by: Darren Baker [ ]
The T77 is basically a Chaffee tank with the turret removed and a new turret installed, this is equipped with six 50cal machine guns. The T77 was designed to be the US military’s mobile anti-aircraft platform at the end of World War Two and going on. The vehicle design was not ready to enter service during World War Two, and as the jet age dawned it was cancelled as not being up to the task of tackling fast jets. I do find myself wondering how effective this would have been against ground targets had it been progressed to active service. Ding-Hao Hobby is part of the AFV Club stable who specialise in adding resin parts to model kits and so enabling the unusual and rare to be built. Ding-Hao Hobby have taken the AFV Club Chaffee and replaced the kit turret with an all resin turret to enable a T77 to be built.
This offering from Ding-Hao Hobby is supplied in a cardboard flip top box, it is fairly robust and should protect against reasonable handling by postal services. Inside of the box you will find;
6 green plastic sprues
1 clear sprue
A decal sheet
2 photo etched frets
A length of black twine
Vinyl rubber tracks
8 brass cylinders
2 metal pins
42 cream resin parts
An instruction booklet
This offering from Ding-Hao Hobby can truly be considered a multi-media kit offering, this is clearly evident from the contents breakdown. The packaging of all these parts has been well addressed by Ding-Hao Hobby as the parts are secured in a number of Ziploc bags and heat sealed plastic bags. An examination of the of the metal, injection moulded and tracks leaves me with a positive opinion of the model, but the resin parts do have some issues that will require remedial work to be carried out. The issues with the resin I have found and the fact that this is a multi-media kit means that I would only recommend this model to those who are comfortable with working different medias and the various glues and processes that are used.
As has become quite common now, the torsion bar suspension of the model is workable if you are carful with the glue. I have taken a close look at this and if workable is what you want I suggest placing the plastic torsion bar through the hull of the model correctly orientated, and then glue the swing arm to it. You may be thinking “how do I get the correct orientation of the swing arm right”, well there is a locater tab on each of the swing arms that allows the correct amount of movement of the arm. I should point out that this does mean jumping about through the construction stages; however if you are careful you can follow the construction steps as laid out. Remember those locater logs I mentioned and make sure you get them right for full effect.
The detail that AFV Club has reproduced for the lower hull and suspension makes this area very nice and at the same time, time consuming to get right and clean up. When it is done it will be worth the effort. The wheels have also been nicely tackled by AFV Club; the road and idler wheels all consist of six pieces, one of these pieces is a collets that attaches to the swing arm and so allowing the wheel to continue to rotate. If this is an aspect that appeals, then I would suggest you only assemble the halves of the wheels and attach them to the swing arms before attaching the inner and outer wheels. The drive wheel can also continue to rotate after installation as a pin secures it from the inside. The return rollers could remain workable, but would only be held in place by the guide horns of the tracks.
The vinyl rubber tracks for this model are very well made and detailed. There are no ejector pin marks present, and they have been prevented from becoming distorted by leaving them attached to a substantial sprue. Ding-Hao Hobby have approached the connecting of the track ends in an interesting way; they have supplied two metal pins that are supposed to connect the tracks as the real links were connected, but I do however question how realistic this method is, I just don’t see it being a realistic option. I would have liked to see a set of plastic individual tracks supplied with this model.
The upper hull of the model has been very well tackled and sporting some very good detail. The high end modeller will appreciate that nearly all of the latches, catches and handles are supplied as separate parts. The photo etched parts are nicely done and not excessive in quantity, I am sure some of you out there would prefer more photo etch to be included with the model, but I feel it is a realistic quantity when it comes to replacing the plastic parts where needed without supplying parts for the sake of it. The track guards have been well tackled and finish the lower hull off to a good standard. The tools for the hull are a surprise to me, not because they are plastic but because they have moulded on clamp detail and I would have expected the clamps to be supplied as photo etched parts.
Now we get to the all new resin turret supplied by Ding-Hao Hobby. this has some nice moulding present and also some bad touches, due to it has to be said their efforts to keep the resin mouldings thin. Let’s get the poor parts out of the way: the sides of the turret next to the hatches is so thin that it has resulted in some rippling having formed, this can be easily addressed with some filling and sanding, but great care will be required due to how thin the moulding is in the area and area generally. The other weak area are the six 50cal heavy machine guns, every one of the barrels is distorted and I would replace them with turned metal barrels from whomever your favourite manufacturer is. I had initially thought that the barrel issue may be a one off with my sample, but a look at a photo in the instruction booklet of the resin parts proves that this is not the case.
Moving on to better things, I am happy to see that Ding-Hao Hobby has supplied a partial turret interior; the large hatch openings (No hatch covers is present which is accurate for the early or 1st version) need something present in there and if I am honest I would seek out some crew figures as well. The sighting system has been nicely represented and could be set at any angle, so long as you remember to set the guns at the same angle.
This being a trials vehicle there is not a lot of decals to be added and when finishing there will not be a lot of wear and tear present, but as a model it will certainly be different looking beast. I would not have wanted to face one of these as a ground target, but as an anti-aircraft weapon I think the Americans made the right choice. Being assembled using different materials does make this a kit for the modeller who is comfortable being around resin, photo etch, vinyl, metal parts and of of course injection moulded plastic.