Tag Archives: tanks

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

Research

I intend building this kit as a captured Nationalist T-26 during the Spanish Civil War. If you’re building any kit as something other than straight out-of-the-box, you’ll need to do some investigation. The main question is: does this kit accurately represent a tank of this period? That question requires some research, and I believe that there are a number of minor issues but just three principal problems: the louvre over the rear deck, the roadwheels and the radio antenna.

Early Model 1933 T-26 tanks had roadwheels with thick rubber rims. Later versions had more complex steel roadwheels with thinner rubber rims. This kit comes with the later type of roadwheel. I have seen it suggested that all tanks provided to Spain had the earlier type of roadwheel, but I don’t think that’s true.

This image shows a restored Nationalist T-26 in a Spanish museum. You’ll see that three of the roadwheels (one at the front and two at the rear) are of the later type while the other five are the earlier type.

Here’s another former Nationalist T-26 currently undergoing restoration in Spain. You can see that all the roadwheels here are of the later type. This images also gives a good view of the engine-deck louvre.

So, while many captured T-26 tanks in Spain may have had the earlier type of roadwheel, it certainly isn’t impossible that some were fitted with the later type. So, I’m going to go ahead and use the roadwheels provided with this kit.

The louvre over the engine deck is also an issue. The kit includes this type of louvre cover.

However, this was only developed after the Spanish Civil War because so many T-26 tanks were lost after improvised Molotov-cocktails were used on the louvre to disable these tanks. Tanks in Spain had earlier slatted-type louvres that looked like this:

This is quite a distinctive difference, and I’ll have to scratch-build a new louvre. Fortunately, the louvre is provided as a separate part on this kit, so replacing it shouldn’t be too difficult.

Finally, it does not seem that any Nationalist T-26 tanks were fitted with radios. A few captured Republican tanks did have radios, but these and the antenna were removed before these entered Nationalist service. All that was left were the stubs of the antenna mountings welded to plates on the turret which looked like this:

So, I won’t be using the radio antenna that comes with this kit and I’ll be modifying the mountings so that they look like the image above. That’s it for the changes needed, so it’s time to start the actual build.

The Build

I begin by assembling the hull. This comprises just six parts. It’s only when I’m assembling this that I notice that one of the main axles for the suspension bogies on the right side has snapped off. It isn’t in the packaging, so I’ll have to make a new one.

Fit is OK, but certainly not perfect. Tape is required to hold things in alignment while they set and some filler is required at the front. I then add something that looks a little like the slatted engine-deck louvre found on SCW T-26 tanks.

I add the rest of the bits and pieces to the hull. The driver’s hatch is a separate part and could be shown open, but the lack of any interior detail or a driver figures makes this a little pointless, so I show it closed. I do come across an issue that has me scratching my head when I try to fit the vent at the rear left of the engine deck. There are two raised lines on the hull (you can see them in the photo above) and the instructions seem to show that the vent should go inside these lines.

However, if you do that, it doesn’t fit – the vent ends up projecting to the right and rear of the engine deck, which is clearly wrong. But, if you put the vent on so that it goes outside these lines, it doesn’t sit properly – the right side is higher than the right. It takes a fair amount of filing and sanding before I get something that sits flat in approximately in the right place, and even then, filler is needed to cover a noticeable gap on the left.

I feel like I have done something wrong here, but I can’t see what it might be.

The next step is to assemble the roadwheels, suspension bogies, idlers, sprockets and return rollers. I do this because I want to build the link-and-length tracks, and to allow that, I need these parts temporarily in place. Fit isn’t wonderful with the bogies – some locating pegs would have been useful. It’s also worth noting that two different versions of the sprockets are provided with this kit – the correct ones to use are provided on the sprues with the tracks, not those included on the main sprue.

Then, it’s time to start on the tracks. This is fiddly – the individual track links are small, but at least they are cleanly moulded and they do fit together well. My plan is to construct the tracks on each side as separate upper and lower runs which I can slide into place later, once main painting and construction are done.

This is what I end up with, with the separate sections temporarily held in place with tape. The sagging on the upper run is nicely done, though obviously, you do have to make sure it’s positioned correctly so that the high points coincide with the return rollers. The tracks themselves have good detail, inside and out.

One thing I found was that, while the instructions claim that you need 7 links on the idler and 9 on the sprocket, I found that I used 8 on the sprocket and 9 on the idler. I also had to cut two links out of the section of track on the bottom run that spans between the idler and the rear roadwheel.  At least I now have complete sections of track for each side that I can add later.

I add the tracks guards, stowage boxes and other bits and pieces and, for the moment, that’s it for hull construction. I’ll add the exhaust,  tools and running gear later.

Now it’s time to make a start on the turret. I begin by drilling out the main gun, sanding off the moulding seams and mounting it in the mantlet.

That’s when I realize that no co-axial MG is included with this kit, though it is shown in the view of the completed turret in the instructions.

It’s not a major problem, and I replace it with a German MG-34 barrel from the spares box (captured Nationalist T-26 tanks often seem to have been fitted with these machine guns) but its absence seems a little odd. Main turret construction is straightforward, though the location of the two halves isn’t particularly precise and a little filler is needed on the join at the front.

Such is my hatred of masking that I’m leaving off the mantlet for the moment to make painting easier. And now, it’s time to think about the paint scheme. I’m using the Star decals set for Nationalist T-26 tanks which also includes several paint schemes. I have chosen this one, showing a tank of the Tercio de extranjeros (literally, regiment of foreigners, usually translated as Foreign Legion) in 1938.

By that time, Nationalist T-26 tanks were painted in a standard way. Most were painted in some combination of dark green, light brown and dark brown with red/yellow/red stripes on the mantlet and turret rear and the turret hatch painted either white with a diagonal black cross or black with a diagonal white cross as an air recognition symbol. There doesn’t seem to have been a fixed pattern for the camo scheme or colours and these were usually been applied by hand to give a hard-edged finish.

I begin by painting the mantlet and turret. Here’s the result after masking and painting the red/yellow/red stripes, painting the hatch white and giving it an overall base coat of dark green.

As ever, the results of my masking don’t look particularly great, but I’ll just have to live with it. Then, the hull also gets a base coat of dark green, using AK Olivegrun, but for some reason this goes on badly and it takes four coats to get anything approaching a consistent finish.

Now it’s time to think about the camo scheme. Nationalist tanks had irregular blotches of light and/or dark brown applied over the base green. There wasn’t a set pattern, so I decide on a two-colour scheme based loosely on a restored Nationalist T-26 at the military museum in Cartagena  in Spain.    

Then I add the decals to the hull. These come from Star Decals and they’re, OK, though not perfect. A couple of them broke up as I slid them off the backing sheet (including one of the Falangist Party symbols on the front mudguards) and the circular symbol that is placed on the hull front and rear is printed slightly out of register. Other than that, these are nicely dense and seem to be accurate.

I do some dry-brushed highlights then, everything gets a coat of clear varnish and I do an overall wash with dark grey oil. I also add some mud/dust on the lower hull, tracks and running gear.

With that done, it’s time to add the tracks and running gear. Happily, the assembled and painted tracks slide into place without any problems. Here’s the first side done.

There’s no doubt that link and length tracks can be tricky to assemble. But, when they’re done well (as they are in this kit) they just look so much better than vinyl tracks… All that’s now left to do is to add the exhaust and tools, and that’s this Nationalist T-26 done!

After Action Report

I’m reasonably happy with how this turned out. This really isn’t a bad little kit. Fit in some places is just average, though in the end, I used very little filler here. The lack of a co-axial MG is odd, but otherwise detail is acceptable, though it would have been great to have some internal detail and a couple of crew figures. The tracks really are pretty good. They may be a little fiddly to build, but I think the end result is worth it.

As a model of a Spanish Civil War T-26, it’s not perfect, but just about what I was aiming for. The decals from Star Decals really make a difference and their painting guide is very helpful if you’re trying to build something other than what’s provided in the box.

Overall, if you want to build a 1/35 T-26, you could do a lot worse than this Revell kit. And if producing a WoT model doesn’t appeal, well just check out the Star Decals site for lots of other options.

Related Posts

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

Links

Star Decals website

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!

Related Posts

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