RPM 1/35 T-60 Light Tank

KIT #: 35044
PRICE: $25.00 MSRP
DECALS: Six options
REVIEWER: Bill Koppos
NOTES: Ex-Aeroplast  w/ Aber photo etch


The T-60 evolved from the T-40 and 50 previous designs. The factory assigned to produce the T-50 found the gearbox and other components too complicated, and quickly designed a simpler more easily produced vehicle. While they were at it they upgraded the armament from a heavy and a light machine gun to the 20mm Shvak (yes our friend the aircraft cannon) with a co-axial MG. This whole engineering feat was accomplished in 15 days of August 1941, making comrade Stalin very happy. It's amazing what the pressure of having your country overrun by a horrendous invader can do, the need for a fast light tank to fill out the armored brigades being seen as high priority.

The resulting tank turned out low and compact, with sloping armor from 13-35mm thick (later turrets were upgraded as we will see). Power was by GAZ202, a 70 horsepower gasoline 6 cylinder.  Only 2 crewed the T-60, a driver and gunner/loader/ commander.  Most were assigned to recon or infantry support. Recon must have been done by yelling real loud as the electronics suite did not include a radio. Some were part of independent tank battalions which had 2 light tank companies.

They were produced from August 1941 through most of 1942 when they were replaced by T-70's.  As with all other light tank designs, the armor and firepower could just not survive on the nasty WW2 battlefields, earning it the (private) crew nickname "coffin for two brothers", but they did help add to the overwhelming swarms of Russian machines that swamped the Whermacht. Over 6,200 were built.    

 I win! I've always liked the T-60 but decent models of it were just NOT around, I tried doing something with the ancient Zvezda but gave that one to my friend's grandson to slap together. (Flash to the future). I am perusing the shelves of my LHS, continuing to wear out his floors, when in the deep recesses of the shelf I spied a T-60 kit. Hmmm typical Eastern-European looking box, 1/35th scale, never seen this one. Open the box, hey looks decent! Any decals? Yep under the plans-surprise! A large photo-etch set-fenders, tool boxes, air filters, and what turned out to be the applique armor for the turret upgrade. Wow. Now I'm not very good with photo-etch, but I do like T-60's so I'll endure. How much? $25. You're going home with me, kid.

That's some story, eh boss? Anyway the box said RPM on it, but I have it from good authority that it is an Aeroplast (Poland) kit with an Aber etched fret in there. 4 sprues of plastic include your choice of solid or spoked road wheels and useable link and legnth tracks. Decals are provided for 6 different tanks. Plans are printed on crap paper and are adequate at best, with some omissions. Ah for 25 bucks you don't get color plans. It's hard to tell why I jump on some kits immediately but this one got the treatment.

We start on the lower hull and wheels. The primitive suspension arms are installed, these leaving  an ugly hole to be mud-filled later. Not the best part of the kit but a good one is the choice of wheels. I chose the spoked over the solid just because they look better to me. As with all armor kits, make double sure all your wheels are straight and in alignment with each other, including the return rollers. The kit has no problems in this respect. The front-drive sprockets have large triangular teeth that look like trouble and they will be. The main hull parts fit very well, I used no filler at all on this model. Get all the wheels on and lined up and let them dry overnight, we're gonna need them nice and steady for the track job tomorrow.

I really like link and length tracks. They can be assembled to give a very realistic sag that the 'ol vinyl bands cannot possibly give. The pieces in this kit are acceptable, not perfect replicas of T-60 track but close enough for politburo work. The long run on the bottom is first, try to make sure it reaches from  center to center of the grounded wheels. As I started to glue the shorter pieces together I made a "Jig" by cementing a 4" straight strip, cut against a steel ruler, of .020 sryrene to a 3X8 piece to make a straight edge against which the track links could be aligned. Care must be used here with the liquid cement as to not glue your track to the board.

At this point I consulted my T-60 pics to see what kind of track sag was most common, it seems most T-60's had some but not sloppy loose like later Soviet stuff is seen with. I decided to move forward and up toward the front sprocket.  The next piece is about 6 links (one part). These short runs can be gently bent to simulate the look we want. Remember these tracks are in most cases metal pads joined together with "pins" of different types, and unless they are overly tight, they will always hang somewhat of their own weight. Now we get to the singles, and the front sprocket. The teeth are as mentioned are too big to fit into the holes on the single track plates.I started to trim them down but as they still wouldn't go, I ended up just cutting them off, and glueing the singles around the sprocket one at a time. As I'm going around I try to keep them even looking, with no single plate sticking out. When around the sprocket go into the next longer run, remembering always the weight of the plates will keep them hanging. The track should never look like it's "floating " and never hang "up". They should come off the return rollers in an even curve and slowly back up to the next one.

At his point I returned to the bottom rear and worked around the rear idler. In this way we can join the track runs between the rear idler and rear return roller. Any problems will be hidden somewhat under the fender here. And there WILL be a problem. A count of the single pieces showed me I had no extra to make up a gap of about that size. If I used another single I would be short Two on the other side. Looking around I found some leftover track links from the Italeri L-60 Italian light tank. These looked close enough and did fill in my gap. The fender and some "mudding" will hide the rest. Now we get to do it all again on the other side! When all was completely dry I took a file and smoothed out any rough spots at the joins and bends so nothing is sticking out where it don't belong. OK that was the easy part, on to the tricky bit.

The large photo-etch sheet I was so happy with looked different now as I started cutting out the fenders. I am not very good with etch nor do I possess a bending tool so we soldier on with pliers and tweezers, etc. and do the best we can. Here I painted the top run of track, Vallejo Dark Grey with a brush, as it would be hard to get at after the fenders are on. There are molded braces on the original plastic hull that need to be sanded off to be replaced by etched ones, this was done first then the fenders can be attached. I added some styrene strip under them in 2 places for a stronger glue joint. The good thing about etching and armor is if there are some rough spots it can be passed off as "damage". I bent the ends a bit to give more of this effect.

Now moving to the hull stuff, the radiator grille is given as a multi-piece assembly. I just used the original plastic housing and the etched screen and shutters. Pictures showed the top shutter always in a slanted position so I imitated this. The air filter box was done here, the screening looks much better than a plastic part. But the best is the turret. The applique armor plates glue to each flat of the octagonal turret sides. Aber even got the little scalloping at the bottom of each plate. A bead of Gel type superglue was run down each seam for a simulated weld. The mantlet sides and cannon front were added, and the cannon barrel replaced with a piece of IV needle. To me that's a good-looking turret.

The rest of the fiddly bits are tackled here, hull fittings, brackets, lights. Pictures showed a tow hitch in the rear, the kit did not provide. I cobbled one up from scraps. The large etched tool (?) boxes were folded and put in place at the rear fenders. 

What color should we paint our Russian tank? It's a tough one but I decided on Model Master Russian Armor Green. The usual Koppos armor painting procedure followed, flat black overall first, then the Armor Green, then lighten the green with some yellow, and spray the center of panels and open areas for contrast. The turret was glosscoated with Testor's Metallizer Sealer as this was the only area to get decals. I chose a vehicle pictured in a reference book that had spoked wheels and some sort of regimental mark on the turret in three places. The decals did not look terribly promising but worked out just fine. Another glosscoat sealed them in.

At this time the tracks were finished by brushing with the Vallejo Dark Grey. A Dark Grey/Black mix was used to do the tires.

 I like Tamiya Weathering Sticks to dirty up my toys. Just mix with water and slop it on. "Light Earth" and "Mud" were used, Light earth first. I concentrated mostly on the unders, and the tracks, spreading the muck around with a brush. Then a very diluted mix of "Sand" was spread over the top areas, for a dusting. Maybe someday I'll mess with these "filters" the armor experts use, but for now I'm keeping it simple. Finally a flatcoat sealed up the job. 

I don't know why I dived into this one, must have been some deep-seated need for a T-60 involved. If you can handle the photo-etch I would recommend this kit highly, overall fit being quite good. The plastic fenders and boxes are not bad at all, if you want to go this route (I almost did). I noticed in the July Squadron catalog this kit was in there under the "Attack" models label for a cheap price. So they are still around-build and enjoy!\

The Eastern Front Zaloga and Grandsen Arms and Armour 1989
 Wikepedia and varous Internet Sites, Google Images

Bill Koppos

July 2010

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