TAKOM - Soviet Heavy Tank SMK - Full Build
We took a 'first look' at this kit here: SMK First Look
Historical trivia: I discovered after beginning assembly that all the proving-ground photos of the real SMK show fenders devoid of spare tracks, tools or tool boxes. So, if your intent is to show the tank at that stage, you may want to leave those items off. It's possible they were added at the last minute as the tank was sent to Finland for combat trials. I did not, of course, figure this out till I was done with the build.
The Build: In general this was an easy build. The instructions contain no mistakes, the parts fit very well, and there are no real "gotchas" to ruin your day.
My only issue with this kit is the sequence of steps in the instructions. Takom would have the builder attach small items such as machinegun barrels and even antennas and PE to components early in the build, and then add those delicate subassemblies to the basic hull or turrets. I didn't try to build the kit this way. I strongly prefer to get the big stuff done, then add details. It's possible I am wrong, but I think the instructions' approach is asking for trouble with the more delicate parts.
Here's an example, below: the very first steps of the instructions would have the builder add some really fiddly bits to the front hull piece before adding that to the main hull molding.
Likewise, although the turrets are very simple, the instructions have the periscopes etc. attached before the basic shapes are assembled.
My preference is to assemble the major shapes first and then, once that's done, add all the smaller detail parts. This minimizes the risk of breaking a delicate part and ensures the major pieces can be gotten together with any fit problems dealt with early on.
My sequence resulted in the hull bottom, front, rear and sides being assembled first, and then I added the bump stops, torsion bar swing arms, idler mount and final drive mounts before pausing at this point.
Make no mistake, this is a fairly simple kit to build, so I don't want to make too much of this 'sequence' issue. Fit was excellent and the build was trouble-free.
Hull bottom with lots and lots of road wheels to be added.
I followed the instructions with regard to the fenders. The tools, tool boxes and spare tracks were added before attaching to the hull. If I were building this again, I think I'd leave the tool boxes off. The few photos I can find of the SMK do not show any tool boxes fitted.
The tracks are individual-link style. They are well molded and fit together very easily. I like to start with the track and wheels, so I assembled some long runs for the ground-contact area and some shorter lengths for the runs up to the drive sprocket and idler. I set these aside while I was building the rest of the hull.
When I got tired of sanding road wheel sprue attachment points on 32 road wheels, I skipped ahead to the 45mm gun turret. This is a remarkably modern-looking turret that falls together. Unfortunately the roof hatch is molded closed and there is a seam down the back side of the turret wall plate. Neither of these are major issues.
A bit of filling and sanding is needed to remove this seam.
A few coats of Tamiya grey putty, sand, fill, sand,.......almost there.
45mm Turret front, in progress.
OK, Comrades! Back to the Wheels and Track!
After my turret detour I returned to the tracks and wheels. Prepping the parts took a little while simply because there are so many of them....but assembly was simple, fast and problem-free. I spent less than one hour fitting the tracks. This part of the build just feels like building two KVs.
Tracks going on, right side.
Left side completed! I suspect the real SMK's tracks were never quite this loose, but hey, it's a Soviet heavy tank, I had to do it. Takom gives you plenty of spares.
Once the tracks had dried overnight, I added the fenders, which (see above) were already assembled. They fit perfectly.
I moved on to the main turret, the components of which are shown below. It's an unusual assembly, with four parts, for example, just for the neck portion. Fit was excellent, however. In the end you get a turret very similar to the initial one on the KV prototypes. As with the 45mm gun turret, there's a small seam down the back that needs to be filled.
The business end! This is the L-11 gun also used on the T-28, early KVs and T-34s. The gun tube is molded in a single piece and there is no need for aftermarket replacement.
The turret roof. I was intrigued by the all-around sloped roof, which I don't recall seeing on any other wartime Soviet tank.
Here is the main turret assembled, with all the vision devices and the DT machinegun mount.
The machinegun mount is probably the one weak area in the kit. It is all plastic, which makes for an easy assembly. But if I were doing this kit again, I'd replace it with a PE mounting and maybe one of Miniart's DT guns.
One thing I left off the model was the tow cables. The copper cable would not adhere to the excellent plastic tow cable ends with any glue I used. It's a shame because both the cable ends and the cable itself look great. I also lost the horn to the tweezer gods, and stole a replacement from an old KV kit.
Ready for the Paint Shop!!!
I guess one advantage of having all those turrets and guns is, you can fire in maybe four directions at once. ;) A disadvantage is, these turrets can foul each other.
There are four paint schemes provided in the instructions. Two are factual, while the other two are completely fictional, World-of-Tanks type 'what if' schemes. The tank was painted plain green like most Red Army tanks while on the proving ground. During that period, the SMK seems not to have had any tools or other times stowed on the fenders.
Once deployed to Finland during the Winter War testing, the SMK was given an overall coat of white paint. If you're going to show your SMK 'in action' that's really the only choice. Photos seem to show even the wheels were painted white, and the paint was not heavily worn.
The other two 'fantasy' schemes are very colorful camouflage patterns with Mig paints called out, red stars and slogans. It is based on actual pre-war Red Army camouflage practices so it's not completely without basis, but of course there was only one SMK built and no evidence exists that it was ever painted in multicolor camouflage patterns. Nor does Takom make that claim; the instructions acknowledge the schemes are fictional. They look cool if that's how you want to paint your model.
I decided to go for the Finnish campaign 'in action' look, so I gave the SMK a coat of dark green, then a whitewash, and weathered it to show some normal wear-and-tear. The paint wear was not extensive since this tank was not in service long. The white scheme is a nice base for lots of greasy stains on the engine deck, and lots of mud and snow in the suspension.
The tank is so long, I split the upper-view photos to show it off better.
Takom's SMK heavy tank is a pleasure to build. Despite the huge size of the finished model, the parts count is relatively low and the assembly is easy. If you've built a KV kit, you'll find this very familiar. A disciplined modeler (not me....) could probably finish it in one long weekend. I'd advise modelers to deviate from the sequence, getting the big stuff together first and then going back to add the fiddly bits.
The model makes for an interesting historical link between the pre-war multi-turreted breakthrough monsters and the wartime KV series. It's also got a pretty good "wow" factor.
Pros: Interesting subject; simple, trouble-free assembly, excellent fit and detail.
Cons: Instructions give an odd assembly sequence that creates risk of breaking small parts.
Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders.
Thanks goes out to TAKOM for this review kit.
Reviewed by Danny Egan
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