Home > Reviews > Russia > HobbyBoss 1/35 scale Kit No. 83873; Soviet T-18 Light Tank Mod. 1927

Soviet T-18 Light Tank Mod. 1927

HobbyBoss, 1/35 scale

Reviewed by Cookie Sewell


Stock Number and Description HobbyBoss 1/35 scale Kit No. 83873; Soviet T-18 Light Tank Mod. 1927
Scale: 1/35
Media and Contents: 254 parts (126 in tan styrene, 118 in brown styrene, 10 etched brass)
Price: USD$42.99
Review Type: First Look
Advantages: Clean, crisp accurate kit of this seminal Soviet tank
Disadvantages: Only builds as first production lot and not series production lot (see text)
Recommendation: Highly Recommended for all inter-war and early Soviet tank fans


Occasionally I am in the right place at the right time, and in 1999 the late Bob Lessels sent me a new Russian book for translation. The book, “Pervye Sovetskiye Tanki” by Mikhail Svirin and Andrey Beskurnikov, covered the first Soviet tank designs from the 1920s to early 1930s. One of the tanks covered was the MS-1, better known by its designator as the T-18.

The Soviets began their tank industry in 1920 with some 23 copies of the Renault FT light tank as the so-caled “Russkiy Reno”. But it was not what they wanted, and after purchasing some Fiat 3000 tanks (basically improved FT tanks) they decided in 1926 to strike out on their own. The first prototype from the “Bol’shevik” factory, the T-16, was not up to what they wanted and an improved version, the T-18 was accepted for service as the T-18 Model 1927 or its functional designation of “Maliy Soprovozheniy Tank (Small Escort Tank) 1" - MS-1.

The tank had a Hotchkiss 37mm infantry gun and a 6.5mm twin-barrel Fedorov-Ivanov machine gun, but as it was a two-man tank the commander could either use the cannon or the machine guns but not both. A 3-speed transmission and 35 HP engine gave it a top speed of just under 15 kph, but since it was an infantry escort tank not a major problem.

But it had poor mobility and very little traction on slick or hard ground, and also the turret was far too cramped for even one man. Therefore in 1928 work was begun on an improved version with a 4-speed transmission, 40 HP and a much larger turret with a bustle (“nishe” to the Russians).

121 T-18 Model 1927 tanks were built before it was replaced by the improved Model 1930 of which 838 were made. Its only major combat service was in the East China Railroad conflict of 1929.

Over 20 years ago AER of Russia released a kit of the T-18 Model 1927; they were the first to do so in any scale and medium, but in two words it was plain awful. Any attempt to build it saw at least half of the model scratchbuilt and no matter what it was still lousy at the end.

Now HobbyBoss has release this kit, and molds in the kit indicate that they will follow up with the Model 1930 as well. As noted it builds up as the original production version of the tank, but shortly after they went into service the Fedorov-Ivanov twin-barrel gun was deemed unsuitable and it was quickly replaced with a ball mount for a standard 7.62mm DT machine gun. Alas, the kit only provides the twin-barrel gun and not the service gun.

The rest of the model is excellent. Happily HobbyBoss appears to have based its model on accurate plans of the tank such as those in the Svirin book and NOT the “restored” examples in museums, The best one of the lot is at Kubinka but needs major improvements and corrections.

The vehicle is correct in having the original short hull of the 3-speed version as well as the original design of drivers and smoothplate tracks. (The Model 1930 introduced new drivers and tracks with built-in grousers for better traction, which were eventually refitted to a number of Model 1927 tanks). \

Construction is straightforward with the bogies and return rollers. These are nicely detailed (the AER ones were at least round) with the three-wheel bogie and shock absorber a single assembly. As this was their first design some things seem odd, such as the horn and headlight (A19 and A9) seemingly hanging out in the breeze under the front fender supports. HobbyBoss has done a nice job but most modelers will want to put a lens in the headlight which is solid.

The upper hull consists of a number of parts around the central casemate/turret base but does have an etched brass cover for the rear of the hull with venting for the radiator air and engine exhaust. A three-piece tail is also provided.

The track runs require 51 links per side but the links are pretty straightforward and should not be a major problem other than wrapping them around the drivers. Like the originals, they rely on the road wheels and rollers to keep them in alignment (!) and are not positively engaged. The track guides fit between the teeth of the driver.

The turret will permit the stubby gun (slide molded with an open bore) to elevate if the modeler desires, but as noted only the twin-barrel gun is offered.

Only one finishing option is offered, either 3B or 4BO green (colors are close and only the paint mixture would appear to be the difference). No decals were included as markings were not generally applied until the mid 1930s. However, three early production tanks were named with white Cyrillic names on the sides of the rear of the hull: METALLIST (metal worker), RABKRINOVETs (ceramic worker) and TEKSTIL’SHCHIK (textile worker). The actual prototype was painted a khaki brown at the last minute before presentation in Moscow (it was supposed to be in natural metal, so anyone wanting a different finish could try this!!!)

Overall this is a great upgrade to the selection of early Soviet armor kits and relegates the poor AER one to raffle “booby prize” fate.

Sprue Layout:

A 24 Fenders, tail, hull details, three-wheel bogies, driver’s hatch
B 7 Turret race, commander’s cupola, mantlet
D 46x2 Suspension (road wheels, return rollers, drivers, idlers)
T 59x2 Track links
PE 10 Etched brass
1 Casemate
1 Turret shell
1 Lower hull