Cheers to the Crow
T-34 needs no introduction. A symbol for the effectiveness of the Soviet tank arm, it was produced in mind-boggling numbers and a multitude of variants.
The inspiration and will to build this model came from two sources. One was a small photograph in a Polish book devoted to T-34 operations showing a T-34 embarking on a river-crossing ferry. On the Eastern Front, river-crossing operations were daily bread of the Red Army. However, this photo was special as it showed a Willys Jeep piggybacking on top of the tank - apparently to cram more hardware on the limited ferry deck. I had never seen such arrangement before and the scene just begged to be reproduced in model form.
Another source of inspiration was may IPMS colleague Erik Ahlström who actually motivated me to initiate and then complete the project. Thanks Erik!
Unfortunately I don't know the details of the Polish unit to which the shown T-34 belonged, or the time/place of the photo. I guess it could be somewhere in the eastern part of the Reich late 1944 or spring 1945.
The Jeep was the easier part of the project. Tamiya's excellent kit was completed largely out of the box. I have made minor additions such as ignition wires or hollowed out signal horn. The vehicle was painted using Tamiya spray can colours and weathered with various washes, dry-brushing and pastel chalks.
The Jeep's interior was furnished with a collection of tools, gear and weapons from Aber, Italeri and Tamiya.
The tank captured on the photograph was something that could be called an interim model of the T-34. It featured a late chassis known from the T-34/85 coupled with with one of the earlier model turrets with 76 mm gun.
The chassis of the model came from Dragon's excellent T-34/85. The appropriate turret was found in a Zvezda kit. I replaced the kit's gun barrel in a usual manner with turned metal one produced by Jordi Rubio. Metal tracks from Friulmodel completes the list of basic components used.
My detailing work on the tank was more extensive than on the jeep. Extra fuel drums and toolboxes on hull sides were scratchbuilt using metal sheet from a used tube of fish roe spread (Kalles Kaviar) and plastic card.
Side and front fenders came from Aber photoetched set. The searchlight was enhanced with MV lens.
The tank's road wheels were taken from the old Tamiya T-34/76. One of the original Dragon T-34/85 wheels was left on the left side according to the photo. Field reparations of these tanks often resulted in wheels of different types being swapped between vehicles. Therefore I also liberally replaced three wheels with steel ones from Zvezda on the opposite side, which is hidden on the photograph.
The turret has been modified to a version with two periscopes rather than a single one included in the kit and commander's cupola with split hatch which was another item "borrowed" from Tamiya T-34.
In search for the suitable figures to provide human element to the model, I found one from Tamiya Russian Tank Crew at Rest to represent a commander raising a bottle of vodka in his hand. It was improved with a few minor modifications and a replacement head from Hornet.
The mechanic serving the Jeep comes from Tamiya German Tank Maintenence Set. Also this one received a few improvements and a new Hornet head.
The bird comes from another Tamiya figure set: German Tank Crew at Rest. It only received new "feet".
Painting and Finishing
The models have been painted with Gunze acrylics, with post-shading using Tamiya acrylics along edges and joints.
The airbrushing job was followed with additional weathering with artists' oils, dry-brushing and pastels.
Additional photos, click to enlarge