by: Olivier Carneau [ ]
The T-80UM1 Bars has been publically presented in 1997. Basically, it can be described as a T-80U fitted with the active protection system Arena. This system is composed of a radar and a belt of explosives charges. When the radar detects an incoming missile, the data is passed to a computer that selects and launches the appropriate charge.
This conversion kit from SP Designs is cast in a pale yellow resin and is designed for any of the Skif T-80 kits since nearly only the chassis of the original kit is used.
The level of detail is very good to excellent. The quality of casting is also very good and shows the progress made by the Ukrainian manufacturer. The usual air bubbles are almost totally absent.
The set includes 121 pieces of resin issued in two resealable bags with the exception of the upper hull and the two turret halves.
The instructions appear as two A4 pages with the usual drawings and some photos including one showing the parts with their corresponding number. The drawings are not always clear enough to understand the position of the parts and the BW photos provide a little help.
Molded in one piece, it perfectly fits to the Skif hull thanks to the same positioning system. The rear deck complements the hull sub-assembly.
The details are very finely cast including many hoses running along the body. The reactive armor is also molded directly on the glacis. It is finely represented and only the front will require a light sanding.
The accessories, coming as separate parts, are the protection of the driver vision blocks, the headlights (without their protection), the towing hooks and the rear fuel tanks.
The side skirts are represented in three parts per side with the additional front and rear fenders. The front skirt is molded in one piece and depicts very well the flexible rubber plates.
This is the major change over previous SP Designs kits. The turret is molded in two parts which allows for a hollow turret, therefore lighter, and a few pieces for the interior.
As for the hull, the casting is very good and the level of detail often excellent. The reactive armor is molded directly on the roof as well as the laser detectors and a few other accessories.
SP has provided the positioning pins for baskets and other pieces. For added strength they are not resin, but are plastic rods. The large basket on the left is provided fully filled with equipment to facilitate the release.
The gunner hatch and the tank commander cupola are provided separately. The base of the cupola contains a series of bolts.
The Brod deep wading system is also provided in a block of resin with the brackets as separate pieces. The upper grille lacks finesse and the bravest can replace it with a piece of photoetched grille.
The Arena active protection system is, of course, the focus of this version. It includes the head with the warning detector and the crown of explosive charges. It comes in six main parts supplemented by a few separate blocks. The detail is good, for example the power cables are represented.
The head is divided into 6 parts with the mast, the hexagon head with a separate part for the top and various accessories such as the wind sensor.
The side sensors are very well represented, but SP has made a reversal in the numbers of parts 28 and 29. The photo of the real sensor in the instructions helps to identify the error.
The armament is a 125mm gun in three parts and a pintle mounted 12.7mm NSVT machine gun. The main tube is finely molded and the main problem will be to ensure a proper alignment of the parts.
The machine gun does not match the rest of the conversion. It seems that SP has taken the Skif kit one and slightly amended it. So it is too thick and lacks detail.
The interior of the turret includes a few pieces that enable you to leave the hatches open without necessarily having a crew to fill a big void. SP provides the periscopes and sights of the gunner and tank commander. Moreover, the imposing gun breech is provided. Its installation is facilitated by a flat on the part in contact with the turret. Unfortunately, no painting indication is given in the instructions.
SP has produced a very nice conversion which confirms the increase in the quality of its newer products. When we see what remains of the original Skif kit, we almost regret that SP did not provide the chassis, as much of it needs to be corrected such as the roadwheels and tracks.