Soviet Light Tank T-26 Mod.1933
Zvezda 1:35th Scale Kit No. 3538
Review by Terry Ashley

This new kit from Zvezda of the Soviet Light Tank T-26 Mod.1933 is a follow on from their previous T-26 releases with retooled drive sprockets and new link and length track.

The kit is labelled Mod.1933 but is actually a mix of variants with a Model 1936-37 welded hull,  a Model 1935 turret with larger rear bustle and rear hatch and optional frame aerial around the turret. But the engine deck intake is from a later 1941-42 era vehicle and should be a simple rectangular louvered box for the Model 1933-39 production vehicles.

The kit:
The kit has 237 parts in olive drag plastic plus a small decal sheets and the instructions for a fairly basic kit as kits go today. Detail is best described as adequate but a little on the thick side and some is quite harsh, by this I mean the edges of the road wheels for example are very sharp and will need to be ‘rounded’ for a more appropriate subtle appearance.

There is subtle cast texturing on some parts as well as nice weld seams on the hull sides but there is also a fair bit of flash apparent as well as quite substantial pin ejector marks to contend with about the place, most notably on the suspension bogies.

Dimensionally the kit measures out quite well to available data and the 1:35 plans on the Tank Power book in most areas other than the hull width which is from 1 to 1.5mm narrower in places from that indicated on the plans, not a huge amount in the scheme of things. The turret incidentally matches well dimensionally to the turret in the recent Tamiya BT-7 kit although the level of detail on the Tamiya turret is far better as would be expected.

Lower Hull/Suspension:
The lower hull tub is in separate panels for the floor, sides and rear plate with additional upper glacis/superstructure and engine deck to build the basic structure of the model. Before assembling any of the parts ensure any fine flash has been removed and the mating surfaces trimmed smooth as this cab effect the fit.

Overall the fit of the hull tub parts was very good with no gaps left that needed filler, you have to ensure each panel is held firmly in place as the glue dries or they could “drift” apart but with due care the fit was good.

Each suspension bogie has the large housing in two halves that includes the leaf springs and the housing has subtle cast texturing but the join seam cleanup will remove this form the top and you may wish to restore this?

The two smaller wheel bogies have two substantial pin ejector holes to be filled on the outer face that will take a little time and care with four small road wheels used per bogie unit. Two assembled bogie/road wheel assemblies are added to each of the larger bogie housings to complete the full unit of which there are four all up.

The assembled units are then attached to the hull by way of the large attachment pins with small retaining brackets that are designed to allow the bogies to articulate but its all but impossible to glue the brackets in place without also gluing the bogies so its best to just glue them as normal.

The rear idler is in two halves with some mould seam cleanup needed and the inner half has more pin marks in the ribs but these are mostly hidden once the idlers are attached to the separate idler adjustment quadrant on the rear hull side.

At the front the new drive sprockets are a huge improvement over the original sprockets with better defined details on both sides of each sprocket disc as well as the disc and teeth being moulded thinner than the old sprockets for a far better appearance overall.

The tracks are new static link and length with nicely defined link detail with the two longer sections for the top and bottom track runs, shorter sections for between the road wheels and the drive sprocket/idler with individual links for around the drive sprocket/idler.

Assembling the tracks is quite straightforward although I only needed 8 separate links around the drive sprocket and not the 9 indicated. On the other hand I used 10 links around the idler and not the 9 as indicated and the short length of track (parts D1) needed to be shortened by 1.5 links to fit correctly. This was due to the lengths of track not meeting precisely and one link needed to be trimmed to fit the final smaller gap between the ends of the track  ends, this can be best be hidden under one of the road wheels where the shorter spacing between the teeth is hidden.

You should also make sure the sag profile of the upper track run (parts D5) are aligned correctly with the return rollers.

Upper Hull:
The upper hull is in two sections, the glacis and superstructure in one and a separate engine deck with separate parts for the driver’s hatches, front superstructure plate and rear deck engine intake and outlet assemblies.

As mentioned above the engine intake covers in the centre of the deck are the later 1940-41 type and should be the simpler square housing with intake louvers for the earlier types that the rest of the kit represents. This is quite easy to scratchbuild from plastic strip as all the box sides and louvers are straight flat sections. The rear curved outlet has a solid “mesh” part added over the opening and would be improved with the etched mesh on both the engine deck and outlet opening.

The two full length fenders attach to the hull side without any problems with separate upper fender supports that again are heavy on the moulding and etched replacements will improve the appearance.

Additional items include the rear mounted exhaust, front and rear tow shackles and the folding light on the front glacis and the pioneer tools; all of these parts are quite heavy in the moulding and detail.

The turret shell is in two halves with separate rear crew door and roof which in turn has separate crew hatches as well as the large rod antenna if you wish to fit this?

At the front is the gun mounting that is attached inside the mantlet allowing for elevation with the mantlet fitted inside the cut-out at the front of the turret, some trimming was needed to fit the mantlet and test fitting will determine the extent.

The one piece 40mm gun barrel is not the best with some blemishes along the tube in my kit as well the muzzle is not hollowed out at all plus the mould seams to remove and replacing this with one of the available metal barrels would be a good option.

There is no co-axial machine gun barrel supplied even though it’s shown on the instruction sheet so this will have to be scavenged from somewhere, the hull MG from any T-34 would do nicely.

On the roof are the two crew hatches that lack any real detail other than basic hinges and also have a large pin marks on the inside if you wanted to show these open? The fit to the roof cut-outs is good other than for the left hatch that has a large gap between it and the roof.

The periscope is just a featureless stump as is the ventilator cover and the three lifting eyes are oversized, in all the detail on the turret/gun is rather quite basic with the optional rod antenna also a little on the thick side.

This was not easy to fit as the six supports are separate from the antenna and you have to align the supports to the frame and this was a little short at the back resulting in the rear turret supports needing to be bent slightly forward to meet the antenna. This is turn sees the antenna sit too high above the turret roof line at the back and some work will be needed to get the antenna to sit correctly.

The antenna connecting rod from the roof top bracket is missing completely and can be added from thin rod or wire with the assembled turret fitting to the hull by way of the usual locating lugs on the turret ring fitting into cut-outs on the superstructure top plate.

The T-26 was often fitted with twin combat searchlights on the turret but these are not included in the kit, if you wished to fit these Voyager Models have just released a set (#PEA223) of resin & etched searchlights for the Tamiya BT-7 kit that are the same as fitted to the T-26 turret in this kit.

This is average quality at best with thickish carrier film that already has a yellowish tinge with markings for three vehicles:
  1. Soviet Russia, Kiev’s Military District ,1936
  2. Soviet Russia, Special Far East Military District, 1939 (with frame antenna)
  3. The Soviet-Finnish war, 1940

Overall this is a workman like kit that will build with a little work into a respectable T-26 Light Tank. There are some mixing of production types and the detail is a bit on the heavy side as noted above but the only real fit problems were the frame antenna (not fitted to all T-26s) and the mating of the track run ends, neither of which are ball breakers.

The running gear is quite well done with the revised drive sprockets and link and length track and the minor dimensional issues, the most being 1.5mm are probably not worth getting too excited over either.

While the level of detail in not in the Bronco, DML or Tamiya class the overall part fit is good and the resulting model is quite respectable while those wanting to put in the extra work will reap the benefits of a sound beginning.

Rating 7/10

The Sprues:

Sprue Images
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Detail images
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Tank Power Vol.CIII
Wydawnictwo Militaria No.351
ISBN: 9788372193513

Thanks to Zvezda for the review kit. Zvezda is distributed in Australia by J.B.Wholesalers

Page created December 19, 2010

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