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PLA Type 62 Light Tank Kit

Trumpeter 1/35 PLA Type 62 Light Tank Kit First Look

by Michael Benolkin

Date of Review December 2015 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject PLA Type 62 Light Tank Scale 1/35
Kit Number 5537 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros Unique subject Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $69.95

First Look

PLA Type 62 Light Tank Kit
PLA Type 62 Light Tank Kit

Here's some engineering you don't see every day. The Chinese developed the Type 59 tank by copying the Soviet T-54/T-55 medium tank. The T-54/T-55 and Type 59 are very similar in external appearance except for a tell-tale bulge at the rear of the Type 59 to accommodate their transmission. When the People's Liberation Army needed a light tank, they literally down-sized the Type 59 which features a smaller turret and hull, thinner armor, and an 85mm main gun in place of the 100mm gun on the T-54/T-55/Type 59. This smaller tank was designated as Type 62 and weighed 21 tons, 15 tons less than the T-54/T-55/Type 59. The Type 62 entered service in 1963 and underwent a number of updates based upon combat experience which allowed the tank to remain in service until 2013.

When I first saw this kit, I initially dismissed it as yet another variation of some of Trumpeter's tanks, but the title of light tank made me take a closer look at the specifications and history of this type. When you look at the parts, it even looks like a T-54/T-55 (except for that transmission bulge that came from the Type 59). This kit is essentially a new-tool subject as the hull and turret are indeed down-sized. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on 12 parts trees plus lower hull, four trees molded in rust-colored styrene, and one small fret of photo-etched details (duplicate trees not shown). Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Detailed lower hull and suspension
  • Detailed upper hull with stowage boxes and 'pillow' fuel tanks
  • Individual track links
  • Unique jettisonable rear fuel drums
  • Photo-etched engine deck grilles
  • Detailed Type 54 12.7mm machine gun (DShK copy)

Decals provide a pair of Chinese red stars for the turret along with a set of generic tactical numbers. Painting instructions are included for an overall green and a tri-colored camouflage example with hobby paints given in Gunze, Vallejo, ModelMaster, Tamiya, and Humbrol colors.

This is a simple build that will raise a few eyebrows on the contest table when some might conclude that this is an under-scaled Type 59 (and they'd be correct!). While this kit only features the Type 62 in PLA service, this tank also served in Albania, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Congo, Mali, North Korea, Sudan Tanzania, Vietnam, and Thailand. There are lots of unshown camouflage schemes and untold diorama or vignette options awaiting the right modelers.

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!