Aber, Armorscale & RB Model T-34 76mm Barrel Comparison

Article by Bruce Probst - bprobst(at)netspace(dot)net(dot)au
Edited by Al Magnus

The T-34/76 has always been a favorite of modelers over the years, and for many, replacing the barrel with an aftermarket item is a requirement. With this is mind, I thought I would do a full comparison of the various alleged T-34 76mm 1/72 scale barrels that I currently have in my possession.

NOTE: All of the photos use as comparison an illustration from “T-34 Mythical Weapon” (by Robert Michulec, Air Connection, 2007, ISBN:0978109104), which has been scanned at the original 1/35 scale and printed when reduced to 1/72 scale.

Aber (72 L-06):
This barrel is accurately labelled as the F-32, as used on the early KV tanks. However the label is wrong, and misleading, in suggesting that this barrel was ever used on any T-34. (Well, I suppose that the available records are hardly exhaustive and there were, after all, a great number of T-34s made in various locations; so I guess it's "possible" that somewhere at some time a T-34 was so fitted. Nevertheless the evidence seems clear that if there were any such they would have been very definitely exceptions in limited numbers.) The earliest T-34s used the very similar-looking (with similar performance) L-11 76mm gun, but this was quickly determined to be inadequate once the Germans invaded and the F-34 replaced it on the T-34 production line. Perhaps someone at Aber initially confused the F-32 and L-11? Aber do produce the L-11 separately (and quite accurately) as part number 72 L-23.
Aber (72 L-34):
It took a while but it appears that Aber eventually figured out their error and produced this barrel, which so far as I can tell is perfectly accurate for the F-34.
Armorscale (B72-011):
The label is simply flat-out wrong. Either Armorscale got their measurements completely wrong, or they measured an F-32 on a KV (or an L-11 on a T-34 Model 1940) and thought it was the F-34. Regardless, T-34 modellers should avoid this barrel. Armorscale do have an L-11 in their line-up (B72-029) but I haven't seen one.
RB Models (72B11):
The same error on the label as the Aber F-32: yes, it's an F-32; no, it wasn't used on T-34s. Unfortunately RB Models do not seem to have identified this error and thus have no F-34 in their line-up at all, a serious omission in my opinion. (They do make an accurate L-11, kit no.72B28.)

The comparison photo to the left shows the marked difference in barrel length and proportions between the F-32 and the F-34. The three F-32 barrels are virtually identical (as you would hope and expect). They would all look great on a KV.

Not pictured, because I've already used it on a model - Model Point (7200): Made of brass (not aluminium), the Model Point F-34 is as accurate as the Aber. They also made an L-11 (7205) which is just as good. Unfortunately Model Point products are out of production and quite hard to locate these days.

Other choices for the F-34 are virtually non-existent. Armo have two F-34 barrels in their catalogue; one wonders what the difference between them would be, but neither seem to be currently in production. A company called "Micro-RealistiXX" made a brass barrel but I know nothing about it and have no idea of its availability (I've not seen any for sale anywhere). And so far as I'm aware, that's it! That means the Aber barrel 72 L-34 is currently the only available game in town.

The benefit of the replacement barrel would be mostly felt when making one of the old ESCI kits (still available from Italeri) -- the barrels supplied in these being quite undersized; or one of the Eastern Express or UM kits (which are accurate enough in their dimensions but tend to suffer from flash and mould seams). The barrels that come with the Dragon and Trumpeter kits are slide-molded (I presume) and about as good as you could hope them to be; a metal replacement would do little for them.

The barrels could also be used in the 1/76 Airfix, Matchbox/Revell or Fujimi kits -- the guns in all of those kits being undersized. The scale difference is miniscule and would be impossible to spot.

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Article Last Updated: 26 July 2011