T-12 Soviet Medium Tank kit
HobbyBoss, 1/35 scale
Reviewed by Cookie Sewell
As previously noted everyone has to start someplace. In the late 1920s the Soviet Union decided it needed two kinds of tanks, an “escort” tank to move with the infantry and a “maneuver” tank with heavier armament to deal with enemy fortifications and even other tanks. The first one led to the development of the MS-1/T-18 light tank in 1927, but the latter one started with the T-12 medium tank in 1928.
This tank was designed by the Main Design Bureau of the Weapons and Arsenal Trust (GKB OAT) under S.P. Shukalov and then tasked to the “Komintern” Kharkov Steam Locomotive Factory (KhPZ) for construction. The tank rolled out of the factory in December 1929 for testing.
The T-12 was designed by the same team as the T-18 and so it used nearly a identical suspension design: sprung four-wheel bogies with a vertical coil spring and a set of return rollers on each assembly. Four assemblies per side were used on the T-12, as well as a large split idler at the front and a cast driver with a "clamshell" scalloped shape to engage the teeth on the track links.
The T-12 underwent a lot of changes under development such as a new turret design made of flat plates vice a rolled cylindrical turret for the main gun (45mm Sokolov gun). As the new 7.62mm DT machine gun was not yet available, it was initially fitted with 6.5mm Model 1925 Fedorov-Ivanov machine guns in the front and sides of the main turret and in the individual cupola turret as well. Also the original air intake and cooling system did not work well and a new one had to be added after initial testing. Later .30 caliber Colt machine guns replaced the 6.5mm guns.
While it worked reasonably well it had numerous problems with its engine and transmission (the engine was a downrated 180 HP M-6 aircraft engine) and as such was not seen to be able to meet operational needs. As a result only one prototype was built; experience with both its construction and testing led to the more functional T-24 medium tank in 1930.
Following their good kit of the T-24 (No. 82493) Hobby Boss now offers this tank as well. Like the T-24 the T-12 is a simple vehicle, and Hobby Boss has done its best to copy the design from available references. As it was an early design, there is little on the tank of note in the way of external items and with only a few cutaways nothing to show for the interior, so the kit is relatively simple. This is one of the rare kits these days to come without any etched brass, but the most part it does not need any.
This version has the later modified radiator air intake which stands about 15 cm proud of the rest of the engine deck. But it appears to come with DT machine gun barrels and not the “Colt” (actually Martin M1917 versions of the M1895 gun with a gas system) ones as they have different methods of attaching the tube to the gun barrel. I doubt most modelers will quibble about it. An option for the twin barreled 6.5mm guns would have been a nice touch.
Assembly starts with the bogie assemblies – eight of them with 11 parts each – and the unique drivers with the “nest” to catch the teeth on the track links. This is followed by the “tail” and the muffler. Like the recent Takom SMK kit this one has a one-piece upper hull and a separate belly plate rather than the more common hull tub and hull roof assembly. It does come with three separate hatches for the driver but no interior.
The later engine deck comes as a separate air intake and a deck panel with attached riveted plates around its circumference.
Turret assembly follows that of the T-24 but in this case the main 45mm gun is flexible as are the machine guns; the T-24 had a fixed main gun in the model.
Last to go on are the tracks, and as there are no fenders (!) this should simplify painting and finishing of the model.
As only one prototype ever saw daylight the finishing directions are simply to paint the tank an overall 4BO green (it may have been a browner shade rather than the later color) and the tracks “bituminous black” which quickly wore off.
Note that while some parts were borrowed from the T-24 nearly all parts in this kit are new production.
Overall this is a well done model and the machine gun barrels are an acceptable error.