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Soviet T-35 Heavy Tank (Early) 1:35


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Soviet T-35 Heavy Tank (Early)
1:35 Hobby Boss


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The T-35 was a Russian answer to the British Independent, a multi-turreted super-heavy tank that was intended to crash through the enemy front-line (albeit at a slow pace), and was intended to be virtually impregnable to the enemy. Although this was a dead-end in the tank's development, considering them useful in a trench-warfare situation reminiscent of WWI, there were plenty of supporters, so a prototype was built with a 76mm gun in a single turret, and then upgraded with four additional smaller turrets sporting two 45mm guns and two machine guns by the time of the 3rd prototype. The weight had increased by over 10 tonnes during the gestation, and a new engine had to be installed to drag along the extra turrets.

Only 61 T-35s were built in total, with some of the later ones having sloped armour on their turrets, and they saw service in the defence of Moscow, where most of them were lost to mechanical failures due to poor design of the transmission. The only survivor is the training machine that spent the whole war behind Russian lines.


The Kit
This is a new tooling from Hobby Boss, and fills a gap in the market left by the demise of Alanger/ICM's rather archaic tooling. It arrives in HB's standard ribbed card box with a painting of a T-35 on parade on the front, which was where it spent most of its active duty, impressing the dignitaries. Inside the box are thirteen sprues of green styrene plus two hull part, two smaller turrets, two sprues of brown track-links, three tiny sprues of clear parts, three frets of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a short length of braided copper wire, decal sheet instruction booklet and colour painting and markings guide. It's a very full box, and the hull parts are secured by a card insert that keeps them safe during transport, along with the PE and other sprueless parts. Detail appears to be excellent, and the sheer size of the hull – or rather the length – is impressive.

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Unsurprisingly, construction starts with the bogies, which have two pairs of wheels mounted on a pivoting arm around a central axis, which is damped by a pair of springs on each side. The springs are moulded as pairs in a single part, with a mould seam running down their sides that are probably not worth tidying up, unless you're showing any part of the suspension by removing some side-skirt sections. You will need to make eight of these bogies, as the T-35 had a lot of wheels to try to spread the weight around. With these completed, you then glue the two hull parts together, doing a little remedial filling of holes, drilling of new ones, and removing a bullet splash-guard from in front of the driver's hatch. A small rectangular insert is also added to the sloping aft part of the rear deck. The upper hull looks like the aftermath of trench warfare, due to the profusion of holes in it. There are five turret rings, plus another hole in the rear for the big cooling fan that is inserted later. Firstly, the suspension fixtures are added to the hull sides, with axles for the bogies and return rollers, plus the dividing plates that are there to prevent the suspension clogging with mud, but to me look like they would only exacerbate the problem. The return rollers are twin-wheels, and there are five of them on each side, which will be visible through the small gaps at the top of the side-skirts. The engine deck receives the main hatch with mushroom vent, plus the aforementioned circular fan that is inserted from outside the hull and sits on a lip around its edge, before being covered by a raised armoured louver. Two big exhaust boxes with exit pipe sit between the two assemblies with an armoured shroud covering the front, and the driver's hatch is added along with his vision hatch at the front of the glacis plate, next to twin headlamps that have clear lenses. The bogies are then added with the small pre-idler wheel, and the fenders are added to the mounts on the top of the hull. The large idler wheel and drive sprockets are added to front and rear stations respectively, and you will then need to start on the tracks. If you're phobic about individual links, fret not, because these are link and length, with long runs across the top, the bottom, and the angled sections, and individual links to accommodate the drive and idler wheels, plus the transitions at the bottom of the track run. The top run seems a little devoid of any sag, but it looks like there was precious little from period photos, so this is correct. The next step is to add the close-fitting sideskirts, which have stand-off brackets added to the insides, which should sleeve into the return-roller axles, plus the locating lugs moulded into the divider plates, and lastly the bosses on the centres of the suspension bogies. In practice, getting all this lined up will be tricky if you don't loosely set the skirts in place while the glue holding all the parts is curing. The other option is to shave off any lugs that don't fit exactly. A set of PE straps are then attached after being bent around the edge of the fenders, which are adorned with a full set of pioneer tools and towing cables, using styrene eyes and short lengths of the braided copper wire that's included in the box. Two more armoured vents are added to the sides of the engine cover, and additional track-links are set on brackets on the fender next to the louvered panel, with a PE locking bar holding them in place.

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The profusion of turrets is now built up, with two each of the smaller T-26 derived turrets, with either a machine-gun mount or long-barrelled 45mm cannon with coax machine-gun, and removable hatches if you have enough Russian tank figures to go around. The main turret has a short barrelled 76mm cannon with a pair of searchlights mounted above it, and the barrel of the larger calibre guns are all slide-moulded with a hollow muzzle, which is good to see. The main turret has an egg-shaped planform, with the sides moulded as a single part, and the roof a separate part with curved edges, and the communist star standing proud from the roof like some 1950s aircraft model! That was a real feature of the vehicle however, so don't sand it off. The large hatch behind the star is separate, and the mantlet fits into the front from the outside, as does the separate machine-gun on a ball-mount to the right of the mantlet, which can't really be called a coax as a result. The large antenna for the radio is fitted to the finished turret, and this is moulded as a single part and the sprue was wrapped in protective foam due to its delicate nature. Cut it carefully from the sprue, perhaps shaving the moulding seams before you remove it, and it should fit neatly onto the mounting pads that are marked out on the turret with very fine raised lines. There is an armoured feeder wire rising from the roof in a protective shroud, which links into a socket on the inside of the rail. There is also another variant on the antenna "towel-rail", so check your references and install the correct part for the vehicle you are planning on portraying. The supporting rails are subtly different between parts, so good luck with that!

With all the turrets built, the superstructure needed to raise the main turret above the smaller ones is constructed with PE skins on the tops of the side-mounted stowage bins. A pair of large jacks are mounted outboard of the stowage bins, which I understand are to raise the turret, but I'm not entirely sure how or why that would be done. Whatever their function, they are nicely moulded and each one is made up from five parts to achieve a good level of detail. Add a couple of PE crew ladders to both sides of the tank at the front and rear, drop in all the turrets, and that's the build finished. You can see my colleague Dave's take on the build here, and his over-riding comment was that it almost fell together. Always nice to hear!


Markings
Russian Green is the name of the game with most Soviet tanks, and this no exception. Because the majority of its life was spent showing off Soviet might on the parade circuit, the two schemes presented with the kit are ceremonial, and have decorative striping around the turret tops, so you'd have to go easy with any weathering if you were to use the decals. Both schemes have a big red star on the sides of the skirts, and one has red striping around the turret-tops, while the other has yellow and white. In service, these would probably have been removed with some urgency, and in some contemporary photos you can see where the star has been overpainted due to the difference in tone on the black and white photos. Various small unit markings or turret markings seem to have been the main extent of its service markings, so check your references, and scavenge the decals from where you can.

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Decals are printed in-house, and are up to Hobby Boss's usual standards, although the stripes and dashes are a little over-blessed with carrier film in places. There is no registration to the decals, but the colour density and sharpness seem up to scratch, but the yellow and white seem a little thin, and suffer a little from translucency.


Conclusion
These gargantuan dead-ends appeal to my sense of the unusual, so I'm sold already, but the kit is a good one, with plenty of detail and it is a distinct improvement over the previously available (and now unavailable) offering. Prepare for a deluge of the old kits on eBay, if it's not happening already.

Incidentally, if you wanted to go for individual links for your T-35 for whatever reason, there is a set available to satisfy your need. You can get those here.

Very highly recommended.

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Review sample courtesy of
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You have to love Soviet tanks! I wonder if it had enough turrets. And to think this is from the same country that built the excellent KV-1 and T-34.

Regards,

Jason

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