by: Roman [ ]
I must admit I am not a big fan of post-WW2 Soviet/Russian equipment and all those T-55/62/64/72/90 were not in my field of interest. However, all the excitement that circulated about the new Russian weapons to be shown during the Victory Day parade in May 2015 got me in and I was curious to see what the Russian military industry has to offer. Days went by, new rumors, teaser pictures and finally the VD rehersals when T-14 were shown. I was surprised to say the least. How come they came out with something that different and modern? To be honest I was proud of the factory and their design bureau when Iíve seen the Armata and the T-15 IFV in their grace. Letís keep your political attitude towards Russia or Russian military aside, just enjoy the creation of engineers!
The hull looked super large in comparison to any previous Russian MBT and there is an explanation for that Ė all the crew are inside the hull, while the turret carries the weapons and equipment. Later on when the videos from inside the tank were shown on YouTube I was even more surprised by the amount of space for the crew and modern interior appearance - totally different from previous ďlack-of-spaceĒ Soviet tank designs.
And of course I did not expect to have a kit of T-14 Armata that quick on the market when suddenly Takom announced one. Now there will be a T-15 from another manufacturer and Iíve also seen Trumpeter working on another Armata kit. The more the betterÖNevertheless, the T-14 from Takom landed on my bench and here is what we get from that young but promising company.
The kit comes in a large cardboard box with boxart on the top and paint options on the sides. Some basic information is given here as well. Inside you will find a fifteen page assembly manual (A4 size), separate A4 painting guide (full colour), a PE fret, a decal sheet, 1 clear sprue for the visor blocks and other optics, 4 sprues with parts for hull and turret details, 7 sprues for road wheels and tracks, upper hull and lower hull halves, side skirts, top turret part and poly caps (6). What I like about the packaging here is that the sprues are placed into plastic bags that can be locked again (they have some sticky surface).
At first glance the quality of the surface details appears to be of a high quality with many features of the original tank beautifully captured. There are no moulding defects and the dry fitted hull looked good with side skirts. I was a bit frightened by the tracks but having built Takomís MARK IV with old 5-part-per-track-link tracks nothing can stop me now.
The assembly starts with attaching suspension arms to the lower hull tub. Here the first thing everybody would notice is the absence of any detail on the hull bottom. To my knowledge I havenít found any references for the bottom of the tank so letís say it was not possible for Takomís design team to rule that out. Otherwise everything is quite straightforward here. To make sure that the tank would have even wheels when finished I first inserted all swing arms into the openings and then started adding thin glue to fix them on site. I also slightly pressed on the hull part to see if they all touch the table surface and sit straight. There are 14 road wheels on the Armata and these are made of two halves with details on the outer surface of the parts. Care should be taken when removing the drive sprockets from the sprues as the plastic tends to get damaged a bit around the attachment point.
When the wheels are assembled we move on to the rear end of the hull where we attach the mud flaps, towing shackles, towing eyes, spare tracks , lights and towing cables. One might be disappointed by the absence of copper cables in the kit and I am sure this is something that would be later addressed by aftermarket companies. The clamps for towing cable are molded on the cable itself, something that could have been also moulded separately.
The tracks are made up from 2 parts each (track pad and a guide horn) and it takes considerable amount of time to remove both the track pads and the guide teeth from the sprues. The instructions recommend 95 tracks and there is no need for sag on the Armata, they look tight on the real thing. Here I made a deviation from the assembly sequence as I had no motivation to build the tracks and left it for final stage. There were some discussions here and there if one can use metal tracks from T-90 or T-80 on this tank. This is incorrect as although they have the same size as T-90 tracks they have a different track pad with holes for the installation of rubber pads. I am sure there will be a set of metal tracks from Masterclub or Friul in the near future to fix that issue (hopefully even with separate rubber pads similar to Chieftain tracks?).
The upper hull part is beautifully moulded with various panels, bolt details, reservoirs, hatches and so on. Here the front mud flaps are also added and so are the side skirts. Again as you can see from my build images that I left that unassembled as I think it is easier to first paint the tracks and wheels and then install side skirts.
On top of the hull there are a number of parts that have to be installed like visor ports, front LED lights and hatches. The latter have detail on both the inside and outside and can be positioned opened or closed depending on crew plans. The LED lights are made of clear plastic and there is a decal for them included. The engine deck is further detailed with brass meshes and one should pay attention to their orientation (parts TP2). They are later partially covered by part B8.
Now the only element left for the hull is the bar armour. The bar armour is made in 4 separate sections and here I have to admit that they look rather thick. For sure they could be replaced with PE later if such set would be available.
Having the hull finished one proceeds with the turret assembly. As everyone knows the T-14 turret is unpopulated and contains only armament and some other equipment. There are rumours and arguments that the panels that hide the gun are not final design. Time will tell of course, but for now we have to accept what has been shown by UVZ (Armataís manufacturer). A number of parts are installed from the inner surface of the upper turret half including several cameras and panels. The lower turret part gets its load of details together with the turret ring, Afghanit active protection system tubes and location for armament.
The gun barrel is made up from several parts and the main tube is made of two halves. Luckily it looks absolutely normal when assembled with no seams or gaps. The barrel tip is also made of two parts. The gun barrel is then installed into the mantlet and covered with some panels as well. Now it is time to glue it into the lower turret part. Here I noted that the gaps that might occur between the parts C33 and C25 are also present on the real vehicle. So donít be confused that you glued something wrong. Time to close the turret and add the final details to it: lifting hooks, sensors, aerial, grenade launchers and remote weapon station with the Kord MG. The rear end of the turret has some tools, convoy light and a basket with photoetched mesh. The build has finished and the model looks very attractive.
The painting options provided include one real example (Victory Day 2015) and 3 fictional based on painting schemes used by Russian military on expositions and other vehicles. Paint codes are limited to Ammo of Mig Jimenez, but it should not be a problem for an average modeller to find a suitable substitution from what is available around. The coloured paint guide is a good bonus and all projections are shown to ease the understanding of the colour scheme.
Overall I think this is a rather nice kit with no complicated assembly and pretty well represented details. Of course due to the short time after the showcase of the original vehicle and impossibility to measure the real example there are minor short comings here and there, but this is unavoidable. A new model of a unique Russian modern tank design, what else do you need?