T-55A Russian Medium Tank
Tamiya 1:35 Scale Kit No. 35257
Preview by Terry Ashley
Other manufacturers have released kits of the T-55 to mixed reviews, well lets be honest mostly crap reviews. I myself have a few Esci kits and actually paid money for the Skif kit, yes, well; and have numerous resin update sets issued by various companies to try and make something of the kits offered to date.
I didn’t get any of the Trumpeter T-55 kits as I had heard rumblings of this kit from Tamiya so I decided to wait before spending more hard earned on the T-55 hunt.
Well the kit is here, so is all the anticipation worth the
hype, let’s have a look at what’s in the box and then decide
The standard of
moulding is all we have come to expect from Tamiya, superbly fine details
with excellent surface texture especially on the turret with a subtle cast effect
and nice weld seams and other details moulded on.
Some of the smaller parts are exceptionally fine and will require care when removing from the sprues and in handling.
The lower hull is the usual tub with the outer front and rear plates as separate parts to ensure good definition of the rear hull plate details and dozer/mine plough mountings on the lower front plate.
All the axles are separate parts to allow articulation if you wish but are glued in place, these’s none of the working bits as on the M26, the starfish road wheels look to have spot on details along with thick rubber tyres, these and the drive sprockets, idler wheels have the usual poly cap trapped between them for easy fitting to the axles. The four rear fuel tank supports are also added to the rear plate and feature superb details moulded on.
The upper hull is in one piece with again superb details included such as the openings between the engine intake louvers being cleanly moulded open and nice weld seam, front fender hinges and rear mud flaps with nice thin edges, everything else on the hull top is separate parts.
All storage boxes
are multi part for good definition and the front headlight bush guard assembly
is correctly depicted as a separate wire ‘cage’ welded to the front
plate and not inserted into holes in the plate as done on many other Russian
kits. (see Tamiya’s T-62).
The separate driver’s hatch also has an alternate piece to add for the radiation padding fitted to later T-55s.
There are many other small fittings added around the hull including the position keeping lights front and rear (with wiring), driver’s periscope covers, front towing attachment points and all separate engine deck doors with the mesh supplied added to the large rear engine bay covers.
Some of the fender supports are included in the hull moulding while the two rear supports on each side and the two forward left hand side supports are separate parts.
The rear hull has the two large fuel tanks which include the securing straps mounded on, the snorkel container or log beam, this is in plastic but has an excellent wood surface texture effect included.
The only thing that sticks out for addition on the upper hull is the intricate fuel lines connecting the separate fender fuel tanks which will have to be added from thin wire.
The turret as
mentioned has an excellent cast effect included as well as superb weld seams
around the top hatch plate.
The main gun is in the usual two parts requiring the join seam to be removed but on test fitting the fit was spot on and shouldn’t required much to eliminate the seam.
The large mantlet with dust cover has superb fabric effects on the dust cover and also includes the circular plate with multiple bolt heads between the mantlet and gun tube. The trade off of giving you this superb dust cover is the barrel doesn’t move after assembly, but I can live with that.
The gun is correctly depicted offset slightly to the right and not on the centre line as depicted in other kits and has a separate muzzle end piece to give a perfect round opening to the gun tube.
All the tiny tie down cleats around the turret rear are separate parts as are the outer fittings over the co-ax MG slots in the front turret and the turret grab railings.
Now it starts getting interesting with multiple choices provided for the Commander’s and Loader’s hatches. There is the early type with bolted surrounds and simple hatches as well as the later larger hatch surrounds included when the radiation cladding was added, there is also additional parts to add to the hatch tops for the cladding also. The instructions suggests you choose early on which version you will be modelling as different locating holes need to be opened up from inside the turret for the type of hatch arrangement you be using.
The DShK-M machine gun for the loader’s hatch is simply stunning and features a multipart mounting; this is probably the best DShK I have seen in a stock kit to date, the cooling ribbing along the barrel is something to behold.
There are many other alternate parts for the turret such as side storage boxes and ammo boxes, again dependant on the version you are building. The large infrared spot light is also included along with it’s linkage to the barrel fitting to allow movement with the barrel, although the kit barrel doesn’t move.
The tracks are provided in the now standard Tamiya fair of well detailed ‘vinyl’ full length tracks. The detail on these is good for this type of track and should look okay on the finished kit, but it does cry out for individual link tracks to get that nice droop in the tracks.
A single Commander figure is included wearing standard Russian tankers uniform with nice uniform and facial details and should come up well with careful painting.
Markings are provided for five T-55s, all in standard Russian green finish (only Tamiya paint numbers are given), two Russian Army, two Polish Army and one Czech Army T-55 with white turret numbers. The decals have the usual Tamiya thickish carrier film and will give your decal setting solution a workout conforming to the cast effect on the turret.
If you wanted to model a vehicle from one of the many other countries that use (or have used) the T-55 , here is a list covering all models of the T-55. There are some exotic cam schemes somewhere in that lot.
|Bulgaria||Cambodia||Cent. African Rep.||Chad|
The quality of the mouldings and details included in the kit make this without doubt the best T-55 produced to date, we can only hope other variants follow as the possibilities are endless.
As with any kit there will be details that can be added (the fuel lines being
one) but this should keep the T-55 addicts happy for a while.
It also opens the way for aftermarket producers to bring out any number of update sets for different versions as well as markings possibilities for the many countries that have used the T-55.
Just a quick note
on the review of the Armour Track T-55 track links I did recently, will these fit the Tamiya T-55? Well the news is all
bad. The drive sprockets in the Armour Track set are noticable larger
that those in the Tamiya kit and the Armour Track tracks simple
don't fit the Tamiya drive sprockets. The detail on the Tamiya sprockets is also better than with the resin sprockets in the Armour Track set so it would seem these are best kept for the many other T-55 kits about.
No doubt someone will bring out a set of individual tracks to fit the Tamiya kit.
It is possible to modify the Armour Track sprockets to fit the Tamiya hull, but I feel the Armour Track tracks and sprockets are a little oversize.
Click HERE for a brief (very brief) comparison of the Tamiya kit as it stands up against the Esci and Skif T-55s and also a look at the Verlinden T-55M update set as it relates to the new Tamiya kit.