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Zvezda 1/35 scale T-80BV with ERA

Kit: No. 3592
Scale: 1/35
Manufacturer: Zvezda, available from Squadron Mail Order, 972-242-8663,
Price: $31.98
Comments: Injection molded, 268 parts, decals
Pros: Interesting subject, colorful camouflage scheme
Cons: Poor fit in some areas, vague instructions, inaccuracies in detail and scale
The Russian company Zvezda has recently reissued the Dragon T-80VB main battle tank. This was one of Dragon's earlier kits and is not up to current standards. No attempt was made to correct any of the errors of the original kit. Molded in dark olive-green plastic, the parts show more flash than the original release. The injection-molded tracks are link-and-length style. Detailing on the parts is generally good. The decal sheet has markings for three vehicles, one in an attractive tricolor scheme, and two in overall green. No figures are included.

I built my T-80 as three subassemblies; the lower hull and tracks, the upper hull, and the turret. The tracks and wheels were left off the lower hull until it was painted. Do not install the un-ditching beam as shown in the instructions or it will interfere with the drive sprockets. The beam was poorly molded, so I just left it off.

The upper hull was assembled except for some small parts. The engine deck is molded as a composite welded deck but on the real vehicle it is a single cast part. Adding the Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) bricks to the hull was easy even though the diagrams in the instructions were not clear. The pattern of bricks on the kit varied slightly from some of the photos of the real vehicle.

The turret was the most difficult assembly. The upper and lower turret halves required super glue filler and grinding with my motor tool to eliminate the seam. The rear of the turret is molded at an angle, but should be almost vertical. I filled the gaps around the gun-mantlet cover with epoxy putty. The mountings for the turret ERA bricks are simplified. I had problems fitting some of the bricks, especially on the right side. I wound up cutting some of the multi-brick parts into individual bricks to improve fit.

I was intrigued by the three-tone camouflage scheme; unfortunately the instruc- tions only give one side view. Working from the box art, I painted my tank with irregular, angled bands. The instructions refer to Testor enamels, but I prefer acrylics, so I used the closest colors I could find in the Polly Scale product line. I wound up using ocean gray, British dark earth, and FS 34102 green.
After painting them, I added the wheels and tracks to the lower hull. The track links were too wide to fit the drive sprockets, so I inserted a sheet styrene disc to widen the drive sprocket. If you install the upper run of tracks, the upper hull won't fit. Luckily, you'll never see the missing tracks under the fender skirts. After gluing the upper and lower hull together, I gave the model was given my usual oil-paint wash, then dry-brushed with lighter tones of the base colors.

The finished model is about 1/8" too short and too wide compared to the dimensions on the Army Technology website ( It took about 18 hours to build my T-80, not bad considering the three-color paint scheme. If you can live with the inaccuracies, the kit makes an attractive model. If you're interested in correcting some of the kit's problems, look for the excellent article by Dana Nield in the February 1996 issue of FineScale Modeler.

- John Plzak


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