AER MOLDOVA's 1/35 T-38 AMPHIBIOUS TANK
The Red Army began to use armoured units in the 1930s. At that time the small tank T-38 was designed at one of the Moscow plants. It was discovered that the hermetically sealed hull was buoyant without any additional floats when crossing rivers and streams.
The tank was armed with a 22mm cannon and a machine-gun, with 1,512 rounds of ammunition. Its length was 3.78m, width was 2.33m, and its weight was 3.3 tons. It had a crew of two.
Thanks to its relatively high speed of 40km/h on land, its manoeverability, and its propeller screw - which gave it a speed of 6km/h to cross rivers - the T-38 performed quite well.
The T-38 were used in intelligence and reconnaisance units of the Red Army.
An experiment of transporting the T-38 tanks by air was carried out during military excercises in the 30's. The tank was hung under aircraft and dropped with landing parties on both land and water surfaces.
It was during the 'Winter War', against Finland in 1939-1940, that the T-38 took part in military operations for the first time. They were used in all military sub-divisions of the Red Army from the first day of WWII to the last.
In 1944, two T-38 battalions forced their way across the river Svir at the most critical moment of the battle and decided the victory when the Germans were routed.
The construction of the T-38 excelled over that of foreign tanks, of similar size, at that time in both tactical and technical characteristics.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX?
The kit is boxed in a small, very sturdy box. Inside is a single cello bag that holds all three of the small gray trees of parts. Also included is a decal sheet and a small, single sheet, of instructions that is folded into four pages.
Page one, of the instruction sheet, shows a picture of an actual T-38. This is followed by a brief history in English and Russian.
The instruction sheet then opens up into a two page, exploded drawing. This drawing gives five assembly steps. It is a very BUSY drawing and will take some study to interpret. For one thing there are square symbols, that point to various parts. I believe these are painting codes, but they are never explained. In the upper left hand corner of this center-spread are drawings of the parts trees.
Page 4 gives us three paint and marking schemes for the T-38. However, no colors are called out...nor is there any mention of who, where, or when these markings were for. Because of past armor modeling experience I know that one marking is for a captured T-38 that was used by Finland, with the blue and white swastika symbol. The other two schemes are obviously Soviet. However, a fourth, and perhaps a fifth marking are on the decal sheet. One marking is white outline type German national crosses, the other is the late war Finish blue and white roundels.
The parts trees in the kit are not lettered or numbered at all. Strangely, on one of the three parts trees, there are the little tabs on the sprue...next to the parts...were one normally sees embossed numbers in most model kits. However, these are blank!! An aborted effort by AER?? Who knows? A novice may have trouble with this kit because of this...but an old hand at armor models should not have too much trouble.
One tree holds the bottom, sides, and top of the hull (four parts here). A person might want to Dremel out the molded in engine air intake screen and use some PE there to enhance that better.
The second tree of parts holds the tow cable, shovel, main gun, turret parts, drive sprockets, mantle, twin rudders and propeller (for water operation), return rollers, bogies with the road wheels molded integrally to them, horn, head lights, muffler etc. (38 parts here) I could not help but notice that the axles, molded into the return rollers, are off center!! I think they may have to be cut off, and then glued back on after centering them better. It will remain to be seen when I build it.
The final tree holds link and length type tread links. (36 parts here) These are very petite and crisply molded.
I found absolutely NO flash, sink marks, nor push out pin marks on any parts in this kit. Truly an amazing feat of mold making!! The kit is very nice and should make up really great. It fills a niche in any collection of Soviet armor used during the Great Patriotic War. Highly recommended. You cannot beat the price for the nice little kit that you get for your money.
As a post-script....the T-38 was superceded by the T-40. The T-40 was amphibious also. But constant adding to its weight soon ruined the T-40's amphibious performance. For those of you, further interested, the T-40 is available in 1/35th scale by another Russian brand called START.
I want to thank Mr. Alexander Popa, of the AER MOLDOVA Company, for generously providing this review kit.
AER Colectie Ltd.
41 Bolgarskaya Street
office 11 PO 391