"Semovente" Tank build-up

April 9, 2009

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Dasphule's 1/35 M61A5 "Semovente" Main Battle Tank build-up

Building a Tank, Gundam Style

The Bandai 1/35 UC Hardgraph line, based on subjects from the Gundam 0079 and MS Igloo series, has been expanding at a steady rate over the last few years. Each time a new set is released we are graced with some of the best examples of kit engineering known on the planet. Every previous kit from this series has been a dream to build and worth every cent of their relatively high prices. Bandai has finally given us the next item in their UC Hardgraph line, the E.F.G.F. M61A5 Main Battle Tank ďSemoventeĒ Phantom Element, and itís arguably the best one yet.

The wait was longer than normal for this much anticipated kit, but once you open the box it becomes apparent why it took them so long to get it into production. Thereís a LOT of plastic in this box! Beautifully molded plastic that Tamiya and Trumpeter should take notice of overflows from the box once the lid is removed. The fit and finish is amazing, as has become the standard from Bandai. Hiding seams along natural seam lines, allowing movement of parts via poly cap hinges, optional minimal interior detail, and the ability to snap it together without glue, Bandai is IMO, the king of plastic model manufacturing hands down. No one makes a nicer model kit than Bandai when theyíre on their game.


Box art

Lots of parts

Lots and lots of parts

Instructions, front

Instructions, back

The model is based on the Type 61 tank featured in MS Igloo 2: The Gravity Front, Episode 2: King of the Lands, Forward! The Type 61, itís explained, is equipped with a fast auto-reloader for the twin 155mm guns that basically fills the turret. This leaves very little room for crew in this giant tank, and only two soldiers run the complicated vehicle in combat. Our heroes in the episode are 1st Tank Platoon Commander Lt Herman Yandell, and his new driver Sgt Rayban Surat, both of the 44th Mechanized Hybrid Regiment, 301st Tank Squadron, Earth Federation Ground Forces. Seems Lt. Yandell has been in several engagements where he was always the only survivor of the battle and is believed to have a Death God on his back, whatever that means. Itís very Japanese. So, with a specially created team of two platoons of tanks, he sets off to take on the White Ogre (a Zeon MS Ace) and his team of Zakus. The White Ogre also has a Death God on his back, so apparently someone is going to die or something. Again, itís very Japanese. The episode features two battles between massed Type 61s and Zakus, and the results are always in the Mobile Suitsí favor! Literally hundreds of tanks are wiped out in seconds, itís awesome! The model has decals for Yandellís tank and two others. Iíll be building Yandellís mount, tank number 131.


My plan of attack on this one will be to clean up and snap together as many subassemblies as possible, look for opportunities to add detail, then add fiddly bits right before painting. Iíd like to do some interior detailing of the open crew positions, but until Iíve snapped it together I wonít know how much, if any, is possible. I may do a diorama as well, Iím undecided at this point, but for sure it will have a groundwork base.

Build Day One Total work time: About 4 hours

I started out deviating from the instructions to get my most hated part of tank modeling out of the way, step 5, the road wheels. I despise cleaning them up, it seems it goes on forever! It wasnít too bad, I guess. I did have to sand each wheel to remove seam and sprue nubs, but all in all, not a bad experience like I was expecting. Soon I had a respectable pile of wheels and sprockets, all of which contain polycaps for holding them to the suspension arms. I didnít glue them together at this point to ease painting later.

Next I went back to step 1 and built the lower hull. This step has you gluing the side walls onto the chassis. I didnít glue any of it in anticipation of maybe doing some interior detailing, and leaving the walls free might allow for easier modification later. I then moved onto step 2 and the cleaning up of the back end hull doors. Again, I didnít glue anything. I skipped step 3, the suspension arms, because I may need to articulate the wheels later and didnít want to glue them on yet.

Sticking to the snap it up plan, I skipped forward to step 9 to assemble the main components of the upper hull. I skipped steps 10 and 11 for the moment, and moved to steps 13, 14, and 15 where I built the side skirts and armored boxes and installed the top hull to the chassis. Strategically placed poly caps hold it all together, and almost all of the seams disappear once snapped together. Sweetness!

Next up I moved on to steps 17, 18, and 19 which is the building of the turret main parts. The guns are mounted with poly caps, so they swivel up and down, and some poly material flaps are provided for mantle flaps at the tops of each gun. I may later do a proper mantle cover, the poly parts annoy me. I DID glue the gun halves together so theyíll be dry for sanding during the next build session. The snap in periscope ďglassĒ is nice at both crew positions, with detail on them on both sides. A rudimentary seat is supplied for the commander position. I hope to add much more detail to the inner sanctum of the turret, so again, I left it unglued. A driver position will have to be scratchbuilt, as none is provided in the kit. After repeated viewings of the OVA, thereís not much to either position, so it should be a simple job later.

In anticipation for building this kit, a week or so before I started I made a mold of part of the rubber tracks provided in the kit. After pouring a set or 4 in resin, I soon cleaned up 3 individual track links and made another mold of them. I am now in the process of pouring multiple copies for use in a gang mold later. Iíll need 157 individual track links to complete the tankís track lengths, so multiple gang molds will end up being made. Perhaps Iíll sell some.  HmmmÖÖ.

Anyway, I shot a few pictures of the main parts snapped together then wrapped up the dayís building. Tomorrow Iíll figure out what, if any, modifications Iím going to make.


Night one completed

Top view

Front view

Side view


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