ARM: HobbyBoss 1/35 scale Soviet T-18 Light Tank Model 1927

Kit Review: HobbyBoss 1/35 scale Kit No. 83873; Soviet T-18 Light Tank Mod. 1927; 254 parts (126 in tan styrene, 118 in brown styrene, 10 etched brass
); retail price US$42.99
Advantages: clean, crisp accurate kit of this seminal Soviet tank
Disadvantages: only builds as first production lot and not series productio n lot (see text)
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all inter-war and early Soviet tank fans
    Occasionally I am in the right place at the right time, and in 1999 the la te Bob Lessels sent me a new Russian book for translation. The book, ? ?Pervye Sovetskiye Tanki? by Mikhail Svirin and Andrey Beskurniko v, covered the first Soviet tank designs from the 1920s to early 1930s. One of the tanks covered was the MS-1, better known by its designator as the T -18.
    The Soviets began their tank industry in 1920 with some 23 copies of the R enault FT light tank as the so-caled ?Russkiy Reno?. But it was not what they wanted, and after purchasing some Fiat 3000 tanks (basic ally improved FT tanks) they decided in 1926 to strike out on their own. Th e first prototype from the ?Bol?shevik? factory, th e T-16, was not up to what they wanted and an improved version, the T-18 wa s accepted for service as the T-18 Model 1927 or its functional designation of ?Maliy Soprovozheniy Tank (Small Escort Tank) 1" - MS-1.
    The tank had a Hotchkiss 37mm infantry gun and a 6.5mm twin-barrel Fedorov -Ivanov machine gun, but as it was a two-man tank the commander could eithe r use the cannon or the machine guns but not both. A 3-speed transmission a nd 35 HP engine gave it a top speed of just under 15 kph, but since it was an infantry escort tank not a major problem.
    But it had poor mobility and very little traction on slick or hard ground, and also the turret was far too cramped for even one man. Therefore in 192 8 work was begun on an improved version with a 4-speed transmission, 40 HP and a much larger turret with a bustle (?nishe? to the Russ ians).
    121 T-18 Model 1927 tanks were built before it was replaced by the improve d Model 1930 of which 838 were made. Its only major combat service was in t he East China Railroad conflict of 1929.
    Over 20 years ago AER of Russia released a kit of the T-18 Model 1927; the y were the first to do so in any scale and medium, but in two words it was plain awful. Any attempt to build it saw at least half of the model scratch built and no matter what it was still lousy at the end.          Now HobbyBoss has release this kit, and molds in the kit indicate that the y will follow up with the Model 1930 as well. As noted it builds up as the original production version of the tank, but shortly after they went into s ervice the Fedorov-Ivanov twin-barrel gun was deemed unsuitable and it was quickly replaced with a ball mount for a standard 7.62mm DT machine gun. Al as, the kit only provides the twin-barrel gun and not the service gun.
    The rest of the model is excellent. Happily HobbyBoss appears to have base d its model on accurate plans of the tank such as those in the Svirin book and NOT the ?restored? examples in museums, The best one of the lot is at Kubinka but needs major improvements and corrections.
    The vehicle is correct in having the original short hull of the 3-speed ve rsion as well as the original design of drivers and smoothplate tracks. (Th e Model 1930 introduced new drivers and tracks with built-in grousers for b etter traction, which were eventually refitted to a number of Model 1927 ta nks). \
    Construction is straightforward with the bogies and return rollers. These are nicely detailed (the AER ones were at least round) with the three-wheel bogie and shock absorber a single assembly. As this was their first design some things seem odd, such as the horn and headlight (A19 and A9) seemingl y hanging out in the breeze under the front fender supports. HobbyBoss has done a nice job but most modelers will want to put a lens in the headlight which is solid.          The upper hull consists of a number of parts around the central casemate/t urret base but does have an etched brass cover for the rear of the hull wit h venting for the radiator air and engine exhaust. A three-piece tail is al so provided.
    The track runs require 51 links per side but the links are pretty straight forward and should not be a major problem other than wrapping them around t he drivers. Like the originals, they rely on the road wheels and rollers to keep them in alignment (!) and are not positively engaged. The track guide s fit between the teeth of the driver.
    The turret will permit the stubby gun (slide molded with an open bore) to elevate if the modeler desires, but as noted only the twin-barrel gun is of fered.
    Only one finishing option is offered, either 3B or 4BO green (colors are c lose and only the paint mixture would appear to be the difference). No deca ls were included as markings were not generally applied until the mid 1930s . However, three early production tanks were named with white Cyrillic name s on the sides of the rear of the hull: METALLIST (metal worker), RABKRINOV ETs (ceramic worker) and TEKSTIL?SHCHIK (textile worker). The actua l prototype was painted a khaki brown at the last minute before presentatio n in Moscow (it was supposed to be in natural metal, so anyone wanting a di fferent finish could try this!!!)
            Overall this is a great upgrade to the selection of early Soviet armor k its and relegates the poor AER one to raffle ?booby prize? fate.      Cookie Sewell
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