Meng’s T-90 – Putin’s Pride


T-90 is one of the favorite subjects of Russian-armor fans around the world. A tank that barely saw combat use, and a tank that is looking like a new concept but its actually based on the old MBT project.
Most of the T-90s that we can see are those on the Victory Parade on 9th of May on the Red Square. However, with some good research, we can find lightly weathered and
used vehicles. That makes it a challenging project, since we all know that armor models are to be weathered. And heavily….
Anyway. Before we had only Zvezda kit of T-90, which only few know is it accurate or not. During 2013, Meng released their state of the art T-90A, and shortly after Trumpeter followed with three more options for that tank.

Since I count on Meng’s wonderful company management and my previous experience with their kits, I got theirs. The good thing was, that it is amazing kit. The bad – I didn’t knew what I got myself into.
The only think I can make a comparison with is Tristar Panzer IV. Panzer is a relatively small kit, containing around 900 parts, and its a hussle to be built. Small parts, hooks, turret elements and annoying tracks.
However….another relatively small tank – T-90 – from Meng, has 1300+ parts. Each track link is made from several parts, which makes a modeler’s life a pure misery.
I can honestly say, that this was the hardest model that I’ve ever built in my life. It took me more than it took me to built Su-27 with a lot of resin and PE in 32nd scale.
There is nothing easy about this model actually. I bet this will be the last model for many, especially for novices. Once you get into the project, its like a drug – hard, but very very challenging. Nothing to wonder, that there aren’t many built out there.

As you can see from the pictures, detail is good, and instructions are easily understandable. Trust me though – this doesn’t help.
I started with the engine. Last couple of years, I enjoy building engines the most. This one is colorful, not heavily weathered, and not so complicated.

The fit inside the engine bay is a bit tricky, but either way, I suggest to everybody who is interested in that kit – leave the engine out. The model can be closed, and the engine placed aside. First it will look a lot more attractive due to its colors and additional info seeing the power unit naked. Second – you will close the tank engine bay with no regrets of covering your work, and ruin the mean battle appearance of T-90. And it looks sleek!

The suspension of the tank is active. The wheels, sprokets and tracks are workable. I was onto that next. It is of course – tricky. To make all axles aligned is a lot of work and attention. And as for the tracks, even with Meng’s track tool, you need a couple of days to finish everything.
There is an option to make tracks off-road option and on-road option. With or without pads in other words. The scond option will save some time, and I can assure you, a lot of you T-90 builders out there will be tempted to do so.

Axle alignement is tricky. Just next to the glue you can see instructions showing part of the process.
Once I finished with the hull and the suspension, I thought the worst part was over. And I was so so wrong. The turret is nothing less than a nightmare. All the reactive armor needs to be clean and fit onto the right spot. And if you want to be accurate and do it like ‘modelers do it’ it takes time and shortens your life. Meng’s detail is great, but still ages behind Tamiya’s perfectness. You need to work with almost every part and as I mentioned there is more then 1300 in that kit.
Once built, the painting appears to be another not so easy thing. The tank itself has a lot of details and if you want to follow the righteous way, and do it as it should be done, you need to mask it. That is some magic, because there is a lot of reactive armor, some antennas, some curves over that thing!
I got so tired of that, that I decided to freehand paint it all. After I finished the project I made a set of masks for the parade vehicle, which follows the Meng’s pattern. Too bad that I didn’t had those before my painting days, but anyway, maybe on my next T-90. Which , considering the amount of work on that one might be done…never.
The proper colors are something that you should work on hard to find. The parade vehicles seems to have a bit lighter colors, especially the creamy white. There are few pictures of used tanks, and on those it looks like its not creamy white but cappuccino, and on others is purely brown. Light brown, but still – brown.
So, I suggest pick a specific vehicle, and follow it through.
The kit provides a lot of options with plain explanation which tank belonged to which regiment and so on. If you find yours – just dig some pictures and go.
Since it is a modern Russian subject, its more like a show tank instead of a fully working and beaten up vehicle, so have that in mind.
colors before the filters
I chose my weathering pigments very carefully, since dust was mostly all that I wanted to add.
If its parade clean, it will look like a toy, so I decided to follow the “lightly weathered car” idea.
Overall, at the end I had a relatively small tank with full engine, weathered engine bay, workable suspension, workable tracks and movable turret. The engine can be left /as I did so/ with open hatch since once installed, it would be very risky to try and take it out. And with so many turret parts, and some very fragile, you should chose wisely how to position the turret for display in order to prevent any further damages…
this isn’t how the turret should be positioned…
Once I finished, one last challenge was presented to me, and that was where to put the thing! I wanted diorama pad, but I wanted to be good looking, and to have a place where to put the engine cover.
That meant some leveled field and I was kinda confused since I didn’t saw not a single picture of that tank in a field besides parade or military show pictures. Everything else was mud, grass, forest terrain or flyby pictures.

Then, a friend of mine, commenting on my camouflage /actually criticizing it, since he is an armor jury in IPMS club/ showed me a tank placed on a concrete pads, which by size was looking exactly like they will fit my diorama frame perfectly. One of those was broken and the tank was kinda sunk into the concrete.
So I quickly did them and placed some grass in the gaps between the blocks, then weathering and problem was solved! I couldn’t have been more thankful to him for that!
The diorama pad was quick and painless, and that was the only quick and painless thing about this project. I will discuss those types of diorama bases on some next article, or maybe will make video tutorial. As for the tank, I must say, this is not a novice-kinda-model. So if you are not confident in your skills, don’t try it out.
I can say only good things about Meng’s work with that kit, and most of my criticism above is a joke. The model is stunning! However everybody interested in it must consider that it is a great challenge!
I build models from 1990. I’ve built tons of them. That was the most horrifying and challenging model of them all. And I don’t mean to scare you away from it! Just beware!
It looks sleek and looks mean, but the road is long and with many traps!
Hope you will like what I did with it!

P.S. A short video of  “how to” make the track links, and that is before you place the pads for on-road driving. You will find more pictures of the built tank below the video and soon – update with the diorama pad.

IPMS Nationals 2014 First Place!
Thanx guys!

Small update: September, 2014
another medal from
Veliko Tarnovo Model Expo