|Scott Van Aken
The T-26 tank was a Soviet light infantry tank used during many conflicts of the 1930s as well as during World War II. It was a development of the British Vickers 6-Ton tank and is widely considered one of the most successful tank designs of the 1930s.
It was produced in greater numbers than any other tank of the period, with more than 11,000 manufactured. During the 1930s, the USSR developed a record number of 53 variants of the T-26, including different combat vehicles based on its chassis (flame-throwing tanks, combat engineer vehicles, remotely controlled tanks, self-propelled guns, artillery tractors, armoured carriers). Twenty-three of these were series-produced, others were experimental models.
The T-26 together with the BT was the main tank of the Red Army's armored forces during the interwar period. Though nearly obsolete by the beginning of World War II, the T-26 was the most important tank of the Spanish Civil War and played a significant role during the Battle of Lake Khasan in 1938 as well as in the Winter War in 1939–40. The T-26 was the most numerous tank in the Red Army's armored force during the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. The T-26 participated in combats with the Germans and their allies during the Battle of Moscow in winter 1941/1942, the Battle of Stalingrad and the Battle of the Caucasus in 1942–1943; some tank units of the Leningrad Front used their T-26s until 1944. The Soviet T-26 light tanks last saw use in August 1945, during the Soviet invasion of Manchuria.
The T-26 was exported and used extensively in the armies of Spain, China and Turkey. In addition, captured T-26 light tanks were used by the Finnish, German, Romanian and Hungarian armies.
The T-26 was reliable and simple to maintain, and its design was continually modernised between 1931 and 1941. However, no new models of the T-26 were developed after 1940.
Initial tanks had twin turrets. The 1933 version was the first with a single cylindrical turret. The 1935 mod was nearly identical except that the turret was welded.
This is another very nicely molded Hobby Boss armor kit. It comes with mostly dark green sprues with the track bits being in dark tan. A one piece lower hull is provided as is a working suspension. Each of the various suspension bits is installed using plastic pins, which have 'no cement' notes that should provide full articulation once complete. This is also true of the individual track links and I do not think I would be far from wrong in stating that most of the parts count is involved in the tracks. In with the bag of plastic track links is an alignment board that allows the links to be held in place while they are pinned. These sorts of pinned plastic tracks are very much one of the more recent developments in separate link technology and everyone I have talked to about them really likes the way they work.
The kit also includes a nice photo etch fret. This fret is mostly for the engine exhaust/vent screen, the fender braces, and the small channels that fit in front of the driver's compartment. Perhaps these are to prevent ricochets from bouncing off the glacis and into the driver's face. Also included are the usual tools that one finds on the fenders and a driving light.
The welded turret is in two halves with separate crew hatches, though these and other hatches are to be modeled closed as there is no interior detail. The gun barrel is a single molded and the area around the turret seems appropriately busy. I am assuming that the ring around the turret is actually a radio antenna. This is also a single piece and nicely molded.
Instructions are well drawn with clear construction steps. At the end of the steps are several full tank drawins so you can be sure you got all the bits in the right place. Unsurprisingly, no color information is supplied in the main instructions. A full color painting and markings guide is provided for two vehicle. One is the box art vehicle with the colorful red/yellow markings. The big marking on the turret will need to be painted so keep that in mind during turret construction. The white background for the roof 'x' also needs to be painted. The other is without all the color and has a couple of patriotic slogans on them (in Spanish, of course). No unit info is provided, but it is obvious both are tanks used in the Spanish Civil War.
While not the first T-26 to be kitted in this scale, it is probably the best in terms of accuracy and ease of construction. Some may shy away from the separate track links, but from the look of it, this would be one of the more hassle-free methods and well worth a go.
Thanks to Squadron Products for the preview kit. You can find this kit at your favorite hobby shop or on-line retailer.
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