T-34 Model Project

Tank Box

T-34 Model Project

Easter weekend this year brought about another bout of Hobby A.D.D. I had been reading the March 2010 issue of Wargames Illustrated and came across an ad for Rate of Fire, a 28mm World War 2 game from Crusader. Intrigued, I got online and ordered a copy from Northstar Figures. I am still awaiting its arrival but look forward to reviewing it and talking about it here on thehobbystudios.com very soon. Needless to say this really got me thinking about 28mm miniatures and I remembered I had some nice World War 2 Soviets that I had bought from Black Tree Designs about 2 years ago. Since I had two squads of Soviet Assault Troops, 3 Light Machine Guns, and a squad of sub-machine guns I needed something sexy. A vehicle. A tank. So I journeyed to the HobbyTown in Colleyville and looked at their selection of 1:48 scale models (The model scale closest to 28mm. For more on scale watch the Hobby: Season 1, Episode 4). What caught my eye was the Hobby Boss T-34 /85 Model 1944 Flattened Turret. I thought yes, this will make a great addition to my 28mm army. I bought the kit and took it straight home.

With the family concentrating on Easter activities, I sat down at the dining room table and began to look the kit over. SpruesWith over 400 parts on 14 sprues, I knew right away this was a more advanced kit than the Flames of War tanks I usually build. This would be even beyond building Warhammer 40K tanks. At first I thought, I don't have to build all of this. I'm going to button this thing up so I just have to worry about the details on the outside. Then I began thinking, I did pay my money for the entire experience. I could start out doing everything and if I lose interest I just go straight to the exterior and forget about it. So I got started.

The first thing I did was run a sink full of warm soapy water and rinsed off all of the pieces. As most of you know this removes the releasing agents left behind on the model parts when they were released from the mold. While the sprues were drying I began to assemble my tools. Hobby knife to bore holes bigger, clean mold lines and release points. Clippers to remove the parts from the sprue. Hobby pliers to hold certain pieces while I apply glue and affix it to the model. And of course, glue. I used the hobby glue from Gale Force 9. This is a new product to me but one I've had good luck with.

InstructionsAfter the sprues had dried, I sat down to start work on the model. The process was going to be longer than I was used to but I was getting more interested. As I worked through the steps I learned some things about models in general but also this specific kit. For one, if you have a really good kit like this one, the assembly process really helps you understand how these vehicles go together. As a gamer, the models you build are usually very simple and only a handfull of pieces. Your typical Flames of War tanks is maybe 6 to 10 pieces. A Games Workshop tank may be 4 or 5 sprues, 100 to 200 pieces. As I started assembling the interior, I really began to learn what the driver's compartment looked like, where the commander would have sat, and how the gunner loaded ammunition. As I assembled all 21 pieces of the engine block and attached it to the transmission I began to get a different sense of this wonderful machine. I had read great books about the T-34, some of which I list here as references,  but not only seeing it in three diminsions but actually assembling it gave me a much better perspective on the tank.

Interior 02As for the model itself, this is a really great kit. As a gamer trying to make that transition to more complicated models, I couldn't have asked for a better first try. Each and every piece fit together in a way that you couldn't assemble it incorrectly. All of the pieces had holes and/or pegs that were patterned in such a way that they could only go together one way. However, Interiorthe kit was not simple. My two best references were the March 2010 Fine Scale Modeler T-34 article on page 32 and Osprey Publishing's Modeling Manual #16: T-34/76 & T-34/85. The modeler in the FSM article had to scratch build pretty much the entire interior from the ammo crate compartment to the transmission. Not me. The kit I was building had an entire interior including engine, transmission, gun breach, and more. One of the projects in the Osprey book featured cutting out the plastic cast exhaust vents and replaced with photo-etched metal. He then added small hooks made from copper wire. Guess what? All of that is included in the Hobby Boss kit. They even include a hybrid plastic frame piece with photo-etched grating.

Now as I progressed through the kit I realized I had to make some changes. I chose to NOT put the plastic cast treads on until after I had painted them. You see, I wanted to base coat the model with my airbrush and didn't want to spray them with green. Once I completed the kit, base coated the top, bottom and turret pieces, I assembled them and finished the model off with decals.

Now that I've completed the kit, I look back and I am very happy I decided to build the entire kit. I enjoyed the learning experience and the assembly process was very relaxing. I think I still have room to slow down the process a bit. When you are building models for an army, I tend to assemble quickly and get ready to paint right away. For example, I can assemble a box of 5 15mm tanks in about an hour and prime them and be painting shortly thereafter. I spent about a week working on this kit. I'd like to spend a little more time on my next kit. I could do a better job on cleaning the mold lines and some other little things. Also, while great for game models, the GF9 glue was not ideal for this type of project. The tip is a little too large for precision glueing and I sometimes overglued pieces which led to some glue spots on the exterior of the model. Other than that, I am ready for my next kit. What should it be? 1/100 Hind? 1/35 Panzer 1?

UPDATE: Here is a photo of the fully assembled model (though still no decals and some painting to do).

Complete T34