Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Second World War Russian armour in 20mm

Most of my Second World War 20mm collection for the European theatre focusses on the later stages of the war from late 1942 onwards and so that's reflected in the models and figures I own. The Russians are no different and though I do have a few of their earlier tanks, like this BT-7 in the picture below, for this post I'll focus on those that are likely to be seen in the later stages of the war.

In which case I suppose any talk of Russian tanks might as well start with the ubiquitous T-34. If you only ever have one Russian tank in your collection you probably can't go far wrong with one of these. The set from the Plastic Soldier Company includes three models but has two sets of turrets for each body so that you can make up the earlier T-34 with the 76mm gun or the later models with the 85mm gun. This is extremely handy, as in effect the set gives you six possible tank options. With that in mind I made up turrets for both models and can interchange them as I need.

Here's the 76mm version with a crew figure from AB.


While I have seen several of the later T34/85s, the earlier T34/76 are harder to come across. The one below is at the Musee des Blindes in Saumur.



Here is the later T34/85 version. Once again the crew figure is from AB.

There are plenty of these to be found in museums given they were still produced after the war and were used in the Arab/Israeli Wars, Korea and Vietnam, amongst others.

This one is in the Military Museum in Beijing.



This one below, a gift from the Soviet Union to Australia to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the end of the war, is in the Army Museum in Bandiana, Australia.



Here's another on display in the Imperial War Museum, London.


And one at the Tank Museum, Bovington in England.


Last, but not least, there is also one in the impressive collection of the Canadian War Museum


I had an unmade kit of the old 1/76 Airfix version of the T34 and thought it would make the good base for a model of a wreck. It could be used as scatter terrain or in a campaign if we replay over a table where a tank has been destroyed. I scratch built the interior and you can follow that build in more detail in this post.

The KV1 was designed and manufactured around the same period as the T-34 and competed to be the main battle tank of the Red Army. Like the T-34 it carried the 76mm gun and had similar armour. It suffered from early mechanical issues and performance, although these were later resolved. The design was eventually dropped when the T-34 proved to be capable of doing all that the KV-1 could do but could be produced faster and cheaper. The KV design was not totally redundant and the chassis went on to be used for the later IS tanks.

This is the version from Pegasus Hobbies and much like the T-34 from PSC the set of two vehicles come with two variants of the turret. As both carry the 76mm gun these simply offer you variations on a theme. The crew figures are all from AB.




The tank museum at Bovington has one in almost perfect condition. It was sent to the UK during the war as an example of Russian tank design and has never seen service.


On the other hand this one at the tank museum at Saumur has seen much better days and the museum has chosen to display it in an appropriate setting.


The Russians used the KV chassis to mount a 152mm artillery gun in a large, slab sided turret to produce the KV2, a striking looking AFV that saw service in the early stages of the war in the East but had ceased manufacture by 1943. This is a plastic kit from Trumpeter. I'm not sure why but there's something I find attractive about the way it looks, perhaps because it is so menacing.

As mentioned, the IS series of tanks were based on the KV chassis and the IS-2 was to play a major role in the later stages of the war. With a powerful 122mm gun it was equipped as much to deal with German armour as it was to blast infantry out of defensive positions. This is a plastic kit from S-models with a crew figures from AB. I'm very impressed with the S-models kits, they strike a good balance between a quick build for gaming with a level of detail you might expect from a display model.


The Russians produced a number of light tanks that were built in automotive factories, the most common being the T-70, a diminutive tank when compared to the others. As the war progressed it suffered from the relatively ineffectual 45mm gun and its small size. In the end the Russians preferred to use lend-lease tanks to fulfil the light tank role rather than focus on developing a version of their own, with the British Valentine being particularly well liked. This T-70 is from the PSC plastic set and has a crew member from AB.


 

While the T-70 may not have been a huge success the modifications made to the chassis to lengthen it and add an extra road wheel formed the basis for the SU-76, a self propelled version of the Zis-3 gun that was designed as an infantry regiment support asset. These were produced in very large numbers, second only to the T-34, and provided infantry regiments with considerable additional mobile fire support as the war progressed. This is the plastic kit from UM Models out of Ukraine.


The T34 chassis was adapted to house a range of self propelled guns and tank destroyers. The SU-85 mounted the same 85mm gun as the T34/85. This kit is another from S-models.


The closest I've come to seeing a Russian self propelled gun is this SU-100 in Saumur. As with the SU-85 this uses the T34 chassis but in this case it has been adapted to carry the more powerful 100mm gun.


Where as the SU-85 and SU-100 were designed for an anti-tank role, the SU-122 housed a 122mm gun protected by sloped armour enabling it to provide powerful close range HE support or operate in a more stand-off artillery role. This is a plastic kit, also from UM Models, who make an excellent and extremely wide range of Soviet AFVs and vehicles.


The closest I have come to seeing one of these is this 122mm howitzer at the Cambodian War Museum, it's the same gun that was mounted in the the adapted T-34 chassis to make the SU-122. 


As the war in the East progressed the Germans resorted to creating fortress (festung) cities and the  Russians were confronted with defenders in reinforced urban positions. That required powerful close range HE support for the infantry calling for self propelled guns that not only carried a heavy gun but with thick enough armour to handle German anti-tank weapons.

The SU-152 used the KV chassis to carry a 152mm howitzer. I can't recall who makes this plastic kit, it might be Pegasus Hobbies.


Last, but not least, I have a BA-64 armoured car. These were produced in large numbers and this is a resin kit from the Milicast range with a crew member from AB.

I’m in the process of putting together a number of kits covering several of the British and US lend lease tanks and vehicles. I’ll combine them in a separate post that will include a few of the early war vehicles in the collection like this BA6 armoured car below from Pegasus Hobbies.


20 comments:

  1. A fine run through of Soviet vehicles also showcasing your equally fine collection.

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    1. Thanks Phil - even more in the paint queue (although not sure that’s really a good thing!j

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  2. The items in your collection provide a good look at vehicles from the Soviet forces in Ww2. The added benefit of good looking models is a treat.

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  3. Lovely models. I have a great liking for WW2 Soviet tanks. I am currently working on a 15mm Soviet project for Chain of Command.

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    1. Thanks Carole, yes, just saw your recent post on FB, nice work!

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  4. Thanks, I am just building some, so will return here as an inspiring source of reference - thank you.

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  5. An impressive array of model tanks and photos - the Saumur photo of the T34/76 really brings out how small and cramped the turret is even for just two men. The early T34s were plagued with poor ergonomics, bad optics, and no radio that made them far less effective than the gun - armour - mobility triad would suggest.

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    1. Yeah, I was surprised at that too. Although when it was designed the two man turret was a common feature in most tanks I suppose, On the upside the design had the ability to be improved rather than scrapped which allowed them to improve it. At least they had a good combo on the gun/armour/mobility triad to work from.

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  6. Very cool. More cringe worthy green. I always liked the IS2. Just looks like a beast of a tank. 😀

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    1. Thanks Stew and sorry to inflict that green on you again (…..haven’t you got kids you should be attending to right now? 😉). Agree on the IS2, that 122mm gun is a monster.

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  7. A great collection. I always liked the KV2, with that huge 152mm 'Sod off!' gun.

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    1. Thanks AJ, yes, there’s something almost sci-fi about it. I was never a WH40k player, but I suspect it wouldn’t look out of place there, painted in one of the faction’s funky colours.

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  8. Very cool collection, and a useful post. Do you have a preferred green paint to use to get the right colour?

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    1. Thanks. I’ve settled on Mr Hobby Russian Green (2) as the base colour, it’s a lacquer paint that I shoot through an airbrush.

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    2. Thanks - I'll check that one out. I've used a few Mr. Hobby products and they're pretty good.

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  9. Fab. I do like the Pegasus KV models, especially as you get all the options in one box. I made mine for WAT and they've been great fun, although not nearly as well painted as yours.

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  10. An excellent thread! A good run through through most of the LW soviet arsenal topped off with excellent pictures from your collection. A question on the UM Models, if I may? I‘ve got their BA-6 and it was rather… shite. Brittle plastic and you’ve got to dream up where to put each part yourself. I mean there were instructions included, but there was no lug or so for where exactly the doors should go for example.
    So, may this have been an older kit and I should give them another chance? I quite fancy a SU-76M and yours does look the part

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    1. Sorry for the slow response. Yeah, UM does have some of those issue and can be a bit fiddly at times, some kits are better than others but I’ve always found they look good in the end. I made the SU-76 before PSC released theirs. I haven’t seen one to make a direct comparison but they’d certainly be easier and quicker to make than UM (and more robust). That said some of the PSC kits have very chunky and exaggerated features, not sure if the SU-76 is any better or worse than their previous offerings.

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