by: Andras [ ]
The 44M Tas medium tank design was named after the grandson of Arpad, an important historical figure; he lead the Hungarian tribes into the Carpathian Basin. The vehicle’s development history goes back to the interwar period, when the Hungarian state undertook a massive rearmament project. The Versailles treaties forbade the country to posess an airforce or armored vehicles, but it was deemed essential due to the fact that the country was surrounded by hostile states (the so called “Little Antante”).
Battlefield experience made it very clear very quickly that the license-produced tank designs (Toldi and Turan and their different variants) were already obsolete when the war broke out, but the Germans refused to sell modern technology to their allies. This is how we arrive at the 44M; it was an attempt in 1943 to build a modern medium tank based on the Panther, using the experience gained with the Toldi and Turan tank designs. Like the Panther, the Tas featured sloped armor, a high velocity 75mm gun (the same gun that was fitted to the prototype Zrinyi I tank hunter), but unlike the Panther, it had two 260hp engines (the same engine the Turan used). The suspension was based on semi-elliptical springs, and not on torsion bars.
Only one prototype was partially finished by the Weiss Mainfred factory, but it was destroyed during an American air-raid in 1944. The Tas-based tank-hunter (Vadasz Tas) existed only as a plan, and was based on similar German designs. It featured a thicker (120mm) frontal plate, and a German 88mm KwK 43 L/71gun; the same gun as the JagdPanther had.
Length: 9,2 meters (8,66) 127.7mm
Width: 3,5 meters (3,27) 48.6mm
Height: 3 meters (2,99) 41.67mm
The models come in the typical Hunor Models sturdy box, packaged into ziplock bags, with a couple of packing peanuts thrown in. The Tas has 61 resin, and 10 PE parts, while the Tas Tank Hunter has 59 resin, and 10 PE parts. The quality of the resin is good; there are no bubbles, no flash, no surface imperfections, or warping. The gun barrels are provided as resin parts; they are straight, and perfectly acceptable (if you have experience with resin models, you probably know the dread of the bent/sagging resin guns). The overall detail is somewhat sparse, but to be perfectly honest, we are talking about an experimental vehicle (Tas), and a paper panzer (Tas Hunter), with nothing more than a couple of photos and some drawings available.
The photo etched parts are thin and well made; they are easy to work with. The instructions are computer generated, and most importantly, clear (with one exception; see later) this is also a pleasant surprise in the land of resin models.
The build is relatively straightforward, as there are very few parts for this kit. The lower hull is made out of three main parts: a short frontal, a short back panel, and the middle of the chassis. (It’s very different from what you usually see, where the lower hull is either made out of one part, or have to be assembled from several.) This poses a little challenge, as you have to make sure the ends of these three parts fit together – you really have to sand them flat. It’s also somewhat of a challenge to glue them together in a way that they line up perfectly. The bottom of the hull has tiny ridges; they might be leftovers from the 3D printing process with which the masters were created, and which were not smoothed away (as the bottom of a model will rarely be seen.) Should you want to picture an upturned vehicle, you will have to sand these down.
The road wheels are easy to clean off and easy to attach to the suspension arms. From the instructions it's not very clear where the little dampeners for the suspension should go. There is one on each side of the individual suspension units, but the exact location is not easy to figure out. The instructions might be computer generated plans, but they don’t offer much help on the exact location of the pins. (They will be hidden though, so it's probably best not to dwell on this matter much.)
The tracks are brilliant; they are pre-shaped, so all you have to do is paint them, detach them from their pouring blocks (working in this order makes handling them easier), glue the idler and the driver wheels into place, and then fix the whole contraption onto the chassis. The flexible “rubber type” tracks, individual links, link-and-length, PE tracks –they all have issues, and are quite fiddly. This solution made it really quick to install them. There’s one issue, though: there are no separate left and right handed tracks provided. I have to stress: it's not an accuracy issue. The tracks on the original vehicle were NOT left and right handed, like they were on the Tiger. The reason I’d like to see them provided left and right handed is that the pouring block attachment is always on the same side. This means that on one side of the tank you will get the nicely detailed sides of the track, while on the other you will see the cutting surface where they were attached to the pouring block. It’s not too noticeable, but I still would have preferred not to place the cut side of the tracks outside on one side.
There is also a slight change in construction when it comes to the mudguards. They are provided as simple PE strips. There is no patterning, and no pre-folding help present which would have helped with the placement of these parts. I followed the instructions, and glued them onto the upper hull, before I attached the two halves. After a little fitting I had to carefully pry them off the upper hull when I realized that they should not be glued into place until the two halves of the hull are united. There will be a small slit for the mudguards left between the two halves. Once the hull is dried, you will have to slide the mudguards into place, and mark where they need to be folded both front and back. (The fold on front part follows a bend on the hull.) Once you know where to fold, you have to take them out, make the fold, and then glue them in place. The other minor issue is the seam that is produced when you attach the upper hull to the lower hull; this will mean filling and sanding. Not a big deal, but I’d prefer not to use fillers. (One reason I like tanks better than airplanes…)
Other than that, the models have no surprises. The turret is a detailed, but simple business, the gun tube is well cast –you just have to glue everything in place, and you’re done.
You will find photos of the models taken before the weathering process has started; it will take some time to finish these kits, and I have decided to have the review published beforehand. Photos of the finished models will be posted in the forum when I’m done.
If you like rare vehicles, and paper panzers, these two models are for you. They are easy and fast builds; should be perfectly suitable for a beginner.
Caution about working with resin models: ALWAYS make sure you do not produce resin dust. The best way is to work with a wet saw and wet sandpaper; this way the dust is taken up by the water, and will not get airborne. Alternatively you can use a respirator, and plenty of ventilation, but always be considerate to others as well. Resin dust is really fine, it lingers in the air for a very long time, and it is toxic when inhaled.