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.
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.