Tamiya 1/20 Ferrari 312T3 (clear cowl)

KIT #: 20051
PRICE: $30.00 shipped on the 'second hand' market. 2000 yen SRP when new
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2002 release


The Ferrari 312T was a Ferrari Formula One car design, based on the 312B3 from 1974. In various versions, it was used from 1975 until 1980. It was designed by Mauro Forghieri for the 1975 season and was an uncomplicated and clean design that responded to mechanical upgrades.

The 312T series won 27 races, four Constructors' and three Drivers' Championships, and was replaced for the 1981 season by the 126 C, Ferrari's first turbocharged F1 car.

The 312T3 was introduced for Villeneuve and Reutemann at the third race of the 1978 season.

The car featured the same flat 12 engine as had been used since 1970, albeit tuned to give around 515 bhp. The chassis was completely new, with a new monocoque structure and a different suspension arrangement, designed to work with the Michelin tyres. The bodywork visibly very different, with a flatter top to the body, allowing improved air flow to the rear wing.

All the hard work came to nothing though as the pioneering Lotus 79 ground effect "wing car" took on and beat all comers with ease that season, and Ferrari were left to pick up the pieces of any Lotus failures. Reutemann won 4 races, whilst Villeneuve won for the first time at the final race, his home race in Canada, but it was more a season of consolidation. Reutemann moved to Lotus for 1979, replaced by Jody Scheckter. Ferrari was 2nd in the Constructors' Championship.

Tamiya along with Fujimi have pretty much cemented their hold on the 1/20 Grand Prix kit market over the years. Tamiya kits are well designed, provide pretty much everything that a modeler might want in a kit like this, and also have the benefit of being reissued from time to time if the demand is high enough. Every once in a while, Tamiya will produce a kit with a clear body so one can see the inner detail. This is not restricted to their F.1 kits as I've seen this done in other genres. I am not sure just how much appeal this has to modelers, but apparently there are enough who want this feature to justify producing it.

Tamiya likes to mold their kits in colors that are somewhat close to matching how the finished model will appear. At least with their car kits. You have, besides the clear sprue, chrome, grey and red sprues with the driver figure in white. Now most car modelers are going to repaint the chrome bits with aluminum and indeed, several of the newer kits have these bits in a very convincing aluminum plate. There are also rubber tires and for this kit, a sheet of glossy aluminum with adhesive. This will need to be cut out to fit to the various areas of the car, however, this is made easy by the other side being printed so you simply cut them out and apply.
Apparently this is unique to the clear body version as there is a separate instruction set provided for their placement.

Since Tamiya does not offer a parts layout, I'm not showing the bits. Needless to say, they are all very nicely molded as you'd expect from Tamiya. In with the bag of tires is a length of vinyl cord so that you can wire the engine. Understandably, the first half of the instructions deal with building the engine, exhaust, and the rear suspension. All the color information provided is in Tamiya shades, and to their credit, they often have the proper shade in their paint line (rattle cans) or will add it to support the kit.

Then one goes into building up the rest of the tub. The driver's compartment and side pods are the lone red piece included in the kit. Perhaps not surprising is that building up the rest of the car doesn't seem as intensive as doing the engine and transmission. The engine/transmission assembly will be about the last thing that is attached to the tub after the interior bits are added along with the front suspension and the coolant system.

Rear wing attaches to the engine/transmission assembly and the front wing to the tub assembly. The kit is designed to have the driver installed, however, there are aftermarket items from various manufacturers (including Tamiya) that provide a racing harness.

Instructions are well done as you'd expect. All the additional clear bits are numbered the same as the pieces they replace so there is no issue there. Two markings options are given, differing only in the driver and number. The decals are actually very nicely done with white whites rather than the earlier off white. Typical of Tamiya kits, one doesn't have to mask anything for the usual scheme, and I've found even their largest decals to be both thin and tough.

One often buys kits for unusual reasons. So it was with this. I saw this one being sold on line for $75 plus shipping, the seller stating it was 'rare and hard to find'. As usual, it was neither rare nor hard to find, and I found this one from a seller in Hong Kong for $30, including shipping. Well, I wanted this one anyway to add to the (unbuilt as of yet) F.1 Ferrari collection. Not sure if I'll paint the upper body or not, but at least I have the option. Besides, I could always resell it as it is 'rare and hard to find'.



June 2017 

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