Tamiya 1/35th T-55A Soviet Medium Tank
Reviewed by Steve Jantscher
Tamiya has hit another home run with this, their most recent armor kit, the venerable T-55 tank. I've read the "experts" tear into this kit, and come up wanting when it comes to finding any nits to pick. About the only thing I've heard from knowledgeable friends is that the plastic tracks might be too thin. I don't know about that. The common notion of Soviet tanks, seen mostly during WW II, were with their treads hanging loose on the return rollers or track wheels. I searched my records, and could only find one out of about twenty photographs of action shots of the T-55 where the treads were by any definition "loose" or hanging. Most all the T-55s in my books look to have properly tensioned treads. This is a plus when it comes to this kit as only the "rubber band" type of treads are included. They are more difficult to sag in a realistic fashion than are individual track link sets. Since this tank didn't have sagging tracks often, the kit parts should do just well. But if one wishes to make a sagging track the metal Friulmodellismo sets (also available from Roll Models, FRUATL01) are the best available. I'm not sure of their compatibility with the kit drive sprocket and idler wheel. Other than for the very hard core, they really aren't needed for this kit.
In searching my references, the T-55A tank was produced in many countries, and was used by even more, often having differing fit-outs of stowage bins, snorkel, radiation lining or anti-aircraft guns provision. Tamiya comes to the rescue here in providing all the right combinations to make either a typical Soviet, Polish or Czech produced (and used) T-55. That is not to mention the Middle-East countries that often significantly changed the external structure of the tank. Israel even up gunned their captured T-55s with British '105mm guns. There have been after market sets for the previous Lindberg T-55, but I don't know how they will fit with this new kit. I'm sure the pattern makers are busy as I write this making conversions for this kit.
As usual for Tamiya, the parts are cast beautifully. Poly caps abound and a length of string is provided for the towing cables. The decals are typical Tamiya. They look thick, but ought to be opaque enough on a green vehicle. I'd personally like some of that Tamiya technology in providing some wet off placement decals much like the race car tire white lettering they provide in their better car kits. Applying markings to a textured surface would benefit from such a process.
Markings are provided for two Soviet and Polish tanks, as well as one Czechoslovakian. All are overall green. For the daring, the Czechs were the only European user of the T-55 to paint them in other than green overall. They adopted a seasonal multi color camouflage pattern which should make for a striking model when placed next to the uniform green line of other T-55s at the model contest.
In conclusion, I have to say that this is one of my few tank kits I'll be building this year. I'm mostly an airplane guy, but the quality of this kit, and mean low down good looks of the T-55 (a classic Soviet design) have snared this victim, and I purchased the kit you see here. This really is a fine example of of the best model production available today. Thanks Tamiya!
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