T34/76, 1943 Production Model Tamiya MM159, Diorama 1:35

Ukraine, October 1943


"More haste -  less speed"

The late Summer of '43 found the Red Army advancing steadily against German fighting retreats - both sides weakened after the maelstrom of the Kursk battles.

In the South, the Germans only chance of holding the enemy's steamroller was to build a new defence line. Preferably behind some large natural obstacle. Being well aware of this, the Soviets new task was to get forces over that barrier and fast - before those defences grew to become impregnable.

Alas, the "Frontoviki" gradually found themselves fighting through an Autumn wasteland. Part man made by the Axis forces "scorched earth policy" and part natural.

The area being abundant only with swamps, waterways and forests and all of this BEFORE the greatest of barriers … the Dneiper river.

With no brideging equipment like the Allies in Italy, railroads or time to encircle the growing German defences, there was only one tactic to adobt – make the best out of what you've got and be bloody quick about it!

The scene was set for one of the largest operations of the Second World War. Starting on the 23rd August it involved some 4 million men along a front of 1400 km.With attacks and counterattacks, gains and losses made by both sides.

The Battle of the Dneiper finaly ended on the 23rd of December, and saw the Red Army firmly lodged on it's West bank.

The Diorama:

I've tried to "scrape together" as many nuances as I could for this scene.

Starting with the lady. Women tank crews were not a result of propaganda but based on true patriotic feelings, a sense of equality not to mention revenge. Many were tractor drivers in civillian life and as losses in Soviet manpower began to be felt, volunteering became only natural. They were granted few consessions and I've depicted her having insisted on driving her "Tridtsat'chetvyorka"(T-34) onto the far bank one of the many smaller rivers.

Her fellow crewmembers have decided to cling to the outside during the crossing (women drivers?) They wear a jumble of uniform garments, from a padded Telogreika jacket to a bulky Shuba sheepskin and a rather greasy black overall.

For the groundwork I've dug into the scrap-box for parts to fill in the soft bank. The felled logs including two telegraph masts for the bridge are branch twigs that have been treated against ageing.

The T-34/76 is a patchwork of different vehicles, hence the slightly different tones here and there. The turret shows signs of an ex-guards insignia and without tan cam stripes as on the hull, suggests a field workshop rebuild of two vehicles. Perhaps both victims of Operation Citadel.

The engineers placing the bridge stays were the basis for the whole diorama (BTW, the one in the water is standing on the glacis of the Pz III Ausf. K).

"A turn with a spanner and a bash with a hammer"

I'll never forget the images of WW2 Russian soldiers building hasty makeshift river crossings of all kinds. Working in all weathers often under fire, many of the first rickety bridges being crossed whilst still under construction. Patched up and make-do vehicles driving furiously Westward - keeping their enemy on the back foot and constantly under pressure.What was important to me for the atmosphere of this Dio,was making ends meet only with what I had. Even using the kit's plastic tow rope and vinyl tracks.

No luxury items - just get the job done and delivered. Not unlike those old Soviet sappers.

Well, that's it for another one ...

I'll close now and leave you with someone who knows far more about rush -'en' 😏 jobs than anyone else.

Hail to the greatest armoured sage of all time ... the one and only "Panzer of the Lake":


Completed: 23.02.'19


Diorama 1:35 / Building Report:

Panzer of the lake

... sounds like good advice to me.

T34/76, 1943 Production Model Tamiya MM159


Stage 1:


Of all the old model kits still alive and kicking they don't come much more crustier than this one.

Released in 1975, (note slightly groovy box inscription) Tamiya's T34/76 series was all the rage back in the days of flaired trousers.

Alas, the hull is slightly out of whack as it was designed to be fitted with batteries to propel it over linoleum. In the end, the fate of these delicate running toys were usually decided by fathers working boot or the neighbours Pit Bull.

However, the biggest eyesore, by todays standards, is the hexaon turret. As far as I can make out, the side angles start too far forward making the turret roof slightly smaller than it should be. They are also not angled inward sharp enough - which leaves the rear surface too wide.

I was about to alter these flaws but then decided not to, as I think this "disco dancer" should be built as rustical and as true to herself as possible … with a few minor tweeks that is:

What I've tried on here is to take various details from photo's and club them together on one model. There is an 'attempt' at a turret interior as well as a cosmetic reduction of the oversise drivers hatch.

Other details are: turret underside cast "fins" and surface treatment. Pipe handrails and large (more common) angular (Italeri) fuel tanks. Improved engine ventilator cover and turret ring splash guards. The result of mine damage has been simulated on the port side, "field replacing" the original destroyed road and idler wheels with earlier types.

No matter what your skill level, I can still heartily recommend this kit. For the beginner it offers a cheap and robust platform to practice all aspects of the trade. For the advanced modeller it's a challenge to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Leaving the main faults as they are and pressing on regardless makes this model great fun to build. This approach also steers you well clear away from the unyielding rocks of Advanced Modellers Syndrome.

So then, that's about it from me for the time being, next up… figure bashing.





Stage 2:


Last call for this year - as promised …

… "that - figures" 😉

Oh, BTW ... here's some of the T-34's bits that I forgot last time:

T34/76, 1943 Production Model Tamiya MM159

What 2019 holds for us all nobody knows, so I'll raise my glass and wish you w... 'ang on, there is someone that can point us in the right direction … and what's more he's been right under our noses all along. A tragic hero who's interest lies not in money or publicity but in wisdom.

May I reintroduce the mightiest sage of them all - always up to his neck in it ... the one and only:

T34/76, 1943 Production Model Tamiya MM159

… Panzer Of The Lake.




Stage 3:


With the winter holidays behind me and completion ahead, I'd like to mention something often overlooked in the diorama world … the base. For my WWII projects, I usually take a piece of Hartschaum board and frame it with this simple "ogee" profile:

T34/76, 1943 Production Model Tamiya MM159, Building Stages

However, on a recent visit to my local D.I.Y. market, I was faced with an empty shelf. When I asked the salesman if he could order more, he said, and I quote: "The wooden profile in question proved to be so popular with customers that it was often sold out. Therefore our management has decided to discontinue the product as to avoid disappointment."

Knowing that I myself was partially responsible for the problem and in a quandary as to the feasibility of Teutonic logic, I left the premises with empty hands.

Time for Plan B.

This years Xmas "gift" from my brother-in-law:

T34/76, 1943 Production Model Tamiya MM159, Building Stages

… belive it or not, it's meant to be a cheese board.

Note unhygienic rough bark surround and small surface. All pasted lovingly with a heavy coat of industrial varnish. Not something you want to nail to a dog house let alone eat off. "Thinks", … Gift is German for poison ... maybe it's time for a word with him

So I decided to do this:

T34/76, 1943 Production Model Tamiya MM159, Building Stages

... and this:

T34/76, 1943 Production Model Tamiya MM159, Building Stages

Before the "unveiling" of it all, I'd just like you to bear a few things in mind.

I had to make-do with the old Tamiya kit as I did'nt have a better T-34 on hand. The figures had

to be clobbered together to fit the scene asI could'nt find any suitable ready posed one's.

Even the mighty "Panzer of the Lake" had to be scraped together from the spares box ...

As for the base, well, as the Drill Sgt bellowed: "It's coming, it's coming but so again is bloody Christmas!"




Stage 4:

Right then, let's see how fast I can knock this one together ... 😉



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