T-62 Soviet Main Battle Tank (1974-1975)
Zvezda, 1/35 scale
Reviewed by Cookie Sewell
Building on their earlier T-62 Model 1962 kit, Zvezda has now moved on to offer one of the later variants of the tank, the Model 1972 with the added KTD-1 laser rangefinder added in 1974.
This variant took the original Model 1967 with a new engine deck more suitable for underwater river crossings and used a redesigned turret to mount a 12.7mm DShKM AAMG. While it had been felt unnecessary in the first tanks and was denied to the T-62 as it was considered a “tank destroyer”, the presence of attack helicopters called for its return. While the T-55 only needed a new cast loader’s cupola to mount the torelle mount for this weapon, adding in from 1969 onward, the T-62 needed a completely new turret design from NII-48 to fit this weapon so only got it three years later.
More than 19,000 T-62s of all types – of which only around 4,000 were Model 1972 tanks - were built by the Soviets, the Model 1972 was built under partial license in North Korea as the “Chon’-ma” series of tanks. They began to be sold abroad in 1969 after consideration of problems in the Middle East and fought with the Egyptians and Syrians in the Yom Kippur war. Today they are serving with more than 30 different countries.
Kit-wise the first kit of the T-62 Model 1972, came out from Tamiya in 1977 as a “T-62A” and in some circles was the “Kit of the Year” for being first. But upon closer examination and as plans and more photos appeared in the West, it turned out to be very poorly done and missing a lot of details and shapes, worst of all being the turret shape and the hull profile.
In 2009 Trumpeter released its first T-62 kit, which was a Model 1962; they later followed it with kits of a Model 1972 and a “Model 1984” (T-62M upgrade with appliqué armor). At first it appeared they corrected all of the flaws of the Tamiya kit, but unfortunately added new ones of their own. Worst were a skewed loader’s hatch on the Model 1962 and a totally wrong stern profile to the hull. Strike Two.
In 2021 Zvezda released a new kit of the Model 1962 and now in 2023 it has followed it up with the expected Model; 1972. Like the Model 1962, it is by far the best and most accurate kit of the vehicle extant. Apparently based on a thorough examination of an example at the Vadim Zadorozhniy Vehicle Museum in Krasnogorsk, it corrects all of the previous flaws of the other kits. The turret has the correct profile and and the new loader’s cupola mount, and the hull now sports the proper -4 degree droop and the 86 degree fit of the rear hull plate to it (forming a 90 degree angle where they join, not 90 degrees to the ground). It also provides the proper three-section new version OPVT fording snorkel which is carried on the turret. Options include open or closed searchlights for the tank and the commander, and also open or closed fording hatches for the radiator air intake and exhaust at the rear of the hull.
Well-known Russian expert “Gur Khan” (Aleksey Kholpotov) reviewed the first kit and was not as kind as one would have thought he would be, but then again keep in mind that he a) has access to the factory and also their blueprints and b) looks at the model from an engineering standpoint, not a model producing and building one.
Zvezda has once again produced a state-of-the-art kit and actually did it in 100 less parts than Trumpeter, also without any etched brass or wire. The hull is broken down into six parts; belly pan, sides, foredeck and glacis, engine deck, and stern plate. Molding is crisp and while Gur Khan noted some missing details on the suspension mounts, most modelers will build the kit with its wheels in place so missing details there are not visible.
It posits two build options – one with the underwater hatch seals open and one with them closed, but an erected snorkel is not included.
The turret replicates the bulge of the original at the front by having an insert section that fits in the front for mounting the main gun. This was one of the bigger failings of the Tamiya kit and one that put after market producers like Chesapeake Model Designs, who for many years had the best and most accurate T-62 turrets.
Construction of the kit starts with the turret (!). The barrel is two-piece styrene with an add-on bolt ring for the front of the bore evacuator, but with a Flex-I-File that should not be a major problem for most modelers. It comes with a few options such as either the open or covered machine gun barrel and sight port on the front of the turret. Hatches may be open or closed but there is no interior in the turret. The laser rangefinder consists of six parts but is not able to be shown with the cover open in the operating position.
The kit also provides the “brezent” canvas covering tarp in its stowed position at the rear of the turret; this is another option. This is recommended for the underwater driving mode (Variant 2).
The fenders come with separate braces and four-piece fuel tanks but as noted you will still need to come up with your own fuel lines from soft wire.
The engine deck replicates the T-62 Model 1967 style with the new design and covers for the air intakes as well as the exhausts at the rear of the hull. While no etched brass grilles are included the molded ones are fine enough and will look good with washes and dry brushing.
The suspension consists of three-piece road wheel arms and two-piece road wheel sets with shock absorber arms for the 1st and 5th road wheel arms. Larger wheel bearings are provided for those road wheel sets as well. The tracks come with sag molded into the top runs (three pieces – D1, D2 and D13) with single link wraps for the drivers and idlers. As noted these are RMSh type with engagement pins on the ends for the driver teeth.
The remaining details are petite and nicely done. The unditching log (part F68) is smooth and will need “roughing up” to look like wood. Auxiliary fuel tanks are four parts so some filing and matching will be needed for best appearance. Tow cables come premolded but thus far my experience with these is they fit fine if you follow the kit directions.
The DShKM machine gun consists of 17 part sand includes a section of rounds feeding into the gun. There is no option to show the AA sight in the operating mode.
Again, for finishing directions, you are literally pretty much on your own! Protective Green is the base color(they recommend Tamiya XF61 for that ). A large number jungle for the tank and a smaller one for the auxiliary fuel tanks (apparently “midnight requisitioning” existed in the Soviet Red Army too) is provided. For general purpose use, the “Cliff’s Notes” version of markings for a Soviet tank division is three digit numbers; 1, 3 and 5 are for the tank regiments in a tank division, and 8 is usually for the battalion attached to the motorized rifle regiment. Tanks usually run 10 to a company with 0 being the commander and 1, 4, and 7 the platoon leaders (e.g. 110, 111, 112, 140, 141, 142, 371, 372, 373, 580, 587, 588, 589 as examples). There are a wide variety of aftermarket sheets with specific markings and unit insignia available as well as those for foreign users.
Once more they say that third time is the charm and so far this looks to be the lucky winner. It is likely that they too will eventually release a T-62M kit in the future. As of now, you can use the Model 1962 turret and Model 1972 hull to make a Model 1967 version with a few odds and ends to be swapped out.
Note: This kit is so as I know not yet available in the US (and the current political shenanigans still are not speeding up shipping of larger shipments). I got this one from Exito model shop in Krakow, Poland, and it arrived in less than two weeks. Price was 165.65 Polish Zlotys with another 51.25 for postage, which worked out to a bit over US$57 at the current exchange rate.