by: Andras [ ]
Originally published on:
40M Turan and 41M Turan history:
Turan is a Persian origin name for the steppes of Central Asia, primarily inhabited by nomadic, horse-riding people. This area is also known as Turkestan. The ancestor tribes of Hungarians lived in this area, and this was the name chosen for the medium tank produced by the Kingdom of Hungary in 1940.
The 40M medium tank was based on the license of the Skoda T-21 medium tank. On German advice the Hungarian engineers modified the turret to accommodate three crew members, increased the armor thickness, and changed the original 47mm tank gun to a 40mm one. The coaxial machine gun was a Hungarian 8mm Gebauer machine gun. The Army ordered 230 vehicles, and the production started in the same year. During production several shortcomings were identified and corrected. The main problem was the increased weight of the turret and armor, which necessitated a change of the original 240HP Skoda engine for a 260 HP V-8H Weiss Manfred engine. Two hundred other modifications were introduced to the design, and the new prototype was ready by the Autumn of 1941. The Ministry of Defense ordered further 309 such tanks under 40M Turan II name. Only 55 vehicles were ever produced because experience on the battlefield demonstrated that the 40mm tank gun had insufficient power to deal with the modern Russian armor. The tank was further plagued with mechanical difficulties, making it maintenance -heavy and difficult to operate. In 1941 a decision was made to equip the vehicle with a higher powered, larger gun, and the new tank was named 41M Turan. The rest of the 1941 Turan II order was delivered in 41M configuration. (The description on the boxes are incorrect; both the Turan I and II were type 40M, while the up-gunned version was the 41M with the designation of Turan 75.)
Because of practical reasons, the 75mm gun had to be built into the tank's turret without enlarging the turret ring, or the chassis of the tank itself. This forced a compromise solution to use a less-than-ideal short 75 mm gun, making the tank less effective against the very tanks it was supposed to fight. This tank was classified as "heavy" in the Hungarian Army. The first vehicles were delivered in 1943, and approximately 180 were produced until the end of the war. (There was a prototype with a long-barreled 75mm gun, called 43M Turan, but it did not enter production.)
The tank was thinly armored, had a mediocre gun, and required constant maintenance; it was not a very successful design under the harsh conditions of the Eastern Front. This was one of the reasons why the Hungarian Army started to field the Panzer IV once the Germans decided to allow Hungary to purchase them. The Turan served as the base of the successful Zrinyi II assault gun.
Of the approximately 400 tanks, only one survived, which is on display in the Kubinka Tank Museum, near Moscow. As a side-note it has to be mentioned that none of the tanks produced by the smaller European powers were designed to be used against the powerful Russian or German hardware. The designers only anticipated the need to counter the other, neighboring countries' armor. Their lack of efficiency on the Eastern Front against the T-34 is not an indication of their actual capabilities.
There are not many kits existing of these tanks. In 1/35 scale the only game in town is the Botond version (which is long out of production), and in 1/72 only Hunor offers models. Hopefully with the recent interest in Hungarian armor, either (or both) Hobbyboss or Bronco will come out with a larger scale version.
Since the two tanks are very similar, it made sense to review the two kits in one review. Apart from the turrets and the side skirt addition for the Turan II, both kits are essentially the same, and share the same basic parts.
Both kits come in the typical Hunor box with the parts packaged in three plastic bags, cushioned with some packing peanuts, and a very basic instruction sheet.
The packaging is excellent: the small, sturdy box minimizes potential damage during shipping and handling. The kit consists of about 80 resin parts, and a photoeched sheet. The Turan II comes with an extra -very delicate- PE sheet with the sideskirts and mounting. The PE is good quality, thin enough to be easy to work with, but thick enough so that the parts will not break. The resin parts are finely cast, and apart from the occasional bubbles (which are easy enough to fill) there is not much to correct. The fit is quite good, and there will be no need for major surgery in order to be able to put the tanks together.
The complex boggie assemblies are molded as one unit, which simplifies the build. The tracks come as pre-assembled, pre-shaped units, which will need to be carefully cut away from the casting block. (The code word is careful. I managed to break small pieces off while sawing.) The detail is surprisingly crisp and well-defined. Once the tracks are cleaned up, it's a good idea to glue the idlers and the drive wheels to them, and then attach the assembly to the hull.
Most of the parts are easy enough to cut off from the casting block with a sharp blade; only the tracks and the turret needed sawing. (Please keep in mind that the fine resin dust is toxic, and make sure that you use both ventilation and mask when working with resin. Alternatively wet-cutting can be used: constantly wetting the resin parts and the saw under running water.)
The tools are somewhat poorly cast; this is a common problem with resin models, as the thin handles are difficult to make straight. They can be easily replaced with plastic ones from the spare box, though.
Both tanks measure up well (scaled up, obviously) to the 1/35 drawings published of the vehicles, and they are very detailed for their size.
The instructions are a weak point of the kit: some basic steps are shown, but the locations of many parts have to be figured out using external references; both Turan models have the same instructions (for the Turan I version, with the word "temporary" printed on them). This means that we get no help for the assembly of the side-skirts and holders, and this multi-part assembly unit is going to be difficult to figure out.
Quick and relatively easy build with very good detail – using photos and drawings found online, all the parts can be located.
Magyar Steel Hungarian Armour in WW 2 by Csaba Becze
Thanks to Andras Karacsonyi, Hunor Models for the review sample.