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Meng Model T-72B3

The Soviet/Russian T-72 main battle tank is quickly approaching 50 years of service. Its longevity, much like the M1 Abrams, has been accomplished by several major updates in armor, armament, and electronics. The latest upgrade, the T-72B3, entered service in 2013; so far, more than 600 T-72s have been upgraded to the B3 version. The T-72B3 has seen action in Ukraine, where several were captured and used by Ukrainians.

If you are a collector of Soviet/Russian armor models, you are in a golden age, with new kits released seemingly every month. Meng has expanded its modern Russian armor range with the addition of this T-72B3.

The dark green plastic moldings show excellent detail. A small photo-etch (PE) fret has screens for the engine deck and includes a metal wheel mask. Along with individual-link tracks, the kit includes a jig and tools to aid in their assembly. The mantlet cover is a one-piece vinyl molding that shows excellent surface detail. Also in vinyl are hoses for the external fuel tanks. Clear parts are provided for the headlight, sensor lenses, periscopes, and windows.

The instructions have good, large assembly drawings and excellent five-view color drawings for markings and painting. A small decal sheet provides markings for five vehicles, three in solid green and two with demonstration camouflages.

Assembly begins with the hull. A jig is provided to hold the torsion bars in alignment while the glue sets. I added some small strips of styrene over the square ends of the torsion bars just to add a little security to the joints. The running gear attaches with vinyl keepers, so I left mine off until everything was painted. While the parts count is high, the tracks account for almost two thirds of the total. Despite the many parts, I found the tracks easy to clean up and assemble. After my first few sections, I could assemble a whole track sprue in about 20 minutes. Again, a jig and tool are provided for track assembly. Take care removing and cleaning the main track links (H1); they are very delicate at this stage, and you have only six spare links. However, once they are assembled the tracks are sturdy. I found the recommended 81 links fit perfectly.

The upper hull went together quickly. Somehow I got the left side stowage bin (A6) misaligned and didn’t realize it until I went to add the side skirts in final assembly.
Luckily, I was able to pry it loose and reattach it correctly. I also suggest that you have the engine cover assembled before adding its hinges (parts Q48 and Q50). I had to tweak the hinges to get my engine cover to sit properly. It’s a little difficult to remove the vinyl fuel hose assembly from its sprue without leaving a stub or cutting into the hose. That said, it went on easier than I expected and really adds to the look of the model.

I soaked the string for the tow cables in a diluted solution of white glue and let it dry while it was taut. This reduces fuzziness and makes it easier to cut the string to length and paint it while the line stays flexible.

The most difficult assembly may be the turret because of the numerous small parts, some of them very small with delicate attachment points. The vinyl mantlet cover looks excellent once painted, but you can only pose the main gun in an elevated position. There were a few tiny gaps where it meets the turret, but I didn’t bother to fill them. The commander and gunner hatches can be posed open or closed. The main gun tube is molded in several parts; while there is no warping, you do have to deal with seams on the front and rear sections.

I base-coated my T-72 with Tamiya olive green (XF-58). Then I added a little field gray (XF-65) to lighten and gray the base color; I also used that to highlight the centers of panels and add modulation to the open areas.

The decals settled into details with just a touch of Solvaset. Enamel washes added light weathering, and a pinwash brought out details.

I spent about 28 hours building my T-72. The finished model matched dimensions I found on While it takes some experience with handling small parts, Meng’s kit is an excellent replica of this modernized T-72. It should find its way into any armor builder’s modern Russian collection.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the March 2017 issue.


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