The T-80 tank was made to be a main battle tank (MTB).
At first, it was called Obiekt 219 sp.2 and sported a new suspension meant to improve on the T-64. The prototype was finished in 1971, but it was almost a failure, because the then Minister of Defense, Marshal Andrei Grechko, suggested that Obiekt 219 didn't offer enough firepower or armor advances from the then-current T-64A tank, while consuming twice as much fuel. When Grechko died, Dimitriy Ustinov became the new prime minister. Since he was one of the main proponents of the T-80, it's logical that the tank soon was accepted by the Soviet military.
In August 6, 1976, Obiekt 219 entered production under the army designation of T-80. Plans called for T-80 production to begin at the Leningrad Kirov Plant (LKZ), replacing the T-64A, along with plans to convert Factory No. 13 at Omsk from the T-55 to the T-72, but instead Omsk was assigned to handle the T-80 program. In its original configuration, the long-delayed T-80 was essentially identical to the older T-64A in firepower, as it used exactly the same type of turret but with an optical rangefinder. But it was the first tank to use a gas turbine engine, which gave it greater speed.
The T-80 BV was the definitive version of the 1st generation T-80, and was codenamed Obiekt 219RV. It consisted of the basic T-80B retrofitted with the new contact explosive reactive armor (ERA) developed by OJSC NII Stali. This armor consists of hollow metal boxes with two steel plates, and lined with plastic explosive. When hit by the jet from an exploding shaped charge warhead, the plastic explosive detonates, throwing the top plate into the warhead stream and bouncing the bottom plate off the tank's armor to rebound back into the shaped charge's molten stream.
The box is made out of cardboard and is very sturdy, the box art shows a drawing of a T-80BV in action. On one side of the box is a brief history of the vehicle in six languages. The other side shows how many pieces the model has, how long is it and what paint colors you need to finish the model. The kit contains 278 parts spread on 4 light green sprues, 2 black sprues, individual lower hull, and decals.
When I got the model, I rushed home to open it as I was very excited to get it.
When I opened the box I found a nice instruction manual, containing (again) a brief history (same as the one on the side). The next page shows the overall sprues with part numbers. Then we have three pages for the assembly of the model, It looks very nice (better than Dragon; I can't compare with other manufacturers since I have only Dragon and Zvezda kits). There are only two tricky parts I noticed: the front ERA assembly on the turret, and the ERA mounts.
Mostly contains parts for the upper hull, upper hull details, and some turret details.
The upper hull looks very nice, with crisp and clean molding, but it’s not correct: too short, too narrow and too compact. There are no visible pin marks, ejector pins etc.
The details are superb— handles, weld lines and caps are molded very clearly and sharply, one plus for Zvezda. The only thing I don’t like is molded-in meshes in the rear part. They look good, but some other kind of mesh would look much better. This can be changed with some AM mesh or PE part, but if you want to weather it heavily, you can just wash it really hard to make it look good.
Other features are very nice: hatches, fenders, smoke dischargers and other features are all nicely-molded with sharp detail. A little bit of flash is visible, but it’s really easy to remove it, and it’s seen only on a few parts.
This sprue contains the wheels, lower turret part, fuel tanks, mantlet etc.
The wheels look nicely-molded, but with some weird holes on the edges. They’re wrong, so you will need to get SP Designs #213 “Correct T-80 Final Drive and Sprockets,” and #093 “Correct T-80 Road Wheels (for Zvezda/DML kit).”
The barrel looks nice, but it's simplified a lot from the real gun, so I think an aftermarket barrel is needed. Do not buy the Barrel Depot version, as it’s a copy of the Zvezda/DML barrel. Model Point’s barrel (or spare Mini Arm or SP Designs barrel) will do just fine.
Other details are solid, with visible flash only on two parts. The mantlet looks correct with a nice texture.
It contains the turret, side skirts, one hatch, ERA mounts for the turret, upper hull side parts, side skirts, front guards etc.
The turret, even though it's wrongly-shaped, looks fine, with good bolt and screw heads, wires, devices. Everything is clear and sharply-molded. The side skirts are good with excellent bolt detail. Other parts are fine, too, with flash visible on one part.
This sprue contains the tracks for the tank molded in black plastic with 18 parts for each track. This is a low amount of pieces for tracks, but they look nicely-molded, with no flash, but three ejector pins on each link. The tracks look very simplified, so I already see that this will be a problem, since they are wrong, too. I think it's best to buy new ones from SP Design or from Masterclub.
This sprue contains the ERA blocks. There is nothing really to say: they look really good, with no flash or pin marks visible. The only tricky part is that you have to bend them for the turret.
Molded in one piece, it’s not connected to any sprue. There are no special details, but it looks fine, with some good weld lines. The side skirt mounts have no visible mold lines, ejector or pin marks
painting and decals
This kit includes three versions of the T-80:
Standard colors & markings from an army sub-unit around 2004
10th Guards Armored Division (called by Marshal Malinowski “Army Group in East Germany”)
81th Guards Motorized Regiment (early 90s)
The painting manual could be better, as it only shows profiles of the tank and front and back sides (an upper view would be much more helpful).
The decals are supplied on a small decal paper, containing 17 markings (14 numbers and three insignias). They look OK— a little bit of carrier film, and mine are a bit yellow but, a some time spent in the sunshine and they should be fine.
So after looking at all parts, I must say this is a nice kit made by DML/Zvezda made in the last century with fine-molded parts and sharp, clear details. Possible improvements are:
Detail the upper hull and turret a bit more
Change wheels because these are really inaccurate
All in all, a fine kit for newbies or advanced modelers. Even though it's historically inaccurate, it's good for a beginner (like me). It needs work, and I will change the wheels and tracks, and detail the whole tank a bit more. That’s because it does not rock my boat.
Russia's Main Battle tank T-80U
by Steven J. Zaloga and David Markov
T-64 and T-80
by Steven J. Zaloga
T-80 Standard Tank: The Soviets' Last Armored Champion
Steven J. Zaloga
See also these threads here on Armorama:
Fixing T-80 issues
Excellent thread by Jacques Duquette