STZ built tanks included three different upper hull front plates: early drivers hatch with three periscopes, later drivers hatch with two periscopes and this same plate with appliqué armor. There were two types of gun mantlet that include the more usual front armor that is part vertical and part angled and the distinctive angled front armor, sometimes referred to as the "chisel nose mantlet". Both the steel disc rubber tired wheels and the all steel wheels were used on STZ built tanks. Perhaps the most unusual version produced by STZ was the small run of 57mm ZIS 4 armed tanks. There were other detail changes to add to these more obvious differences.
Probably the most distinct feature of STZ built vehicles was the interlocked
hull plates and turret plates. There are reasons given for this including the
need for strong construction, the need to help overcome bad welding and the
simplification of setting up the plates prior to welding. We do not have any
surviving documents and unfortunately there are no surviving STZ built tanks
to use for reference
There appear to be at least 3 distinct versions of the upper hull plate or glacis. The first version has the early glacis with a single periscope on the drivers hatch and two angled periscopes. The second version has the later type driver’s hatch with two periscopes. The third version has appliqué armor added to the upper hull glacis plate and lower hull front plate with the later type driver’s hatch. All three versions have the so called "hammerhead" towing brackets bolted onto the glacis.
All three versions lack the additional armor added to protect the front opening of the glacis machine gun. All three versions have rectangular hatch on the upper hull rear plate. Three basic turrets were used. The first version turret was welded and had the small rear turret flat panel with integral push out pistol port. The second version turret had the full width flat panel including the integral push out pistol port. The third turret version was cast and did not appear to have the pistol port in the rear. Two different turret top hatches were used and there is some variation in the periscope arrangements.
The air intake grills on the top and sides of the forward engine compartment were made from horizontal rods and not vertical flat pieces. Two basic types of gun mantle were used. The first type was the angled and vertical front plate. The second type was the angled front plate. Sub-variations also were built.
The Update Set:
This update set of the Model 41 STZ T-34 is designed for the Dragon T-34 Model 1941 kit #6205 and consists of 31 cleanly cast parts in light cream resin and a turned metal barrel plus extensive instruction sheets.
The quality of the casting is excellent without any air holes or other blemishes with the most notable thing being the almost total lack of casting blocks on the parts.
This makes cleanup very easy but there is some minor excess resin ‘film’ or small ‘bumps’ along the edges of the parts to be removed either with a pass of the trusty X-Acto #11 of by light sanding and this is a lot easier than removing the large casting block on many resin sets. Parts such as the hatches have small casting blocks present but these are also much smaller than the usual and very easy to remove.
The parts included in the set is the full turret which is cast hollow with a separate lower turret ring and features excellent surface cast texture and details of weld seams, bolt heads and upper hinge details. Separate parts to be added are the periscopes, top ventilator and upper visor covers with the Dragon kit lifting eyes used.
The mantlet is the distinctive pointed STZ type with more excellent weld seams and bolt head details and the nicely turned aluminium barrel that fits snugly into the mantlet opening. The barrel is hollowed out at the muzzle but doesn’t have rifling while there are replacement internal gun mounts to fit the inner mantlet mount allowing the gun to elevate.
The two different hatch designs are included and are cast quite thin with nice details inside and out including the inside lip but the small internal fitting at the rear of the hatch is a little to far back to allow a good sit of the hatch in the closed position. This will need to be removed if the hatch is shown closed but if shown open is not an issue and other than that the fit is very good.
The new parts provided for the hull include two glacis plates, one ‘plain’ with the interlocking welds and the other with appliqué armour also with the interlocking welds and these replace the Dragon kit part but there is some minor alterations needed to the Dragon kit to incorporate the interlocking plate details with the instructions showing what is needed for this.
A new driver’s hatch with twin periscopes and interior detail is also provided that can be positioned open or closed as well as new later style towing brackets.
A new lower front hull panel is provided with added armour to use as required and this features nice weld seams around the edges where the added armour is attached as does the upper glacis plate. New rounded fenders are also included and these are cast extremely thin with raised details to replace the kit fenders while the parts from the Dragon kit used are the machine gun coaming and head light.
At the rear is a new lower hull plate with the later style towing brackets that again has excellent weld seams on the final drive join and this part simply replaces the kit part. The upper rear hull plate is also provided with the interlocking plate welds and square inspection hatch and this again replaces the kit part as well as minor alterations to the kit to depict the interlocking plates. The upper square engine inspection hatch is also provided to use as required as well as the new engine intake grills with the correct grill pattern for the STZ vehicles and again these simply replace the kit parts.
The fit of the new resin parts to the Dragon kit is excellent once the alterations for the interlocking plates have been incorporated and this makes the conversion/update job much easier.
The instruction sheets are very comprehensive and give a detailed historical background of the STZ T-34s as well as detailed construction notes on fitting the resin parts and the alterations needed on the Dragon kit for the interlocking plates.
These alterations should be within the capabilities on most modellers especially those who would buy this update set in the first place.
To supplement the text notes are exploded view drawings of the hull and turret construction making the assembly more clear and also included is a numbered image of all the resin parts and parts list to make the part identification easy.
As with any update set careful study of the instructions and text fitting is the order of the day to reduce any potential problems.
A nicely detailed and researched update set with well cast parts that while requiring some alterations to the target kit shouldn’t present any problems during assembly.
The good fit of the resin parts to the Dragon kit lessens any pain to make a quite different version of the T-34.
Thanks to Bill from Chesapeake Model Designs for the review kit and check the CMD website for details on this and other sets available.
Page created 2 July 2005