Trumpeter T-84 and T-84BM Oplot
The T-84 is a development of the T-80 tank, replacing the thirsty and very hot turbine engine with a diesel powerpack. The T-84 still retains the legendary power-to-weight ratio of the T-80 family, at 26hp/T. Very early examples were slightly modified and locally produced T-80UD, but later examples replaced the deep wading equipment on the rear of the turret with a stowage rack, and BM Oplot variants have a large armored bustle with blow-off panels. Ukranian engineers replaced the Kontakt-5 ERA with domestically produced Nozh ERA, featured on the glacis and turret front. Rubber skirts intended to pre-detonate RPGs or HEAT charges complete the look. T-84s of all marks feature the Warta APS countermeasures system, which is intended to provide protection against laser and semi-automatic command to line of sight anti-tank weapons, and is easily identifiable by its two softly-glowing red infrared dazzlers mounted on the front of the turret. Warta replaces the Russian-supplied Shtora-1. Current operators are Ukraine and Thailand, and a further modernized version referred to as T-84BM Oplot is very slowly being introduced into Ukranian service. If you are unable to see the wheels and lower hull, the T-84 and Oplot are commonly confused with the T-64BM, which has a turret strikingly similar to the T-84. Complicating matters is the fact that Russia threw the entirety of its stocks of armored vehicles into Ukraine, including varying marques of the T-80 family which are also visually similar to the T-84. Even further complications arise if you attempt to account for vehicles that have been abandoned, captured, re-abandoned and re-un-capatured.
I started this project before February 23, 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine. Within ten days Russian forces suffered over 5,000 deaths and their materiel losses were occurring at such a rapid pace that many open source intelligence (OSINT) monitors could not keep up their tallies. A great number of factors contributed to this, not the least being: impassable terrain due to the start of The Rasputitsa (muddy season), TB-2 Bayraktar strikes, poor communication, poor morale, logistical bottlenecks, unencrypted comms, unfamiliarity with the landscape, friendly fire, abandonment, no infantry support, no air support, infantry refusing to dismount, Ukraine Special Forces conducting hit-and-run raids against rear echelons, widespread N-LAW and Javelin use, and the ferocious resistance of ordinary Ukranian citizens armed with molotov cocktails. At this stage of the war, the T-84s and Oplots have been absent from OSINT footage, with Ukraine favoring the modernized T-64BM. Russia is stuck fighting a war born out of a failed "security operation" and its dogged adherence to outdated tactics are proving to be its downfall. There's no end to the war yet in sight and no more guarantees about what the next day will bring aside from new depths of cruelty and depravity.
The Trumpeter family of T-72 and T-80 tanks are a known quality. There aren't any surprises, but the tracks are a little annoying. They look like workable tracks and have an assembly jig, but they're Ye Olde individual link tracks, with separate guide horns. The good part is that much of the track run will be hidden by the sponsons and side skirts, so you don't need to assemble the whole run of tracks. There's a healthy-sized photoetch fret, with some parts that are redundant or odd-- the flat J-hooks that mount the tow cable come to mind, as do the photoetch backing parts on the rear of the rubber turret skirts. By the way, you should, when it is structurally sound to do so, score in between those individual flaps so they can be manipulated to appear more uneven. The real ones are. Trumpeter provides clear parts for the Warta / Shtora system but doesn't tell you what they are. I substituted them in on the Oplot; the interior of the Warta lamp received a thorough coating with a MOLOTOW chrome pen in order to reflect as much ambient light as possible, and the clear parts were glazed with a thin coat of clear red. If you look at it right, the lamps appear like they're softly glowing; that solves the problem of how to depict this feature without using LEDs.
Look, I have a thing for digital camo, ok? Luckily for me Ukraine does too. Not only do their aircraft sport this form of camouflage, their armor does too. Not that you're going to see much of it because of all the mud! All of the OSINT work produced during this war is a boon for modelers trying to get references for how to weather their models, and the answer is MUD. This time around, I primed the underside with sienna and picked out details in the tires with black. Topside hull and turret were blackbased and then highlighted with buff. I placed random blotches of sandy yellow and dark brown over the model, then chopped up a zillion tiny bits of Tamiya tape to create the digital effect. All of that was covered with olive drab. Some Ukrainian tanks sport irregular applications of paint as friend-or-foe markings. During the first month of the war, Ukraine utilized yellow paint and yellow armbands, but quickly switched to blue; Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces appear to continue to use green.
That's it for the painting; now the real fun begins. I slopped together a random mix of stynylez primers until I developed an appropriate muddy slurry. I loaded up my brush and smeared it on all over the underside and into the running gear. With the same brush, I moistened it slightly and used the residue to stipple a layer of splashed mud all over the side skirts, front glacis and the underside of the turret. I used the same technique multiple times to build up an effect of layered dried mud. After that, I went down the line of whatever weathering materials I had available.
I believe there are more models of the Oplot in existence than actual tanks!