A warrior from the second Chechen war
Updated: Jul 18, 2021
It was time to build another Russian tank with ERA (Explosive Reactive Armour) blocks. A T-72B1 does look awesome and it is pretty easy to find great photos of it on the internet. Meng is offering a nicely detailed kit of this vehicle, which I bought and couldn't wait to start. My hopes were quite high. However, I had to learn, that not every Meng kit is as good as the ones I have built so far. This one, for example has nasty-nasty secrets.
All starts nice and easy with the usual steps on the lower hull. Meng even provides you with a bespoke tool to keep all the suspensions straight avoiding any of the wheels hanging in the air and not touching the tracks.
I don't need to call your attention to the excess plastic as there is a lot of it. And I mean a lot. It is easy to get rid of them and I strongly suggest to do so otherwise they may cause unwanted surprises later.
Then came the nightmare... Let's put it this way: THE NIGHTMARE...
The workable tracks Meng provides with the kit has many flaws. Although you get a special tool to assemble the tracks the overall concept is rather poor. The material used to produce the tracklinks is different from the plastic used for the kit and Tamiya extra thin cement just does not dissolve it (does not create the bond). However, what makes it a real challenge is the lack of clarity in the instructions.
All looks nice and easy: you put in five links in the tool, close the lid and insert the pins.
But what would hold it together on the other side, where you don't insert any pins?
As the tracks kept falling apart I considered to simply glue them as it was like Dragon's Magic Tracks or any other individual tracklinks. This was the moment when I learned that my glue won't work on them.
On the other hand I couldn't apply superglue either as it would bond way too fast. I spent hours on trying to find a solution and I was really close to give up. I went back and forth to the instructions and the pieces several times. Then I spotted something.
Yes, that little bump is way smaller then 1mm. OK, my eyesight may not be perfect, but I use glasses when I build my models. nevertheless, this detail is way too small to spot, in my opinion.
However, after recognizing it is there I realized that there is a special way to put the links in the tool so as these little humps pop in the right place in the next link and that should provide the desired connection on the opposite side to the pins. Some may say if I paid more attention in the beginning I would have saved a lot of frustration. Nevertheless, even after assmebling the links with a special care they still keep falling apart.
My ultimate solution was to superglue them to the wheels as soon as they got on the model to keep them in their final place. I usually like to complete the tracks even though they are hidden by the skirts, but this time I made an exception. I simply wanted to leave all this misery behind and progress with the build.
The details of the upper hull are fine and I can't complain, the parts fit really well, no need to use any putty. The PE parts are excellent, too.
The next thing to surprise the modeller is extra fuel system. The barrels have a half-circle-shaped hole that you should fill with putty, although there is no sign of them in the instruction. However, all the tubes are produced from a strange rubber-ish material that would require superglue and a lot of attention to keep them in the right place. The quality of this part is not great.
Later on I decided not to use them on the final tank.
The turret is also a nice challenge. First of all, some additional armour plates need to be added to the rear half of it which is produced from the same rubber-ish material as the above mentioned tubes.
Again, you need to use superglue to fix them. They fit overall pretty well, although they don't look like that at the first site. However, you don't need to worry too much for two reasons. 1.) Most of it will be covered by the ERA blocks and other equipments and 2.) take a look of the real vehicle:
The complete turret is relatively complex structure and model kit is quite detailed in order to give a really good replication. Sometimes probably even a bit too much. For example, I don't get why you have separate parts for the cap of the fog granades. And again, the instructions require a lot of attention.
The painting and weathering was really nice. After the base colour I applied a layer of gloss coat to create a base for the decals, so their edges can blend in.
After applying the decals I started to give some colour variation to the ERA blocks. It was good fun to mask the surrounding of each block, but after every colour the tank came more and more live.
The final treatment was the weathering after a layer of flat clear: enamel and oil washes, pigments applied dry on the model with several layers of matt varnish.
Although I think the fininshed model looks OK, it was a painful build not lacking of swearing - which I am not proud of. What would I say if you told me this kit is on your bench?
Get aftermarket tracks. If you can't afford metal, go for what you can get for your bucks. Anything is better than what comes with the kit.
Watch out for the instrauctions. You can't spend too much time with them.
Have different types of glues at hand.
Watch out for the excess plastic at the injection points.
Here is he final tank:
For more pictures please visit the Gallery.