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REVIEW
DML T-34/76 m1943 w/Com Cupola
c5flies
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Posted: Monday, March 01, 2010 - 04:24 PM UTC
Jacques Duquette provides an In-box review of DML's rendition of the Late 1943 T-34/76 Factory No.183 with Commander's Cupola.

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If you have comments or questions please post them here.

Thanks!
Tarok
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Posted: Monday, March 01, 2010 - 04:45 PM UTC
Thanks for your review, Jacques.

I found your comments on the instructions and assembly process in particular very helpful, and they'll certainly help should I ever pick one of these up. One thing I would have liked to have seen more of though are close up shots of the sprues. The closest I often get to "opening a model box and having a gander at the contents" is in reviews such as these, hence the fetish for plenty of close-up photos.

Overall though, a very insightful review, and much appreciated.

R
Jacques
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Posted: Tuesday, March 02, 2010 - 01:25 PM UTC
Detail shots, and fixes for problems, can be found with the T-34/76 m43 BLOG

I left them out of the review as I intended to get into photo-graphic detail in the BLOG.
MCR
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Posted: Wednesday, March 03, 2010 - 08:29 AM UTC
If it's OK, I'd like to add a few corrections and observations:

Introduction

ChTZ may have existed but was not related to Factory 183 KhPZ (Kharkivsky parovozobudivny zavod) which produced the T-34 in Kharkov.

Production numbers can be tricky in that they often include tanks rebuilt by the factory and no two sources seem to agree.


The kit

You could use L3 and 4 but it would be an unlikely, though not “impossible”, combination. These parts represent the version of the drive introduced in the second half of 1941 that omitted the “pinch rollers” in favor of fixed triangular bars in order to save time in production. However the design was found to play hell on the tracks and could cause them to be thrown at inopportune times. The design was dropped and pinch rollers returned.
Parts D8 and 9 represent a version of the drive sometimes used by STZ (though they’re missing some detail). These too would be unlikely to show up on a Model ‘42/’43.

Step 2 - The addition of the suspension to the lower hull

Though I haven’t been able to establish the exact date they were introduced the “double bump stop” for the front suspension are not inaccurate for these tanks. The detail appeared no later than mid-1943 and probably earlier (depending on which factory produced a given tank).

The instructions illustration suggests the use of part B10 but correctly calls out part C8. The profile of C8 is probably more accurate for the Model ’43. (See pg. 358 of “Mythical Weapon”).

“Pin knockers” were added to all T-34’s with the introduction of the 500mm cast waffle pattern tracks (550mm waffle tracks had two small bolts that held the pins in place) and there are two general configurations: The first were cast wedges that were mounded to the final drive housing at the 1 o’clock to 3 o’clock position (depending on the factory it appears). The second version was welded to the hull in front of the final drives and are the common type for the T-34-85 and possibly very late Model ‘43s (though I haven’t found much wartime evidence for this)

Step 3 - Adding the back transmission cover and details to the lower hull:

You have a choice here: For a classical Factory 183 made tank (three hinges and four bolts on the angled outside edges) you can use parts L5 and L6 (the lower and upper rear plate respectively). For a Factory 174, et al, use parts B22 and G5 with the two hinges and five bolts. (There is a slight problem here in that G5 represents a version of the final drive housing, albeit with simplified detail, associated more with Factory 183 and it may be somewhat more correct to use part L5 but remove the center hinge.)
For part B22 you may want to remove the conduit for the smoke canisters as these were fairly uncommon on the -76.
At this point there is some debate as to exactly when Factory 183 switched to the two hinge configuration. It “may” have been as early as mid-1943 but photographic evidence suggests that the change may not have happened until around the time of the introduction of the T-34-85 in 1944.

I’m not sure why the instructions suggest you use part B11, a rectangular access cover which is more common on the Model ’40 and ’41. It’s probably more accurate to use part B28, the round cover.

Step 4 - Adding the lower and upper hulls and LOTS of details:

Part C7, the armored cover for the hull DT machinegun, is very poor. The opening for the sight is too high up and the armor over the barrel is noticeably too short. Also when mounted it sits way too close to the face of the hull blister (part C6) and needs to be spaced out.

DML’s PE hinges are a poor representation of the real thing and you’ll be better off not using them. In fact, few if any of the PE parts included in these kits are worth using, they just do a bad job of representing the details they’re intended to.

Step 7 - The turret roof:

The “soup can” cylinder on the loaders hatch side (the TC/Gunner’s cupola is on the right and the loader’s hatch is on the left when viewed from the front) is actually a dummy. Command tanks were fitted with two PTK-5 armored periscopes (or a PTK-5 and a MK-4 in the case of very late production tanks. The MK-4 is included in the kit as unused parts B1 and B2) and in order to make these less obvious as targets a dummy made of thin sheet metal was substituted on non-command tanks. As far as I’ve been able to tell the real item was open on top so it may be better to recreate this detail from sheet brass or something similar.

Step 8 - Putting the turret together:

The brass brackets for the turret and hull grab handles are incorrect. DML represent them as “L” shaped whereas they should be a simple piece of flat iron, no bend.

Step 9 - External fuel tanks:

Some of these late -76s had only two fuel cells while others had two fuel and one oil cell (standard configuration). I never managed to peg one configuration or another to a specific factory. More importantly, many if not most of these tanks appear to not have been fitted with any extra cells.


Step 10 - Final assembly:

The tracks provided with this kit are simply incorrect for the type. Cast “waffle pattern” 550mm tracks were common to STZ and early batches from Factory 112 (Krasnoye Sormovo) only, though they have shown up from time to time on other factory’s tanks.
Mythical Weapons referring to them as “winter type” is pure fiction as far as I’ve been able to tell. You will be far better off replacing them with “standard” 500mm waffle tracks from Model Kasten, AFV Club, Fruil, etc.

Hope this helps,

Mark
Jacques
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Posted: Wednesday, March 03, 2010 - 03:18 PM UTC
Thank you Mark. That does answer some of my questions.

But what are you using for a source? The main reason I used T-34: Mythical Weapon is that I could not really find a source that provided references and had some clear, concise information on the T-34/76 m43 Factory No. 183 with the commander's turret...honestly, quite a rare bird to find either on the internet or amongst my much more dated books. And not having real tanks to look over, and not being able to read Russian, tends to limit my research ability. So again, what resources are you using?

I also agree that hard counts on production numbers are a bit sketchy considering the factories considered repaired tanks as new deliveries, but I think the number I stated is becoming the more accepted one as freshly built...but no, the debate has not ended. I just wanted to put a number reasonable number out to give the reader an idea of the numbers involved.

I will say this, DML seem to have gone off of Mythical Weapons drawing in the back as the kit matches it almost perfectly except for several of the small details I pointed out in my review.

1. A stupid mistake on my part over ChTZ and Factory 183 KhPZ. I picked up some erroneous info (see above) and failed to correct it after I went on into the kit review. KhPZ is a very well known factory to me as the "Malyshev Factory" of T-64 and T-80UD fame.

2. Step one: L3/4 were added because they could be used OOB and were a POSSIBLE idler, if not probable. D8/9 would need some help and are STZ, so I considered them incorrect, mostly for the detail issues.

3. For the double bumps...it is hard to tell. I am willing to take your theory into account as it makes building the hull easier...so noted.

4. While C8 is the correct part, as I noted in the review, B10 is what they called for in the instructions and illustrates the confusing nature of the instructions.

5. I did not catch the rear hull plate bolt issue of part B22...I like the idea of using L5 and G5 for the parts, I will look into it in the BLOG.

6. As for the PE hinges, I know they are not correct, but they do look better built up than the plastic details. In the review I was not going to go into that much detail over it all, as I had planned to do it in the BLOG. Also, I am not a huge fan of going nuts with Aber of Legend PE sets, so I set my expectations a bit lower for those items. But I do plan to point out what they should look like and what it would take to make them accurate. But your point on the use of the PE fret included is accurate...the PE does not really correct much, it just makes it look "better".

7. I could find ZERO info on the "soup can" dummy cover. I thought it had to be something like that, but I could not confirm it. Thank you for the information.

8. The brass brackets for the turret and hull grab handles are incorrect. DML represent them as “L” shaped whereas they should be a simple piece of flat iron, no bend. What are the part numbers for the PE and handles, I am not sure what you are talking about.

9. For the fuel cell arrangement, as presented in Mythical Weapon, I just made the assumption it was correct. I could not confirm that Mythical Weapon's drawings were not correct, so in this case I went with the information. So it is possible they were manufactured without ANY fuel rack on the back? Is there a correct length/placement for the infantry handles on the hull sides?

10. Thanks for the info on the tracks. Again, I assumed that Mythical Weapon was correct as I could not discredit it from another credable source. I could see the tracks being on the tank, but I think that using the 500mm tracks, and adding the pin-hammer plate on the lower hull, would be more accurate.

So yes, it has been helpfull and thanks.
MCR
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Posted: Thursday, March 04, 2010 - 05:18 AM UTC
Thank you Mark. That does answer some of my questions.

But what are you using for a source? The main reason I used T-34: Mythical Weapon is that I could not really find a source that provided references and had some clear, concise information on the T-34/76 m43 Factory No. 183 with the commander's turret...honestly, quite a rare bird to find either on the internet or amongst my much more dated books. And not having real tanks to look over, and not being able to read Russian, tends to limit my research ability. So again, what resources are you using?


My primary source? Nearly ten years of research on the beast, dozens of books, hundreds of magazines, thousands of photos, a hand full of declassified reports, and many web contacts. I’ve also been lucky enough to be supplied with very high quality translations of some of the newest books on the subject from Russia. :-)

1. A stupid mistake on my part over ChTZ and Factory 183 KhPZ. I picked up some erroneous info (see above) and failed to correct it after I went on into the kit review. KhPZ is a very well known factory to me as the "Malyshev Factory" of T-64 and T-80UD fame.

A funny thing is that in all the years I’ve been at it I’ve only just heard that KhPZ was named for Malyshev!


3. For the double bumps...it is hard to tell. I am willing to take your theory into account as it makes building the hull easier...so noted.

I have a half a dozen or so photos of KO’d Model ’42 hulls with the twin bump stops, both on the battlefield and being readied for factory repair. A couple of years back someone wrote that these were introduced along with the -85 turret because of the extra weight. The myth has just refused to go away.


8. The brass brackets for the turret and hull grab handles are incorrect. DML represent them as “L” shaped whereas they should be a simple piece of flat iron, no bend. What are the part numbers for the PE and handles, I am not sure what you are talking about.

MA13 is the part. Take a look at page 406 of Mythical Weapon to see how these brackets were actually attached to the tank.

9. For the fuel cell arrangement, as presented in Mythical Weapon, I just made the assumption it was correct. I could not confirm that Mythical Weapon's drawings were not correct, so in this case I went with the information. So it is possible they were manufactured without ANY fuel rack on the back? Is there a correct length/placement for the infantry handles on the hull sides?

It’s not incorrect as such, the three cell configuration was common in later production batches but there was also a two cell (somewhat less common), or no cells (ie, MW pg. 173 bottom). Some were fitted with two “box type” cells like those illustrated on page 470 (there are a couple of different versions of these rear mounted cells).
In regards to spacing of the grab bars, I’m sure there is a correct dimension but I don’t have the numbers. I always just used photos to place them in the “about right” locations.
The only trustworthy dimensions I have for these things are for the bars on the turret which were roughly 520mm wide across the back and 725mm on the sides.

10. Thanks for the info on the tracks. Again, I assumed that Mythical Weapon was correct as I could not discredit it from another credable source. I could see the tracks being on the tank, but I think that using the 500mm tracks, and adding the pin-hammer plate on the lower hull, would be more accurate.

The biggest problem with mounting 550mm tracks on a Model ’43 would be removing the pin knockers. Not a really huge deal and there are many photos of earlier 550mm plates on Model ‘42s so it “could” be done I just can’t recall having seen the wider links on a Model ’43.

Mark
Jacques
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Posted: Friday, March 05, 2010 - 05:28 PM UTC
Well Mark, I thought as much. There really isn't one concise source to turn to, other than T-34: Mythical Weapon, so it does not surprise me that you are putting together the information from MANY sources. Is there a good source for info on the T-34/76 m43 Factory No. 183 w/Commanders Cupola?

Well, I got some more confusing stuff:

1. Recovery of a German aquired T-34/76 with commanders hatch, in german markings, that was pulled from a lake. from a lake in Estonia It shows two barrels on right side, one mid-left, and 5 bolts and two hinges on the rear plate. Thoughts?



2. Not sure if this is a T-34/76 or T-35/85, but I found it interesting...and it has two fuel tanks on the right and one on the left.



3. Another German Bautepanzer of what looks like the tank we are discussing with a mount for a single fuel tank on the left side.

4. The double bumps were introduced to help with a more stable ride, weren't they? I would assume that the first road wheel go thtem because that was the station that got the greatest abuse?

5. I understand about Part MA13 now. When you said it was on the handles for the turret and hull, I was confused (no MA13 parts on the hull handles, just on the turret). Yes, I know this was incorrect, but I also know DML added the L portion to make the pieces easier to glue/stick to the turret for someone who wanted the detail on the handle but not the insanity of trying to glue such a small surface area to the turret. Incorrect, but easier, I know, I know...
MCR
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Posted: Saturday, March 06, 2010 - 05:21 AM UTC
Well Mark, I thought as much. There really isn't one concise source to turn to, other than T-34: Mythical Weapon, so it does not surprise me that you are putting together the information from MANY sources. Is there a good source for info on the T-34/76 m43 Factory No. 183 w/Commanders Cupola?

MW is a good book but its biggest problem is that you have to know something about the T-34 to start with in order to avoid being misled by it. As far as books in English go, “T-34 Medium Tank (1939 – 1943)” by Mikhail Baryantinskiy is the best I know of and well worth getting if you’re interested in the tank.
For the UTZ with cupola there are no books that cover it specifically. Most books on the tank though will have at least a few photos of the beast. You just have to hunt around.
Still you have to be careful, there is a lot of controversy over specifics and it could well be that late batch T-34s from UTZ may be for all intents indistinguishable from, say, Factory 174 (though 174 seem to have favored a different style of bracket their external fuel cells). What I “know” today may well prove completely wrong next month (it’s happened often enough).
You end up having to make a best guess and then go with it. But there are some details that seem more specific to Factory 183 than others. The three hinge four bolt configuration for instance (though at least early batches of tanks from Uralmash also made their rear plates this way and at some point post mid 1943 UTZ may have changed to two hinges and five bolts), the grab bars made with bars and brackets (though UTZ also used bent bar handles as well), full sets of cast “half spider” wheels (though the stamped type are not uncommon and other factories used cast wheels too), you seeing a pattern here?


Well, I got some more confusing stuff:

1. Recovery of a German aquired T-34/76 with commanders hatch, in german markings, that was pulled from a lake. from a lake in Estonia It shows two barrels on right side, one mid-left, and 5 bolts and two hinges on the rear plate. Thoughts?


The Estonian Beute T-34 is a late batch from Factory 112, Krasnoye Sormovo. Your tip off here is the shape of the two rear hinges, the bullet splash strips added around the upper front hull, and the grab handles on the screened transmission cover.

2. Not sure if this is a T-34/76 or T-35/85, but I found it interesting...and it has two fuel tanks on the right and one on the left.

It’s a T-34-85.

3. Another German Bautepanzer of what looks like the tank we are discussing with a mount for a single fuel tank on the left side.

This one is a Factory 174 production based on the two wide hinges which have a simpler shape than Factory 112. Also interesting is the “laminate” type turret and the cupola which appears to be the sort made from rolled steel plate as opposed to cast.
BTW, not all or even most Factory 174 tanks were fitted with the two large hinges it would appear.

4. The double bumps were introduced to help with a more stable ride, weren't they? I would assume that the first road wheel go thtem because that was the station that got the greatest abuse?

Not sure about helping in the ride department but my understanding is that they were added because that first station takes a hell of a beating and the smaller spring and weaker design that front suspension unit had. It needed the extra support.

5. I understand about Part MA13 now. When you said it was on the handles for the turret and hull, I was confused (no MA13 parts on the hull handles, just on the turret). Yes, I know this was incorrect, but I also know DML added the L portion to make the pieces easier to glue/stick to the turret for someone who wanted the detail on the handle but not the insanity of trying to glue such a small surface area to the turret. Incorrect, but easier, I know, I know...


I mentioned the hull because Factory 183 used the same design grab bar on both hull and turret throughout much of their production. I know the kit calls for the simpler bent rod type for the hull (something you see in a lot of photos) and I didn’t count the number of brackets on the fret, so, my bad. And, yes, I know WHY they did it but generally speaking PE exists to help make parts more accurate and so adding bits that do the opposite defeats the purpose, seems to me.
But this kind of gets back to my opinion of the PE that comes with DML kits being pretty much useless. In fact there isn’t even one part that I’d rather use over what’s available from Aber or any other after market producer. It's not as though DML don't know this, they've had a top notch researcher working with them from the start but they seem to ignore the advice they get when it comes to the T-34.

Mark




Jacques
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Posted: Saturday, March 06, 2010 - 09:11 AM UTC
Ok, I am getting where you are coming from.

1. The DML PE is not good compared to other aftermarket PE, but is somewhat better than just the plastic parts. The debate is if you are going to do PE, why not do it correctly.

2. T-34 production is hard to pinpoint for some details. Kit 6564 can be built OOB and actually represent a Factory 183 vehicle, although maybe not with the most commonly recognized elements. As long as a Factory 183 tank can be reasonably built from the kit, I am good.

And I have Baryantinskiy's book from Ian Allen. I agree it is a good read, and did explain a few things, but T-34:MW was the easiest to get specific info...however, some of that now seems in doubt.

I will say that kit 6564 seems to have been heavily infuenced by the T-34:MW drawings, including the dummy turret scope and many other details.