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DML’s 1/35th T-72G/M

dml_t-72-05Raleigh Lamb sent in this wonderfully detailed build report on his great looking DML T-72.

First introduced in 1971, the T-72 was designed as a cheaper, and less complicated T-64 to replace the aging T-55/T-62 Fleet. It was originally supposed to be a stopgap measure for the Soviet satellite states, and reserve units. In testing, the Soviet Army was so impressed with the design, that further development, and deployment was initiated. The T-72 has a crew of three, dropping the loader position in favor of an auto loading mechanism, which, I have been told, can leave an inattentive crewmember missing digits and/or limbs. The auto loader services a 125mm smoothbore cannon, which can fire APFSDS(armor piercing, fin stabilized, discarding sabot), or HE-Frag rounds. Secondary armaments include a co-axial 7.62mm machine gun, and 12.7mm NSVT machine gun mounted on the commander’s copula for anti infantry/aircraft. It is powered by a V 12 cylinder turbocharged, multi-fuel (designed as a diesel) engine, which gives it a maximum road speed of 37mph. The first Western encounter with this AFV was during Desert Storm, where the U.S. M1A1 Abrams and British Challenger 1 Mk. 3 for all intents and purposes, had their way with the Iraqi Republican Guard, who was it’s main user. Whether this was due to lack of training and poor deployment on the Iraqi’s part, or technological advantage and higher training of the Abrams/Challenger, and their crew is still in debate.

Kit: DML 1/35th T-72G/M
Kit Number: 3502
Price: Ummm, > $20.00?(Old kit, OOP)
Decals: Kit decals, options for U.S.S.R., G.D.R.(East Germany), Polish, Finnish, Romanian, and Czech. Includes numbers to make just about whatever reference you have.
Reviewer: Raleigh Lamb
Notes: OOB with minor added details.

The Kit
What you see when you open the sturdy box, is seven flash free sprues (two of which are well done link and length tracks) in five different bags, the lower hull with decals, which are also separately bagged. The only ejector pin marks I remember are on the link portions of the tracks, and these are so small that they are very hard to clean up, but are not noticeable once painted and weathered. As usual with any model, some clean up will be needed at the mold separation areas of many of the parts. The instructions come with a brief history, and technical specs in six different languages. A color chart is provided for Gunze Sangyo paints only, some FS, RLM, and BS call outs are provided though. Construction is covered in nine exploded view drawing steps, which at times could get a little confusing (steps with many parts involved) if not followed closely. Painting & Marking is only provided for three of the many marking options, U.S.S.R, D.D.R., and Finland. With all the reference material out there on this subject, you can more than likely find a good shot or two of what you want to model with the decals provided though.

The Build
I started this kit when I was stationed in Okinawa Japan over ten years ago, and for a reason I can’t remember, put it back in the box. I had forgotten I had even started it until I open the box up last year, and figured I should go ahead and finish it up. I cleaned up some of the mistakes I made, and using the newer Tamiya kit as an example, added a few small details. I had followed the instructions to the letter, which started with the final drives, idler, road wheels, and lower hull. I left the un-ditching beam off of the rear hull until painting was completed. Step four called for the track installation, I cleaned up the tracks and assembled them, but left the installation to be done after painting was finished. The upper hull, turret, and final assembly were all completed per the instruction with the following exceptions. Step five called for the composite armor to be installed on the fenders, these were masked and painted separately, and installed post painting. Step eight called for the installation of the commander’s NSVT, this was painted separately, and installed post painting. The same process was done with the tow cables and side skirt armor in step nine. The gun mantlet to turret installation in step six leaves a noticeable gap, which needs filled, as does the turret bustle containers, and their installation in step eight. These are the only problem areas I noticed, and a little filling and sanding completely fixed them.

I used Model Master (M.M.) Enamels shot with a Paasche “VL” double action airbrush for the paint job. I started off spraying flat black in all the recesses, and panel lines as a pre-shade. I then sprayed M.M. Russian armor green, starting in the middle of all panels and large flat areas, working my way out to panel breaks, and recesses. When the base coat was completely dry, (at least 24 hours) I applied a wash of the Russian armor green, a touch of flat black, and about 80% lacquer thinner, this settled well into all the panel lines and recesses. After about another 24 hours, I dry brushed the entire model by adding a few drops of flat white to the Russian green, and repeating this process until I was satisfied with the highlights. After that, I dry brushed raw sienna on large open areas to represent fading and wear there. After another 24 hours for drying, I applied Future floor polish to the entire model so as not to have a model with different finish areas.

I used the kit-supplied decals for a Soviet Army machine. The references I have seen suggest the Russians don’t seem to use many markings except tactical numbers, and an occasional division marking, so I used the larger numbers for the turret sides, and smaller numbers for the fording snorkel, as this item can be removed in the field, and the crew would want to keep up with their equipment. I used Solvaset to help the decals snuggle down over raised detail. After ample drying time, I wiped any excess glue and solvent away with a damp cloth.

Final Assembly
After decaling, I applied another coat of Future, let that completely dry, and applied a flat coat of Testors lacquer flat coat. Once dry, I applied ground up pastel chalks to the recesses and crevices to simulate dirt and dust. I also applied a very dark gray pastel around the exhaust to simulate diesel smoke stains. Once satisfied with the weathering, I applied another flat coat to lock in the pastels. At this point, I installed the tracks, commanders NVST, un-ditching beam, and tow cables. The only items I added to this model were the fuel lines for the rear fuel drums, these were made by example from the Tamiya T-72M1 kit, I used small gauge electrical wire to reproduce these. I also added some small wires leading from the turret to the smoke grenade launchers.

I enjoyed building this kit. No, it is not the new generation of “it just fell together” kits, and has some things that you have to fix and add, but that, in my opinion, just helps to build your experience, and skill level. Not to mention, when finished, I feel this kit has captured the ominous look and feel of the real Cold War Warrior. I have another one in my stockpile that I plan on finishing in Iraqi Republican Guard colors, and am looking forward to building it again. If you can still find this kit out there, I recommend it, it is more than likely half the price of the Tamiya kit, and almost as good with a little work.

I am Raleigh Lamb Jr, I was born in Mobile AL, and lived my child hood life in Kissimmee FL. I now live here in Hampton, VA with my wife Debbie, and daughter Abigail. My son, Cpl. Raleigh Lamb III, is a U.S. Marine stationed at New River MCAS, Jacksonville, N.C. I retired from the U.S.A.F in 2004, worked for Carter/CAT until being laid off this past February (Praise the Lord, that was a blessing in disguise!), I now work for HRSD, waste water treatment.

I have built models since I was 9 years old, and still love the hobby. I just wish the hobby wasn’t so expensive these days though.

The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee.
Numbers 6: 24-25(KJV)