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HobbyBoss 1/35 T-37A Light Tank Izhorsky (83821) Build Review

The main issue for me in this build is the tracks. These are individual links (more than eighty on each side) and assembling these will be a challenge and means a slightly different approach to construction. Normally, I would paint the hull and things like roadwheels, suspension units and sprockets separately and before assembly. Here, I need all the running gear assembled and in place on the lower hull before I can begin to build the tracks.

I begin by building all four suspension bogies. These are not complicated, but fit is a little imprecise and it takes some careful alignment to get all the roadwheels lined up. Then I attached all four bogies to the lower hull and here I found the fit to be poor. There is a square lug on each bogie that locates in a hole in the lower hull. However, it took some careful propping while the glue set to get everything to line up.

The sprockets, idlers and return roller all fit well. Here is the complete suspension attached to the lower hull.

Then, it’s time to start building the tracks. The individual links are tiny – here are eleven on a 2p coin. I want to glue the complete track length on each side as two separate pieces that can then be removed for painting.

Each link must be carefully cut off the sprue and then sanded – not easy when they are so small. Engagement between the links is not particularly positive – the leading edges of each links engage with tiny slots on the adjacent link. However, a little too much enthusiasm when sanding can make the leading edges uneven which makes the tracks curve. You need to do this 174 times, so it’s not a quick process. At least there are plenty of spare links if the carpet monster gets a few.

I started with the straight run at the bottom and gradually added links up to the sprocket and idler, being careful to glue the links to each other but not to the sprocket and idler. I used AK quick-drying liquid cement which worked well. I was feeling quite good about this until I spotted that the tracks were upside down! After a few expletives, I found that it wasn’t too difficult to remove the tracks and turn them round.

Next, I started working on the upper run and here I wanted to add sag between the return rollers. To do this I used a little tape to create a curve on a piece of plastic card and assembled each of the three parts of the upper run using this as a template. These were then joined to form a single upper run. I did not join this to the lower run so that the tracks could be removed for painting. Here is the finished track on one side.

Building the tracks took way longer than I expected and it certainly isn’t perfect but, if I’m honest, it turned out better than I expected. It is certainly much more time-consuming than using rubber-band type tracks or even track-and-link sections, but, from the side at least, I think it looks better too.

Then, the tracks were removed and the upper hull was added along with the hatches, vents and other parts and PE parts. Fit here was generally very good and I didn’t need to use any filler. I left off the tools and exhaust which I will paint separately and the buoyancy tanks which I will add after the tracks are painted and assembled. One thing I did notice was that the hinged splash guard on the upper front of the glacis plate isn’t mentioned in the assembly instructions – it’s not there on one step and appears in the next, but fortunately it isn’t difficult to see where it belongs.

Next, the turret was assembled. Fit was good but a little filler was needed at the front edge of the hatch.

Then, everything got a coat of Vallejo spray olive drab, the tyres were painted on the roadwheels, idlers and return wheels and a little light chipping was added.

Then, the white cross was painted on the turret and everything got a coat of clear varnish.

The assembled track lengths were painted with dark gunmetal and lighter highlights on the internal horns and treads.

The tracks were added to the hull with a dark brown acrylic wash to represent mud and rust and Abteilung Oils Dark Mud was used to add highlights and streaks.

Then the buoyancy tanks were added. Finally, the tools and exhaust were added to the hull and the decals and machine-gun added to the turret. And that’s pretty much it finished!

After Action Report

Apart from the tracks, this was a fairly simple build. Fit is reasonable, though not great in places – getting the suspension bogies to line-up wasn’t easy, for example. There are no really tiny parts and the instructions are easy to follow.  

I found building the tracks to be a bit of a pain. No matter how careful I was, I still ended up with some links that just don’t line up properly with those adjacent – this is particularly noticeable looking from the front or rear. Engagement between the links is not great and it is just too easy to sand off a fraction too much when cleaning up the individual links – this, I think, is what leads to some not being straight. Viewed from the side, the sag is satisfactory and the tracks look all-right. I don’t think I would be inclined to tackle another kit of a tank this small using individual links like this though on a kit of a larger tank or where the engagement between links was more positive and didn’t rely on sanding for alignment, it might be OK.

Overall, detail is good and, looking at photographs, this appears to be an accurate representation of the T-37A. The detail is perfectly adequate and the PE parts are a nice touch.

If you have the patience and persistence to deal with the tracks, this can build into a perfectly reasonable kit of a little-known light tank. If you can find it, as I did, at a reduced price, I would highly recommend it.

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HobbyBoss 1/35 T-37A Light Tank Izhorsky (83821) In-Box Review and History

HobbyBoss 1/35 T-37A Light Tank Izhorsky (83821) In-Box Review and History


I am into uncharted territory here with a review of a tank I had never heard of from a kit manufacturer I have never come across before. This was an impulse buy from a local stockist who was offering this at a silly price. I like light tanks and when I saw that this kit includes PE parts (something I haven’t tried before) I decided to give it a go.

This kit was originally released by HobbyBoss in 2013 and this is a re-box with new parts released in 2014. One of the first things I wanted to know is; who is HobbyBoss? All I have been able to discover is that this is a Chinese company that has some sort of relationship with Trumpeter – the two companies list the same address and both are owned by Yatai Electric Appliances Co., Ltd. Some sites claim that Trumpeter make kits under license for Hobby Boss but I have not been able to confirm that.  

The company website lists an extensive list of 1/35 armour which includes a number of interesting inter-war designs including the Soviet BT-2 and the Vickers Medium Tank Mk II. I rather like that and it makes a nice change from the usual Tigers, Panthers and Shermans. HobbyBoss also produce armour in other scales and a range of ship and aircraft kits.


Back in the 1930s, the Soviet Union was one of the first countries to investigate the use of large-scale air-mobile units – the first Russian Airborne Brigade was formed in December 1932. Like all airborne forces, Russian airborne troops lacked armour and the T-37A was born out of a combination of a requirement for a light tank capable of being air-dropped and for an amphibious tank capable of not just fording rivers but also crossing larger bodies of water and impassable swampy terrain.

In the UK, Vickers-Carden-Loyd had produced an experimental amphibious light tank in 1930. This used the running gear from the Mk. VI tankette produced by the same company and flotation was achieved by adding two large buoyancy tanks above the tracks. The British Army was not interested in an amphibious tank and Carden-Loyd looked for foreign buyers for this radical design. In February 1932, eight Carden-Loyd A4E11 Amphibious Tanks were sold to Russia and these provided the basis for what would become the T-37A. However, though it was based on the British design, the T-37A was a completely new tank.

A Carden-Loyd A4E11 Amphibious Tank

The lower hull was rounded front and rear to provide better performance in water, a power-take-off from the GAZ-AA engine drove a small two-bladed propeller and water steering was achieved using a large rudder. The two buoyancy tanks above the tracks were filled with cork or balsa wood. A revolving turret housed a single DT model 1929 machine gun. The T-37A housed a crew of just two men and in order to keep its weight down, armour was very light, barely capable of deflecting even heavy machine-gun rounds.

A column of T-37As

By the end of 1936, over 1,200 T-37As had been produced, making this the most popular amphibious tank in the world at that time. Experiments were carried out with air-dropping the T-37A from the large TB-3 bomber. No parachute was used – instead the T-37A was dropped into lakes or large rivers. These experiments were only moderately successful, several of the tanks sank, and the T-37A was never used operationally in this way. However, the ability of this tank to cross rivers, lakes and marshy ground made it an attractive proposition to the Red Army as a reconnaissance vehicle.

An early T-37 demonstrates its amphibious ability

T-37As were used in the Russian invasion of Poland in 1939 and in the Winter War against Finland. The Finnish Army captured more than thirty T-37As and used these for several years. When the German Army invaded Russia in 1941, the T-37A was quickly found to be a liability in action against German armour and most were relegated to auxiliary defence units in rear area. However, the T-37A continued in use with the Red Army up to late 1944 and a number survived the war in operational condition. A memorial parade in Moscow in 2011 featured three T-37As.  

What’s in the Box?

This box contains nine sprues moulded in dark green plastic plus the lower hull and seven sprues containing the track links moulded in light brown plastic. This kit models the later type T-37A with a flat glacis plate.

Detail is generally very sharp, there is no flash and no obvious sink-marks. A nice touch is that delicate parts are protected on the sprues by being wrapped in protective paper. It is also good to see that the tools and other small parts are all moulded separately.

The driver’s hatch can only be shown in the closed position and there is no detail inside the driver’s position.

There are four identical sprues, each containing all the parts to make one complete suspension bogie. Detail on the suspension looks reasonable.

Two identical sprues contain the sprockets, idlers and associated parts.

The turret hatch can be modelled open or closed and the kit includes a full model of the turret machine gun, though no other internal detail. The odd shape of the lower hull is nicely captured, even if it does look a little like an elderly pram. 

The individual track links are on seven identical sprues moulded in light brown plastic. A total of 196 links are provided. 

The small PE fret contains a screen for the rear engine cover, attachments for the exhaust and some other small bits and pieces.

The decal sheet is simple but adequate.

The instructions look straightforward and clear.

And there are full-colour views of three different sets of decals and colour schemes.

Would You Want One?

Looking in the box did not reveal any major disappointments. The level of detail looks good and the quality of moulding seems consistently sharp. Things like the roadwheels and suspension bogie parts are small, but then this was a tiny tank so that’s not surprising. The fret of PE parts is small and doesn’t look too daunting. As I have never tried PE parts before, this looks like quite a gentle introduction.

The tracks I’m not so sure about. I like the track-and-link approach and I feel that it provides a better result than rubber-band type tracks. However, the idea of building both sets of tracks one link at a time seems more than a little challenging, particularly when the individual links are so small – these are no bigger than, for example, the links for the Revell 1/72 Tiger I built recently. If I had realised that these tracks had to be assembled entirely from individual links, I might not have been so quick to buy this.

However, if you have a hankering to build a T-37A in 1/35, there really aren’t many options. A Ukrainian company called LF Models used to make a T-37A in this scale, but I have never seen one offered for sale by any stockist here in Spain. The same thing applies to the 1/35 T-37A produced by Russian company Micro Scale Design.

So, overall, this looks a perfectly reasonable kit of an unusual tank, if you are willing to take on the task of building the tracks. And it does seem to be cheap – I paid less for this kit that I would have for a premium 1/72 kit. Read the build review to see how I got on.  

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HobbyBoss 1/35 T-37A Light Tank Izhorsky (83821) Build review