Early T-72 from Scratch

@Armor_Buff you are to blame for this one! The post about the Tamiya T-72 in your “Archeology Dig” topic reminded me of an old T-72 I built, so I pulled it off the way back shelf, blew all the dust off, and here it is.

I built this back in 1983. It is basically scratch built, using the then new Tamiya T-62 as a basis. There was no kit at that time, and very little in the way of references, so I had to guesstimate a lot of it.

It’s a little beat up, but in pretty good shape for its age. The oil tank/exhaust outlet got lost, so I replaced it with one from an old AMT/ERTL kit.
The roadwheels were made using the wheels from several 1/25 Jeep CJ kits. In the photos of a broken one, you can still see some of the chrome on it.


That was a damn good effort for the time; well done Ken. Back in the day (groan) I recall just how little was available re the latest generation of Sov kit.

Thanks! It’s kind of outclassed now, but I still like it.

Wow!!! @tankerken Ken that’s an outstanding effort! Super cool using those Jeep wheels pure Genius!!

Always happy to be a bad influence:)

Thank you for sharing that awesome T-72. Looks great! Love a scratch build!

Hey I bet there a couple more cool models from days gone by one shelf - hint :slight_smile:

Thanks! There may be a few old items still on the shelf, but not many. Most haven’t survived, what with all the moves, passage of time, and I can be rather destructive to old models. Sometimes I will break them down for parts, and sometime they get used for target practice or firecrackers!

I’ll second what boots said. Very nicely done!There was SO LITTLE reference out there in open source on the T-72 in the early 80’s. Aside from a few line drawings, grainy field photos, and the annual Red Square parades, it was very much a mystery machine to us line dogs, more myth than fact.

Besides some bad photos in magazines, the best reference I had was the book “Tanks Illustrated No. 4 Soviet Tanks Today” by Steve Zaloga, which came out in 1983. It has seven small, black and white photos of the T-72 in it (two are miss-identified as T-74). Ant that’s all there was!

I remember whilst working in a Divisonal HQ in the UK in the mid 70s the amount of effort which went into identifying what was what; at the time there was great confusion over T-64/T-72. Were they even the same tank? What I didn’t know at a mere Divisional level that the British Liaison Mission boys (BRIXMIS) in East Germany were working around the clock to discover evidence of exactly what was what, and resolve some of the mysteries of the latest - and very potent - Soviet tanks. Then, in a blind-siding move the Sovs invited a French military mission to Moscow to view the T-72! The pictures from this extraordinary visit appeared in a magazine called International Defence Review (IDR) and showed French officers happily clambering all over a T-72, with even the ammunition natures proudly displayed upon the glacis. We couldn’t believe it! This was unprecendented access to some serious Sov kit! Why? I have no idea save that perhaps it was a distraction from the T-64, which as we all know, was, at the time the Soviet crème de la crème.

Anyway, I’m sure the IDR article led to at least Esci issuing a rather dismal kit of the T-72 which really was disappointing. They followed this up with a so-called T-74, equally poor, but to us poor saps in the modelling world, we were glad; at long last we had something other than the venerable, even ancient Tamiya T-55 and their more recent T-62 (not forgetting the Esci T-55 which was never quite as bad as it was painted - no pun intended). And in referring to the Tamiya T-55 I mean the really old one.

Then Dragon appeared and produced some kits based on, apparently, not very much but they too were not that bad; at least Dragon tried to assuage us eager Warsaw Pact modellers’ appetite. A couple of years later Skif appeared with their T-64s (and I personally was knocked off my feet) - never, ever did I imagine such a 1:35 beast would debut), again, these will not withstand scrutiny today but at long last we had something.

The supreme irony for me was that as I was still serving I couldn’t even contemplate buying any of these as plastic modelling (inherently fragile) would hardly ever withstand the endless postings and moves commensurate with military life. This sort of explains why I’m still, at long last, playing catch-up, and have some of these venerable monsters in my stash.


Well, it looks like a T72. Good work. even with plenty of reference photos, scratch building a vehicle is a tough task. Doing it with few references is a much tougher task. Well done.

Wow. It doesn’t look like much compared to todays kits but back in the day ummm… Great job. :+1: :+1:

Great job
do you want restore it?

I think the scratch T-72 model is historically significant and hopefully will receive restoration.

Scratch building a vehicle is a lot of effort. That effort needs perserved. It is different than a shake and bake Tamiya panzer 2. The shake and bakes can go the way of file 13 but the crafted scratchbuild builds honor the effort that was spent doing something just because you wanted it. It is worth perserving.

There really isn’t much here that needs to be restored. I fixed the broken roadwheel. The missing oil tank/exhaust duct was replaced previously. Other than that, it needs a good cleaning, and some paint touch-up, if I can remember what paint I used.
The big question is whether I should update or upgrade it any. I am seriously thinking of replacing the tracks (have been for years), they are the original Tamiya T-62 tracks and are just wrong. I dunno.
Then I start thinking about correcting some of the other inaccuracies, like the engine deck. Or the machinegun.
But as some of you have pointed out, what makes this special is the fact that it was scratch built before anything else existed. And no matter what I add to it, it will never be up to modern kit standards. But if I want that, I just need to build a modern kit; I am actually doing that already. So I think I will keep it the way it is, faults and all. Except for maybe those tracks, I really hate them.

Tracks? Why not! I put Fruils on an ancient Tamiya SU100 which had original rubber tracks (it was motorized) which were only staying on due to a multitude of staples. With all that metal already in the tracks, why not go full metal? I saved it because it was an early conversion - I added the post-war storage box on the fender.

My rule for old models is if they show any conversion or customization work I will restore them, but if it was an OOB model I will generally build a new one, often with the same old ancient molds!

Ken, email sent regarding tracks.

Still have this hanging around. I dug up some old photos, these were taken in 1992, at which time this was almost ten years old.

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Here is another photo from 92, it is sitting next to the AMT/ESCI T-72 kit. I think mine looks better.

I had to do some more repairs, one of the idler wheels broke, along with one of the fuel drums. While working on those, I decided to do a few upgrades. The first two were things I had planned to do all along, but never did.
The machine gun was modified from the Tamiya DsHK. I was going to cut off the feed mechanism from the top of it, and never did. I snipped that off and sanded it down.

Then I added the small triangles at the front fenders. They are just styrene sheet. All of this took less than ten minutes, but it took me almost 40 years to get around to it. No excuse for it really, just lazy.

While I was at it, I added a couple other fixes and upgrades. I never liked my original engine fan cover, the glue had soaked thru the screen. I pried it off with a screwdriver and replaced it with one from the AMT kit. I also added a bit of PE to the engine deck, and a leftover hinge for the engine cover.

I had a scraper blade left over from a Dragon kit, so I added it to the front.

One of the tie-down loops had broken off the turret, so I replaced that, and added a bit of PE to the top of the sight.

Now I just need to touch up the paint and it will be good as new.

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Oops, I forgot one other repair:

One of my headlight guards lost a couple pieces. Replaced with copper wire.
Now I can paint it.


OK, this restoration is finished (mostly)! I got it all painted up, with just a touch of weathering. This was originally built as a vehicle ID model, so I kept it pretty clean. I did add a couple of lenses from SKP for the lights. The tracks were a problem. After commenting about not liking the original, inaccurate, T-62 tracks, Wade was kind enough to send me a set of vinyl tracks from Tamiya’s T-72. When I went to glue them together, one of them ripped. This was the first time I ever had any problem with Tamiya tracks. I did get it glued back together, but the joint is very weak, so I added a couple staples for extra support. Then when I went to install them, they didn’t fit! Apparently, the wheelbase (is that even the correct term for a tank?) for the Tamiya T-62 is longer than the T-72. Comparing the two tracks side by side confirmed this: the T-72 track fits inside the T-62 track.

So I ended up taking a pair of sprue nippers and cutting out the side bits from the T-62 tracks to make them look like RMSH tracks.

Later I may replace these with some indy link tracks. I have some, but they a for some other projects. Once I finish those, the leftovers can be used here.

I also took a few pics of this next to my more recent project, the Kuwaiti M-84. I think it hold up pretty well compared to the newer, more accurate kits.

One thing I did notice on mine, because it was based on the Tamiya T-62 kit, the turret is too far forward. I had no way of knowing that at the time. Here the hulls are lined up:

And here the turrets/guns are lined up:

A small difference, but it is there. Otherwise, it is pretty close. All in all, I am quite happy with how it came out, especially for when I built it!