Before and during WW2 the Hungarian military industry designed a number of tanks, armored cars, assault and air defense guns and luckily some of these are available now in mass production in 1/35th scale (Toldi light tank series and Nimrod AA gun from Hobby Boss
, two versions of the Zrínyi assault gun from Bronco) making many hobby fans more than happy – especially in Hungary and Europe. One of the latest additions is a paper panzer – the 44M Tas from Hobby Boss
In 1943 the Hungarian military saw the need for a heavy tank and finally a decision was made to design and build one based on the country’s own military industry. The task was appointed to the Manfréd Weiss Steel and Metal Works, but under the war’s pressure a final version was never released. On 27 July 1944 an allied bomb raid hit the factory and the approximately 80% completed iron prototype was destroyed (just like internal subassemblies of the armored prototype that was in an early phase).
Calling the Tas paper panzer is a bit of a stretch as unfortunately the factory original plans and documentation of the tank were lost in the chaos of the late war. In the 50's and 60's even speaking of it was not advisable during the hardest communist terror. In the early 80’s photos were found of a 1/10th scale factory kit. The best known but unfortunately not too accurate drawings are based on these. In 2005 copies of the original drawings were found in a heritage. It contained a lot of partial drawings of subassemblies (except for the turret, and the glacis plate), notes and other documents and a construction diary. With the help of these a pretty accurate picture can be obtained of the Tas, involving a level of guesstimation as there are some details in the sources that are conflicting with each other. There are absolutely no drawings of the turret and the front plate of the hull. The main weapon is still debated, as both a 75 and an 80mm main gun was a possible option. And as it happens normally with prototypes, many changes are implemented during the construction, so the final version can be a little different compared to the original plans. The most detailed reconstruction of the Tas was made by Dr. Ernő Kovácsházy, and Miklós Kovácsházy (son, and grandson of the late Ernő Kovácsházy, who was the chief designer of the Zrínyi assault gun family, the Hunor amphibious armored car and the Tas heavy tank): Páncél Vadász.hu
. Some original drawings also can be found here.
The kit arrives in small and sturdy box that offers a good level of protection, and the sprues are also packed in plastic bags. Everything fits perfectly into the box and we do not need to worry as the kit does not really contain extremely fragile or delicate parts.
The kit consists of 166 sand yellow plastic parts (excluding the individual track links) which suggests a fairly easy build, compared to today’s multimedia kits that sometimes might have 600 parts. We receive 189 additional track links also in plastic, these seem to be of good quality (and luckily has no knock-out pin marks), however all the details of the original are still not known.
The parts quality is excellent as usual with the latest Hobby Boss
kits with no flash or any other imperfections present at all. The knock-out pin marks are on the hidden sides of the parts (if there are any) except for the fenders – these have a couple to fill or cover with some mud.
The PE sheet contains some fine mesh and 5 tiny bits and is covered by protective plastic.
The instructions booklet is very short, 8 pages only, as this is not a very complicated build, except for the running gear that is a bit busier due to the bogies (plus the track links). The 12 steps are really easy to overview and follow.
The marking and painting instructions are in color with all the codes provided for Mr. Hobby paints, and some for Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya and Humbrol. The camouflage pictured is entirely fictional, as factory original Hungarian-made tanks would have been painted dark/olive green. On the field these might have been overprinted with a three-tone camouflage. The decal is also highly unlikely in this format as it suggests that the tank belongs to the 6th company which would be too many for a battalion of the Royal Hungarian Army during WW2.
Construction starts with the bogies, unfortunately these are quite simplified and the leaf springs are very vague (three thick strips only). The layout of the armored cover of the sprockets is incorrect and the wheels are also missing some details (mostly bolts). The idlers look good to me.
The individual tracks need glue and we have plenty of spares in case some would get lost or broken.
The mesh screens are nicely detailed, however not too much is known on how the originals looked like exactly. The layout of the engine deck is also incorrect as the bigger air intake should be made up of four panels (instead of two), the two middle ones would open towards the rear with hinges. Another prominent issue is the missing exhaust pipe, as the original drawings have three of them. The rest of the features of the upper hull seem basically OK to me, although I have not too much information on these details. The tools are nicely made with fine attachment points, some of these are PE parts.
The turret is a very simple one with a movable gun and its features seem basically correct, however the hinge of the commander’s hatch is a bit too chunky.
For those who wish to build the original prototype of the Tas, this kit won’t be entirely satisfactory since it has some issues, and is not based on full, factory original plans (furthermore the prototype was not finished at all) thus it cannot be 100% accurate. Those who like “what if” scenarios will find this a fun and easy build of a tank that might have been mass produced as pictured by Hobby Boss
in 1945-46, should the events of WW2 took a different course.
My sincere thanks goes out to Miklós Kovácsházy for his help with this review.