Mirror Models Ltd.
is a relatively new Ireland-based company, founded by a Czech modeler that specializes in high quality 1/35 scale kits and accessories. Coupled with a Chinese manufacturer, they have supplied us with several new releases, mostly trucks and other wheeled vehicles. The late version of the Komsomoletz T-20 artillery tractor is one of the latest additions to their range.
Without going into too much detail regarding the vehicle’s history and tech specs, I’d quote the box description for some basic information:
“At the end of 1936, the Factory No. 37 Ordzhonikidze in Moscow created the full-speed armoured tracked tractor ”Komsomoletz” T-20. The car had a riveted-welded body, armour plates with thickness of 7-10 mm, guarding the crew. In addition, the commander operated a defensive weapon – 7,62 mm DT tank machine gun in a ball mount. The tractor was powered by a GAZ-M engine with 4-speed gearbox with interlock, complemented by a three axle range GAZ-AAA, which doubled the number of stages in the transmission and allowed to have 2 ranges for traction and transport. The average speed on the highway reached 15-20 km/h, on a dirt road and off road up to 11,8 km/h, which was considered a very high rate. Turning radius is only 2,4 m – turn on the spot, was also assessed positively, given the high demands on the tractor maneuverability. However, the engine was not designed for the long hard work of the crawler tractors or tanks, overworked often failed prematurely – but other suitable – light and compact – engines did not exist. Komsomoletz played a huge role in the motorization of the Red Army. The composition of each infantry division was to include at least 60 trucks of this type. Tractor T-20 took part in the fighting against Japan at Lake Khasan in 1938, the river Halkin-Gol in 1939, in the Russo-Finnish war and the Great Patriotic war. A large number of tractors were captured by German troops in good condition. In the Wehrmacht they were under the designation Leicht Gepanzerter Artillerieschlepper 630. In the Finnish Army, captured T-20s operated until 1961.”
I just would like to add a few more notes: almost 8000 units (7780 – according armor.kiev.ua) were produced of this “busy little bee”. The benches over the engine could accommodate an artillery crew of six or folded down it served as a loading platform. In harsh weather conditions a tent-like cover could be raised over those who were sitting there. Unfortunately I could not find references on the Internet that would be able to explain the differences between the several production batches, so all we can do is to follow the instructions and check our reference pictures – which is usually a thumb rule for me in the case of Soviet/Russian vehicles due to the many modifications.
This Mirror Models
kit arrives in a sturdy, medium-sized box with a nice and shiny cover art. Oddly enough, a photo of an early version build is shown on the side. Inside we will find two large sprues that evidently were snapped into two in order to fit the box thus leaving a few parts a bit unprotected, however in my opinion it was the right thing to do since the entire package is more compact now. Three smaller sprues contain the link and length (not workable) tracks which have been reworked according to the company’s home page. We receive further tiny bits (mostly for the chassis and the suspension) on two additional pairs of sprues. A small PE fret is also included which is good news as the previous T-20 kit (more on this soon) did not come with one – it was available separately. In total we face 471 plastic and 14 etched parts (with several not used, minus 198 track links).
The early version (model 1937/1938 early) of this kit was reviewed previously and can be found here.
The biggest advantage of the present kit is that it contains all the parts for the earlier versions too, all we need is to browse through Mirror Models’
website and download the instruction sheet in PDF format. Also the tracks are reworked, and we have the PE fret included, so unless you need the fuel trailer that comes with the early version, you would definitely prefer this set.
First things first – the instruction sheet. To me these eight pages are the weakest part of this offering. In general the layout is rather crowded and the drawings are not informative enough compared to the exploded view we see mostly these days. My main concern is that several illustrations (mostly for the driver’s compartment and the engine) show the parts already added to the subassemblies, and all we see is a part number next to it, which makes it quite difficult to identify what we should add. Also in some cases we see parts on the subassemblies that will be attached later, and some previously added parts disappear on the go. Another oddity is that we receive a small “interior diagram” without any further explanation that shows us the PE pedals and other interior parts, and a good deal of conduits/steel rods – but not all of these is included in the kit and also there are no details at all of the intentions of the manufacturer with this. It is a bit contradictory too, as the diagram shows the pedals pointing to the right, while the photo next to it (of the added PE parts) shows them pointing to the left. Of course we can live with these, what I am trying to say is that the instructions are a bit far from being straightforward and a pleasure to work with. The differences between model 1938 late and model 1940 are called out throughout the eight pages and can be followed easily.
We receive a nice and shiny sheet with color profiles for three green vehicles: one without any markings or specifications, a German one without specifications but it is evident that it is a model 1940 tractor (as the most of the rivets are missing from the side of the armored driver’s compartment), and a Finnish Army one that is specified as model 1938. The color profiles are provided by Ammo of Mig Jimenez and as a result we are not informed of the colors of other main brands. The decals appear to be well printed, although the blue on the Finnish markings seems a bit too bright for me.
The parts in general are of a very high quality with fine and sharp details, with no flash present. As of the ejector pin marks, this is the very first kit in my life that has none – not even on the hidden sides of the parts. The price we are paying for this is the higher number of attachment points for each element. The only issue I ran into is that the surface of some of the bigger, flat parts has some tiny imperfections. By this I mean that one half of a part is completely polished while the other half has a very-very fine grainy surface. Also some areas have signs of light scratching. But all of these probably will be unnoticed once covered with primer and paint. Sprue K contains all the new parts for the late version and all the elements here are just absolutely perfect. Due to the use of extensions, no ejection pin marks are present while the number of attachment points is kept to a minimum.
The construction starts with the engine and the transmission and looks very promising, 28 parts are used here – and since the covers can be opened it is well worth detailing it. The production of the kit did not involve 3D molding, as a result the hull of the vehicle is made up of five parts (but the good news is that this way both sides of each have details) so extra caution is needed here for the precise assembly. The front of the hull and the firewall separating the driver’s compartment from the engine are new parts, as well as the mudguards. It is worth noting that after the release of the first kit it was discovered that the mudguards included were suitable for the Finnish version only. In the present kit this is corrected, so the fenders have a square ending now for the Russian variant. The driver’s compartment is busy enough, including nicely detailed (and very fragile) seats and some PE parts, although the placement of these might prove a bit difficult due to the lack of attachment holes (or grooves) and the foggy instructions.
The cover over the engine is also made up of newly tooled parts from the K sprue, as well as the benches – all of these can be assembled in any position. A very nice addition is a fine little part that connects the backs of the benches when these are locked in an upright position, and also we have the option to add the padding that would serve the comfort of the lucky soldiers.
The armored cover for the exhaust appears to be well made and the inclusion of the PE mesh screen is a big plus however, a small part of this is missing although it is shown in the instructions. The towing hook is also a little gem, made up of four tiny parts. What is missing here is a spare road wheel, as this is present on most pictures.
The construction of the armored driver’s compartment comes next, and this is where we have the most options, as the model 1940 has less rivets and smaller hatches. This might be a bit tricky again, as we have no location holes or pins (which is normal as we are building a “real” interior), so dry fitting is highly advised. Both the main shutters and the inner shutters in them can be assembled either open or closed, adding to the overall detail. The machine gun has nice details and goes into a well-engineered ball mount made up of five parts.
The construction of the bogies seems pretty straightforward, but we need to pay attention not to mix up the parts for the left and the right side. The only issue with the details here are the leaf springs – as these are missing the horizontal grooves on the sides that are formed by the several layers of leaves stacked on top of each other. Unfortunately this is a quite visible error on the finished model.
The track links go together well (I have tried some) but extra care should be taken as they are very fragile – luckily we need 156, and the kit comes with 198, so we have plenty of spares. Due to the small size the links appear a bit chunky but look to be engineered till the limits of what can be achieved from plastic.
All in all I would say this kit from Mirror Models
is a real gem packed with details and for me it is the prime example of the fact that smaller manufacturers can achieve great results in plastic too, with good quality and for reasonable prices. The correction of some errors of the previous kit and the inclusion of the PE fret is a great plus, as well as the possibility of building all the versions out of the box with a complete interior. However, this kit is not suitable to beginners due to the size and the complexity, as well as the somewhat complicated instructions.
Please note that the close-up shots of the track links are from the company’s website as I was unable to take super macro photos of good quality.