|Modelling the T-72 family||
|by Simon Barnes|
|Edited by Al Magnus|
Modeling the Family
Mods that need to be made to the Revell/ACE kits for the various versions of the T-72, although essentially, both the Revell and ACE kits represent the T-72M1.
A note on the fuel barrels
A quick note on the fuel barrels. The Czechs devised a system for allowing the rear fuel drums to be fed directly into the vehicle fuel system by means of hoses linking each fuel barrel to the rear right hand fuel pannier above the tracks. This system was not adopted by the Russians and so it would be wrong to model any early Russian T-72 with this system. The reason that the Russians use this system is because they didn't invent it and so disregarded it. However they are now getting over the fact that it was not invented by them and have started to use the system on their own vehicles. So it is worth noting when modeling a vehicle from a specific period in time, the system has so far appeared on the T-90 and Rogatka tanks, but it is also possible that it has been retro-fitted to other vehicles.
Due to price and complexity of the coincidental range finder, the Russians installed the TPD-K1 laser rangefinder on the lefthand side causing the opening to be wider, while on the T-72, the right hand port was left and blanked over. The grab handles are retained on the turret.
T-72 (Final Production)
The final production model introduced a layer of appliqué armour to the turret front. The shape differs from the T-72A. The right hand optical port is retained but blanked over. No grab handles installed.
T-72 Final Production
It is also possible to see the earlier T-72 fitted with ERA bricks
T-72A (Russian manufacture)
In 1978 the Russians installed a new turret on the T-72 with thicker frontal armour. This changed the shape of the front of the turret making the front and sides almost vertical in places. To build his vehicle from the kit requires some major work to the turret. A breakdown of the major points as follows:
In 1980, 12 smoke discharges were added to the turret front. Also 2 containers for fire extinguishers were added, one in front of the commander's cupola on the right hand side, the other at the rear.
T-72A (Late Production)
In 1981 the final production added a layer of Anti-Radiation cladding to the turret roof and beside the driver's hatch, an extra stowage bin similar to the right hand side was added to the left hand side.
T-72A Late production
In 1987-88 the T-72A was been fitted with the older brick style ERA, here the layout is different to the T-72B with it more resembling the T-80BV with the distinctive wedge shape around the front of the turret.The smoke discharges have been moved to the left hand side. It is not impossible to find the same layout on the earlier T-72's with the co-incidental rangefinder
In the late 1980s the turret armour was upgraded again to bring the armour protection levels up to T-80 standards (although it surpassed it). This dramatically altered the shape of the turret front with even more armour. Also introduced were the 6 spoke wheels. The Russians also introduced the 1K13 laser designator in the gunner's main sights position, this was used in conjunction with the Svir anti-tank missile that could be fired by the main gun, although the sight wasn't fitted to all vehicles. Vehicles with were designated B and those without B1. In all other respects the tanks are the same
T 72B/B1 with ERA
Later both the B and B1 were fitted with ERA but unlike the T-64 and T-80 they didn't recieve the V suffix. The mounting on the B/B1 differs significantly from the A. ACE offers both the A and B with ERA, I have not seen the kits and so can not comment about the ERA bricks.
You could use the Revell T-80 ERA (if you can find it) but it will need modifying as the bricks are too wide.
In 1989 a new ERA package was fitted, essentially the same as fitted to the T-80U but with new side panels as seen later on the T-90 and the front fenders were altered. This new vehicle became known as the BM.
T-72BM with 1K13 laser designator sight and bar armour
This is a further development of the T-72 mounting the newer Bars defence suite. It can be identified by the turret layout and the radar receiver mounted on the roof.
The Russians have again upgraded the T-72B Rogatka, altering the turret stowage layout as well as other internal changes. This vehicle also uses a different armour package to the T-72B and T-90. Instead of the Kontakt 5 ERA plates the Rogatka uses the "Relikt" ERA armour, which on closer inspection has a slightly different mounting than the T-72B and the T-90. The most noticeable change is the addition of the bar armour around the rear half of the vehicle. The Rogatka also has the Agava thermal sight and the Sosna-U combination sight. It also has an auxiliary GTA-18 turbine generator mounted just behind the exhaust, which has dramatically altered the shape on this portion of the vehicle. Apparently this vehicle will not be put into service.
This is still a T-72 at heart. Developed from the BM version it mounts the same Kontakt 5 ERA plus the Shtora defence suite. Early versions were the BM with Shtora, later versions had further modifications to the turret and a new commander cupola mounting a remote controlled AA MG, new commander's and loader's hatches and using the Track from the T-80. The latest version has an all new welded turret, which is difficult to see under the ERA but can be recognised by the flat turret sides in front of the smoke dischargers. ACE make a model of an early T-90 with cast turret, whilst Model Collect offer both the welded and cast turret versions.
T-90 welded turret
All variants have a command tank which recieves a K suffix (i.e. T-72AK is the command variant of the T-72A). Besides the K suffix they can be identified by the stowage for a 10 meter telescopic mast under the rear stowage bin and a mounting bracket behind and to the left of the gunner. The mast can only be used when the tank is stationary.
T-72 Export models
Russia offers the T-72 for export. These differ in equipment and armour to Russian vehicles. All Russian export models retain the 8 engineering points on the lower hull, to confuse things even more, it seems that some Russian units also use export tanks.
In the 1970s Czeckoslovakia and Poland both bought small numbers of the T-72, and started licensed production in 1978. These intial vehicle were essentially T-72As without the additional turret armour so the turret still resembled the T-72. Export models became known as the T-72M and M1 respectively.
T 72 M (Czech/Polish Manufacture)
In the late 1980s the T-72Ms were upgraded with new side skirts, and smake mortars, although the turret armour stayed the same.
In the mid-1980s both countries converted to T-72A standard manufacture, including the additional armour to the turret, 17mm plate added to the glacis. New side skirts were introduced along with the smoke mortars. This is what the Revell and ACE kits depict. Black dog offer a replacement turret for a T-72M1 Cz which contains a new turret. Although I have only seen pictures of it, it seems to offer only a small shape change to the Revell turret. The range finder sight remains solid as does the gunners sight.
A radical modification of the T-72 chassis, also known as the TSV (Tank Support Vehicle), is not an APC but in essence is an Urban Fighting Vehicle, mounting twin 30mm guns (the same as used on the BMP-2), two 30mm grenade launchers and four Missiles. It has been suggested that these are AT missiles, but instead of mounting an AT warhead, they mount a Thermobaric warhead which can be used with devastating results in the urban environment against dug in troops.
T-72 APC (BMO T)
This is a heavy APC based on the T-72 chassis, similar in layout to the BTR-T based on the T-55. It mounts only a HMG and smoke mortars. It has now been deployed for specially equipped flame thrower units with the designation BMO T.
A recovery vehicle based on the T-72M, it mounts a crane on the left hand side. ACE had planned to release this version of the T-72 but it seems to have disappeared from their lists.
There are various other variants of the T-72 chassis, a bridgelayer, as well as several dedicated engineer vehicles used for obstacle removal.
Other T-72 models
T-72 Banan (Banana)
This uses the T-72B hull and turret with a different ERA layout to the Russian Bricks. It also uses the T-64B/T-80UD engine which can be sourced from the Galaxy T-80 kit should you be able to get hold of one.
The same as the T-72 Banan but has the later Kontakt 5 ERA panels. It also has a new commander cupola mounting a remote controlled AA MG. Also has a new turret stowage layout and side skirts similar to the T-80UD/UM vehicles.
A further modification of the T-72AG with a new raised commander cupola to incorporate the French SAGEM stabilised sight.
The Ukrainians have tried to market the T-72 fitted with a NATO 120mm gun. Because the 120mm Ammo is one piece, this has meant moving the Autoloader to the back of the Turret which has totally changed the look of the turret because of the huge one piece ammunition.
This is a Polish produced T-72A fitted with a Polish produced ERA package using smaller square bricks than the Russian Brick shape. The ERA layout has been seen in two different patterns, the first pattern had the squares following the contours of the turret. The second style has the squares mounted in flat panels to the turret front. Modelltrans and ModelKrak offer the PT-91 in its earlier ERA layout.
This is the T-72A mounting the locally produced Dyna ERA packages. It also incorporates various fire control upgrades with new commander and gunner's sights made by SABCA of Belgium. The most unusual feature of these tanks are the twin mounted 20mm cannon mounted each side of the turret at the rear, intended for air defence, but could also be used against soft skin targets saving precious tank rounds. Later models are fitted with just one 2A42 30mm cannon (as fitted to the BMP-2/BMD-2).
This is a T-72A mounting the same DYNA ERA as the M2 version. The Czech vehicle doesn't have the externally mounted 20mm/30mm cannons of the M2. The M4 also has various sights and electronic fire control upgrades from various sources. Of note is the large panoramic sight just in front of the commander's cupola and the new large gunners sight. The M4 also has magnetic mine neutralization devices fitted to the glacis. Another major change is the engine deck. The M4 mounts a new 1,000 HP engine developed by the UK firm Perkins. This has changed the louver layout of the rear deck. As yet I have not seen a clear picture of it.
This is the Serbian version of the Russian T-72A and includes a new fire control package of which the gunners sight and the wind sensor are the main external differences.
Croatia also produced the M-84. After the split of Yugoslavia, Croatia went on to develop the M-84, using locally manufactured parts. The Hull and turret are basically the same as the M-84 but with new stowage arrangement and smoke grenade layout. The A4 also has locally designed wheels which in essence are similar to the T-55 wheels but without the large holes between the spokes.
The Croats further developed the M-84 into the M-95. Due to problems with casting the large turret a new welded turret was designed, although the hull is still the M-84 at heart.
India also produces its own T-72s fitted with and without ERA. The vehicle is basically the T-72A but is fitted with the front fenders of the T-72BM. It also has a new thermal sight fitted in front of the gunner's hatch and a new auxiliary exhaust port fitted on the right hand side of the hull, behind the turret and extending over the fuel cells.
A lot of countries have now started to fit rubber padded tracks to their tanks. These are similar to the tracks used by the Leopard. By contrast the Russians seem to be using the all steel T-80 style tracks for their tanks.