In the 1930s Czechoslovakia possessed a very capable armaments industry and manufactured weapons for domestic and export use. One of these was the light tank 35(t). Built with armor plate of between 8 and 35mm thick riveted to an internal steel frame and armed with a 37mm main gun and two 7.92mm MG37 machine guns, the tank weighed 10.5 tons and was comparable to many contemporary designs. Initially unreliable, by the time it's replacement, the 38(t) was introduced, most of the problems had been worked out and the 35(t) was a reliable vehicle. A total of 434 tanks were built. When Germany occupied Czechoslovakia, they seized 244 of the 35(t) and put them into service. Others were used by Bulgaria, Romania and the Slovaks when they separated after the occupation.
In German service they were given the designation of panzerkampfwagen 35(t), or pz.kpfw 35(t). They were comparable to the pz. III in armament and served as a valuable supplement to the German armored forces. Unfortunately, production of the 35(t) had ceased by that time so there were no spare parts available for repair or replacement. Used by the 6th panzer division in the invasions of Poland, France and the Soviet Union, they were finally phased out of service by 1942.
has now released a new tool kit of the 35(t) in 1/35th scale as it looked in German service during the early war years.
Arriving in a standard top opening box with artwork depicting a tank in service during the invasion of France, the contents are all neatly packaged in separate plastic sleeves.
The sprues are molded in dark gray plastic and I did not see any sink marks or other molding issues. There are some seam lines visible and a bit of flash present on the figures. Detail appears to be very good on the surface, with good rivet and screw heads present on all joining parts. There are some ejector pin marks present that will have to be dealt with, such as on the inner surface of the turret hatch, inner surfaces of the tow hooks and on some surfaces of items like the muffler that will be hidden from view. There is some simplification of detail, such as with the jack and jack stand and on the main gun, although the muzzle of the main gun is hollowed out.
Sprue layout is as follows;
- A sprue, upper hull and main hull, with the sides as separate parts.
- B sprue, turret and turret parts, figures, with two heads and separate headgear each.
- C sprue, jerry can racks.
- E sprue, lower hull fittings and track guards.
- F sprue, X2, running gear.
- G sprue, X2, link and length tracks.
- H sprue, X2, attached to the G sprue, jerry cans.
There is a piece of string included as a tow cable and a small decal sheet. The decals look to be of good quality, printed clearly and thin, and much better than those used by Academy
The instructions are in typical fold out style, with line drawings showing assembly and special drop boxes for sub assemblies. Painting of specific parts is called out during the assembly process. The first page of the instructions has a paint guide with numbers called out in Humbrol Enamel and Acrylic colors, GSI Creos Aqueous and Mr Color lines, Life Color, Testors Model Master enamel and acrylic, Revell enamel and acrylic, Vallejo color and model air colors. This list basically covers most everything but Tamiya.
Two vehicles can be built from the box, the one on the box top in France, and one from the Soviet Union. Both tanks are from the 6th panzer division and are painted overall dark gray.
I followed the instructions for this build, keeping everything out of the box. Construction starts with the lower hull assembly. There is a firewall included to serve as an inner brace to help hold the sides in place. The front and rear hull sections are in two parts to create the angles involved. Parts line-up was generally good although most of the mold seam lines run along the edges, so light cleanup is needed to get things to fit cleanly. This tank featured road wheels in an elevated position below the front idler to aid in climbing over obstacles and these are placed on the hull in step 1.
Step 2 covers assembly of the road wheel sections, return rollers, drive sprocket and idlers. The return rollers will be a bit wobbly after assembly, so care is needed to make sure they are straight. Light pressure must be used as the plastic is very thin and too much will force the axle through the hub of the other wheel. The running gear is the most time consuming part of most armor builds, and the bogie sections, with four pairs of road wheels does take some time to get through. It is easiest to assemble the bogie section and once it has set the road wheels slip in easily. They must be stored or glued in place as they are not secure and will otherwise be quickly lost.
Step 3 places the running gear on the hull, and adds a mud scraper to the rear drive sprocket. Positioning this is a little tricky and must be done with the drive sprocket in place.
Step 4 is the installation of the link and length tracks. They are well detailed and the sag provided for is appropriate in appearance. Note the direction of the tracks during assembly. The single length top run will fit best in the proper direction, but could be turned around without proper attention. It is also easiest to assembly the individual link sections and get things to line up best if the idler and drive sprocket are not glued it place yet. Once you have completed this step there are two links left over to be used as spares on the hull.
With the track links in place, the upper hull can be set on the lower hull and the track guards installed. I placed the upper hull before doing the track. Make a note of the two small rear plates, parts E39 and 40, in the corner box that are placed at this time, and the fender supports, parts E48,49,50 and 51 that should be placed before the track guards are installed. It is possible to squeeze them in after the track guard is in place, but much easier to do so before. (trust me, I know.) Also, if you choose to use the driver figure, it is again easier if he is in place before the upper hull is attached. His dynamic pose is largely hidden by the tank, with only his head and shoulders visible in the opening.
Step 6 is attachment of all parts to the forward hull. The machine gun has a hollowed muzzle but is not moveable. The two width indicators, parts F11, are basic in molding, but are present.
Step 7 adds the parts to the rear left hull. The hull top jerry can rack is shown placed just behind the turret. I placed it where it appeared to go, and discovered that the rack will not allow three jerry cans and the turret to fit. I will have to move it back. The tools are not bad in general, and have a decent strap attachment represented.
Step 8 adds details to the right side, including muffler with hollowed out opening (it will need to be opened more for better appearance) and the jack, as well as rear lights and the placement of the spare track link on the right rear fender. Photos I have seen show four links here, in two sets of two. There is no type of clip or lock on the tracks so that will be up to the modeler to supply.
Oddly, although the box artwork shows the antenna clearly in place, nowhere in the instructions does it show placement of an antenna or how to stretch a sprue piece to make one, normally commonplace in Academy
Step 11 is two parts. For the first tank, France 1940, the tow cable is placed on the rear upper deck.
For the second tank, Russia 1941, the tow cable is moved to the front and a third jerry can rack is added to the rear deck. The cable is also longer by 20mm.
The jerry cans themselves are decent, with separate spout but no representation of the center weld. The figures are better than those found in many kits of years ago, but not up to competitive standard. Fit of the commander figure was not great.
I did note though during construction that the plastic was a bit soft and did not take to sanding well, but did cut easily. Also, sprue attachment points were quite small.
My overall impression of this kit is that it is a good, basic model for the average builder. I did not check to see if the dimensions are all accurate against known measurements, but it looks like what I have seen in photos. Other manufacturers make kits with far more detail than what is present in this box, but at far higher prices. Frankly, I like Academy
kits because they offer good value and a good build experience, clean and clear instructions and plenty of room if you want to add more detail. There are a few things to fix with this, such as the ejector pin marks and some of the softer detail, but no major issues. If you want more detail, aftermarket companies are already issuing upgrades for the armament, track guards and most everything else you may want.
For fans of early war armor, this kit is a great option.