Academy’s 1/35 T-34/76 747(r) is the third installment in Academy’s latest T-34 series. The first two offerings were both T-34/85s, the newest version is a T-34/76 in German service.
During the first few years of the Eastern Campaign, Operation Barbarossa, Germany’s early successes resulted in a large number of captured Soviet equipment, including hundreds of T-34 tanks. The Germans eagerly pressed these captured vehicles into service with various units and re-designated them Panzerkampfwagen 747(r). Captured T-34s were often sent back to German factories and modified to German standards to include the addition of new commander’s cupola, armor skirts, new lights, storage boxes, tools, and radio equipment. A number of non-standard field modifications were also made by the new owners, such as turret-mounted stowage. In order to prevent friendly-fire incidents, many of the tanks were repainted in German yellow, or Panzer grey, and it was very common for crews to paint large-dimension Balkenkreuz or even swastikas on the sides, as well as, on top of the turret or rear deck.
Academy’s kit comes in a sturdy, top-opening box, which contains an astounding 28 styrene sprues, one small photoetch sprue, a single decal sheet, and a length of string. All but two of the sprues are molded in a tan color, with nice details, and limited flash or sink holes. Two sprues are molded in a dark grey and contain the link and length tracks. The tracks pieces have ejector pin marks on every piece, and flash around the edges. These will need to be cleaned up prior to building. The road wheels have some slight flash as well, but the rest of parts are very crisp and everything is nicely detailed. The photo-etch provides the option to replace the rear exhaust grill, but the kit also provides a styrene engine cover with the rear exhaust grill molded to it allowing the modeler to choose which option they prefer to build. I choose to go with the photo-etch parts.
The kit has just over 400 parts, but many of those parts aren’t used in the final model. There are options for building four different versions, each having subtle, to distinct differences, including additional storage, different road wheels, and a choice for the commander’s cupola. The turret is molded to represent the cast molding used by the Soviets on many of the T-34s. The casting detail provided by Academy may be a little on the heavy side, but personally I don’t think it’s too overdone. The driver’s hatch, commander’s cupola, and engine covers are detailed inside and out, allowing the modeler to show them open; however, no interior details, and no figures are provided with the kit.
Academy includes three full sets of T-34 road wheels, including stamped wheels with rubber tires, ‘butterfly’ or ‘spider’ wheels with rubber tires, and cast steel wheels. There are enough to build the model with all of one style wheel or mix and match wheels as was often seen on T-34s in service. You’ll need to decide which final version you plan to work on pretty close to the start of the build, because each version has a different arrangement of road wheels and construction starts with the lower part of the hull.
I choose to go with the 3rd option, which is a tank from an unidentified unit in the area of Karelia. This tank had three dish-style stamped wheels with rubber tires, and one all steel stamped wheel on each side. It’s also unique because the commander’s cupola is from a STuG III, not the Panzer III version featured on the other three options.
The lower hull goes together very quickly, with the most of the attention spent cleaning the flash and ejector marks on the road wheels and tracks. Once the clean-up is done, the drive sprocket, return rollers, road wheels and tracks go together smoothly. The chassis is next, and it also goes together smoothly with some nice details. There are a couple parts that look the same on the sprues, but are for different sides of the model, so pay close attention to which pieces are used. Adding the photoetch to the engine cover allows the vents over the engine compartment to be visible, which is a nice detail. The hull and lower chassis go together without any issues.
The next step is where this kit makes its departure from the earlier Academy T-34 releases. Since the two earlier versions were T-34/85, there’s going to be some obvious differences on the turret, since this version is meant to represent the German conversion of a captured T-34, it’s even different from a regular T-34/76. The top of the turret is different enough, that converting this kit back to a Soviet T-34/76 will not be possible. No doubt, Academy will be releasing another version of this kit as the only change would be to replace one sprue for the top of the turret. As mentioned earlier, the turret sides are molded to represent the rough Soviet casting. This may be a little heavier than is necessary. The turret goes together easily enough. Depending on which version you plan to build, the commander’s cupola will either be a Panzer III version, or a STuG III version. No clear parts are provided in the kit for the head lamp, or vision blocks. The gun is slide molded as one piece, and only required a minimal amount of clean up. The end of the gun is drilled out, but the modeler will probably want to drill just a bit deeper to make it look convincingly hollow.
The decals were the low point of the kit. Although, this new tool kit plastic is very crisp and nicely detailed, Academy’s decals are too thick and unresponsive to any of the usual solvents, or techniques. I had a difficult time getting them to settle down nicely. My recommendation is to use some aftermarket ones, or since the kit choices don’t have too many markings, using some from the spares box.
Overall, I recommend this kit for any level builder. The details are well done, and construction is very straight-forward and stress-free.
Thanks to Model Rectifier, Academy and IPMS USA for this kit to review.