by: Gareth McGorman [ ]
Originally published on:
The Vickers 6 Ton Tank, despite having never been adopted by the British Army, was widely exported and became one of the most popular light tank designs of the interwar period. Among the buyers who were most impressed were the Soviets, who in turn manufactured a more or less direct copy of the original British design under the designation T-26 with alterations to allow for the use of Soviet made weapons. The new tank was perfectly adequate for the era and represented a great leap forward in Soviet manufacturing capabilities. Although it was the most numerous tank in use during the Spanish Civil War, in the subsequent Battles of Khalkin Gol against Japan, the Winter War against Finland and the opening stages of World War 2 the T-26 began to show its age and was replaced in most frontline units by more modern tanks such as the T-34. It remained in use in some cases right up until the war, particularly in offensives in Manchuria, where it was deemed to still be perfectly capable of fighting Japanese tanks. The T-26 was produced in a variety of configurations, including several multi-turreted variants like the one portrayed in this kit.
The first impression on opening the box is that this is a simple and straightforward kit and could make a good starter kit. The only glaringly obvious weakness here is the tracks (more on those later). Detail is reasonable considering that this is a 20 year old kit, and that Zvezda has come a long way in the years since then.
The instructions are about as simple as can be. The printing quality lies somewhere between mimeograph and photocopy and I suspect that they used either a laser or inkjet printer in the office to print these since it appears that at the time they did not have access to professional printing equipment. If that was the case then I give them full marks for finding a creative solution to the problem. This is not a problem at all since the instructions are straightforward enough that they could have easily fit them on a postcard. The directions themselves are almost entirely pictorial, with some poorly translated English and a mildly amusing tendency to refer to parts as “detals.”
For added confusion the numbers for the sprues also don't match the instructions, so some clarification will be required:
Sprue C in the Instructions is actually marked B
Sprue B in the instructions is actually Labelled C in the instructions
Sprue D is the same in both
Sprue B (Labelled C in the instructions)
This consists of the hull components, including hand tools etc. The detail here is acceptable, there is minimal flash and all the ejector pin markings are in locations which will not be visible once assembled. The two most obvious shortcomings here is the moulding on the engine intake grill and the pioneering tools. The shovel in particular should be replaced.
The Suspension and Wheel Sprue
If you're looking for flash, this is where you will find it. I found some parts had been broken on the sprue or fallen off, including the pins that will eventually hold the two halves of the suspension bogies together. As with the hull, the detail here is acceptable.
Both turret sprues are for the most part identical. The sole difference between the two is that the 42mm PS-1 gun has been removed from one to ensure that no modellers get any silly ideas about building a historically innacurate tank (though I don't doubt that it's impossible to build a historically accurate tank straight out of the box). The moulding and detail here is adequate. If at all possible, replacing the MG barrels may be an idea worth considering.
Tracks are always a touchy matter when it comes to model tanks and everyone has their preferences. Some like the simplicity of the rubber band, some appreciate the detail and realistic appearance of individual links and workable tracks. In designing this kit Zvezda somehow managed to find a compromise between these two schools of thought that no one will be happy with. These are the worst tracks I have ever seen, and I can't imagine them looking good on a completed model. I also can't really justify the idea of spending money on aftermarket parts on an old kit that's as inexpensive and dated as this one.
This kit is definitely showing its age. With the more up to date kit currently available from Hobby Boss, the only real advantage the Zvezda T-26 has is its price. It will make for a good starter kit (bearing in mind that the tracks are the worst currently on the market). It is possible to build this model, start to finish in under an hour (not including painting). Alternatively, if you are looking for a cheap model to be built as a knocked out tank in the early stages of the war, this might actually work very nicely.