PL-01 Prototype Polish Light Tank
pro·to·type | \ ˈprō-tə-ˌtīp
Definition of prototype:
1 : an original model on which something is patterned : archetype
2 : an individual that exhibits the essential features of a later type
3 : a standard or typical example
4 : a first full-scale and usually functional form of a new type or design of a construction (such as an airplane)
(Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary)
What's in the box?
Unlike the previous Takom kit I reviewed, this one does not have an interior, and it shows when you open the box - an eleven page instruction book with 15 steps; five sprue trees, two of which are the link and length tracks; upper and lower hull; two side skirts; jigs for the tracks; a clear part sprue; a very small PE set; and decals. That's it!
Looking at the box art and photos on the web, I keep thinking this is out of some science fiction movie - it really is unlike anything else currently in production.
According to the kit instructions booklet:
"Based on the Swedish CV90120-T light tank, the PL-01 concept tank was jointly developed by Obrum of Poland and BAE Systems of the United Kingdom in 2013. The engine compartment is located at the front of the hull, and the unmanned turret has options to mount 105mm or 120mm weapons to fire classic ammunition or anti-tank guided missiles. The PL-01 was designed with lots of angles to reduce its radar signature and mounts temperature-controlled cooled wafers on the hull and turret to increase its stealth technology camouflage, allowing the PL-01 to match the infrared signature of its environment to confuse the tracking systems of IR weapons.
The new Polish tank has modular armor protection with multilayer ceramic-aramid armor. Damaged add-on armor modules can be easily replaced in field conditions and future upgrades can be readily integrated. The three-man crew (commander, gunner, driver) sit in the hull of the vehicle, and the rear part of the hull can be used to carry four infantrymen. A door is at the rear side of the hull, the upper part of which opens to the front while the lower part folds down to form a step. A high level of protection for the crew is achieved by a safety capsule embedded inside the vehicle, relying at the same time on highly effective active and passive protection systems such as the multilayer ceramic-aramid armor, additional spall liners for crew protection, automatic fire suppression and NBC protection system. The hull has a high level of protection against landmines and improvised explosive devices, designed to withstand explosions equivalent to 10 kg of TNT anywhere under the hull. The frontal armor with add-on armor modules provides protection against 30-40 mm armor-piercing rounds, and all-around protection against 14.5 mm armor-piercing rounds.
The Fire Control System is integrated with an active protection system, communication system and battlefield management system, and integrates two sights with the third generation, thermal day cameras and laser rangefinders. The Commander's panoramic sight with day camera, third generation thermal imager and Laser Range Finder, works in a "hunter-killer" mode to locate and destroy targets without the gunner. The gunner's position is also equipped with a day camera, third generation thermal imager and LRF. Loading is carried out via an autoloader unit located in the rear part of the turret, with 16 rounds ready to fire in the turret autoloader and 29 rounds stored inside the hull. Additional armament includes a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun and a remote-controlled weapon station which can be armed with 7.62mm or 12.7mm machine gun, or a 40mm automatic grenade launcher. Two banks of four smoke grenade launchers are located at each side of the turret inside the armor."
More information and photographs of the prototype vehicle are available on-line.
Steps 1 - 4
Steps 1 and 2 are attaching the idler arm and seven road wheel suspension arms. All of the arms are keyed to aid in proper alignment, and in step 3, attach the two jigs to ensure the alignment while the cement dries. Step four is building up the 14 road wheels for both sides and attaching them to the suspension arms.
Step 5 is assembling the two sprocket wheels, two idler wheels, slipping them on to the two jigs, followed by gluing together the various track runs and individual links as shown in the instructions; once dry, attach to the lower hull.
Step 6 - 7
Step 6 is attaching the lower track runs and two lower armored plates. Step 7 is attaching the rear lower hull plate and two front fenders.
Steps 8 - 10
Step 8 is attaching the rear upper hull plate. Step 9 is attaching the driver's hatch. Step 10 is attaching the upper hull to the lower hull.
Steps 11 - 12
Step 11 is attaching the two side skirts to the hull. Step 12 is assembling the remote controlled machine gun station.
Step 13 has five sub-steps:
A - attach ammunition belt to machine gun
B and C - build up the two active protection systems
D - build up the Fire Control System
E - build up the main gun
Add parts A - D to the turret top; some parts have to be added to the underside of the roof, to allow A - D to rotate, so don't glue the turret bottom until this step is completed.
Step 14 - 15
Step 14 is to build up the gunner's laser range finder and attach to the lower turret, insert (don't glue!) the main gun, and then attach the upper turret half without gluing the main gun, so it can move freely.
Step 15 is attaching the completed turret to the hull.
Paint and Markings Schemes
Four different paint and marking guides are provided, using Ammo by MIG paints. First is a three-color digital camouflage; second is a three-color camouflage, the main color of which is sand; the third color is NATO green; and the fourth is what appears to be the woodland NATO three-color camouflage. While the digital camo looks really neat, I don't have the paint skills to try that, so I'm going with the fourth choice, since Poland is a NATO member. A fifth color, not shown in the instructions, would be the gray color as shown on the kit box top.
This looks like a quick and fun build, since there's no interior to bother with; in fact, according to Scalemates, there are only four aftermarket kits out there - an Aber 105mm gun barrel; a Voyager PE set; DN Models Version 1 paint mask; and a Quickwheel paint mask.The kit does not have figures, tools, storage, or other exterior details - but, it is a prototype, so much of that will be figured out once it goes in to production - if it ever does.
Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders, especially if you enjoy unusual or prototype tanks.
Thanks goes out to Takom for this review kit.
Reviewed by Joseph "Mac" McDaniel
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