Saturday, October 9

Build Review Pt II: 1/48th scale T-90A & GAZ-233014 “Tiger” - Today the T90A

Today, Paul Lee gives us the second part of his build of the Suyata 48th scale T-90A & GAZ-233014 “Tiger” kit with the T90A part of the dual boxing. See how he builds, paints & finishes the kit in part II of his story...
Build Review Pt I: T-90A & GAZ-233014 “TIGER”
Manufacturer: Suyata
1/48th scale
Type: Polystyrene, and waterslide decals multimedia Kit
Price: $36USD from Hobbylink Japan
Suyata's facebook page
Today - Pt II: T90A Main Battle Tank.
To properly give both of these two kits their own airtime and not confuse readers by chopping and changing between builds we broke the dual boxing into a two-part story. Today Paul completes the duo with this, the 48th scale T-90A Main Battle Tank.

A look inside the box with the two kits inside...
The Subject: T90A Main Battle Tank
The main battle tank T-90 was developed in the early 90-ties by the Uralvagonzavod plant design bureau (leading designer V.Potkin). Since 1997 its export modification T-90S has been offered in the world's military markets. In "Military Ordnance" magazine opinion T-90S took 7-th place in the world best main battle tanks rating in 1998.
The T-90A main battle tank's construction embodies the best main battle tank T-72B and T-80U design solutions and the best layout and structural features. From T-72B it received its reliable chassis, from the T-80U the turret with armament and fire control systems. The main battle tank has a classic arrangement, with rear placed engine and transmission. Tanks crew consists of commander, gunner and driver-mechanic.
The driver is placed in the hull's front part under his hatch in a separate driving compartment. He is fitted with a wide view optical system. Tank's commander and gunner are placed in rotating armoured turret, in combat compartment. Commander is placed right from the main gun and the gunner on the left.
T-90As entered service in 2005, replacing the aging T-72s and T-80s and forming the backbone of Russian ground forces. The T-90A has been developed on the basis of thorough investigation and interpretation of tactics and strategy of using tanks in specific present-day combat conditions, considering long army service experience ol the T-72 tanks in many countries of the world and taking into account the results of the perennial arduous field tests. 
The advanced design solutions and cutting-edge technologies implemented in the T-90A MBT have opened up opportunities for the military to plan effective operations, enhanced reliability and agility of tanks and made it possible to improve their operational and performance characteristics by a factor of 1.5. compared with T-72S. Though new units and systems, which improve T-90A combat and operational characteristics, have been incorporated, the tank overall dimensions remain as those of the T-72C tank. Only it has become heavier by 2 tons, but the tank is still lighter by 9 t than French MBT Leclerc by 16 t than American Abrams M1A2 Abrams and German Leopard-2A6.
The T-90 has is at the moment, the last of the Russian tanks based on the T-72 hull, but has a new welded turret instead of the characteristic mushroom dome turret. Now I’m a sucker for Russian armour, particularly modern Russian tanks with all that ERA just gives them an imposing look to me as opposed to the relatively minimalistic looking Western tanks. 

T90A in 48th scale - The build:
Construction starts with the lower hull which comes moulded in the usual tub with details to be attached to the outside. The suspension arms are keyed to fit into their respective holes, but there was still some wiggle room in the arms so check the fit before the glue is fully cured. The same can be said of the rear-drive sprocket which has a centre disc sandwiched in between the inner and outer faces, so make sure the teeth are properly aligned to avoid any issues when you fit the tracks. The wheels and idlers were simple enough and provided no problems at all.
The instructions then tell you to install the tracks next, which you have to follow because the sideskirts come moulded in place on the upper hull. With this in mind, I made my life a bit easier by painting the lower hull and wheels with Mig’s Dark Russian Base. I painted the tyres in black as well as the tracks before I attached them. I did have some problems attaching the tracks over the drive sprockets but that was more due to me not having the teeth properly aligned.
The upper hull comes as another tub with the sideskirts moulded in place, although I think they are better off moulded separately so you can attach the tracks later on, but it’s not a major deal-breaker. The headlight guards are probably a bit on the chunky side, and a bit fiddly to put together, but that’s about the best that can be done in styrene without going into photo-etch. The instructions warn you to make sure the three rectangular plates on the sideskirts are staggered in height, but are a bit vague on how they are attached to the sideskirts, with what appears to be five mounts used to mount the three plates. There is a sixth mount moulded a bit further back, but it is too far back to mount the third plate on.
The turret with all the ERA and various vision devices and other equipment is truly a thing of beauty with the fit of all the various parts being close to perfect. The Shtora protection system are the two boxes mounted on either side of the main gun, often seen in photos as the glowing orange “eyes”, however, Suyata only gives you styrene parts for the lens’ so active Shtora will be quite a challenge to paint if that is the look you are after. The same applies to the various optical devices on the turret, and clear parts would have been the simple answer. The Shtora mounts are quite fiddly so take care with alignment, and the maze of arrows on the instructions on to install them on their mounts takes some deciphering and a bit of trial and error. 
The fuel drums were the last sub-assembly I did and were no problems at all, before bringing all the major components together and ready for final painting with some black pre-shading. There are five marking options provided in the kit, with two camouflaged options in Syrian and Azerbaijani service which do not use any decals. The other three options are all over green, one Syrian, and the other two Russian parade vehicles, and it was the two parade vehicles that really caught my eye, particularly the one with the Guards badge on the turret. 
A colour dilemma...
Little did I know that a simple green scheme would cause me such headaches…. All my own making of course. It all started when I decided to use a colour based on its name rather than following the kit instructions. Real Colours Modern Russian Green… What could go wrong? Except that the green turned out way too bright. So back to the kit instructions it was and Ammo’s 0053 Protective NC 1200, however even that colour recommendation looked a bit too blue/grey to me as you can see here. Now it is possible that the Protective 1200 was affected by the colour underneath, but spraying some on a bit of sprue, I still thought was a bit on the blue-grey side, so I wasn’t convinced by the colour recommendation. 
Scratching my head at what to do next, I decided to go to a favourite of mine, Mig Ammo 0083 Zashchitniy Zaleno and fairly happy with how it turned out, so on went the decals, which was a very quick job since it was just two Guards emblems, and two turret numbers. 
Now being a parade vehicle, this is probably where I should have ended the build since they would have been spotless but sometimes old habits die hard, and after giving the model a pin wash to bring out the details, and then an all-over wash to bring it all together, the tank just didn’t look as pristine as it should have, so I had no choice but to weather it further, but limited myself to a layer of dust to look like a good week’s worth of driving. 

Here it is completed...
Despite my misadventures with the paint, I thoroughly enjoyed this build. My only reservation with this kit is the sideskirts being moulded onto the upper hull, but that is my personal preference and not necessarily a fault of the kit. Despite this, the kit certainly hits that home run in terms of fit and the ease that everything goes together.
Highly recommended

Paul Lee

Thanks to Suyata for sending this kit to build and review