Wednesday, August 21

In-Boxed: 1/72nd scale Object 279 Soviet Heavy Tank (2 kits in one) from Takom

I got a secret - after already building two of these kits in 35th scale a few years ago, I have a hidden hankering for the Object 279. The UFO shape - those four runs of tracks and the idea of a vehicle built to survive a nuclear holocaust kind of piqued my interest. Now that Takom has made a pair of these tanks in 72nd scale in their new tool boxing made us want to show you just what comes inside the box...

In-Boxed: Object 279 Soviet Heavy Tank (2 kits in one) 
From Takom
Kit No # 5005
1/72nd scale
Price: $31.83 USD/ £26.24 GBP/ €28.67 EUR/ ₫749,470 VN Dong from Hobbylink Japan
Product Link on the Takom Website
The Subject:
The Object 279 was an experimental and extremely strange Soviet heavy tank that was developed from 1956 to 1959. In fact, this tank is so strange in appearance that there is no real consensus as to what it looks like. Some have said that the tank looks like a frog, some have said it looks like a clam, and still, others state that it looks like a UFO. 

Object 279 during a demonstration at Kapustin Yar, 1960

The tank's purpose was equally strange. The Object 279 was designed to traverse and fight on extremely rugged and hostile terrain, which would be inaccessible to almost any other vehicle. The tank's second and more well-known purpose was to survive a nuclear shock wave and fight in contaminated conditions, even those at the epicentre of a nuclear blast.
Development of the Object occurred in the Kirov Plant in Leningrad by L. Troyanov, an experienced and respected Soviet engineer. The tank was first envisioned in 1956, and work started in 1957. A pilot tank had been produced by 1959. This truly bizarre and highly unique vehicle had superior cross-country capability to anything that came before it. The tank ran on a four-track propulsion system, with two tracks to each side. Each pair of tracks was mounted to a rectangular beam that ran in a longitudinal direction. These beams were hollow and doubled as fuel tanks. The tank used an advanced hydropneumatic suspension system with a hydro-pneumatic transformer coupled with a three-speed planetary gearbox. 
Due to the track layout, the vehicle had a huge amount of track in contact with the ground, which gave the vehicle reduced ground pressure and amazing crossing capability over boggy and torn ground. The track arrangement also allowed the Object to cross fallen trees and most anti-tank obstacles. An immensely powerful 1000hp 2DG-8M diesel engine was able to propel the 66-ton Object at an astonishing 55km/h. However, it must be noted that this tank had a horrendous turning circle because of the four wide tracks.
The tank was also extremely heavily armoured. The turret boasted up to 330 mm of armour, while the hull made around 270 mm. The effective thickness, as well as 'bounciness', would have been very high due to the extreme slopes and angles of the hull and turret. The hull was also covered by an elliptical shell of thin armour which would have given the tank protection against shaped charges. The hulls form was designed to keep the tank from flipping over in the event of a nuclear detention, and the cast armour was of variable thicknesses. 

The armour layout of the tank
Armour panels ran around the hull as well as the turret to protect the Object from HEAT (High Explosive Anti Tank) shells. The crew of four were shielded from a potentially contaminated environment by a CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear) protection system, which slightly increased the pressure inside the tank to keep out unwanted agents. 

Kubinka's Object prior to being repainted
The armament of the Object 279 was a 130 mm M-65 rifled cannon that was 60 calibres long. This weapon was stabilized on two axes by a 'Groza' stabilizer system, allowing the tank to shoot accurately on the move. 
Secondary armament was a co-axially mounted 14.5 mm KPVT heavy machine gun with 800 round of ammunition. A semi-automatic loading system and an automated loading tray allowed the Object's rate of fire to reach 7 round per minute. Fire Control included a stereoscopic rangefinder and optical sights as well as an L2 night sight with an active searchlight. The Object 279 was intended to have been under the Supreme Command Reserve, though it never entered serious production.
The Object 279 was never used in combat, and only 3 examples were ever created. The project was costly, and out of favour. This was mainly because the Soviet Union was moving more towards missile technology, and away from heavy tanks to smaller MBT's. The Object 279 was an amazing vehicle in its performance and capabilities, however, it stayed as an experimental vehicle, never entering production. Eventually, all Objects were scrapped except one, which survives in the Kubinka Tank Museum.

The tank as it is now at Kubinka.

A wonderful video from Wargaming showing all you need to know about this tank...

This new kit from Takom:
These second release of this kit from Takom, this time, we see a different scale from them, this kit is in 1/72nd scale. The smaller scale allows Takom to include two models in the one boxing, and of course, the option for either the short-barreled Object 279M or the longer barrelled Object 279 to be depicted, either two of each or one of alternate types from the same kit.

As I mentioned I have already made Takom's original 35th scale version of this kit (Also the Panda Hobby kit in the same scale) which I think is the only thing holding me back from making this tank after I review it.

Here is that 35th scale kit with NBC soldier - very much like what I expect from this kit (fingers crossed)
Let's look at the kit now then shall we?
The box is a smaller than 35th scale size - coming in at 30cm long X 20cm wide X 6cm high. The simple white box with illustrations shows you exactly what is coming in this box. Two tanks and an NBC warfare soldier to add to your dio.

The box opens up to reveal an instruction booklet, two small decal sheets, one small 5cm long brass twisted cable wire, and seven small sprues in light grey plastic.

Before we look at the plastic I thought I might put the plastic parts in perspective by looking at the instruction sheet and build process.

The A5 landscape format instructions are bound by a colour cover with a black and white instruction booklet inside with only fourteen simple stages to follow. There are indeed a few steps that you will find and do without prompting as the build is very natural and simple as we will see. I have already made two of these in 35th scale so stick with me as we go through these steps and how you should re-arrange them - it will help your build.

The sprue map of this kit - take into account there are two of each sprue, decal and photo-etch sheet included in the box.

I thought we might quickly look at the instructions so we can put the kit parts into some context when we look at them. We will work our way from the start to the finish of the kit in numerical order, then I will give you the order in which I would make the kit after we look at the steps.

Step 1 - A simple placement of the tow/ lifting clamps on the boat-shaped hull. Step 2 - has you building the two sponsons that hold the four sets of suspension and running gear. These can be added earlier or late. If I were you, I would add the tracks AFTER the hull was put together so you can get in there and work on the joining of those parts without the tracks being broken or getting in the way.

Step 3 is the easy process of adding the four sets of six roadwheels to the two sponsons you have already made., with Step 4 being the inclusion and construction of the drive sprockets of the tank (X4) at the rear of the vehicle.

Step five... Brace yourselves, this step, in my opinion, should be done last - is the making of the four sets of link & length tracks for the tank. These are not too bad actually, because unlike the 35th scale version these are already mostly assembled, you only need to make the ones that travel around the contours of the drive and return gear on the tank. Step Six has you adding these two made up sponsons to the tank - again take my tip and add these last!

Steps Seven and Eight has you adding all of the exhaust shrouds, rear gun travel bracket, lights and grab rails for the access crew being placed on the top of the tank. In Step Nine you add the short towing cable to the towing loop parts on sprue B as well as the guards around the front headlights. All of these steps can be done AFTER step ten if you like as these are delicate parts, and they may get broken when joining the upper and lower hull halves together.

OK - so for me this build STARTS at Step Ten. The easiest way to ensure nothing breaks is to glue the top and bottom hull halves together before anything else. I am sure I thought the same thing last time. It would be the first thing I do if I make this kit. Step Eleven has again, you adding lots of fragile parts to the kit before you secure the top and bottom of the turret halves (joined horizontally). Do this AFTER step twelve if you want to make life easier for yourself.

First decision time comes at Step Twelve. The choice of either the 152mm or 130mm guns are chosen at this time. The difference is substantial as we will see when we look at the plastic. Again, you can make BOTH of your tanks with exactly the same guns if you prefer. The searchlight and turret-mounted MG is also here.

The six-part - very oddly shaped twin fuel tanks are added to the tanks at this time on the rear of the tank on Step Thirteen. Lastly, the NBC Soldier and the turret are placed on to the top of the tank.

Ok, so that is it for the build process of the kit. A few things of note that I have learnt after making two of these tanks in the past:

1: Join the top and bottom of the hull together FIRST THING to avoid breaking little parts or tracks off the tank
2: Same goes for the turret - join that together before adding everything else to the kit.
3: You can build the tracks and two sponsons completely separate if you like and add them at the end if you think they are a delicate construction
4: You're welcome 😉

The Plastic:
Sprue A (X4)
Four sprues of sheet A are all about those tracks, and why not - with a tank with four runs of wide tracks like this? The link and length tracks are already mostly done for you, at the price of some simplification over the larger 35th scale's tracks which are ALL individual links (phew) - these look pretty painless and well detailed.

A close-up of the contact side of the tracks - with each one slightly simplified but very nice in 72nd scale with what could almost be taken for separation between the tracks - very nice.

The tracks on the real tank

The reverse side of the tracks - note the holes either side of the edge of these, although not all the way through these can be weathered to look like it (unless you want to get a tiny drill to hollow them all out). Note some work will be needed on the ejector pin circles on the inside of the centres of the tracks. These will not be seen even if you leave them as is so a smart moulding choice from Takom there.

Sprue B

The suspension is next on Sprue B. The four sets of suspension arms and the running gear to go along with them are here. the long parts are the sponsons that all of the suspension is added to and these nestle into the bottom of the boat-shaped hull.

Two things of note in this close-up. The roadwheels are very nice and detailed with hexagon bolts on the disks. These are excellent for 72nd scale and very similar to the larger scale wheels. The second thing of note are the many grab handles on this tank. In this scale they will be incredibly fragile, so you may want to swap them out with wire instead.

A close-up of the wheels and suspension (at the lowest level) of the real thing

Sprue C (X2)
OK so now on to the larger parts of the kit - and these are both pretty small - the upper and lower hull parts. These both go together with a horizontal flat join at their centre.

The bottom front of the oddly shaped hull, the tracks or lugs for the two sponsons that house the four track runs are here to see, along with a slightly textured cast surface detail on the hull on both bottom and top halves.

The top half of the hull front, with that cast texture, just replicated enough here. Notice that most of your tools are already moulded on, but with some nice detail which makes them look like they are separate, also the two hull sides on the far left and right of the tank that can be turned down (for a slimmer profile on rail travel) are not an option on this tank.

The real thing for comparison

I think maybe the ribbing on the hull might be a little over-scale so I would sand that off just a little if I was building this kit.

On the rear engine deck you can see the cast texture again, as well as the mesh for the engine grilles moulded on (no need for photo-etch when unnecessary which is nice) The large saw, shovel and the pry bar tools are included moulded on to the hull  as well as some impressive ring pull loops are here also.

The rear of the deck of the real thing

The rear of the bottom of the hull where the rear-mounted drive gear is located thanks to these lugs.

The front of the bottom of the hull here in detail.

Sprue D
This sprue has both of the upper and lower turret halves, the two choices of gun, the exhaust shrouds, turret hatches (posable in this kit wow) gun travel lock and grabrail for climbing on to the tank all in the one place.

The Turret halves here. Notice the texture applied lightly but visibly to the surface. A vent and one of the optical sights are moulded on here already, and the other parts are a simple addition with some quick-drying thick glue.

A close-up of the turret of the real thing showing the surface texture
In the middle of this sprue, we see the short-barreled 152.4 mm ML-20SM model 1944 (МЛ-20СМ обр. 1944 г) had a barrel length of over 4.5 meters. The fact that there was no muzzle brake further increased the firepower of the gun. It is two parts here split down the middle in the kit so it’s an easy construction. Like the long-barreled main gun it sits in only one way because of the joint shape so you cannot get it wrong.

The longer 130mm M-65 rifled barrel gun and the alternate (almost stubby in comparison) 152mm barrel for the Object 279M version. The long riffled barrelled 130mm M-65 gun is moulded as one piece with just a little seam work needing to be done after removal from the sprue, especially around the ribbed barrel area.

Nuclear Biological Chemical Figure
This tiny 1/72nd scale human comes moulded in a light grey sprue with nine parts. Six being from the person while thee are two AK-47's and one strap of the gun included. I do not know why there are two guns (one has the wooden rifle stock and the other has a folded metal stock)  and one rifle strap but I will take a spare gun in this scale...
The NBC suit which is draped around his body and helmet. The goggles and mask are moulded into the torso where the arms and legs are sperate. The legs fit into notches moulded into the figure for correct placement.

Here he is in a close-up, the coloured illustration on the right is the paint guide from the boxart 1/35th scale kit.

Brass twisted cable & Photo Etch:
To make the towing cable – a short length that fits in the tow rings on sprue B. The photo-etch frets are both the same and have just a few parts on them that are necessary and could not be replicated so thinly in this scale like headlight brackets & thinner lines for the tank.


Two small sheets, both bearing the numbers "120" are included in the box. Why include two of the same numbers for two different tanks I do not know? I would have liked to be supplied with more Russian numbers - even generic numbers or slogans - would have been a lot better than these two sheets, which to be blunt - are a bit of a slack effort really. 
This number wore off progressively as time and people scrambling over the tank.

Colour/ marking choices:
The colours are presented in profile in the back of the instruction booklet for three vehicles:

1/ Object 279 1960 – 
"120" This is the Russian green battered tank everyone knows from most of the poorly lit pictures available.

There is a “120” on the turret sides of this tank – the most recent shots of the ‘279 before repainting show these numbers were beaten and scuffed to bits as was the rest of the tank – this will interest modellers who like to show the tank weathered and beaten up.

2/ Object 279M: this short-barrelled TPC-152mm gun on this tank was planned but I have seen no pictures of it and neither have most anyone I know.

3/ Kubinka tank museum (2013 onwards) – The new three-tone camo the tank was painted in recently – no one knows really the reasoning behind this scheme, but it is the one that the tank is currently adorned in.
Here is the tank as it is now at Kubinka

By the nature of the experimental tank, there is a lot of “what if” going on here - This to me is as liberating as it is frustrating. You could make up your own scheme and you aren’t tied to being historically accurate.

And that is all we have inside the kit.

I love the weirdness of the subject and because I suppose I know it very well this kit is really appealing to me. It will also be appealing to those who want to build in 72nd scale, who like an easy construction with a lot of detail and a subject with no boundaries in the diorama choice. I can imagine, as could probably a lot of people reading this - a history that thank goodness never eventuated in a nuclear war scenario. It is more than great that we get to model this instead of living it!

Another great addition to their new 72nd scale series - takom are doing very well.

Adam Norenberg
Thanks to Takom for this kit to review.