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Tamiya 1/35 scale Soviet BT-7 tank

Tamiya’s kit includes two map-reading figures, photoetched metal for the engine screen, and a chain for the bow.

Kit:No. 35309 // Scale:1/35 // Price:$62
Tamiya, from Tamiya America, 800-826-4922
Jig for bending photoetched-metal screen; precise fit of hull and turret parts
Hard-to-remove ejector-pin marks on inside of tracks; poorly fitting figures
Injection-molded, 226 parts (7 photoetched metal, 18 poly caps, chain), decals
Tamiya’s announcement of a 1/35 Soviet BT-7 tank was surprising. But it’s here now and lives up to the promise.

Molded in olive green styrene, the kit also includes clear styrene for headlights, vision blocks, and goggles for the figures. There are some ejection-pin marks, but most of these are in places that will not be seen after assembly. Photoetched-metal is provided for the engine cover and air intakes. Also included is a length of chain to wrap around the front tow hooks.

Directions are printed in sepia-colored ink, perhaps for a map that can be cut from the same sheet to go with the figures. Also included is a two-sided color sheet of photographs showing the tank at the Russian tank museum in Kubinka.

The hull is assembled from separate components. I found it easier to clean and assemble all the parts for the hull in steps one and two plus Part B17 (take care in removing the latter to avoid breaking its thinner side).

Torsion bars are sandwiched between the outer hull plates; with careful cleanup, no filler is needed. I glued the hull top (Part C27), but left off the exhaust pipes to make painting easier. The exhaust pipes are nicely molded with open ends. The driver’s hatch has interior detail, and a driver’s seat is included, but there is no other interior detail. Remove ejection-pin marks underneath the fenders.

To form the photoetched-metal engine-deck screen, bend one side, then the other, over the kit-supplied form (Part B21), put the cover (Part B20) over the screen and Part B21 to complete the assembly, then cut out the center of B21 and glue it to the hull to make the inner support for the engine-deck screen. I attached the screen after painting and the installation of exhaust pipes.

A poly cap is sandwiched between the road-wheel and return-roller halves, allowing the wheels to be removed for painting. The tracks are link and length, with separate links around the idler and drive sprocket. The tracks’ fit is tight, so you can  click them together and secure them with a little glue. I glued them in three sections – the top run around the front return roller; the bottom run; and three links around the idler – then painted them black, weathering with DOA and Panzer Aces paints.

The turret includes a gun breech, machine gun, two seats, and a gunsight. The gun barrel is slide-molded with an open bore. Ejection-pin marks on the inside of the hatches and turret need filling if you leave the hatches open. If you choose Marking Option B, now is the time to drill out the five mounting holes for the antenna; I left the antenna off for painting to avoid breakage and to make applying the decals easier.

Instructions call for a 1:1 mixture of Tamiya yellow green (XF-4) and olive green (XF-58). This looked too bright, but Mig Productions’ gray filter toned it down. I followed with a pinwash of Mig’s light brown wash, then dry-brushed.

The only marking for this version is a white band around the turret, supplied as three decals. The decals were fine on flat surfaces, but no amount of Solvaset would shrink them around the rivets. I cut holes in the decals with a scalpel and touched up with flat white paint.

The figures needed filler on the joints. I painted them with Humbrol and Vallejo colors. I painted the edges of the clear goggles black and attached them with Testors clear-parts glue. Decals for the officers’ uniforms adhered with no silvering.

The model closely matches drawings in World War II AFV Plans: Russian Armored Fighting Vehicles, by George Bradford (Stackpole, ISBN 978-0-8117-3341-0); the length looks about 2mm short.

Due to Tamiya engineering, this kit falls together; it would make a good weekend build. I spent 231⁄2 hours on it, mostly on the figures and painting, and recommend it to anyone with a couple of kits to his or her credit.
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