The T-70 as a tank was already obsolete by the time production started in 1942, but was a much needed 'stop gap' until Russian production facilities could recover from the initial German advance.
The T-70 is a small tank with a crew of only two, and weighing in at just under 10 ton. It was armed with a 45mm main gun, and a 7.62mm co-axial MG. Production ceased in September (some sources state October) 1943, when over 8.200 had been build.
Using captured or foreign produced equipment was a standard practise of the German Army since before the war, and the T-70 was no exception. The German designation for the T-70M was " Pz. Kpfw. T-70 743(r) " and was used mainly for reconnaissance and 'Internal Police Duties'. Some T-70's had their turrets removed, and were used to tow Artillery.
What's in the box?
The kit is packed in a sturdy cardboard box in which we find one plastic bag, in which there are another two more plastic bags.
There are only three sprues, two of which are identical, for the T-70, four small sprues for the individual track links and a small clear sprue with three periscopes and a headlight lens.
The box also contains one sprue with figures, in this case the German Tank Crew in winter uniforms, which is also available separately as kit no. 35021.
First inspection of the sprues shows well-molded parts, with very few knockout or sink marks, but there is a bit a flash to be removed here and there. Mold lines are minimal, and the soft plastic makes cleaning them up an easy job. A quick swipe with your Exacto knife is all that's needed.
Included in this kit is a small sheet of German Markings, consisting of three different style of 'Balkenkreuz' and one pair of turret no.'s.
The instructions are attractive and informative, printed on quality glossy paper. The instructions take just five steps, using exploded view pictures, which could be clearer in one or two areas. There is a small section on the history of the vehicle plus some 'vital' statistics. The English translation has at least one error, where it says '1944' it should say '1941'.
A welcome addition is the 7 wartime photos which are in the instructions. They show a variety of T-70's, some in German service, and one disabled with German troops taking shelter behind it.
Building the T-70
This is a small tank, comparable with the Pzr II, and as such does not result in an 800 parts kit, which takes several weeks to construct. The kit builds up from 128 parts, plus 84 links on each side for the tracks. I'll use steps as per the instructions, and will point out good and bad points as I go along.
Following a tried and tested sequence, the kit starts construction with the hull, suspension and road wheels. The hull consists of only two parts, the lower hull tub, and the front glacis, hull roof and engine deck. The two parts fit like a glove, and just need a small amount of liquid glue to secure. No filler is needed. The driverís hatch and periscope fit equally well, and although it is not shown in the instructions the hatch can be positioned open or closed. Unlike the turret there is no interior detail for the driver at all, so if you open the drivers hatch you will have to scratch at least a seat and some controls.
Air intake screens are separate, but in plastic, and as such are a poor representation of mesh grills. If you would replace anything at all on this kit these screens would be the first candidates. The tow hooks on the other hand have been replicated very nice, and if you are careful with your glue application the hinged 'locksí can be made to work.
The suspension arms are keyed to be positioned at the right angle, but although the fit is positive, the arms are leaning 'inwards' a bit, which causes the wheels to sit at an angle. This is however fairly easy to correct when the tracks are added. See the photos for details.
The construction moves to the gun, mantlet and co-ax MG. The kit provides a full main gun and co-ax, and although the detail is minimal it is sufficient to fill the turret if you choose to open the turret hatch and add a figure. Lack of any further interior detail really asks for a Commander to be added to the turret, as the large hatch allows a good look into the turret and tank interior.
The 45 mm main gun barrel is molded in one piece, with the muzzle already hollowed out. An impressive detail for this kit.
This step puts the rest of the turret together, and this is the only time an alternative option is available. There are two different periscopes for the turret hatch, and the instructions use the paint instructions to show the difference.
Examination of the turret and comparison with the photo's in the instructions reveal an obvious mistake in the otherwise good accuracy of this kit, as the kit has a small, dome shaped plug for the pistol/view port molded to the left side of the turret, but not to the right. The photos show that a port was present on both sides. (EDIT by author- I have since come across a photo of a T-70 which does not have a pistol port on the right side. So although not common, it is not nessecarily wrong not to have this pistol port. )
An odd omission, considering that the rest of the kit looks to be spot on. It's not difficult to make one from the end of a piece of sprue though. The overall shape of this distinctive looking turret has been well captured, and as with the hull, the parts fit extremely well, only needing a touch of liquid glue to secure them.
The turret hatch can be displayed open, and the partial interior of the turret and the included figures make this a attractive option, but if you do you will have to remove two large knock-out marks on the inside of the hatch. The handle should really be replaced with a wire one as well, as it's molded solid.
Returning to the hull, the final drive housings and drive sprockets are added, as are the exhausts. The T-70 was powered by two Gaz truck engines of 70 BHP each, and two exhausts are mounted to the right side of the hull. The single headlight fits to the left side, just before the claxon.
Just behind the claxon the instruction call for a starter crank handle to be fitted against the hull side. I have not seen this on any of the photos or illustrations I have found, and on period photos there seems to be no trace of even the mounting brackets/clamps. It seems that this was not a standard location for the crank handle, but is not to say that a crew might have fitted it there 'in the field'.
The last step is adding the tracks, mudguards, tools and stowage boxes.
The tracks are a thing of beauty, individual links molded in four small sprues. The individual links come clean of the sprues, and are devoid of any flash. The links fit together as before, and with just a touch of slow setting glue can be build up quickly and easily. There are very faint knockout marks on the inside of the links, and if you want they can be removed with a swipe of sandpaper.
The mudguards fit well, as do the bracing struts, but here is another error, as easily identified by comparison with photos. The second from the front left mudguard stay is shown to be mounted fore of the riveted hull seam, and the bracket is indeed molded in this place. The photo's, and most other references I have, show however that the bracket was mounted AFT of these rivets, between the seam and the forward mounted stowage box. I have found one photo (on Tanxheaven) that shows the bracket mounted fore of the seam.
As the Position of the riveted seam seems to be correct in relation to the position of the turret it looks that either the stowage box is mounted to far forward, or a bit to wide. The toolboxes are another conundrum, as the kit pieces have three hinges and three clasps. Most photos, and indeed the kit's illustrations and box art, show just two hinges and two clasps. I suppose that manufacture by different factories would have resulted in varying styles being supplied and used.
The T-70 in German Service
The T-70 was, like most captured enemy equipment, used by the German Army to free up their own Armour for use in the front line.
The T-70 was used mainly for internal security, as well as reconnaissance with smaller units.
The decals and paint options are for one vehicle serving with the StuG Abteillung 276, in East Prussia in November 1944, one vehicle with the 5th. Polizei Panzer Kompanie (police, or internal security forces), and one simply marked as '82 Wehhrmacht's Division'. The later is shown in a Green colour scheme, with only large 'Balkenkreuzen' to identify it as a German vehicle.
The crew that is included in the box also is available as a separate kit, # 35021, a separate review of which will be published shortly.
One or two little niggles aside, this is an excellent kit of a rather unknown but surprisingly good looking Light Tank. This is MiniArtís first AFV, and if it's any indication of what's to come in the future, Russian Vehicle modellers have something to look forward to.
MiniArt has already indicated a no. of future releases on their website, and in line with their practise to utilise molds and sprues to maximum effect it's no surprise that a SU-76M and a T-80, who share most of the driveline/wheels of the T-70, are in the pipeline.
If you like building AFV's that are a little different, or if you are just looking for a fun and easy model, I highly recommend this kit.
'Tanks of World War IIí by Chris Ellis
'Tanks and Armoured Fighting Vehicles of WWII' by Jim Winchester
Various websites, such as 'Achtung Panzer', 'Tanx Heaven', 'wikipedia' and 'WWII vehicles'
MiniArt German Tank Crew Win. 43-45
My thanks to MiniArt for the review sample