T-90MS Main Battle Tank
Modelcollect, 1/72 scale
Reviewed by Cookie Sewell
While the T-90 series tanks have been around for over 30 years now (!), they have not seen as wide acceptance as the previous lines of Soviet tanks. The Russians themselves have only produced around 800 for their own use whereas India has purchased more than a thousand.
The T-90MS variant was a new model aimed at solving one of the major problems with the family: ammunition stowage inside the hull and turret and the vulnerability of the tank to detonate if any of the stored items were hit by a penetration of the turret or hull. While the 22 rounds in the tank’s autoloader system were generally safe, the other 23 rounds stowed in the hull and turret had their propellant charges exposed and if ignited the whole shebang went up at once, creating the term “to lollipop” as the turrets tended to end up barrel down.
This tank moved the spare ammunition to an armored container in the bustle with a firewall and blowoff panels to prevent that from happening if hit; while inaccessible from the inside of the tank it did mean that if used properly the crew would be safe. Most western tanks had moved to such arrangements (while keeping access from inside the turret) starting in the early 1980s so this was a game of “catch-up” for the Russians. Numbers so far would indicate only about 100 may have been built thus far, but older T-72B or T-80 tanks could be rebuilt to this standard.
The tank also included some new features such as a remote control 7.62mm machine gun and commander’s thermal viewer at the rear of the turret and a new camming autoloader that can use longer APFSDS rounds with greater penetration capability. This works by lifting up the front of the cassette when loading and then coming parallel with the breech when the projectile comes in line with the chamber, thus letting it slide into the breech.
Modelcollect is another Chinese company but one that specializes in 1.72 scale armor kits. While this kit is actually 11 years old (copyright 2012) they are not as easy to find as other companies products on the open market.
The kit is a cleanly molded and neat model of the tank with a number of interchangeable parts for other T-72 or T-90 variants, such as either eight- or six-bolt wheels, standard T-72 style skirts or T-90 reactive armor skirts, several options for smoke grenade launchers, and other options. It comes with vinyl UMSh universal twin-pin tracks, made from a cementable vinyl and packed in a clear plastic case to prevent twisting.
The model has a cast metal lower hull pan packed in bubble wrap to prevent damage to the sprues. It comes pre-primed.
Assembly is straightforward but starts with the turret. The complete turret consists of a top and bottom; the reactive armor elements are all molded in place, which some modelers may not prefer. The gun has a slide molded muzzle and a simple mantlet that permits elevation. The 7.62mm machine gun does not move in its mounting which constitutes four parts plus the two –part viewer base.
The hatches are separate and may be posed open or closed, and bespoke smoke grenade launchers are provided. The grille armor for the sides and turret rear is as thin as possible, but some modelers may wish it had been provided in etched brass.
Hull assembly starts in Step 5 with the glacis and APU unit as well as the exhaust. As this tank appears to have the V-92S2 “sil’fon” exhaust it has a new unit for that as well.
The rest is pretty much armor model “boilerplate” – upper hull, wheels, rear plate, fuel drums and tracks.
Only one finishing option is provided, and that is for a two-tone brown and sand paint scheme from a show at Nizhniy Tagil in 2012. Decals are provided for a number of options, but right now most modelers would probably prefer one for the Ukraine war with “Z” markings and an overall dark green scheme.
Overall this is not a bad little kit and a wealth of finishing ideas are currently available on the Internet.