new to me and for base line for accuracy I will have to rely on the Zvezda turret because I have read several reviews that have complimented it on it’s dimensional and detail accuracy.

Number of parts: 11

Obviously simplified but still contains a rather surprising amount of components for an Armourfast. This model is advertised as being 're-tooled' and a major improvement over the original HaT model on which it was based. This model seems to be based on the Autumn 1943 'Laminate' turret version.

- Unlike the Armourfast '85 turret this one isn't oversized
- Generally favorable rendition of all the major components
- Hatches can be modelled open or closed
- Mantlet is accurately off-set
- Sharply moulded, ideal for 'accurizing'
- Has correct 'stepped' bottom for 'Laminate' version

- Lacking in most of the fine detail, including weld/cast marks
- Major rivets are excluded, particularly on the gun mantlet
- No side view port
- Gun mantlet is not exactly the right shape and is symetric
- Main periscope & vent are not exactly right

Number of parts: 6

Once again the Plastic Soldier turret is the model simplified example among these M43s. However, on the plus side it is far better than their attempt at the '85 turret! It is a 'generic' M40 turret, but I would guess it is *based* on the ChTZ 1942 production model.

- Cleanly moulded and what detail there is is crisp
- At least you can tell it is a M43 turret!
- They got the gun a feasible size this time!

- Slightly over-sized
- 'Stepped' element of laminate turret missing
- Periscope, rails and side port are feeble
- Top mantlet cover is all wrong


Number of parts: 7

Most impressive snap together design - you really don't need glue (unlike the other 'quick builds'). This feature does explain why it actually has less components than the Armourfast turret! Like the Armourfast this appears to be based on the Autumn 1943 'Laminate' model.

- Nicely crisp moulding
- As far as I can determine it's of good scale
- Does include some amount of weld marks and rivets
- Good periscope and air vent
- Nice gun and mantlet (nicest of the group)

- Obviously still somewhat simplified
- Side rails missing and side port is poor
- 'Stepped' element of the laminate turret appears to be a little shallow.
- Again, mantlet has been made symmetrical in shape

Well, a bit of a surprise conclusion this time. I did expect the Zvezda M43 turret to be easily the best of the three I looked at, but the Armourfast actually gave it a real run for it's money. Of particular note is the fact that the Armourfast has 3 more components than Zvezda!

Another pleasant surprise was that the Plastic Soldier turret was not as dismal as their T-34/85 turret was. In fact, simplification and slight over-size aside, it is a passable stab at the M43 turret - certainly as good as I would expect from a 'war gaming quality' model.

In the end you should not be shocked that I consider the Zvezda turret the superior of the three BUT not by as much as I expected. In fact, in terms of pure value for money I would have to say that the Armourfast is the bargain of these three. It would make a good subject for a cheap accurization project.

In the end it is so close to call between the Armourfast and Zvezda turret that I will have to reserve comment on the best until I have examined the rest of the models' components in order to decide whether the Zvezda really is the King of the quick builds...

It seems that Armourfast's marketing about their re-tooling and 'improved' T-34/76 (M43) wasn't all hype!  :D

NEXT: The T-34 quick build hull comparisons

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