The T-26, developed from a Vickers design, marked an important step in Soviet tank development.
Modernization and modification continued as more than 11,000 tanks and other vehicles based it were built from 1931-41. T-26s fought in China and Spain, and the light AFV was the most numerous tank in the Red Army when Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941.
Other kits of the T-26 have been released, mostly of the later variant fitted with a single-turret. HobbyBoss kicks off its T-26 releases with the initial version, the so-called Model 1931, armed with two machine guns in matching turrets.
The parts feature sharp, recessed panel lines and crisply molded rivet and bolt heads. The edges of parts like the turret platform are extremely thin.
The individual-link plastic tracks connect by plastic pins and can be workable.
Construction started with the running gear. The components have terrific detail, including individual support rods inside the drive sprockets which look great when they’re done. But it pays to be extremely patient — the small parts are easy to lose and need trimming to fit properly.
The Vickers bogies came next. Judicious glue application will leave the wheels free to turn and the bogies posable.
Once the running gear was assembled, the hull went together easily. Fit is good throughout if you pay attention to cleanup and alignment, especially when building the superstructure and adding the hull plates.
In Step 6, you choose between early- and late-style air outflows, both with photoetched-metal grilles. As I understand, the early version proved susceptible to excessive water intake during rain and snow, so the top opening was replaced with an aft-facing cover. I chose the early version.
I skipped Step 7, assembling the tracks and adding them after painting. (More on the headaches that caused later.)
I assembled the exhaust and muffler in Step 8. It’s a lot of parts requiring careful alignment — I recommend slow-setting liquid cement — but the finished system looks good and there were no awkward seams.
The driver’s hatch proved mildly problematic, because there wasn’t much to hold the parts in place during glue application.
I deviated from the instructions in Step 9, attaching the fenders to the hull before installing the photoetched-metal brackets.
Step 11 presents the option of attaching add-on armor to the driver’s hatch and front of the superstructure. But there is no indication of when it is appropriate to add them. Be sure to remove the rivets on the parts being covered for proper fit.
Step 12 covers turret assembly, with the option to build either two identical machine-gun armed turrets, or one with a machine gun and the other a 37mm Hotchkiss gun. The latter includes a photoetched-metal mantlet cover. I built two machine-gun turrets and the parts went together easily.
After painting the hull and turrets with Vallejo Russian armor green primer, I applied decals. The only markings provided are four versions of identification stripes for the turrets. I went with the simple white dashed lines, and the decals went on OK with a little setting solution.
Finally, I assembled the tracks. They turned out to be the biggest impediment to an easy build. HobbyBoss provides a jig designed to hold 14 links. It works well to position the tracks, although I found it best to do 10 at a time; more than that and the jig seemed to push them out of alignment.
The pins to join the links are molded with handles to make attaching them easy. But I found they broke away from the handle too easily, didn’t always stay in place during assembly, and were difficult to push into place at other times. The plastic around the hole on the outer ring is thin and easily split while trying to insert the pin. I had the best luck adding five links and their pins at a time, securing the pins to the outer links with a drip of medium-viscosity super glue. To minimize frustration, I recommend assembling 30-40 links each night while you are working on other parts of the model.
After painting the tracks, I installed them. The clearance under the fender at the sprocket is very tight; I trimmed some of the teeth to make my life easier.
The finished model really looks like a T-26 with its distinctive suspension, raised front hull, and twin turrets. Other than the tracks, the build was easy. I was impressed by how little work I needed to do to eliminate seams — no filler, only minor cleanup with a little sanding.
Were it not for the tracks, I would recommend this as a good intermediate kit. The assembly problems I had with the tracks would frustrate a lot of builders, so I recommend it to experienced modelers. But they who are patient will be rewarded with a handsome model.
Note: A version of this review appeared in the March 2013 FineScale Modeler.