Here we take a look at the PLA 59-D Medium Tank from Hobby Boss in 1/35th scale.


The type 59 medium tank is or was a copy of the Russian T54. The type 59 was copied with the full permission of the Soviet government, as a sign of friendship between the two powers. The type 59 tank is an important step in China’s tank armies, as it is the basis for many of their vehicles, with the type 59 itself under going many improvements over its life from the first vehicles in the 1950’s and with this being a type 59-D we move to a vehicle being built in the 1990’s. The type 59 also proved to be a great export product for the Chinese, as it was cheaper than buying the Soviet equivalent, and from what I have been able to ascertain Pakistan was the biggest customer for the type. 


This offering from Hobby Boss is provided in a substantial cardboard tray, with a separate card lid with a partition inside the tray to protect some elements. Most of the sprues are individually packaged in their own plastic bags, except where the sprue is duplicated. An examination of the mouldings reveals no obvious issues at this moment in time. I was pleased to see the small size and low number of gates between the sprues and the parts.

This offering from Hobby Boss of the type 59-D, begins with a lower hull that many of us will recognise. The sides and front lower glacis plate are all moulded as part of the lower hull, as are the circular portions of the hull which are to accommodate the turret. I have never climbed underneath a type 59, but as the moulding replicates what I have seen on many different models, I believe it to be accurate. Due to a number of the mouldings in this offering, there are a number of details that need to be removed and holes that need to be drilled to accommodate specific details for this version of the Type 59. When it comes to removing details, there are many ways to tackle the issue, everything from sanding, cutting and everything in between. My personal suggestion is to use a chisel when attacking a flat part, and I prefer to use the bevelled side against the model part as I find this prevents cutting into the part. 

The suspension units are very highly detailed, but not workable and I am unsure of how easy it would be to articulate the suspension arms for display on an uneven surface. Moving on to the wheels, you have the spokes type wheel with the holes enabling the shedding of unnecessary weight. There are lines radiating out from the wheel itself, and over the rubber tyre. This is an accurate detail for a new tyre, but the lines would extend across the contact face as well, and the detail is missing in that location. Each of the tyres has a embossed production mark reading 810x185 - I believe this is the tyre dimensions, and is an interesting detail to be moulded in my opinion. The drive wheels will be a little difficult to remove from the sprue with clean up of the connections requiring care to prevent damage to the teeth. The Idler wheel is a complicated shape, and has been well rendered in this release. The tracks for the model, have been provided as individual track links which are not workable and each track link has four points that will need to be cleaned. An examination under magnification does reveal two ejector pin marks, which are in a location that is not easily reached. But on the plus side, they are not really seen with the naked eye. 

The upper hull is made using two pieces, which I believe would be to enable different variants with the minimum tooling costs. Detail looks good, and I like that the drivers periscopes have been provided in clear plastic. The driver’s hatch is a separate moulding and could be shown open or closed. The lack of detail on the interior will mean you will need to consider how to fill the hole should you leave the hatch open. The track guards, having been provided separate from the upper hull and photo etch reinforcement straps are provided for placement in the front portion of the guard. A detail such as this, will not really be seen on the finished model and so I question its inclusion, but it will be down to personal perception some will love such details, others not so much. The storage boxes mounted on the track guards have been provided with accurate re-enforcement detail present, but you do not have the ability to easily show these open. The fuel tanks stored in these areas, have moulded replication of the fuel lines on the track guard itself but the connection to the fuel tank is not replicated.

Photo etch grilles are provided for the engine deck, and I like that the tow cables have been provided with separate end connectors. Brass wire is provided by Hobby Boss to replicate the cable between the two ends, and this is one aspect of Hobby Boss that I do not like as I think the wire cable is horrible, and I will always seek an alternative source. Moving to the rear fuel barrels, and we get barrels that are moulded in one piece with separate end caps, photo etch straps and well replicated brackets and this could be a visually appealing area of the model. I also appreciate that the lights have been supplied with separate clear lenses. The re-active armour on the front upper glacis is provided as separate parts. One further area of concern, is that where holes need to be drilled no size is provided. When this occurs I usually insert the flat end of a drill bit into the pre-marked hole and when there is no movement within the hole you can be reasonably sure you have the right fit.

The turret of this release has been moulded as a upper and lower, which I believe accurately replicates the way that the real turret is moulded with the exception of the crew hatch areas, which are added after, but are moulded as part of the turret in this case for ease of replication. The periscope are again provided in clear plastic. The hatch covers have been provided as separate parts, and could again be shown open or closed, remembering that you will have to hide the fact that there is nothing inside. The wire frame storage racks on the outside of the turret are well replicated in the release, and while it is my opinion that the mouldings do not accurately indicate the size of the bar stock, they do at least have the correct cross section to them. Photo etch is an alternative to the plastic, which will give you better scale representation but will have the wrong profile. The re-active armour on the front portions of the turret, look pleasing but in my opinion will be a pig to assemble and install without damaging them on more than one occasion. 

The main barrel is unfortunately provided in two halves with a separate end cap, rather than a slide moulded offering and is something I do not like to see in new models. The canvas cover for the mount let has been provided in a material that could be vinyl rubber or Hobby Boss’s version of Dragon Styrene, and while this will give a good representation I am concerned that this is the only thing supporting the barrel. Two finishing options are provided for the model, one is a three colour camouflage pattern and the other is an overall tan/sand covering. Unfortunately Hobby Boss has provided no detail as to what the finishes represent.


This offering from Hobby Boss of the Type 59-D, looks to be reasonably well detailed. But has a few weaknesses in my opinion. These are mostly related to the vinyl mantlet, the split barrel, not supplying the drill size for the holes that need to be made - none of these issues are insurmountable, but at a time when model kits are becoming quite an expensive item, I would like to see simple issues such as these rectified by the manufacturer, rather than needing to be addressed by the modeller.  



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