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Tom Modellbau 1/35 Polish Tankette TK-3 Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review December 2006 Manufacturer Tom Modellbau
Subject Polish Tankette TK-3 Scale 1/35
Kit Number 09 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Unique subject Cons  
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look


In 1929, the Polish Defense Ministry purchased ten British Carden-Lloyd Mk. V-1’s for research and to develop a new vehicle for the Polish Army.

From the experience with these vehicles Stanislaw Marczewskiego developed new running gear and further improvements. Following the introduction of a five year re-armament program, during which a requirement for 330 tankettes was foreseen, an order was placed with the Construction Office of WWII in Warsaw for the construction of two prototypes of the new “Model X” for a fixed price of 36000 Zlotys each.

Using the basic chassis of the Carden-Lloyds, and the skills from Marczewskiego’s construction team, the first two prototypes: TK-1 and TK-2 were completed in 1930.

During the trial periods various engines were fitted and tested. The trials completed in 1931, concluding with the series production of the TK-3.

The TK-3 differed from the TK-1/TK-2 prototypes in having a closed fighting compartment and powered by a Ford A (40 PS) engine. Approximately 300 vehicles were built up until the end of 1932. Later, a further 18 vehicles were built and fitted with the Fiat 122-B (46 PS) engine. This version was known as the TKF. A surviving example can be seen today at the Military History Museum in Belgrade (Serbia). Originally, the vehicle belonged to the 10th Cavalry Brigade which in September 1939 was sent to Hungary. Later it served in the Ustascha-Rigime and finally in Tito’s army.

The armament of the TK-3 consisted of one 7.92 mm machine-gun (WZ 25) with 1800 rounds mounted at the front of the vehicle. Later models of the TKS tankette were powered by Polish license produced Fiat engines. There were two armament variants: one with a 20mm cannon and the second with a single 7.92mm Hotchkiss machine-gun. Developments continued up until the out-break of the second world war, testing the chassis with a 47mm cannon, a 25mm and 37mm cannons. None of which was put into production. However, the tankette TK-3/TKS was used for the basis of the C2P a towing tractor for the 40mm flak Bofors. The Polish Army also had a special transport railway wagon and a derivative chassis development especially for transporting the tankette.

At the outbreak of war, there were 574 TK-3/TKS in service. Most were attached to cavalry and armor unit for reconnaissance and infantry support. The majority were lost during the early battles with the German Wehrmacht. The Germans however did put a number into service which continued to serve until 1944.

The kit comes in a small tray and lid type box. The box art shows a TK-3 with 2 figures. One figure is standing in the open roof hatch, filling his pipe. The other figure is standing next to the tankette smoking a cigarette. This box art is miss-leading, as you do not get any figures in the kit. This is too bad, because these are neat poses on these guys. The box calls out skill level 3.

Tom Modellbau is based in Germany and their kits are molded in Poland. Kind of an international effort.

The box contains 2 small chalk-white parts trees and two medium gray ones. None are cello bagged. The instruction sheet completes the kit’s contents. There are no decals provided.

The instructions consists of a single letter size sheet that is printed on both sides. The face side begins with a black and white repeat of the box art. This is followed by the history of the vehicle in German and English. At the bottom of the page is a written description of the normal color scheme used on TK-3’s. However, no drawing of this is provided. It says that they were spray painted with olive-green, yellow and red-brown horizontal stripes and did not carry any markings in combat. They did carry marks in war games though. Several examples of these types of temporary marks are shown.

The reverse side of the instruction sheet has a parts tree drawing and nine assembly steps, which are called out in Roman numerals. These assembly steps are very, very busy exploded drawings. No part numbers are molded on the parts trees, so you will have to constantly refer to the parts tree drawings during assembly. Bad move Tom.

The first medium gray parts tree holds: the upper hull parts, hatches and machine-gun (7 parts) Although the hatches can be posed open or shut, there are no interior detail parts.

The second medium gray tree holds: the hull bottom and sides, rear panel, tools, muffler assembly and horn (12 parts)

There are two identical chalk-white parts trees. These hold link and length type tracks, drive sprockets, bogies, road wheels, idler wheels, return rollers and other suspension parts (46 parts per tree). The track links that are individual are very tiny and look more like they belong in a 1/72nd scale armor kit. They will take a lot of careful work to remove them from the parts trees, and assemble them, for sure.

Detail and molding is very good. No flash is in evidence anywhere and mold pin ejector marks are all on inside surfaces, where they will be covered an out of sight after assembly.

I recommend this kit, but wish there were at least some German markings maybe for a captured vehicle and some illustration of the paint scheme used on TK-3’s.