Introduction: Replica T80 Battle Tank

Picture of Replica T80 Battle Tank

Tanks are cool. This is a fact. The Russian T80 is one of the coolest tanks ever I decided to make a replica!

Here's the thing about this took about 9 months of daily work...there were so many individual decisions/steps that it would be impossible to detail everything I did. Using plastic sheets as the base tub, I used a 3D printer (A Makerbot Replicator 2) to print out all of the detail pieces. All pieces were modeled in 3DS Max using pictures from the internet as reference.

This Instructable is going to be more of a guided tour of the process from start to finish rather than a step by step.

The above pics show some of the final product as well as a few shots of how I created a hatch for the turret. The computer image shows the parts I modeled in 3DS Max. Each colored piece is a separate part I modeled and printed. I would then glue the simple pieces together to form the more complex part. In this way I made all of the detail you see on the tank. Simple shapes, glued together to look more complex. That's about it. It really was not complex...merely time consuming. The number one resource I used for this project was PATIENCE.

Step 1: Planning

Picture of Planning

How to plan for a scratch built replica of something you'll never see in real life?

I started by looking at every picture of the T80U tank I could find. A GREAT resource is a site called It is a compendium of hi res photos of pretty much every military vehicle you can think of. It is awesome in its scope...definitely check it out.

Prime Portal

Once I had a ton of pictures to look at I dug around the internet and found some orthographic views of the tank. Side, Front, Back and Top. I printed these out to be the exact size I wanted the final model to be. This is super important...these are the closest things to blueprints you will get (unless of course you can somehow find blueprints!).

Above are a few pics of the orthographic images I used throughout the process...I don't have much more than that to go on actually.

Now that we have our line drawings of the final scale/size we can prep the other stuff we will need.

-Digital Calipers ( can measure the diameter of the roadwheel to a thousandth of a millimeter)

-Glue (super glue, epoxy...)

-Plastic sheets

-knives....saws....tweezers...sandpaper... pretty much your standard 'putting together models' kit

-3D printer. I used a Makerbot Replicator 2 for the whole process.

Step 2: Let's Get Those Treads and Wheels Out of the Way

Picture of Let's Get Those Treads and Wheels Out of the Way

I like to start making the road wheels and treads first. Why? Well....why not. Tank treads are totally cool and so I got excited and decided to start here. Also...this can be the most complex part of the build...lots of interlocking parts that need to work together and form the base of scaling/sizing for the rest of the tank. So let's make some treads!!!

The T80 has some awesome treads. According to the pictures the treads are made up of 3 different parts. Once I made some tests that worked I then printed tons and tons of these things. I think the total count was around 900 total prints. Next step...assemble the treads using some stiff wire. This took a good 8 hours. fun?

The above pics show the different pieces and assembled treads. Next up...wheels! Each roadwheel has about 12 pieces...axle hub, inner wheel, outer wheel, rubber tread pieces, hub details, hub cap... While we're at it, lets knock out the arms that will hold the wheels. You can see in the pics that I imbedded a steel rod in the arms for the wheel to attach to and spin.

Step 3: Let's Build the Bottom Tub to Put Those Sweet Wheels/treads On

Picture of Let's Build the Bottom Tub to Put Those Sweet Wheels/treads On

We need something to put those wheels and treads on. Let's get the main body of the tank going.

I'm going to use sheets of plastic to create the tub. It is easy to work with and just needs proper structural reinforcing. Using the orthographic images I used some card stock to make test pieces. I figured out the sizes of the bottom and the sides. The T80 has a weird little angle built into the bottom of the hull so I figured out the size of those pieces in card stock too.

Once I was happy with the templates I cut the pieces out of plastic. To glue them together I used the awesome power of 3D printing to create angled structural joints. You can see the angle pieces holding the sides/bottom together in the pictures...I just used super glue to hold them together. 3D printing is perfect for this...I just printed off a bunch of these angle pieces...all were identical and ensure things were constructed straight and true.

Once I had the bottom tub all glued together I 3D printed parts for spring suspension. You can see the arms designed to hold for each roadwheel. The arms I built for the roadwheels in the last step interfaces with the spring arms. There is a pic of all the wheel attached to the tub.

Step 4: Let's Cap Off the Tub to Create a Full Hull

Picture of Let's Cap Off the Tub to Create a Full Hull

So we have a SWEET lower hull. Let's cap that thing.

Using sheets of plastic I cut out the pieces to enclose the tank hull. There are 'shelves' that attach to the bottom can see this in the first picture. These shelves will hold a lot of detail in a bit. The rest of the cap is going to be built as one complete piece that can be removed from the lower hull...this is so we can access the innards of the tank when needed.

Front slope, the rear decking and finally the top of the cap all put together. You can see a hole in the top...this is for the some point we will make a sweet turret that interfaces with the printed ring.

Now that we have a mostly enclosed hull we should move on to making the turret....because the turret is going to really make this thing look like a tank.....but.....the lower hull needs details. so many. bolts. tubes. doodads. I am going to resist my urge to make details and focus on the turret...

Step 5: I Can't Wait...let's Start Detailing Out the Hull

Picture of I Can't Wait...let's Start Detailing Out the Hull

So here is where the fun really starts. Modeling/printing/gluing all the little bits and bobs onto your hull. These little things really make your project come alive.

People always ask me if I modeled the tank....I do and I don't. When I get to this fun detail phase I model bits and pieces in separate files. Inevitably I end up modeling a bit, print it, put it on the tank and then realize it is slightly too large or too scrap that piece and size it up/down and reprint.

When I detail out a particular area of the tank my goal is to print as many INDIVIDUAL parts as possible. So instead of printing an armor plate with the bolts in one print I will print the armor plate and each bolt....then I will glue the bolts onto the plate. The reason I do this instead of printing it in one go is for finishing. The Replicator 2 prints come out good but not perfect. I usually sand/bondo each piece I print. If the armor plate had bolts sticking out of it, bondo/sanding would be very printing the pieces individually I can sand the flat armor plate very easily...then glue the bolts onto the now perfect flat plate. Done!

Oh! That pink stuff in some of the pictures is Bondo. It is awesome. you mix it up, spread it onto a piece, when dry you can sand it down really fine...this is what I do to as many pieces as possible because they end up feeling super smooth. If I used a 3D printer like a Formlabs printer with higher resolution I might not need to use bondo...

You can see that I am spraying the model with grey primer as I go. I did this because it looks awesome....and some pieces are easier to prime before assembly. If you do prime the pieces before gluing them together don't forget to sand/scrape the paint off where the glue will go!

Step 6: Turret Time!

Picture of Turret Time! now after many months we have a pretty awesome bottom half of a tank replica. Time to give this thing the hat it deserves....the turret.

We will make the turret with the same mentality as the bottom....create the 'hull' of the turret and then layer details ontop.

The turret is pretty big. Much too large to print in one go. After modeling the skin of the turret (this took a few hours as I just couldn't quite get the contours of the shape right in 3DS Max), I split the turret up into 6 pieces. I printed each piece and then glued them together using strips of plastic. The first 6 pictures show the turret shell coming together...I printed on a low detail setting as I knew I would bondo the whole thing. You can really see how rough the prints were! The next few pics show the bondo going on and being sanded. Then I primed the shell grey once the sanding was done.

Next I built the bottom plate for the shell to sit on. The plate is basically a piece of plastic sheet with a printed ring in the middle. That printed ring fits right into the ring we put on the top of the hull. The final pic shows the primed shell sitting on our detailed tank hull (there are a few detail bits on the shell...I couldn't help myself).

Next up....Detail that Turret!

Step 7: Mmmmm....turret Details

Picture of Mmmmm....turret Details

Same drill as before...pick a piece, model that piece, glue that little thing onto your turret. Repeat over and over and over and pretty soon you will have a sah-weet detailed turret.

The armor plates were easy...all the bolts are the same size so I would just print dozens at a time.

The ammo boxes and cargo boxes were simple as well and there are a number of identical ones on the turret so before you know it the turret looks pretty detailed.

Hatches were oddly complex but by printing each piece on its own it wasn't so bad.

The main cannon was quite detailed....much more so than just a tube. I used a brass tube from a hobby shop as a base...I tried to print out the tube but it ended up being a big pain in the butt. So I used a brass tube with details on top of it. Plastic sheets wrapped around and glued down with printed latches for detail. The final pic with the primed turret and cannon look pretty good!

See that weird box thing on the back of the turret? That sweet little bit of detail is the river fording kit. In real life it clamps down on the air intake for the engine. A tube extends 20 feet up so the engine can breathe as the tank drives on the river bed! That's right...this tank can drive UNDER WATER. That's pretty awesome. Just wanted to throw that out there.

Step 8: Let's Paint This Thing!

Picture of Let's Paint This Thing!

This one is simple. I used an air brush to paint the camo onto the tank.

I started with the light color, then the green, then the black. That's all. I haven't done any detailing beyond that. My airbrushing is pretty amateur hour. I need to work on this.

Step 9: Admire Your Tank Like a Boss

Picture of Admire Your Tank Like a Boss

It's been a long trek....Let's take a look at this bad boy....

Here are a few pics of the final tank and some pictures from Primeportal showing the tank I was aiming to replicate. I think it turned out pretty well...there are still some details I should work on but for a scratch built project I am very happy.

The end result weighs about 15 pounds and is 36 inches long. 10 inches tall. It's a big beast.


darrenah (author)2017-06-06

Nice work! It looks great!

Gamerboy117 (author)2016-10-13

how much do you want for one?

ElnurJ (author)2016-09-23

It's incredible! Super! Can buy the files to print your project?

MihailB1 (author)2016-09-09

день добрый как можно получить файлы stl для печати танка и сколько они будут стоить

thanh01_pmt (author)2016-06-30

Seriously! It's really really impressed :)

DavidS531 (author)2016-04-27

This is outstanding. Hope to get a 3D Printer some day, this would be one of my first projects. Thanks for the share. Semper Fi

buck2217 (author)2015-06-24

That is awesome, hard graft though!!

kbc2 (author)2014-12-09

awesome detail. Its about the right size to make as an RC and add a .40 cal paint ball marker for the man gun. A couple years ago I had made a aluminum tub for the M1 Abrahms, finished scale was close to 1/6. Had plans of making it a .68 cal paintball tank with cameras. With a optional turret that was deemed illegal. The tub is somewhere in the garage.

traxs (author)kbc22015-05-21

i will have it !!!

ElectroFrank (author)kbc22014-12-14

Illegal Turret ? Is there now an official sport of "RC Tank Paintball" ?

It would make sense.

kbc2 (author)ElectroFrank2014-12-14

There are paintball tanks out there and battles stickly involving these vehicles. Would not go as far as say official or pro... but I think it happens in Europe somewhere. As for the illegal turret.... that would be one firing live ammunition, real bullets, or projectile. I had designed one that I could mount a semi auto pistol. As per law enforcement this is illegal, specifics unclear.

ElectroFrank (author)kbc22014-12-19

With a little googling I have discovered there are sites in England where tank paintball can be played, basically as an extension of regular paintball. (And with tanks (and paintballs) all the way to REALLY BIG !)

And I remember RC toy tanks shooting and killing people many years ago, could have been James Bond or The (British) Avengers.

kbc2 (author)ElectroFrank2014-12-19

I think the biggest RC tank I saw pictures of was 1/4 scale WW2 Sherman. In Europe they are very detailed in their models and RCs.

junk250 (author)2014-12-15

This has to be the best Instructable ever.

The tank is amazing, super detail.

You should write a book, "How to 3D Print".

Put a pic of your T80 on the cover, and explain in detail how to take an "idea" and make it with a 3D printer.

I bet it would be a thick book, but I'll buy the first one.

DBoss42 (author)junk2502015-04-09

I second that. Excellent instructable!! I would be the second one to buy that book.

omid shakeri (author)2015-02-14

very beautiful and interesting i love it. thanks for your lovely job

Javad1994 (author)2015-01-11

Can you please share the STL files?

DmitryV (author)2015-01-08

Отличная работа! Если не секрет, где взяли пружины для мягкой подвески?

Scentapio (author)2014-12-14

Wow, this is amazing!!!. Can you please share the STL files? I want to try this in my Zortrax and the little details in the SLS printer I just got.

8bitwood (author)Scentapio2014-12-14

I could send maybe the stl for the three track pieces. There's just soo many files...I think there are 190 STL files just for the turret alone...

RayP1 (author)8bitwood2015-01-03

If you could send me the stl files for the tracks or upload them at some place like thingverse, I'd really appreciate it. I've been trying to find replacement tracks for an RC Abrams that I have

Norro (author)8bitwood2014-12-17

Why not upload them to something like github and let people work it out?

alexandr.abduramanov (author)2014-12-22

Это офигенно! Реально, крутая модель. Лучшая модель Т-80, которую я видел.

apapai (author)2014-12-19

I just can't find the right words for this amazing and wonderful job you did! Excellent!

DebajyotiD (author)2014-12-18

Hats Off Dude

makendo (author)2014-12-18


xntrick (author)2014-12-16

VERY impressive build from scratch, kudos to you. Now I'd like to see you make a King Tiger, another tank with classic lines.

alim27 (author)2014-12-16

Wow!!>>> Amazing work!>>>>really nice !>>>>awesome detail >>>> I must see it T-T

hurlebaus (author)2014-12-14

No beautiful work!

Do not like weapons! They are for war - and war is no way to solve problems!

Make peaceful work! That is better! Really!

jimrittenour (author)hurlebaus2014-12-15


turkeytrac (author)2014-12-14

Oh it's great, but by using a makerbot/ printer, you cheated and really didn't build anything. Do it old school, and I'll be impressed

8bitwood (author)turkeytrac2014-12-14

Wow. Well, I guess you can't please everyone...

jimrittenour (author)8bitwood2014-12-15

I guess. Let him try 3D modeling. You wouldn't be offering the files would you? I'd love to build it with my Rep2:)

ranggapanji (author)8bitwood2014-12-15

nah, I think you'll be cheating if you didn't do all the modeling yourself. I worked with 3dsmax as well, and that sort of modeling job you've done is, well, sah-weet!

BobJ4 (author)2014-12-15


jlaureys (author)2014-12-15

verry nice job...

Shadigun88. (author)2014-12-15

now try to make it run

gpetit1 (author)2014-12-15

Awesome job.

Ludwig Von Mech (author)2014-12-15

Bravo. So very much better than the tank I made for my GI Joe in 1967. Wow.

CreativeTools (author)2014-12-15

This is so amazing! Your work and attention to detail is nothing short of excellent! It certainly shows that 3D-printers have a place in every hobbyist's home! :)

cfichtmüller (author)2014-12-15


Rogeraee (author)2014-12-15

Absolutley Stunning, Great Work. Can I ask what filiment material did use, as the paint is holding up well?


dimad1 (author)2014-12-14


GMugno (author)2014-12-14

You sir, are a master model builder. I'm in awe of your combination of your modeling skills with the use of the 3D printer. That particular model printer does not have the greatest resolution and you've made a beautiful piece. Hat off to you.

garyacrowellsr (author)2014-12-14

I would be thrilled with a file dump, as is, no support strings attached. call me maybe: (no dots in name).

tjk1939 (author)2014-12-14

Excellent job, you must have the patience of a saint.................

askjerry (author)2014-12-14

Very awesome indeed. Nicely done!

cybercapri (author)2014-12-14

What you really should do is take a few more photos to show off the Size of this BEAST, use something such as a Scale Ruler showing both Metric and English Scales. If you mentioned the dimensions I clearly missed it...

cybercapri (author)2014-12-14

Excellent Project and you dedication to details is suburb, very well done. I did not realize the scale until I saw it next to your hand then realized just how much work this project was. As much as I would like to think I could do this, I know in my heart I could not, so major Kudos...

8bitwood (author)cybercapri2014-12-14

I didn't think I could do it either! I first made a scratch built WWI tank that took months and used 15% printed parts...then I made a T34 that used 50% printed parts. Then I tackled this tank with the goal of creating something with overwhelming detail...I just plugged away at it for a long time. I bet you could do something similar...just takes patience. Do it!

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