Hobby Boss 1/35 ZTZ 96A MBT
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Individual plastic links and photo etch included.|
The Type 96 is the latest variant of China's third-generation main battle tank (MBT). Based on the Type 85-III design, the Type 96 entered service with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in 1997. As of 2005, an estimated 1,500 Type 96 tanks are currently in service with the PLA.
Generally speaking, PLA's tank development can be divided into three generations. The first generation is a version of the Soviet T-54A and its derivatives, produced in China as the Type 59 and Type 69/79. The second-generation main battle tank started with the Type 80, which further branched into the Type 88 and Type 96, developed in parallel by different institutes but all funded by China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO). The Third-generation started with the developmental Type 98, to be heavily modified to yield the latest Type 99 tank.
Molded in Hobby Boss' usual tan plastic, the detailing supplied on the parts is really first rate. The kit provides a small but useful photo etch fret, a length of copper wire, a small section of brass wire for the tow cables and a section of vinyl tubing for the fuel lines from the aft mounted fuel drums. The instructions are quite explicit on how long to cut these various bits.
The kit also supplies you with individual track links, to provide the greatest realism when it comes to the tracks. You'd think that there would be an interior, but like most armor kits, that is not the case at all. Besides it would take an age to build up all that and rob the aftermarket folks of an opportunity to make these things. There are storage bins on the side of the turret, complete with reactive armor. The kit provides some fuel and other containers to help fill things in. I already mentioned the fuel tanks on the back and they are all quite nicely detailed.
Instructions are two sheets with 11 construction steps that includes where to put the P.E. and other bits. There are a few options, but not many as this is a pretty new tank. Typical of many armor kits, there is no painting information supplied during the construction steps. That is saved for the camo and marking guide, which is in full color and provides a variety of paint company options. The decal sheet (not shown) is very nicely done and gives a selection of numbers and a set of Chinese stars so you can do various tanks. All are in the tan, light green, and dark green striped scheme as shown on the box top.
I realize these sorts of kits are of 'home market' variety, but is really is great to see a selection of PLA subjects being released in a quality kit that will provide hours of modeling enjoyment.
Thanks to Squadron Products for the preview kit. Get yours at your local shop or on-line retailer.
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