ARM: Review - Hobby Boss 1/35 scale ZTZ-99B MBT

Kit Review: Hobby Boss 1/35 scale Kit No. 82440; ZTZ 99B MBT; 431
parts (417 in grey styrene, 8 vinyl caps, 6 etched brass); retail
price US$48.99
Advantages: first kit of this vehicle in styrene; nicely done details
such as road wheels; etched brass included
Disadvantages: single link tracks will be tedious to fit
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all PLA or Modern Armor fans
There are two tanks in the world today which are based on the Soviet
T-72 but are not actual copies of that tank: the North Korean
Po=92kpoong-Ho (Storm Tiger) which uses T-72 configuration but T-62
parts, and the Chinese ZBT-96 series tanks which use T-72 components
with a new hull and turret.
Chinese armor design history actually begins in 1956 when the PRC
bought a number of Soviet T-54A tanks and then the rights to build
them under license. This tank, the WZ-120 or Type 59, began production
in 1957. Essentially the production tanks were no different than the
originals and as many as 10,000 were built in China (at Baotou by
NORINCO). In the 1960s the Chinese modified the vehicle up to the same
standards as the Soviet T-55, but with few external changes other than
new headlight assemblies. This tank, the WZ-121 or Type 69, was built
in several models to include the domestic Type 69-I and -III and the
export Type 69-II with a copy of the British L7 gun (105mm).
The tank continued to evolve through the Type 79 (WZ-120D) in 1984,
Type 80 (ZTZ-80) in that same year with a new six-road-wheel
suspension, the Type 88 (ZTZ-88) in 1989, the Type 85 with a new
turret in the same year, the Type 85-II in 1989 and finally the Type
85-IIM with a 125mm gun and autoloader. (ZTZ is the new Chinese
designator for main battle tanks, and stands for =93zhu zhan tanke=94 or
main battle tank.
This pretty much expended the =93stretch=94 in the basic T-54A design,
and the next series of tanks were based on the T-72M tank. (A copy of
the T-62, the WZ-122, was not accepted for service or placed in
production). The next tank, the Type 90-II, appeared in 1991. It was a
new design but borrowed heavily on the T-72M with its road wheel
copied from that tank along with a 125mm gun and autoloader. A
derivative of this design, the Al-Khalid, was sold to Pakistan along
with production rights.
The next full model was 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. The ZTZ-99A1 is the same tank but now fitted with
modified armor and a Chinese copy of =93Kontakt-5" reactive armor
protection. The latest variant, the ZTZ-99B, uses a Chinese copy of
=93Relikt=94 second generation reactive armor protection on the hull and
built into the turret face, and more reactive armor on the sides of
the turret. This tank was publically shown 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.
Hobby Boss has now released kits of the ZTZ-96, ZTZ-96A, ZTZ-99 and
ZTZ-99B. These are the first in a series of modern PLA equipment and
join previously released kits of the ZLC-2000 and ZBD-04 infantry
combat vehicles, and are due to be followed by at least nine more
wheeled and tracked armored vehicles (Trumpeter and Bronco are also
doing new build PLA vehicles as well).
The ZTZ-99B kit is nicely done and very conventionally laid out as a
model kit; anyone familiar with DML or Trumpeter kits will have no
problems with this kit. The parts are well thought through on their
breakdown and permit Hobby Boss to use the same parts for four
different kits with only minor sprue swaps required.
There are the usual quirks found in most model kits. The =93blade=94 type
shock absorbers (similar to the Russian ones, parts A15) do not
connect to the road wheel arms so the connecting rods will have to be
added from scratch. The road wheels have vinyl inserts to permit
movement but the drivers and idlers are fixed.
The kit comes with single link tracks that replicate the =93asphalt=94 or
=93street=94 tracks as were used in the parade; these all have rubber pads
on their outer faces. =93In action=94 photos of ZTZ-99 series tanks show
they also have a set of combat tracks with steel faced cleats that
look very similar to US T80 series tracks from WWII and Korea. Each
track link comes with the end connectors in place and a hollow guide
tooth; I do not have sufficiently detailed photos to see if this is
correct or not but it seems to match the photos I do have.
The entire glacis reactive armor array is a single piece (H19) and
installs at one shot. 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 then the sponson bins and
fuel tanks each consist of one piece which mounts on the fenders (at
least this means there are no Tamiya-esque open sponsons below the
fenders!) As these are not slide molded, the exhaust assemblies have
to be installed separately (H15 and H16).
The kit comes with all of the details needed for the 99B turret to
include two single-piece reactive armor arrays at the rear; each of
them has an interior liner which is correct, and for simplicity=92s sake
the bars of the rear turret basket sides are molded to the inner parts
of the assemblies. The turret also has the laser blinder device which
goes behind the gunner=92s hatch on the left side of the turret and a
combination wind sensor/laser illumination warning mast behind the
commander=92s hatch. 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 14 parts in its own right.
The main gun comes in two halves with a muzzle cap but appears to be
close to scale, even though it could use some TLC such as bolts and
other fittings. The mantlet comes with a molded on canvas cover but
from what the directions show elevates and depresses, so some modelers
may wish to use putty to fair it into the turret face once it has been
set at the desired angle. All crew hatches may be positioned as
desired, and the commander=92s and gunner=92s hatches come with at least
minimal interior details. (Finding a crew for it is another story!)
There are some areas where the kit skimps a bit, but for the most
part the work in its design is yeomanlike and will pass muster with
most critics. There are only eight bits of etched brass and no clear
styrene for fans of those materials. Modelers looking for fast
projects will have to accept the fact that this kit has single-link
tracks and they will have to be installed as there are no
alternatives. One could try to fit a pair of Italeri M47 tracks to it
if they could put up with the incorrect center guides, but they are
going to be too short; ditto using two sets of AFV Club T80E1 tracks
for the M26/M26A1/M46 tanks (the tracks are about 595-600mm or right
at 17mm =96 a scale 23 inches).
The kit comes with a large decal sheet and markings for at least
three different tanks: I - tank 405, exercise =93Northern Sword=94 0607
(S); II - tank 202, =93Peace Mission=94 2009; and III - tank 01-02, PRC
60th Anniversary Commemorative Parade, August 2009. The first two are
in the standard PLA three-color camouflage (sand, olive green and
olive drab) but the Parade tank is in the =93digitalized=94 camouflage
which debuted during the parade. Color sheets are provided for all
three and a 1/35 scale black and white sheet is provided with the
digital pattern laid out on it for the brave soul who wants to attempt
it! 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.
Overall this model fills the bill and is a very nice kit of one of
the latest main battle tanks in the world today.
Cookie Sewell
Reply to
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Ya know ??
Back in the early 90's we ALL clamored for single track links in AFV's. Fast forward a few years, and people complain about them. Personally, I'm thrilled that companies provide them in their kit's !
I don't get it...
I'm waiting for an AFV T 34/85, and a DML Elefant to arrive. It's a real shame I'll have to order the AFV Club separate track set for their T 34/85. But I'm looking forward to a complete interior here. And I am going to paint the clear parts, I'll just make it easy to pull it apart to see the inside.
I even got a Cyber Hobby Wittman final Tiger on the way ! (don't know if I should thank you just yet Cookie...)
But building the Elefant comes first, sorry guys.
I'm in the final stages of finishing the AFV Club 8.8cm Pak AT gun. Very nice kit, just the parts seem to be real small..... (finish the trails, I'm done)
Damn... I'm finally building models again, hurray !!!
Reply to
Big thing is the technology changed - DML's DS plastic are as good as resin or single link and have few real vices once you get used to them. DML's Magic Track are among the most painless sets of single links but take about 3-4 hours to clean up and assemble, but most folks seem happy to simply glue 'em together and be ready to paint in five minutes.
Cookie Sewell
Reply to
I suppose you are right. I think I'm just too set in my ways, and I'm only 49...
Gotta admit, your right about the DS tracks. The one's on my DML Sherman look fantastic, and now that they have the hollowed out guide teeth on the Tiger tracks, I might just give them a try sometime...
Please don't ever stop with the reviews. I mean... you have cost me a lot of $$$, but you are always dead on with them !
Reply to
AM wrote the following:
For a few cents worth of rubbery plastic, they should include both types of tread, so we can choose which ones to use.
Reply to
Agreed - Trumpeter did that with the KV series tanks and it worked very well.
Cookie Sewell
Reply to

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