Tuesday, April 24

Build Guide: Clayton whizzes together the PLA Main Battle Tank ZTZ96B from MENG Models in 1/35th scale

Clayton has Meng's new 35th scale Main Battle tank of the PLA on his workbench,  and in a flash he has it all built up and ready to paint - see how he got it done so fast, and maybe what this kit has to make it such an easy kit to make in his build guide...
Build Guide: PLA Main Battle Tank ZTZ96B. 
From MENG Models
Product Code# TS-034
1/35th scale
Product Link on the Meng Website
Price: ¥5,440/ $53.12 USD/ €43.15 at Hobbylink Japan
Today- Build Guide: PLA Main Battle Tank ZTZ96B. 
Construction begins with the running gear coming together. Poly caps are included in the centres of the wheels which will allow them to be fitted and removed with ease.
The torsion bars are now assembled with the metal parts attached. The metal rods will act as springs for the ‘workable suspension’.
The metal rods thread through the lower hull section and cap off on a moulded lug. The fit was tight and a little awkward, but I assume that is where the resistance in the movement is coming from. 
All the arms attached ready for the wheels.
I then moved to the construction of the turret section. No reason for skipping the steps… I just did. Some minor filling was required in order to represent the version of the tank I was building. 
The reactive armour and stowage baskets are assembled as well as the external fuel tanks. 
The turret mounted remote controlled machine gun is also assembled. It’s a lethal looking thing.
I then moved onto the top section of the tank. Construction is very simple. There are a couple of photo-etch shrouds around the headlights as well as the grill on the engine deck.
The fit was generally good however the seams on the external tanks will require some attention prior to paint. 
Now back to the turret with all of the sub-assemblies fitted. The fit of the moulded PVC mantle cover wasn’t perfect, but perhaps I had misaligned something. It really is hardly worth a mention though. 
With the turret in place, the model starts to take shape. You may notice, I have left some of the smaller parts off in order to make the paint masking that will follow a little easier.
Now on to the part I was a little concerned about…the tracks. I wasn’t convinced that the PVC tracks with the styrene horns would be too successful. Once I actually started the process it became clean, just how well that method would work. It was very fast and very easy. Just ensure you use a fast-drying super glue and you will rocket through this stage. 
A very rough undercoat is set in place concentrating on the etch parts in order to help secure future layers of paint. The side skits are just held in place using Blu-tac, so I can access the wheels for painting during the next stage. 
This is a really basic kit and was a very quick build. For me, the draw of this kit was the opportunity to paint the digi-camo scheme, so the fact this model could be put together over a rainy Sunday was actually quite refreshing. 

I guess a case could be made against the lack of detail in the fact that grab handles are moulded in and some of the finer detail is a little soft, but like I said, I am OK with that. This is a model that is accessible to most modellers of just about any skill level. How you choose to paint it will sort out just how far you want to test your skills. 

In a world were part counts are skyrocketing and models are coming with full interiors and engine bays, it was a really nice change of pace to work through this model. It sets a sound canvas for one of the coolest paint schemes going around.  So wish me luck as I look to tackle the Chinese digi-camo - that article will follow soon here on TMN.

Clayton Ockerby

Thanks to Meng Models for sending Clayton this kit to review and make up for you all.
See more of Clayton’s work at his website “Workbench Hobbies” or join him on his Facebook page