Revell 1/35 World of Tanks T-26 (03505) In-Box Review and History

This Revell kit was released in 2021 as part of a range intended to tie-in with the hugely popular on-line game World of Tanks. Most of the kits in this series are 1/72, but a couple are 1/35 including this one, the Russian T-26.

I did try playing World of Tanks a couple of times but didn’t particularly care for it. On each mission I lasted a few brief seconds before someone with the reflexes of a mongoose and the eyesight of a falcon killed me from so far away that they appeared as no more than a small cluster of pixels on my elderly monitor. The expereince was salutory, but rarely fun. So, how come I’m reviewing a World of Tanks kit?

Well, this isn’t a new kit: it’s actually a re-box of a kit that has previously been offered by several companies including Italeri, Maquette, Zvezda and Mirage Hobby since it first appeared in 1997. It isn’t bad and I was able to find this World of Tanks version at less than half the price asked for, for example, the Zvezda version of this kit. The lack of period-appropriate decals isn’t a problem for me because I intend to finish this as a Nationalist tank from the Spanish Civil War, so I’ll have to find suitable replacement decals anyway.

So, there you are. It’s cheap, but is it cheerful? And will it make a plausible Spanish Civil War tank? Let’s take a look…

History

The Russian T-26 was derived from the British Vickers 6-Ton Tank. The first version, often called the Model 1931, featured two small turrets each armed with a single machine gun (though in some examples one turret mounted a 37mm B3 cannon). The Model 1933 (sometimes called the T-26B) featured the same hull and running gear but was fitted with a single turret armed with a 45 mm 20K main gun and a co-axial DT machine gun.

A T-26 Model 1931. The framework round the hull is a radio antenna.

By the time of the German invasion of Russia in 1941, the T-26 was the most numerous tank in Soviet service. However, this tank’s first use in combat occurred in Spain. The Spanish Civil War began in June 1936 when a group of Generals (the Nationalists) staged a revolt against the Republican government. Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany provided tanks, troops and aircraft to the Nationalists while the Soviet Union provided equipment and expertise to the Republicans.  

A column of Russian T-26 tanks. The vehicle in front is a Model 1933, behind is a Model 1931.

Soviet support included the provision of large numbers of tanks, mainly T-26s, but also around 50 BT-5s. The first 50 T-26 tanks were delivered to the Republican port of Cartagena on the south-eastern coast of Spain in late October 1936. The last delivery of 25 T-26 tanks took place in mid-March 1938. In total, over 330 tanks were delivered to Republican Spain by the Soviets during the Civil War including around 280 T-26 tanks.

A Republican T-26 carrying soldiers of the International Brigade near the town of Belchite in 1937.

Facing only lightly armed and armoured German Panzer Is and Italian CV-33 and CV-35 tankettes, on the battlefield the T-26 quickly proved dominant. After several confrontations, the Nationalists realised that their German and Italian tanks stood no chance against the powerful 45mm gun of the T-26. Neither Germany nor Italy was able to provide more powerfully armed tanks and the solution was simple and, as far as I know unique: the Nationalists decided to capture as many T-26 tanks as possible and to use these operationally against their former owners. To encourage this, the German Condor Legion offered a cash reward for every captured T-26.

Nationalist T-26 tanks. In addition to the red/yellow/red flashes on the mantlet, the turret hatches have been painted white with a black diagonal cross – this was often done on captured Nationalist T-26 tanks as an aircraft recognition symbol.

The Nationalists created the Servicio de Recuperacion de Material de Guerra (War Equipment Recovery Service) whose role was to obtain and refurbish captured equipment. They were incredibly successful: during the war they were able to obtain more than 350 captured Republican tanks and armoured cars, most of which were returned to service on the Nationalist side. Artillery workshops in Seville were instructed to begin the manufacture of ammunition suitable for use on captured T-26 tanks.

A restored Nationalist T-26 on display at the Armoured Vehicles Museum of the Army near Madrid.

Platoons of captured T-26 tanks were attached to both German and Italian tank units. These were almost always painted with prominent red/yellow/red (the Nationalist colours) flashes to distinguish them from Republican tanks. In total, 178 T-26 tanks were used operationally by the Nationalists, representing more than half of all these tanks provided to the Republicans by the Soviets. By the end of the Civil War, the Nationalists actually had more T-26 tanks in service than the Republicans! The last T-26 tank was not finally retired from Spanish military service until the early 1960s.    

What’s in the Box?

Inside the box you’ll find six sprues (there are two sprues each for the link-and-length tracks and suspension/running gear) containing over 200 parts (the box claims 172 parts, but that’s incorrect) moulded in light grey plastic.

Quality is, well, mixed. Surface detail generally looks quite good including rivets that look to be nicely to scale. There is even a reasonable attempt at showing casting texture on the turret top.

However, there is quite a lot of flash and some fairly obvious moulding seams and this doesn’t use slide-moulding, so you’ll need to drill out the main gun. The turret hatches are separate parts and can be shown open, but there is no internal detail. Tools are provided as separate parts but no figures or external stowage items are provided.

The instructions are printed in colour, look clear and simple and include painting details for individual parts.

The decal sheet is huge and incorporates what I assume are squad markings from W0T as well as Russian, German and American national markings. The only suggested colour scheme is overall “Bronze Green.”

Also included in the box is a starter pack for the PC version of WoT that includes some boosts for new players such as having immediate access to the T2 light tank and credits that give temporary access to some additional features of the game. Trust me on this though: you’ll still die within seconds!

Would You Want One?

There is quite a lot of flash here. More than you’d expect on a current kit and more than you’d see on, for example, a Tamiya kit from the 1970s. There are also obvious moulding seams and a few sink-marks that will be visible. This doesn’t use slide moulding and there are no external stowage items or figures. However, basic detail looks reasonable and the link-and-length tracks are nicely detailed.

I know that this isn’t a perfect representation of a T-26 Model 1933 – it’s said that some elements of the engine deck, for example, really come from later versions as do the steel roadwheels with rubber tyres. However, this does look very similar to refurbished T-26 tanks in Spanish museums so I feel that this is just about close enough to pass for a tank of the Spanish Civil War. Of course, if you plan to build this as a representation of a real vehicle rather than a WoT T-26, you’ll have to find suitable replacement decals.

If you don’t fancy this one, I’m afraid that there just aren’t many alternatives in 1/35. That’s surprising given that there were probably more T-26 tanks than any other type in service at the beginning of World War Two.

As noted, Italeri, Zvezda, Maquette and Mirage Hobby all offer kits of the T-26 Model 1933, but don’t be fooled: they’re just this kit in a different box and with different decals. The only real alternative in this scale comes from Chinese manufacturer HobbyBoss who offer several versions of the T-26, including one with markings for a Nationalist tank during the Spanish Civil War. All are pretty decent kits that include PE parts, but they also include rather scary “workable” tracks that must be assembled using 113 separate links per side joined with tiny pins. I’d guess that these could end up looking good, but assembling them sounds like a great deal of work!

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Revell 1/35 World of Tanks T-26 (03505) Build Review

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