Thursday, June 16

In Boxed: Takom's 35th scale Type 69-II Iraqi Medium Tank

After seeing the boxart of the new Takom 35th scale type 69 II  tank our man Clayton was keen to have a look at it - he has already started building this kit. but today for us he takes a quick look at what is inside before we show you his build…

In Boxed: Type 69-II Iraqi Medium Tank 
From: Takom
Kit# 2054
1/35th scale
Plastic sprues, photo etched material
Decals for 4 variants inside
Available from Takom’s Distributors Worldwide.
As always, I will start with a disclaimer. I am far from an expert on this tank, and in fact, to be completely honest, I knew nothing of the Type 69 II prior to picking up this kit. I am a modeller and an enthusiast, passionate about our hobby and I will simply call it as I see it.  I do believe that since I have taken delivery of this kit, Takom has revisited the hull of the tank to clear up some minor inaccuracies. So, in brief, if there are inaccuracies in this kit, I am not the one to be calling them out. I am loving what I am seeing and I can’t wait to get stuck into this little beauty…. So let the fun begin.

After the Soviet Union withdrew all assistance from China’s arms industry, (after the Sino-Soviet split of the 60’s), the powers that be in China, instructed Chinese industry to fast-track their own designs for a tank and initially instructed the improvement of the T-54A. This tank would be known as the Type 59 MBT. Unfortunately, this tank proved to be very unpopular and never entered serial production.
Later, in 1969, during a border conflict, the PLA were able to capture a Soviet T-62. Many elements of this tank were reverse engineered and were copied for use on the newly developing Type 69 design.

The Type 69 would go on to be the first independently developed Chinese tank. The initial Type 69 was only produced in small numbers as the PLA were underwhelmed with its’ performance. That said, the Type 69 still went on to be one of China’s most successful armoured exports, selling over 2000 vehicles Worldwide.
As political tensions eased between the West and China throughout the 80’s, so too did China’s access to Western technologies. This meant the Type 69 was able to see many upgrades to Western-based weapons systems.   This upgraded version received the title of Type 79.
As previously mentioned, the Type 69, was a highly successful export due to the low cost, survivability and simplicity of its’ design. China sold hundreds of these tanks to both sides during the Iran-Iraq War. Many of these vehicles would go on to be used by Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War.

Interestingly by 1991 it was thought that Iraq had upgraded some Type 69s with a 105 mm gun, a 160 mm mortar, and a 125 mm gun with an autoloader. They had also been reinforced with frontal armour welded on the glacis plate. These upgraded Type 69’s became known as Type 69-QMs.
In 1982, the main production version of the tank would go into production. The Type 69-II. Upgrades included a 100mm rifled Main Gun, and new gun stabilization system. A Type 70 gunner sight, a laser rangefinder and a ballistic computer. Rubber track skirts and double pin track links were included. A key element with the Type 69-II is the BAR armour running around the turret that doubled as storage racks. Two rows of smoke grenade launchers are also added to the turret sides. The steering and clutch system were modified, and an automatic fire detector / extinguisher system was installed.
The Type 69-II also saw a number of vehicles upgraded to a command version of the tank. This vehicle was fitted with a number of powerful radio sets and an axillary power unit to run them. The command version of the tank can be most easily identified by the long radio aerial and two storage boxes fitting to the rear deck.

There were around 3200 of the Type 69-II produced. The vehicle carried a crew of 4 and had a top speed of 50km/h on the flat. It weighed around 37 tonne and had a range of 420km.

The Kit
Again, Takom has nailed the box art on this model. It is amazing the impact a beautiful piece of box art can have. It can all of a sudden make a subject race to the top of the build list…. And this art had that effect on me.

Upon opening the box, the modeller is greeted with 479 grey plastic parts along with 184 individual track links. There is one sprue of clear parts and 2 photo etched frets. Along with these pieces, the box also contains a moulded rubber dust sleeve, tow cable, poly caps as well as the colour schemes, the instruction booklet and the decal sheet.

Let’s take a closer look

Instructions –
The Instruction booklet is supplied in the fashion we have now become accustomed to from a Takom kit. Clean, clear and simple instructions, presented in a stapled booklet.   There are 38 steps in total, with the option to make 2 variants of the tank.
The decals sheet is small but is all that is required to cover off on all of the schemes that come with this kit.
There are 4 colour schemes suggested in the kit.
1.       Iraqi Army – 1991 – ODS
2.       Royal Thai Army
3.       Iraqi Army – 1991 – ODS – preserved at Saumur France
4.       New Iraq army post-2003
The colour profiles and the paint call outs are again from the people of Mig Jimenez’s Ammo. The profiles are beautifully drawn and rendered and provide an excellent platform to translate to your model.

On first glance, the track links look really nice. They have all been pre-clipped and are supplied in a zip lock plastic bag. If you wanted to be really particular with this model, you will need to spend some time cleaning up the occasional ejection marks in the tracks, but in reality, these are on the inside of the tracks and would be very difficult to detect once the model is complete.  I will be fitting these as they come out of the bag.  They look really nice to my eye.

The kit includes 2 sheets of Photo-etch Parts, however not all of these parts will be required on this model. The mesh screens and support brackets look like that will add the lovely finer details to this model.  The shrouds for the front lights have a beautifully detailed checker plate pattern on them also worth mentioning. Takom again seems to have found the right mix of P/E detailing and not going over the top.

2 pieces of Sprue A contain the wheels and the drive sprockets. The details looks very good to me, and once paired with the rubber sections from sprue B, will build to be a lovely representation of the running gear.

There are 4 pieces of Sprue B. These contain the rubber parts for the wheels. These will slip over the wheels to complete the wheel assembly.  I quite like the thinking behind this. It will make painting them and keeping that defined edge between the rubber and the steel wheel very easy. The moulded seams on the pieces are very nice too, although some have criticised the depth of these, they look fine to my eye, especially once they receive a coat of paint. Worst case, it would be very easy to give them a light sand if you felt the need.
The underside of the tank is moulded in one piece and has a lot of really nice detail to it. I do believe this may have some accuracy issues with it, but like I mentioned earlier, I have no authority to make that claim.  My understanding is that Takom has addressed these concerns and are revisiting this piece for future releases. To me though, this looks very nice, and quite frankly, it’s the underside of the tank, so it would be very rare for that to ever see the light of day. Weld seams and bolts really give the model some interesting features.
The turret was the first thing that struck me when looking through this model. The sculpting and the moulding would have to be close to the best I have seen. The texture in the surface as well as the weld seams and other fine details is simply stunning and a real winner with this model.
The kit comes with a pre-moulded dust shroud for the barrel and a couple of poly caps.  I did have reservations with this soft plastic sleeve on the Chieftain, but it seems to have held the paint well enough, and the sculpting is very good. It also does allow for some movement in the barrel.
There are 2 sets for Sprue C. Various grab handles and smaller pieces along with the external fuel tanks. That said, these tanks will not be required for this model, but the moulding and finish on the parts is very good. It was around about here I realised just how many ‘unrequired parts’ there was going to be.
Sprue Y contains 12 clear parts. The headlights and the periscopes.
Sprue F contains the underside of the turret and a few other smaller parts to the model. All casting is sharp in detail and it will really pop once a wash is applied to the painted model.
The small Sprue X. Detail is of these hatch rings very clear and very good, of course, these hatches can be posed opened or closed
Sprue V contains the top side of the model, engine deck and rubber skirts. I was a little taken back the top side of the tank is supplied in 3 pieces, but I guess time will tell as to how they will all sit together on the finished model. 
The detail around the handles and the hinges are all adequate. The timber unditching log that will sit at the rear of the tank looks quite convincing and weld seams around the driver’s hatch look nice and rough and will paint up nicely.
Sprue U contains the parts for the BAR armour / storage racks. This is one of the defining elements of this tank, so they are a very important addition. If anything it looks slightly on the heavy side, but there are obviously limitations with the moulding process. They still look very good, and should look terrific surrounding the turret.
Sprue L contains the side rails, guards and the fuel tanks. The rails will need to be drilled depending on the configuration of the tank you are building. The finish on the fuel tanks also has a very fine texture to it. Very nice indeed.
Also found on Sprue L are the casting numbers. When carefully removed with a sharp scalpel, these can be placed on the rear of the turret allowing you to accurately represent the model you are building.
Unfortunately, there is no reference in the instruction sheet as to the way the numbers should be used, so unless you have actual knowledge of the casting details of the tank you are building, then it would all be a matter of guesswork. It would have been a real finishing touch to have these details highlighted in the colour schemes.  Some detective work is in order….

Sprue H contains the two-piece barrel, commander’s hatch, grab handles and other bits and pieces. There is a really subtle surface character about these pieces. Hard to explain, but I feel it will really show through in the finished model.
Sprue W – the turret-mounted machine gun. With the sprue obviously designed to service multiple kits, you will end up with a lovely looking machine gun for the spares box. The moulding looks to be very clean and sharp, however, there will be some careful clean-up required with a sharp scalpel.
Some impressive moulding details are present on the turret mounted MG
Sprue J contains a great number of smaller parts.  The large section of the engine deck is not required for this build.  Detail looks again very sharp and well defined. Again, there are some fine parts here that will take a degree of care to remove from the sprues.
The kit comes supplied with a length of wire tow cable. The piece looks very nice and well within scale for the kit.  This is a nice addition and will look far more convincing than a moulded piece would.

This is the first time this vehicle has been offered in this scale as an injection moulded kit. There is no doubting it will be a popular release. With the war in Iraq still fresh in everyone’s’ mind, and a wealth of reference material available, this tank offers an opportunity to build a little piece of tangible history.

There is a bit of building in this one, so this kit isn’t for the beginner. It will test a few modellers, but in my opinion, it is the perfect mix of buildability and detail.  Due to streamlining the release of the T55 series, Takom has obviously adopted the path of least resistance in the fact that there will be a huge number of unused parts heading to the spares box. Whilst this may seem a little wasteful, it obviously makes more economic sense to do that rather than re-tool just for this release.

From the first moment I opened the box and started to look through the parts, it was obvious, that this kit was the next step up in quality. I was really impressed with the Chieftain and the way that kit was packaged and engineered, but that new range seems to better that again.  It’s not one major thing, just a number of little things and finer details that give me that feeling. I guess the proof will be in the building, so I am very much looking forward to getting a start on this one. 

I highly recommend this kit.

Clayton Ockerby

This kit is now available from Takom’s Distributors Worldwide. Thanks to them for sending this kit to build & review.
See more of Clayton’s work at his (all new) website “Workbench Hobbies” or join him on his Facebook page