Amongst all of the Soviet Unionís weird and wonderful military designs during the Cold War (go Google Bartini VVA-14), the Objekt 279 must rate as one of the strangest and most fascinating of armour prototypes.
Designed as a heavy breakthrough tank capable of operating on a nuclear battlefield, and surviving the shockwave of a nuclear blast, the Objekt 279 was a fairly impressive creation. Unfortunately it suffered from being designed right at the time when Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev was looking to abandon heavy tank procurement for the army in favour of lighter tanks, or indeed his own pet interest: missile armed tanks. Thus the 279 never made it past prototype stage, with a surviving example now residing in the Kubinka Tank Museum
Produced by the Kirov Plant in Leningrad the Object 279 was designed for a high degree of mobility across terrain otherwise inaccessible to other vehicles. The unique four-track running gear and hydro pneumatic suspension enabled effective movement over swampy and uneven terrain, as well as overcoming anti-tank obstacles.
The unique shape of the hull, being of a semi-cast construction with thick heavy armour and additional sloped armour plating, helped protect the tank against shaped charges, as well as preventing the tank from flipping in the event of a nuclear shockwave. Armament came in the form of a stabilized M-65 130mm rifled main gun, complete with semi-autoloader and KPVT coaxial machine gun.
Packaged in a stout cardboard box with some imposing artwork of the tank bearing down on the viewer, the kit consists of the following:
- 11 sprues of black styrene
- 1 figure sprue in green styrene
- 1 single piece upper hull
- 1 single piece lower hull
- 1 clear sprue
- 1 black -coated photo-etch fret
- 1 piece of metallic tow cable
- 1 small decal sheet with numeric markings for one tank
- A black and white instruction booklet
There are just over 650 parts moulded in black and green (the figure) styrene, and laid out on the sprues as follows:
- Sprue Ax2: Suspension and running gear parts
- Sprue Bx6: Individual link tracks
- Sprue Cx2: Upper and lower turret halves and fittings
- Sprue D: Upper hull detailing and two part gun barrel
- Sprue E: Soviet soldier in NBC clothing
- Sprue F: 2 clear headlight lenses
Additionally there are 25 photo-etch parts on a black-coated photo etch fret, providing mesh screens and some finer detailing parts.
Upon opening the box one is met by a bundle of sprues moulded in a very dark, almost black colour, thankfully they ditched the horrible red of their FT-17 release. Initial inspection reveals quite a high quality of production that I would place on par in terms of finesse with say modern Trumpeter or HobbyBoss. Iím not a massive fan of the black styrene as it does feel a little brittle and rough to clean up and there is still quite a bit of mould release agent present on the sprues in my sample, which will need to be cleaned. The sprue attachment points are quite chunky in places and some of the smaller fittings such as tie down loops will need careful removal so as not to compromise the detail.
By far the biggest headache for most people choosing this kit will be the single link tracks. Unfortunately all 360 of them are moulded on sprues, with each link having four attachment points of a medium thickness. Removing and cleaning these will be very tedious, with the tedium increased by the presence of a small mould circle on the inside face which will need to be carved away.
As is fairly standard, construction begins with the running gear and the Objekt 279ís rather unique suspension layout. The hydro pneumatic suspension arms mount onto the longitudinal beams, with the option of either mounting the suspension arms in the raised or lowered position (a painting option being provided for the Kubinka example whose suspension has collapsed). The texturing on the longitudinal beams is very smooth, and actually these parts have the most release agent present. In reality all of these parts seem to feature quite prominent and rough welding, which could do with being added. The all steel road wheels are nice and simple and overall it looks like the running gear, sans tracks, should go together with ease (thereís only really four very straight forward steps in the instructions).
As mentioned already the tracks will likely be for most the worst aspect of this kit. The actual quality of their moulding and detail is fairly ok, although not perfect, but the clean-up and construction will not be enjoyable. I made some initial attempts at removing a couple of links from the sprues and actually found it quite difficult to remove them without breaking them, so would suggest not using clippers but instead just carefully cutting each attachment point with a sharp blade. Hopefully somebody like Friul will release metal tracks to replace the kit items.
The strange, almost turtle shell, shape of the tanks hull is undoubtedly the most interesting feature of this vehicle and makes it fairly unique as an armour subject. Takom
has moulded the hull as a two-part affair, which upon initial dry fitting fits together very well.
The overall shape appears to be relatively faithful to the real thing; however I do have some concerns about a few areas and their accuracy. The shape of the front nose seems to angle downwards more on the actual tank, and the Ďhumpí on the front glacis perhaps shouldnít be so pronounced. The sides of the hull also have some prominent riding, which are presented as stepped on the Takom
kit, but judging from reference photos isnít 100% correct. The actual area where the hull halves join will need some filling and to be roughed up somewhat as the real tank seems to have a bumpy and fairly crude weld running around the centre join. Finally the rear of the turret ring splashguard is shaped incorrectly at the rear. This is the area where the engine screens touch against the turret ring area and on the Takom
kit the guard stops abruptly and with a flat face, whereas on the real tank the guard ring just gradually extends onto the rear deck. Itís quite hard to explain in words, however hopefully my photos illustrate the problems when compared to reference photos of the real vehicle.
Onto the hull are added numerous additional fittings and details such as the rear fuel tanks, pioneer tools, headlights etc. The majority of these parts are contained on a single sprue D, and I did find some of the sprue attachment points here to be a little chunky, especially around the headlight brush guards and the engine intake vents. A photo-etch fret, interestingly coated in some sort of resistant black paint, provides the engine screens, whilst there is piece of metallic twine for the heavy tow cable.
The whole hull should go together with a great deal of ease and one nice feature I like is that the detail steps are broken down into quite a few sub-sections in the instruction booklet, which should enable a fairly pleasant and hassle free construction.
Finally we have the turret, which is actually constructed prior to the hull in the instruction booklet. Itís a fairly standard build up with main turret and separate lower ring, two-part barrel and various additional fittings. Rather bizarrely the kit includes two identical sprues for the turret parts, I guess because some of the smaller parts are duplicated, however this means one ends up with more or less a complete spare turret sans barrel.
The turret features some faint cast texturing which could be enhanced with some Mr Surfacer . Unfortunately though there are none of the very pronounced and rather rough welds present on the turret. The whole top plate is welded to the main turret casting and should have a weld running around the edge, additionally there should be heavy welds surrounding the cupola ring and raised sight mountings; none of these are represented on the kit.
The shape of the turret is quite complex when assessing reference photos (a common theme of all Russian armour!), and on the whole Iíd say Takom
have captured this fairly well. I am a bit unsure though of the accuracy of the turret rear, where the edge of the welded top plate seems to extend too close to the edge of the main casting, and the ridge between the plate and turret casting should be flatter and wider. The plate also angles downwards where the loaders hatch is positioned, and on the Takom
kit to my eye the gradient of the angle isnít quite right. These certainly arenít major accuracy problems, but when one carefully compares the turret to reference photos there are these certain aspects that do not look right.
The turret detailing is straightforward with various hatches, sights; grab rails etc to be fitted. The gun mantlet with the sighting mounting fitted as a single piece is quite good; having these assemblies moulded as a single piece will certainly ease construction. The 130mm M-65 gun barrel is a complete 2-part piece and will need very careful alignment when gluing the two halves together, especially as the complex muzzle will be difficult to fill and sand. Given the choice Iíd rather just replace the kit part with a turned metal item. There is a 152mm barrel included as well, to enable construction of the M version (hence the 3-in-1 blurb on the box).
Colour options are provided for three different vehicles; the basic 279, 279 M and a preserved example at Kubinka with 3-tone camouflage (the other two are plain green). A set of numerical markings is provided for just one vehicle, but Iím sure many will choose to raid the spares box for some Soviet emblems to place on those Ďwhat-ifí subjects.
A dying trend amongst 1/35th scale armour releases is the inclusion of any figures, with Tamiya one of the few manufacturers to continue to include crews with their kits (albeit sometimes of a questionable quality). Thankfully Takom
have chosen to include a single figure in all of their 1/35th scale releases, a pleasant added bonus. In this kit with have a suitably NBC clad Soviet infantryman wearing an OP-1 chemical defence suit, protective overshoes, GP-5 mask with hose filter and armed with an AK-47. The quality of the figure is very good and sculpted to a high standard. There are of course some mould lines to deal with, however once assembled he makes a great companion for the tank or as an interesting standalone piece.
These are presented entirely in black and white, with the colour marking options calling out Tamiya paint numbers (TS-28 rattle can, and XF colours for the camouflage option). The instructions are very straightforward to follow and presented as easily interpreted line drawings. Itís probably possible to throw the kit together in a very short number of stages, however Takom
has chosen to break each section down into small limited assemblies which should make life easier for those beginners tackling the kit.
In a short space of time weíve gone from having no kit available of the Object 279 (and I canít really recall ever seeing this crop up on peoples wish lists), to having three of them in 1/35th scale. As their second release this is a daring kit from Takom
and holds a great deal of promise for the quality of their future kits; Itís great to see new comers to the market tackling eccentric subjects such as this.
The kit is generally a good quality production with good mouldings free from flash or imperfections on visible faces. Some of the sprue attachments are a little chunky and parts removal should certainly be tackled with care so as not to damage smaller pieces. There some areas of the kit that Iím not especially fond of from an accuracy perspective as Iíve mentioned above, and certain areas of the kit do suffer from the lack of pronounced welds or rough texturing seen on the real vehicle. The kit tracks are another weak area that will prove frustrating to remove and clean; youíll need to be patient when modelling these.
On the whole the construction looks to be very straightforward and save for the tracks the kit should build in just a few sessions. With a few basic home-grown improvements this will build into an impressive looking model, and given the odd shape and prototype nature of this tank is a great canvas for a whole range of creative paint jobs and finishes- donít be constrained by the limited schemes offered in the kit!
Kubinka Object 279 Walk-around
Dishmodels Kubinka Object 279 Walk-around
Abrams Squad, Issue 3. PLA Editions, October/November 2013.