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ZTZ-99A1 Kit

Bronco Models 1/35 ZTZ-99A1 PLA Main Battle Tank Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2010 Manufacturer Bronco Models
Subject ZTZ-99A1 PLA Main Battle Tank Scale 1/35
Kit Number 35040 Primary Media Styrene/PE
Pros Nicely detailed kit Cons No interior detail
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $69.98

First Look

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The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has been busy advancing its abilities to develop contemporary weapons systems. Up through the 1970s, weapons were either imported, produced under license, or simply copied and improved upon. In the area of main battle tanks, the PLA have advanced from operating imported T-54 and T-55 tanks from the Soviet Union to producing variations such as the Type 59 (T-54) and Type 69 (T-54A). Further advances were developed from captured T-62 tanks and from the importing of a variety of technologies from Europe and Israel.

The Type 99 is the latest generation of main battle tanks for the PLA which bear some resemblance to the T-72 in the hull and road wheels, while capturing some of the advances of the Leopard in its turret design. The ZTZ-99A1 is the current version of the Type 99 what incorporates a 125mm smoothbore main gun with advanced reactive armor capabilities for battlefield survivability. The ZTZ-99A1 is due to be superceded by the ZTZ-99A2 which incorporates further combat capabilities.

Bronco Models has released this new-tool ZTZ-99A1 main battle tank, a first in any scale I believe. The kit is molded in tan styrene and presented on 14 parts trees plus separately packaged lower hull and turret parts, one tree of clear parts, and two frets of photo-etched parts.

You only have to glance over these parts to see the heritage of this tank's design, with elements of the T-72 in the lower hull, T-55 on the upper deck, and a cross between Leopard and T-72 in the turret layout.

Construction starts with the lower hull and this kit features working torsion bar suspension. It will be interesting to see how this works with the track system in the kit. More on this below.

There isn't an interior, not that you could see much through the small hatches. The crew hatches are positionable, but no crew figures are included so you'll probably want to build this with the hatches closed.

The design of the upper/lower hull precludes any 'air gaps' that were typical of many Tamiya tank kits which would allow you to look below the fenders and see daylight out the other side of the hull. The fenders are provided separately as are the skirts.

The engine deck on the upper hull receives some nice photo-etched grills to overlay over the cooling vents. It is interesting that even on this modern battle tank, the design retains the external fuel drums typical of Soviet tanks dating back into World War II.

The track system is rather interesting in this kit. Each track link is made up of three parts, and each track run is made up of 82 links. Care is supposed to be taken to allow the tracks to articulate after assembly, so they really do make use of the torsion bar suspension to get installed and retain their tension.

The upper turret receives an interesting array of sensors similar to the M1A2 or Leopard 2A6 tanks. A hand-cranked telescoping mast, smoke dischargers, and the Chinese version of the DShK 12.7mm machine gun round out the details atop the turret.

Markings are provided for the following two examples:

  • 99A1, Peace Mission 2009, Sino-Russian Border
  • 99A1, 60th Anniversary National Day Parade, Digital Camo

The instructions provide paint colors for Gunze Sangyo, Hobby Color, Humbrol, and Tamiya.

Bronco Models continues to turn out some impressive models and this one is no exception. These kits are definitely an AMS modeler's delight.

This kit is highly recommended!

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!

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