The idea of a mass-produced tank emerged in Soviet Military circles despite the impending development of the formidable T-34. In 1939 The Kirvovsky factory was ordered to develop a light CS (close support) tank, in 1940 "Object 126" aka the T-126 was manufactured and tested. It had a welded hull , of 37mm plate, upper roof armour of 20mm, side plates sloped at 40 degrees and frontal armour at 57 degrees. It was armed with a 45mm main gun (150 rounds) and a coaxial 7.62 mm DT machine gun.
It was powered by a 250HP V-4 diesel engine which propelled the 17 ton tank at a maximum speed of 35 km/ph. Later the engine was upgraded to a 300hp version.
On Feb 12,1941 "Object 126 " became officially known as the T-50.
The tank was a veritable failure mainly because of the unreliable engine, and only 69 of them were produced. However it was well armed and heavily armoured for a light tank and had good running characteristics but cost as much to build as a T-34. Production ceased in January 1942.
Few combat records of the T-50 exist today of this vehicle. Some were captured by the Finns and used until the end of the war. There is an example at the Kubinka museum.
The kit contains five sprues, four carrying individual track links and the other one the hull bottom, sides and top, turret and fenders etc. The parts are all molded in white plastic of a good quality. The instuction sheet is a bit sparse, but easy to follow, and there are no decals at all.
Construction starts with the road wheels, then the idlers, drive sprockets and the retuns rollers. All are straight forward in assembly.
The lower hull is in four separate panels and fits together very well with no major problems. Care must be taken with the rear plate as it has two angle brackets on the top of it which are rear fender supports and can be easily broken off. I actually cut mine off and glued them back on after I assembled the fenders to the top hull.
Next comes the suspension arms. I used a slow setting styrene glue (Revell Contacta Professional ) here so I had time to adjust the position of the arms and get them all nice and straight.
Once I had the suspension set up I put the hull aside to dry and turned my attention to the upper hull.
I fitted the fenders first and the fit is very good. I just put them in place and touched a Tenax filled brush to the joint and in ten or fifteen seconds the joint was finished.
I then added the hatches, tool box and fender supports.
I next assembled the turret, the commander's cupola is a bit involved but with care assembles into a nice replica of the real thing. I fitted the gun after drilling out the end of the barrel by hand. Two strips of plastic with bolt detail are supplied for the mantlet, these seem a bit thick and in hindsight I should have replaced them with brass strip and some stretched sprue sliced up for bolts.
I hollowed out the head lights and used some Micro Foil adhesive to glue some kitchen foil into them and glued two small discs of clear plastic on with white glue for lenses.
A brass shim step was added at the front for the driver and I used a piece of foil rolled under the knurl on my hobby knife handle to simulate tread plate and glued this on top of the brass step.
The kit engine screens are horrid lumps of plastic with some cross hatching to simulate wire mesh, I tossed these and made two screens from some very fine stainless steel mesh I found at the place where I work .
After completing the top deck I turned to the track links. Now, this is the part which sets this little kit apart from any other I have seen so far, not the individual track links themselves but the separate guide horns for the track links - tiny little loops that have to be cut from the sprue and glued to each link , (big sigh here) I started cutting them off, placing my finger over each one so it did not fly off to be eaten by the monster that resides in the dining room carpet. I used a Swan and Morton scalpel with a new blade for this ... an appropriate instrument for the job too.
I trimmed each loop before I placed it in position on the back of each link with tweezers and touched it with a Tenax brush and held it in position until the Tenax had done its job. This was tedious work with a few of the loops being launched into oblivion and lost for ever. This took me a couple of nights to complete with many breaks to rest the weary eyes. After getting all the guide horns onto the links (I glued them on while the links were still on the sprues), I carefully cut the links away from the sprue , care must be taken here the links are rather delicate and can be easily broken. I found it easier to use the scalpel upside down and push the blade along the sprue through the joiners rather that cut downwards onto a hard surface.
Assembling the track links is difficult, because, they are quite small and fiddly, and they don't locate together very well. I used Revell Contacta Professional again so I could wrap the still wet track links around the sprockets and road wheels but everytime I tried I ended up with multiple sections of track they would just not stay together while I wrapped them around. Don't go overboard with the glue as it would be easy to end up with a melted mess of plastic - the links are very thin. I re-assmbled the sections and left them overnight hoping they would still be flexible the next day. Same result, they were still flexible but kept breaking into small sections. I pulled them all apart and left them for a few days while I thought of a way to get them onto the model.
I came up with the idea of placing the track links onto masking tape sticky side up and then glueing with the Revell glue, when I had enough links to do one side I simply turned the tape over and placed the run of links onto the wheels and glued them into position while still on the tape. I set a slight sag to the top run and joined them together glueing with CA as I went. I installed the other set of links and when both were dry I removed the masking tape.
Having beaten the track link problem I placed the upper hull onto the lower and squeezing gently the sides of the lower hull the upper hull snapped into position, just like a snap-tite kit. I then run around the joint with a brush and Tenax to complete the joint.
I airbrushed the model with Model Master Russian Armour Green and after it was dry I applied a clear acrylic coat. I then made up a dark wash and let it run into all the panel lines and around the raised detail. When the wash had dried I applied a coat of Model Master enamel matte clear and weathered the model with pastel chalks.
I believe Eduard have released a PE set for this kit which would have been nice to use, but I wasn't aware it was available when I started this kit. I enjoyed building this kit which at first looked like a quick build , but the tracklinks and separate guide horns soon pulled me up . It has some good detail, some parts may be a bit over scale and lacking some detail here and there , but overall is a good kit. However I wouldn't recommend it if you don't like building individual links though.
This is a fine little kit of a little known vehicle and would make a nice addition to any Soviet Armour enthusiasts' collection.
I purchased this kit from NKR Models, Ballarat, Australia