The T-80 UM-1 Bars basically
is a T-80U fitted with the active defense system Arena. Compared to the
early T-80, the reactive armor Kontakt 5 is build-in with the new laminate armor
and no longer added as extra armor unlike on the T-80BV.
Amongst other modifications, one can notice the Brod-M deep wading trunk fixed to the turret rear and the auxiliary power unit AB-1-P28 on the rear left of the hull.
In the early 1990s, the T-80U was fitted with a new fire control system and thermal imaging sight Buran-P for the gunner which gave the capacity to fire the newer 9M119M Refleks-M missile.
In 1997, the Arena system which was developed by KBM (Kharkov design bureau) has been deployed in an experimental series of T-80 UM-1 Bars. Arena is a set comprising a mast for an active radar, IR passive sensors, laser warning receivers and explosive charges. The radar operates in the millimeter wave band. Wen it detects an incoming missile, it transfers the information to the inboard computer which selects the charge to fire. This one is launched in the air and detonated by a trailer wire. The metal fragments from the explosion destroy the missile before the impact.
The T-80 UM-1 Bars is armed with a 125 mm 2A46M-1 gun, a 7.62 mm PKT coaxial MG and a 0.50 cal NSVT MG mounted on a pedestal on the turret roof. It also can fire 9M119M Refleks-M antitank missiles.
Like in the whole T-80 family, the crew is downsized to three members thanks to the autoloader.
The conversion is designed for any Skif T-80. I opted for the T-80 UDK of which only the lower hull and the suspension are used. SP Designs conversion comprises a upper hull, side skirts and a full turret with some interior parts of which the gun breech.
The level of detail is correct but there are still numerous tiny air bubble especially on bolt heads or small details. The 121 resin parts are cast on large pouring blocks which are tedious to remove. The turret is hollow and nicely detailed. However there is nearly no marks to position the parts. It really is useful to have reference pictures particularly to place the Arena system elements.
SP Designs idlers and sprockets are far more detailed than he kit ones. To install the sprockets, you first need to remove the Skif kit final housing.
MasterClub roadwheels and tracks are very fine. The track links require some cleaning on one edge. There are designed to be moveable with 4 pins. To ease the assembly and avoid any breakage, I ended by removing one of the pins on the guide horn.
It begins with assembling the hull and the suspension. Unlike what the instructions state, I first assembled the sides and the floor of the hull. Then I glued the suspension arms. On the wheel side the axis is too long. It needs to be shortened by at least 1.5 mm to fit the MasterClub roadwheel. The hole at the back of the latter needs to be enlarged as well. The assembly of the tracks is long as you need to clean each link. As mentioned above, once one pin of the guide horn is removed, the assembly is easy. A large part of the tracks being hidden under the side skirts, I only built the visible part of them. The fit on the SP Designs sprockets is correct even though not perfect.
The fit of the upper hull over the lower Skif hull is trouble free. I only straightened the engine deck with a hair dryer. The skirts are not glued yet to facilitate the painting of the running gear. At the rear, the exhaust grilles are redone using reference pictures. To do so, I used thin Evergreen strips.
On the front glacis, I added the headlights protections with some brass wire. Those are the only modifications I made.
The turret is more complex to assemble as there are no marks to glue the armor blocks and the Arena elements. So you need to closely look at reference pictures to avoid mistakes. Once the armor blocks are in place, it is easy to position the two front Arena elements. For the rear one, you first have to glue the supports to its back and then to adjust the attachment to the turret. The contact surfaces of the supports have to be sanded. The two small Arena elements on each side of the gun are attached with a bit of brass rod to reinforce the bondage. The left element is fitted from reference pictures as there is no mark for this.
The gun comes in three parts but their alignment is quite easy.
SP Designs provides a turret basket filled with a mesh or a tarpaulin. This is to help cast this complex part which for real is made of round bars. No picture of tanks during an exhibition shows a mesh in the basket. However I kept the part because doing a new part looked too complicated to me. The ammo boxes attached to the basket would prevent the Arena charges from operate but during shows they indeed were present.
The NSVT MG is a copy hardly improved of the one provided by Skif. As it is rarely seen on the reference pictures, I decided not to use it. It can me mounted on one of the three pedestals on the roof. A fourth pedestal is used to stow the cradle when the MG is removed.
All the T-80 UM-1 displayed during arms shows had a camouflage of yellow and purple brown or olive drab. Some had markings, others not.
I opted for the yellow and olive drab camouflage and no markings. The tank being displayed at a show, the weathering will be kept minimal.
The base shade is a mix of XF-59 Desert Yellow and XF-3 Flat Yellow. On this base I sprayed some XF-62 Olive Drab. Then I sprayed a good coat of gloss varnish to help the application of the wash but also because the tanks during the shows were glossy. After the application of a wash on the yellow areas, I drybrushed the Olive Drab areas with some Ochre to highlight the details.
This conversion allows to get a particuliarly original but non operational model. A new reference designed for the Xact Scale T-80U only includes the turret. However Xact Scale being no longer, this reference should be usable with a Trumpeter T-80U when it is released.
Reference : Russia's Main Battle Tank T-80U par Steven Zaloga et David Markov Concord Publications 7503