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Ryefield Egyptian T-34

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/35 scale armor kit with lots of optional parts
RELATED TOPICS: ARMOR
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Looking to repurpose obsolete T-34 tanks, the Egyptian army mounted 122mm D-30 howitzers in a modified turret. The West referred to these self-propelled guns as the T-34/122, but the Egyptian designation was Abu Zabaal T122. Thirty vehicles were produced between 1956 and 1973.

Until now, the only options to model the vehicle were a few resin conversions or a Maquette styrene kit, neither option easy to do. Ryefield’s first T-34 variant comprises 504 crisply molded plastic parts with almost no ejector-pin marks or flash, a single piece of wound brass wire is included as is a vinyl dust cover for the gun and a photo-etched (PE) fret of 27 parts. No decals are included, but color profiles by Ammo by Mig Jimenez show three marking options.

The instruction has one minor error in Step 4. The parts box for the individual links around the idler calls for six C2 links, but it should be six C1 links as pointed out in the adjacent images.

Fit was good throughout; the only filler I used was to correct my overly aggressive cleanup.

Before gluing the springs and their housings into the lower hull, I painted them black.

In Step 2, two small bolts are added to the transmission cover. These bolts are found on one of the runners of parts tree D.

Ryefield provides three styles of road wheels, two typically used on T-34s, the other on T-55s. Photos show various combinations fitted in practice, so I used six of the T-55 style and four of the dish type T-34 wheels.

The tire is separate from the rims making painting easier.

The link-and-length tracks include molded sag on the upper run. Using the number of links recommended left each side about half-a-link short. The track comprises two different links, so two need to be added to maintain the sequence. Removing them from the front idler arm (part C7) would allow it to rotate to adjust the tension, but I had already glued them.

Before joining the hull halves, be sure to open holes as indicated, they are impossible to locate later. Do not glue the front tow hook locking brackets (part C53) in place in Step 5 as shown. Instead, attach parts C51 and E12 found in steps 6 and 7. Then, you can glue parts C53 in place.

The bow machine gun is slide molded with an open muzzle.

Two options are given for the cover over the rear vent louvers, one with a solid molded screen, the other has a PE screen that must be bent to match the curve of the cover. Locating pins molded on the open cover match holes in the PE screen.

A pair of smoke units on the rear hull proved the most complicated aspect of the build. Instructions for bending the PE brackets are vague but, thankfully, the PE is strong enough to be bent a couple of times. Deviating from the instructions, I glued the brackets to the hull and attached Part C23 to the bracket; use caution as these pieces are fragile, and I damaged one. Then, I glued the mounting straps to the tank before gluing the cylindrical generators to the bracket.

The main gun barrel is molded in halves, a disappointment since slide molding was used elsewhere in the kit. Two muzzle brakes are provided, but only one is shown used in the directions. Mount the muzzle brake after the gun is in place in the turret to get the proper alignment. The breech and cradle are nicely detailed; this assembly mounts on the lower turret piece.

The rest of the turret assembly was straightforward, except for the vinyl dust cover. It was crushed in my kit, so wouldn’t conform to the separate turret front. Instead, I attached the forward plate to the turret body, then attached the vinyl cover by gluing it a little at a time. Once the cover was in place, I anchored it with scrap strip styrene glued inside the turret.

Assembly of the two halves of the turret was problematic. The directions state to “strongly” push the gun through the dust cover’s opening. They aren’t kidding. I broke cradle and many small details trying to get the gun into place. Instead, attach the cradle to the lower turret half without the gun. After pushing the barrel through the vinyl cover, secure it to the cradle.

The actual tank has numerous hatches, but only the commander’s is separate in the kit and it has no detail inside.
  
Choosing a two-tone camouflage from the color diagrams, I painted the model with Ammo and Vallejo acrylics over Tamiya base coats. No decals are provided, so weathering is where you give the model its personality.

Considering the detail, I was surprised to find that it only took me 34 hours to complete the T-34/122. If not for the complexity of the rear smoke tanks and tracks, I would recommend this model for most modelers.

The completed build demonstrates the top-heavy appearance of the vehicle. Unused parts point to Ryefield following up with a Syrian open-top T-34/122 and it would be great to see an Egyptian T-100 antitank gun.


Note: A version of this review appeared in the April 2019 issue.


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