by: Darren Baker [ ]
As the saying goes ‘Necessity it the mother of invention’ and that saying is especially true during times of war. The Romanians were especially poorly equipped to fight Russia as a part of the Axis powers, and what armour they did have was quickly lost as the war turned in favour of the Soviet War Machine. The Romanians did have a good number of captured Soviet armour and field guns which included a good number of T-60’s which were fast and stable gun platforms and 76.2mm field guns that I believe would have been F-22 and ZiS 3 field guns. What the Romanians did was combine the artillery gun with the T-60 tank in the same form as the successful German Marder series of vehicles and name it the TACAM T-60. I am lead to believe that the engine in these vehicles was were either the original GAZ engine were fitted with a Dodge-Derotto-Fargo F.H.2. The armour on the vehicle seems to have been made from the panels of captured Soviet armour. Three units were equipped with these vehicles during their service life and these vehicles served well and were able to even inflict damage on the T-34 tank and so anything else they were likely to face. None of the TACOM T-60’s survives to the present day. MiniArt has now released this Romanian warrior in 1/35th scale and so enables something a little different to be built.
This offering from MiniArt is supplied in a cardboard tray with a card lid and so is reasonably robust, but the postage system will take its toll if no further protection is used. Inside there is a single plastic bag that fills the box very nicely and prevents movement which reduces the risk of damage to the model parts. The photo etch for this offering is protected in a card envelope which I feel is an excellent step by MiniArt that they have been using for some time now. The decal sheet in this offering is not so well protected and so I have opted to protect them inside the instruction booklet. I would normally complain about the sprues being in the same bag, but these are not so tightly packed as to cause warping or the like. So other than lid which could be more robust I am happy modeller so far.
Taking a close look at the contents reveals the usual aspects I have come to expect from MiniArt in the form of flow lines on larger models and a few ejector pin marks; the flow lines do not look or feel to have caused imperfections in the finish and the ejector pin marks are not excessive in number or size and the locations look to have been considered during the mould making process. The parts all seem to be well moulded without obvious fault, but I did notice some flash on the shells which is disappointing in a new model.
This offering from MiniArt is one of their interior kit offerings and I will say here and now that this model does not have full interior, but what needs to be there from a viewable point does look to be present. I could not find any good reference on the interior of this vehicle or the T-60 and so I have to go by general layout and logical positioning; I of course have to consider that Soviet Russia was not overly concerned about comfort.
The first thing that surprised me is that the engine of this vehicle is inside the crew compartment and so a big hazard to my mind as regards burns and not being able to communicate clearly with crew members, but on the positive side it will at least be warm in there. The engine and transmission look very pleasing to me with the fuel lines and electrical cables being all that the modeller will need to add as regards further detail. I am pleased to see air in and exhaust out well covered in the model. There is still a fire wall at the rear of the vehicle behind which I can only think of fuel tanks being present and ammunition storage.
The drivers position does at least offer a head rest and so an element of comfort providing you don’t end up wearing the batteries which sit on the floor to his left. The tillers look good and give the look of a work place despite my lack of knowledge on this aspect of the model. I do appreciate the effort put into the floor of the vehicle as it adds a great level of detail for the modeller to highlight during the painting process. A raised platform that was originally for the person manning the turret is present; I believe this position is the only one to offer the gunners some decent protection from enemy fire. I was pleased to see the moulded on detail present on the interior of the hull sides that does show how far improvements have come where moulding is concerned.
Moving outside and a look at the suspension and wheels of the model. Houston we have a problem in that the wheels used are for the early vehicles produced in this configuration and that means spoke wheels which are present, but the detail do not match period photographs of the vehicle. I believe the spoke wheel aspect is correct in form and design, but the hub cover is too large and should be smaller with just six bolts surrounding a central one. The wheels are also steel wheels and they should have tyres from what I can see for an early version. On the plus side the drive wheel is very good in every detail including the cut outs. The idler and return rollers also look good matches for online reference. The tracks are all supplied as individual links that look very good detail wise, but these are glued together rather than workable; this pleases me but will not please everyone. I like that track sag will be easy to show using the kit supplied parts.
Moving onto the upper hull and everything appears rosy again. The angles look a good match for reference material at least as the eye goes and that is acceptable to me. The drivers cupola looks to have an excellent level of detail regardless of if it is used open or closed and also offers the modeller an easy area to see inside from. The ammunition box on the rear with individual rounds is a nice touch for anyone going for a crew in attendance. Despite being a mix of flat plates I really like the effort put in by MiniArt. The mud guards down the sides of this model are for me stunning; they have a great scale thickness to them in my mind and terrific detail on both faces. These details are lifted further by the addition of the photo etch track guard hangers. The storage boxes on both track guards are nice but I would have liked the option to have them open; this may only be possible with photo etched replacements.
The fire power of this model has been well tackled and has some nice elements included. The barrel is a single piece offering that has been slide moulded that offers some nice subtle details. The breech of the gun is made of separate parts and so could be depicted open or closed but that is not covered in the instructions. The gun cradle offers nice surface detail due to the way in which MiniArt has tackled it via three separate mouldings. The controls for elevating and traversing the gun are well detailed with the modeller able to elevate the barrel, but I believe some minor surgery will be required to show the limited traverse. The gun shields have nice surface detail on both faces and look the part; the rear parts of the gun shield swing out when in action but are only covered in the closed position
The aerial mount that covers the gun looks fair as regards scale and is a complex shape to a degree. This aerial also marks this as an early offering of the TACAM T-60 and was removed/not fitted to later vehicles. I really like this aspect of the model as crews often covered the aerial array with a canvas in order to provide shelter and that would make for an interesting finish for the model, perhaps partially folded back to enable a look at the detail inside and at the rear of the gun.
MiniArt offers three finishing options for the model which are as follows:
Romanian Army, Autumn 1944
2nd Tank Regiment, Romanian Army, Eastern Front, February 1944
1st Armoured Division ‘Greater Romania’, Army Group ‘Veler’, Lasi District, August 1944
This offering from MiniArt is one of those kits that got my juices going as it created a number of display options in my mind’s eye. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the interior but I love the level of detail provided that can be seen to various degrees depending on how you display the model. I believe the wheels provided with this model are incorrect, but it could just be that I could not find the same reference material as MiniArt. The only moulding issue I found concerning is some flash that is disappointing in a new model. In all other respects this model is a great offering with some interesting display options with a little effort by the modeller. I do believe this model should be listed as an early vehicle.