In my last post I introduced the new T-64 project with its historical background. I also managed to build the main hull, together with the front glacis ERA panels and side skirts. This time I’ll finish the construction of the tank starting from the most complex part- the turret. Buckle up as there will be many ups and downs on this bumpy road.
If you missed the first part, use the link below to catch up:
I mentioned last time that I’m building a B1V variant of the T-64. The only major difference from the ordinary BV version is basically the lack of the 9K112 Kobra. It is an anti-tank missile system in which the round is fired from the main gun – a sophisticated design that made the T-64 tanks even more expensive.
To recreate the exterior of the B1V version, all you have to do is get rid of the Kobra antenna located in front of the cupola. I scratchbuilt the cover with sheet styrene and MasteClub bolts. This part is still available in the kit though.
Now we’re back to the ERA again… The bricks in front of the turret are attached to a line of mounting brackets. If you make a PE version, make sure to leave them movable as the angle needs to be adjusted to the turret’s curvature.
Oh, and you’ll need 15 of these brackets… Sweet…
I drilled some holes to make sure the connection with the plastic was as strong as possible. Voyager instruction doesn’t tell you how to position these parts exactly so I used my best judgement here.
After adding the attachment points, I painted the areas between them to make sure no bare plastic would be visible eventually.
I started to attach the brackets aaaand… It was a complete disaster. It turns out even a slight inconsistency between the lower and upper hooks throws all the layout off the window. And I’m talking about a margin of error way below 1 milimeter… Also, the whole construction was very fiddly so I was worried if it could endure all the upcoming stages.
So… If this project was meant to find my limitations, here’s one I guess…
Long story short, I got rid of all that mess and I returned to the plastic parts that weren’t that bad in the first place. Yup, that’s what I’m telling myself now…
Anyway, the rest of the ERA around the turret was quite easy to attach. And by ‘easy’ I mean hard as shit but without any unpleasant surprises. I used the same tricks as before- joining bricks in stacks and supporting them with styrene strips from below.
I put together the rear stowage really fast and I was very happy about the result. But then I realized that one of the pipes was way too long I planned to shorten it from the start…
So I had to remove the pipe, trim the sides and attach it to the stowage box once again.
A good 5mm needs to be cut out from each side to match the original.
The most complicated part are these metal straps. Each end of the strap is wrapped around a super tiny roller. And in every roller there is an even tinier hole.
You need to thread a wire through the holes and keep the rollers movable so that their position can be adjusted to the barrel. I found out that this ‘lasso’ thing is the easiest way to do it. Just fasten the strap when it’s in correct position, secure it with CA glue and finally trim the ends of the wire.
Here’s the barrel ready. Probably the hardest one I’ve built so far…
But we’re not done with the barrel, are we? I still need to recreate the holes torn in the thermal cover.
How to do it on a solid metal barrel? Let’s see.
You’ll need aluminium foil, a bit thicker than the one you usually use in your kitchen. You can buy it or just repurpose some household items. A good source of material are disposable cake pans.
I cut a piece of foil and I bent it around the hobby knife handle.
Then I carefully wrapped the foil around the selected section of the barrel and I fixed it with CA glue. Making the holes is probably the easiest part. You just have to make sure the places you want to work on aren’t glued to the base.
On one of my reference pictures I noticed an open stowage box. Originally it contained an AT-1 breathing apparatus.
I decided to make the box open as an additional detail.
The box in the kit actually has a separate lid but it looks thick and unrealistic. In fact, making a new lid from scratch seemed easier to me than correcting the one I had.
Once again a thick aluminium foil came in handy.
First I pressed a piece of the foil against the original part to get a rough shape of the lid.
Then I traced the shape of the edge with a ball pen.
Finally, I cut off the excess foil and the lid was ready. I also thinned down the walls of the box to bring them closer to the scale.
All the components I’ve worked on are now attached to the turret.
The only thing missing on the turret were the fasteners for the anti-radiation cladding. At first I didn’t plan to add the PA parts here but the surface did look a bit flat without them. So yeah… Another funny task to accomplish. I preferred not to count this time…
Let’s talk about the cupola for a second. Thanks to my friend Oleg, I was able to get a resin copy of the NSV machine gun. It’s a Live Resin release that looks much better than the kit part. I also added the wires for the electric trigger and the spotlight.
And with that the turret was ready.
Now there was only one thing left to do: the side ERA panels. And those actually ended up being the biggest challenge of the whole project.
The panels are pretty complicated to assemble and very, very fragile. At least if you’re using glue, not the soldering iron. I started with the frames that hold the ERA bricks. They were bent using a bending tool. It is one of these rare occassions when this thing is a real life-saver. I can’t image making these panels without it.
Then individual bricks are installed inside the panels. I was really happy to see everything fit nicely without problems.
This whole torture would be pointless if I didn’t do any harm to the bricks. I browsed through my reference photos to identify the most common kinds of damage.
Contrary to what you may think, the explosive material inside the bricks doesn’t detonate easily. So we can recreate some major cases of damage. A regular hobby knife is used to cut and bend the metal. An old airbrush needle is ideal for recreating bullet holes.
The ERA panels are attached to handles on the sides of the tank. To ensure easy positioning and durability I glued a tiny piece of styrene at the base of each handle.
Attaching the panels to handles was maybe the hardest and the most frustrating task in this whole project. At first I planned to install them after the rubber side skirts underneath had been painted. But considering how difficult the whole process was, I think it was a good decision to do it as soon as possible.
You have to be dead precise while positioning the handles. Also, all the parts crucial for the firm connection are extremely delicate. As if that wasn’t enough, Trumpeter’s kit and Voyager parts aren’t always compatible. So you have to do some late adjustments on the model which is extremely fragile in the first place!!!
Usually there are 7 panels on each side of a T-64 BV. Luckily, my version happens to have only 5.
I should also mention the tracks. I chose Friulmodel set and at this point it wasn’t much of a challenge to assemble it. The T-64 tracks are a sophisticated double pin design. Interestingly, Friulmodel provided angled links so you can wind them precisely around sprockets. Very good idea.
And that’s how finally… finally I can call the construction finished. It was without any doubt the most complex and difficult model I have ever built. I jumped head-first into this one with lots of ambition but I had to call myself defeated on some occasions. But it’s ok. It was still a lot of fun, but I must say, I need to stay far from ERA armour for a while…
Enjoy the photos of the finished model and see you in the next post where all this hard work will be wasted by some layers of paint.