Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mixing and matching T-34's

Since my last post, the Pegasus Hobbies models have been shipped and I'm just waiting for them to get here any time now.  In the meantime, I've been doing a dry fit of one of the UM OT-34's.
On the whole I like 'em.  They are more complex than the Fujimi T-34's that I have been used to building, but the trade off is of course better detailing- and no flexible plastic tracks.

There are some things about the kits that I am not so crazy about.  These are irritating sink holes that need to be filled, and the etched brass panel used for the rear engine deck, which I think is just an unnecessary complication. UM was perfectly capable of moulding a decent engine deck right into the plastic. 

The biggest annoyance, though, is the useless vinyl towing cords and especially the tires meant to fit over the road wheels.  They are not well detailed at all, and how they are meant to be attached to the styrene tracks beats me.  Most importantly, I do not trust the vinyl not to melt the plastic of the wheels over time, and I suspect they will crumble with age anyway.

The solution is simple.  Replace the wheels!

First I looked into getting some replacement resin wheels from some specialist after-market parts makers, but at ten Euros for one tank's worth of wheels, that is more than the kit is worth.

Fortunately, I found that I can replace the road wheels with those I have from my vast stock of Fujimi plastic kits and spares, and cannibalize a pair of old Esci T-34's I still have lying around from twenty years ago!

Now the Fujimi T-34's are 1/76th scale models, while the Esci and UM models are I/72, so you think they wouldn't go together.  Interestingly, however, the UM T-34 seems to be closer in size to the Fujimi kit than the Esci one, and when I placed the road wheels side-by-side the difference  in size was really quite minimal, and a dry fit showed that the Fujimi wheels won't look out of place on the UM kit.  
Esci pressed steel road wheel on the left, UM in the middle with the vinyl tire, and a Fujimi T-34/76 1941 road wheel on the right.  The Esci and UM wheels are the same size, the Fujimi one seems to be just under 1mm smaller in diameter.  Certainly not enough to notice when in place.

Another benefit is that being styrene plastic, I don't have to faff about with instant glues, and can just join the tracks to the wheels using liquid cement.

In terms of scaling in general, it seems like either the Esci kit is oversized, or else the UM T-34 is undersized.  Here is the UM upper hull on the left next to one of the old Esci models I have.  The Esci kit is considerably wider and longer. 
Which one is more accurately scaled doesn't matter much to me.  Visual consistency is more important than scale accuracy for wargaming purposes. The fact that the UM model is closer to the Fujimi T-34's is a plus, as then I can field both on the table without any glaringly obvious size differences.   

Which also means that the two T-34/76 model 1942's that I had earlier cobbled together by combining Fujimi hulls with some old Esci/Leva turrets won't look out of place either, so I can go ahead and finish them!

Here they are lined up.  From top to bottom, the Esci T-34 hull; a Fujimi T-34/85; the UM OT-34 upper hull; in white, the Revell/Matchbox T-34 with Leva resin turret; and at bottom a Fujimi  T-34/76 1941 hull fitted with the Esci 1942 hexagonal turret and a Matchbox gun w/mantlet. 
The Esci model stands out as being much larger than all the others- it may go with the Armourfast T-34  kits by Hat, but it dwarfs the 1/76 Fujimi models.  

The UM 1/72 scale model is a much more comfortable match.  A bit longer (3-4mm) and wider (2mm or so) than the Fujimi kits, but kept in separate units (my two conversions are meant to be the tank support company from a recce motorcycle battalion) there should be no problem, and by keeping the front track guards on the smaller models while removing them from their 1/72 brethren, the eye can be fooled into thinking that the difference isn't so pronounced.  

I also managed to dig out my old Leva models conversion kit for a PT-34 mine-roller kit, so now I have an engineering vehicle as well!

I've also been looking at some AA for the Soviets so as to reduce Giovanni's Stukas to twisted metal wreckage before they can ride roughshod over my armour.  As well as a Gaz truck with a quad Maxim mount, I have that new M16 half-track to provide support to the Tankisti,  as well as some spare DhsK 12.5mm AAMG's to mount on some suitable trucks I may have lying around.  

For some heavier hate to throw at the fascist airmen, I also have some boxes of the Airfix 40mm Bofors AA gun that will have the shields removed, the trucks replaced with Studebakers, and the crew converted to Russians so as to represent the 37mm AA gun company. 

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