ARM: Review - HobbyBoss 1/35 scale Soviet T-35 Heavy Tank Before 1938

Kit Review: HobbyBoss 1/35 scale Kit No. 83842; Soviet T-35 Tank- Before 19 38; 808 parts (437 in green styrene, 306 etched brass, 60 brown styrene, 4
clear styrene, 1 twisted copper wire); price US$87.95
Advantages: Very detailed kit of this vehicle using modern molding techniqu es; link-and-length tracks
Disadvantages: Lots and lots of etched brass and styrene add-on bolts/rivet s
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: To all armor fans and guys who love BIG models!
    Arguably the worst design bureau in the world prior to 1939 was the conglo merate known later known as the Kotin Bureau in Leningrad. Headed by Zhosef Kotin after 1937, this collection of three tank design bureaus (KB-1, KB-2 and the Prototype Machinery Design Bureau or OKMO) were rooted in the thin king of the past. And what a past it was. Two of the biggest tanks in the w orld were produced by these designers under the control of the OGPU (later NKVD) during the early 1930s. These were the T-28 series of medium tanks, a nd the T-35 series of heavy tanks. (While Kotin did not bear any responsibi lity for these designs, he was influenced by them and attempted to perpetua te them until stopped by Stalin in 1938.)
    The T-35 was developed in early 1932 and two different prototypes were bui lt under the direction of N.V. Barykov. They were based on the British "Ind ependent" and had a total of five turrets: two machine gun turrets to engag e troops, two 37mm antitank guns, and a 76mm howitzer for the destruction o f engineer works and other targets. Each of the gun turrets also had a mach ine gun, for a total of ten weapons for the tank. But it was underpowered a nd clumsy, so a redesign was ordered. Barykov's shop became the Prototype F actory for Special Machinery, but was told to transfer all of the plans and technical details plus the prototypes to the Khar'kov Locomotive Works or KhPZ. They built the modified vehicle, now called the T-35A, and after a sh ort developmental period began limited production of the tank in 1934. Betw een 1934 and 1939 they built a total of 59 tanks, which with the first two prototypes, made a grand total of 61.
    While it was known officially as the T-35, the production tanks changed th e 37mm guns for the 20-K 45mm tank gun used in the BT and T-26 series tanks . The tanks remained pretty much the same until first a P-40 ring mount wit h an antiaircraft machine gun was added about 1936 and then 1938 when a new gun and conical turrets similar to those used on the BT-7 were used to rep lace the flat-sided Leningrad designs. The tanks equipped a powerful tank b rigade, the 5th (later 14th) in the Kiev Military District. The tanks were later divided up into two regiments, the 67th Heavy Tank Regiment and the 6 8th Heavy Tank Regiment of the 34th Tank Division, 8th Mechanized Corps.
    While the tanks were very popular during parades and on holidays, their re al worth was quickly discovered when the Germans invaded. The 67th lost all of its tanks by 18 July 1941, mostly to breakdowns; the 68th, wiped out by 1 July. Soviet records were so precise they listed the date and reason for the losses of 46 of the tanks: one went missing in action, one drove off a bridge, seven were destroyed in action, and all of the rest broke down and were abandoned. Only a single example of the T-35 survives today, and this is a star at the Muse um of Armored Vehicle Technology at Kubinka.
    In 1998 ICM released a kit of the T-35 (No. 35041) which at that point in time was the largest and most complex styrene kit to come out of Eastern Eu rope. Numbering nearly 770 parts, it had a partial interior including an M- 5 (Liberty) tank engine, transmission, and basket and interior for the turr et and even a driver's compartment. But details were soft and the interior had a lot wrong or missing with the interior layout. Even the plastic (due to its size) was doused in mold release agent which made it hard to clean u p and assemble (it took me three soakings in dish detergent and scrubbing t o clean the molds up where they would assemble and later hold paint.)
    Hobby Boss has now released THREE kits of the T-35; an early production ta nk with plain turret roof, KT-28 gun and early turrets (83841); a 1936 vint age tank with the P-40 antiaircraft mount and star cast in the turret (this kit, 83842); and a 1939 tank with conical turrets and L-10 gun (83843). Al l share most of their parts and only the detail differences are substituted .     
    Make no mistake about it - the T-35 is a BIG tank and this is a big kit. T he kit comes with the central hull tub and hull roof partitioned off from t he rest of the parts but both are nicely detailed and molded. But since all three kits share the same basic moldings, the directions are quite finicky about what has to be cut, removed or added and drilled out. You will have to pay close attention and check the parts as often they say "remove" and j ust point at the hull.
    While the model comes with a huge number of additional brass rivet and bol t heads the nice thing is that it does not seem that they are needed with t his kit! At least they include 132 spares on the suspension sprues to repla ce any sanded off during construction.
    Each bogie (there are eight) consists of 18 parts including four etched br ass drag struts but are quite complete. In point of fact, in case you want to show them off (as they are completely hidden under the skirts on the sid e of the hull HobbyBoss includes clear styrene skirts so you can do so!
    While construction is complex most assemblies are simple if repetitious an d even the folding headlights can be made to operate if care is taken with their etched brass mounts.
    Two styles of driver-mechanic's hatches are included and installed in Step 4. While the kit shows you attaching the fenders as well, it may be wise t o wait until after the tracks are fitted in Step 6/7. Nothing is attached t o the fenders until later anyway.
    Likewise, in Step 8 the fan shroud (Part H13, clear or green) may be permi tted to open if care is taken with the etched brass hinges.
    The rest of the construction of the model is pretty familiar for armor bui lders. Turret assembly starts in Step 10 with the machine gun turrets (choi ce of ball mount faces) and the main turret has a cleverly done KT-28 gun w ith built-in hinge; anyone having done the ICM T-28 or T-35 knows it takes a great deal of work to get a good fit and any sort of movement with their gun. The mantlet may also be fitted with the "combat lights" but these need wires to go down into the tank from the rear of the enclosures.
    This kit comes with an improved rail antenna and that is fitted in Step 13 .
    The 45mm turrets follow in Step 14. Note that other than the DT machine gu ns there is ZERO interior in all five of the turrets.
    The kit comes with nicely done four-piece jacks and also etched brass acce ss ladders for the sides of the hull.
    Two finishing options are provided: one with red stars and twin white stri pes on the side of the turret, and one with full late 1930s markings - red stripe, dashed white stripe, and white square with red stars. While not sho wn the cast star on the turret roof may or may not have been painted, but n o decal is provided in the kit for that marking.
    Overall, even with the addition of etched brass this is an easier kit to a ssemble than the ICM one and much better detailed.
Cookie Sewell
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