Mirage Hobby 1/35 TKS-B Tankette
The TK (also known as the TK-3) tankette was a Polish design produced from 1931 based on the chassis of the British Carden Loyd tankette, with an improved hull and more powerful engine, and armour up to 8 mm (0.31 in) thick (10 mm or 0.39 in on the TKS). In 1939, up-arming of the tankettes with Nkm wz.38 FK 20 mm (0.79 in) machine guns began, but only 24 of these were completed before the outbreak of World War II.
575 TK/TKS tankettes formed the bulk of the Polish armoured forces before the outbreak of war. They suffered heavy losses during the Invasion of Poland, often being the only armoured fighting vehicles available. Their small size suited them for reconnaissance and infantry support, but with their light armament of a single machine gun they stood no chance in combat against German tanks, except against the Panzer I. The handful of tankettes armed with 20 mm guns were more effective against enemy tanks; in one instance on 18 September 1939 a 20 mm gunned TKS commanded by Podchorazy (Officer Candidate SFC) Roman Orlik destroyed three German Panzerkampfwagen 35(t) tanks.
After the conquest of Poland, captured tankettes were used by the German army in various support roles, mostly for training, security duties or as artillery tractors. Many captured tankettes were also used by the Luftwaffe for airfield security and snowplowing
The TKS-B was trialled in the summer of 1936, with weapons removed. The vehicle had an older camouflage scheme (the “Japanese-style”), with an interesting pattern of patches. Experience had shown that the TKS steering system was unsuitable for towing guns. Both TK and TKS tankettes made turns by simply braking one track. In 1936, the Polish designers decided to add side clutches to the transmission of the tractor, and make rear idler wheels bigger, so they became the last roadwheels. At the same time, the chassis of one TKS tankette was converted this way (it was the tankette nr. 1510, of the first series, made of mild iron plates). The conversion was designated TKS-B (or TK-SB, or TK-S-B) – for “sprzęgła boczne” = ‘side clutches’.
During trials in summer 1936, an average speed of the TKS-B was higher by 5 km/h over the TKS, both on road and off road. It was also easier to steer and consumed less fuel. Its traction performance improved greatly and trials were successful, but the production of the TKS was ending at that time, and as they were not considered modern fighting vehicles anymore it was decided not to proceed with converting any vehicles. However, the TKS-B vehicle was not scrapped. The single TKS-B prototype was used for other conversions; ultimately, in April 1937, it was reworked into one of the two TKS-D tank destroyer prototypes.
What all that means is that this kit is a what-if kit. The TKS-B was a test bed for a new running gear and wasn’t armed. Ultimately it was converted into another prototype before the war broke out.
The box is a standard top opening box containing 2 sprues of plastic and one sprue of rubber tracks sealed inside a plastic bag. This kit has been released before in different versions by Mirage Hobby and dates back to the 1990s.
The box contains:
- 2 sprues holding 82 parts approx
- 1 sprue with rubber band type tracks
- 1 single page painting guide
- 1 instructions book of 4 half-pages.
- 1 small sheet with paper signal flags
The instructions are in a double-sided single page sheet, organised into 7 steps. The diagrams are in black and white and are nice and clear. The steps of the builds are:
- Step 1. Putting together the return roller bar
- Step 2. Here, you have 2 options for running gear, TKS or TKS-B. As I pointed out in the video there’s one wheel that seems to have broken on the sprue – that’s for the TKS version. So if you’re making a TKS-B then you’re ok. This kit is for the TKSB version so this shouldn’t be a problem.
- Step 3. Continues with putting together the running gear for a TKS-B.
- Step 4. Puts together the lower hull and sidewalls with mudguard.
- Step 5. Adds the upper hull, tools, and handholds.
- Step 6. Adds exhaust and smaller parts to the upper hull.
- Step 7. Adds the running gear assemblies made earlier and the tracks along with the option of 2 main armaments, the 20mm cannon or a machine gun.
The detail on the plastic is good but the barrels of the armament options will need hollowing out a little. There’s no interior detail and no option for having any hatches open. There are no decals but there are some paper flags supplied along with instructions on how they were mounted on wires, but you will need to find your own wire.
This kit is currently available at MirageHobby for $10.60 plus shipping.
Overall it’s a neat kit that with only 82 parts in total it won’t take too long to build. The level of detail on the parts is good and not much clean up of parts needed. You can do a few small things to improve the build and it would be a good introduction to 1/35 scale tanks for younger builders.
Many thanks to MirageHobby for sending the kit along for us to have a look at.