ARM: Review - Bronco PLA ZTZ-99A1 Main Battle Tank

Kit Review: Bronco 1/35 scale Kit No. CB-35040; Chinese PLA ZTZ-99A1
Main Battle Tank;
920 parts (884 in tan styrene, 26 clear styrene, 9 etched brass, 1
length of nylon string); retail price US$56.00
Advantages: far more detailed kit of this vehicle than the Hobby Boss
kit (twice as many parts!); etched brass included, working tracks
Disadvantages: four-part single link tracks will be VERY tedious to
fit
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all PLA or Modern Armor fans
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, or at least
so goes one of Newton=92s theories. One could also say in this day and
age for every new kit released by one company another one will release
its own version in competion, and here Bronco is now releasing its
take on modern PLA tanks to compete with Hobby Boss.
Having recently reviewed the Hobby Boss version of this tank, let me
summarize a bit of its history.
Current Chinese main battle tank design began with the WZ-123 or
ZTZ-96, which was the transitional mechanical model between the T-54A
and T-72M designs. An improved version, the ZTZ-98, was first
publically shown in 1999 at the PRC 50th Anniversary Parade. This tank
was longer and lower than the T-72M it was based on, and used several
innovative features such as a laser blinder for use against ATGM
teams. This tank evolved into the ZTZ-99. which appears to be the
family which the Chinese will make their new standard tank system.
There are at least three models of the tank in service (albeit in
small numbers): the ZTZ-99A, which is based on the T-72M with a copy
of the German MTU MB 870 V engine (1500 HP), a ZTB-98 125mm gun
(equivalent to the 2A46M) with the ability to fire a Chinese made
version of the 9M119 =93Refleks=94 antitank guided missile, and other
modifications.
There is currently some argument as to what the current tanks are
actually called. Hobby Boss referred to their kit as a =93ZTZ-99B=94 (No.
82440) whereas Bronco calls the exact same vehicle a ZTZ-99A1. From
what I have received in the way of comments, this is apparently the
more accurate designator of the two. Whichever is correct, this is the
vehicle which was paraded in August 2009 at the PRC=92s 60th
Anniversary Parade.
The main difference in this case is the fact that the ZTZ-99 series
are the first tanks in the world fielded with first replaceable
modular armor on the front of the turret and now built-in reactive
armor in those modules. This essentially means any ZTZ-99 can be
upgraded to the latest level of turret protection in a matter of a few
hours (there is some suspicion they bought the design from KBTM in
Omsk). It has the 125mm gun (now reportedly equivalent to the Russian
2A46M5 variant), a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, a 12.7mm AA MG and the
laser blinding system.
While Hobby Boss is releasing kits it calls the ZTZ-96, ZTZ-96A,
ZTZ-99 and ZTZ-99B. Bronco is doing those of the ZTZ-98, ZTZ-99A,
ZTZ-99A1, and ZTZ-99G. Sorting them all out will take time.
Bronco has a bit of a different take on this tank, and its kit is
much more detailed (read a lot more parts) than the Hobby Boss kit.
There are more options in the way of detail items (such as two
different sets of exhaust outlets built into the fender panniers) and
a set of clear parts for the vehicle. Frankly, I don=92t find most clear
parts very useful as the marker and tail lights must be painted and
the viewer blocks need tinting, but it appears to be popular with the
model companies.
In a similar fashion to the Hobby Boss kit, this kit also has its
quirks. The=93blade=94 type shock absorbers (similar to the Russian ones,
parts B23) do not connect to the road wheel arms, but have a
connected piston buffer (parts B20-21) which is not found in the Hobby
Boss kit. Go figure. This kit uses end caps cemented in place to
permit movement of all of the wheels vice vinyl keepers; however, it
does not note it in the directions but if the tracks are to move the
drivers must be left loose. Also, the kit comes with three working
torsion bars per side (stations 2, 3 and 4) so the suspension may be
=93posed=94.
This kit will have some serious comments about its design among
modelers, for while it comes with working tracks each link consists of
four parts - inner pad and tooth, frame, and two external pads. The
result is that the tracks consist of well over 550 parts alone and
will require a long time to assemble if the modeler wants them to
actually work. These replicate the =93asphalt=94 or =93street=94 tracks as
were used in the parade; Bronco is also going to produce the =93combat=94
tracks with US T80 type steel chevron cleats.
The entire glacis reactive armor array is a single piece (J19) and
installs at one shot. Like the Hobby Boss kit, it appears to be
designed to fit over the glacis fittings left over from the ZTZ-96 and
ZTZ-98 designs with no modification required. The lights and other
glacis details mount on it or through it once in place. Note that all
six etched brass grilles have to be installed at this time as well.
The fenders are separate which is good, but unlike the Hobby Boss kit
the sponson bins and fuel tanks have separate details and bin covers
so the modeler has some options. As noted before there are a choice of
two different designs of exhaust outlets for the bins.
The kit comes with all of the details needed for the turret for this
vehicle to include two single-piece reactive armor arrays at the rear;
each of them has an interior liner which is correct, but this kit has
separate bars for the rear turret basket sides. The turret also has a
more detailed laser warning device and laser blinder device. Ten
individual barrels for smoke grenade launchers form four assemblies
(two fours and two singles) for the sides of the turret, and the lift
rings for the frontal armor modules are provided as separate parts as
well. The QJC-88 machine gun (a lightweight Chinese redesign of the
famous =93Dushka=94) comes on a separate sprue and consists of 16 parts in
its own right (two more than the Hobby Boss one).
The main gun comes in two halves with a muzzle cap but appears to be
close to scale, but appears to have most of the bolts and other
fittings not present on the Hobby Boss kit. The mantlet comes with two
mantlets, each with a molded canvas cover; one is for the gun at zero
elevation and one at a slight angle but the gun is apparently not
supposed to be left moveable. All crew hatches may be positioned as
desired, and the commander=92s and gunner=92s hatches come with interior
details.
Like the Hobby Boss kit there are etched brass parts provided
(grilles and the straps for the auxiliary fuel tanks and a guard for
the commander=92s viewer). The tow cables have quite intricate
attachment points at the rear and a rigging diagram (!) is provided to
get it correct.
The kit comes with a large decal sheet and markings for two different
tanks: tank 212, =93Peace Mission=94 2009 (three color standard PLA
camouflage); and tank 01-01, PRC 60th Anniversary Commemorative
Parade, August 2009 ( =93digitalized=94 four color camouflage which
debuted during the parade). As these are also options in the Hobby
Boss kit, note that the =93Peace Mission=94 2009 tank is the most colorful
as it comes with Chinese national flags and regimental insignia which
go on the ERA packages on the sides of the turret rear as well as
Chinese red stars on the front faces. (It=92s also easier to paint!)
The kit comes with a very nicely laid out instruction booklet, and
while it uses the =93stick here=94 type of directions they are much
clearer and better separated. It also color matches the options for
four main brands of paint (Gunze Sangyo, Hobby Color, Humbrol and
Tamiya).
Overall this model is an excellent rendition of the tank, and the
modeler now has a choice between a =93quick build=94 with the Hobby Boss
kit or a more detailed model with the Bronco kit.
Cookie Sewell
Reply to
AMPSOne
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Thanks Cookie for the great description of the real tank. I wonder if any one else has the same problem in tank recognition. All modern MBTs (excluding the Merkava and maybe the Leopard II) look the same to me - a big rectangular box for the body and some form of flattened wedge for the turret. Tanks of the Vietnam era and earlier I can identify with a brief glance. But modern MBTs, if shown without a caption, I find impossible to ID.
Reply to
PaPa Peng
n, or at least
Hobby Boss kit
two different
Part of the problem with modern Chinese tanks is that they are cagey about what the actual designators are and what information is released. One enterprising chap wrote a complete history of the ZTZ-96 and ZTZ-98 and published it without permission: the government frantically tried to police up the copies and then slapped him in jail for four months as punishment for not getting cleareance first.
Also the Chinese do not translate their articles (attitude seems to be if you're "illiterate" then you didn't need to know the info in the first place) so it is harder to get the basic info straight. I have a friend in Australia who is a Chinese linguist and keeps me fed with the most accurate data he can find.
Cookie Sewell
Reply to
AMPSOne
A recent post on Armorama from a Chinese source points out a significant size discrepancy between the Hobby Boss and Bronco kits. The post claims that Bronco based their kit's dimensions on the ZTZ-96, which is smaller than the ZTZ-99 series. I have no idea whose kit is correct, but it's something to hash out over the next few months as the kits start to get built and compared. Gerald Owens
ion, or at least
is tank, let me
ZTZ-99 series
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turret for this
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or two different
Reply to
Gerald Owens

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