Trumpeter 1/35 T-54B Model 1952 Tank

KIT #:



$22.00 MSRP


Four options


Rick Reinbott


316 parts on 9 sprues


The first prototype of the T-54 was completed in 1947.  This was a logical development of the T-44 tank developed toward the end of World War II, which was in turn a development of the infamous T-34 medium tank.  The T-54 has also been built in China as the T-59, as well as in Czechoslovakia and Poland.  It is estimated that between 80,000 and 100,000 of all models of the T-54 and T-55 have been built. 

During the Korean War a number of US M26 and M46 tanks were captured by the Chinese, who in turn passed on examples to the Soviet Army for evaluation.  One of the technical inovations that came from these trials was the use of a bore evacuator on the main gun. The bore evacuator helped to reduce the accumulation of gun fumes in the turret, which was adapted to the 100mm D-10TG gun of the T-54.  Other improvement efforts included waterproofing and snorkling equipment, the upgraded TSH-2A-22 telescopic sight, the new TVN-1 infrared (IR) driver’s periscope and IR driving headlight, new R-113 radio, multi-stage air cleaner, and radiator control for better engine performance.  These improvements were accepted for production in 1955 as the T-54A.

While the T-54A was in production, development began on improved gun stabilization systems with an aim to increase the hit probability from 30 percent to 60 percent.  This resulted in the two-axis STP-2 Tsyklon (“Cyclone”) system, which, following tests, was accepted for service in 1956 as the T-54B.  Other improvements that were incorporated throughout the production of the T-54B included the new Luna L-2 searchlight, TPN-1-22-11 infrared night sight, and OU-3 IR searchlight added to the commander’s copula.  This was the first time that the tank was fitted with full night-fighting features.  The T-54 has been used in combat by North Vietnam, Pakistan, India, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Angola, Algeria, Libya and Somalia and has proven to be a reliable tank in service. 


Upon opening the sturdy box, you’re presented with three bags, each containing various sprues of parts for the tank. No figures are included with the kit.  The hull bottom is not bagged.  All parts are molded in olive drab and are on the thick side.  I’ve read that, due to the thickness of the parts, it is recommended to use glue with very strong adhesion for adhering the parts.   Though the kit contains some flash, it is kept to a minimum.  There are ejector pin marks on some parts; however, the overall detail of the parts is quite good.  The sprues indicate that the kit was molded in 2000.    

The kit features the latter “starfish”-style wheels containing noticeable lines molded on the outer part of each tire.  I initially thought that these would need to be sanded or filed off, however, after viewing some close-up pictures of the real deal, these lines are actually present, although they don’t quite reach the outer rim.  The parts for the Luna L-2 searchlight and OU-3 IR searchlight specific to theT-54B are included.  Two separate gun barrels are included, one with the latter version fume extractor molded on and the other without it representing the earlier style.  Separate roadwheel arms allow one to have the model displayed with the wheels contoured to groundwork in a diorama setting.  The mounting hole for the characteristic T-54 turret-mounted ventilator dome is molded in the underside of the turret and is flashed but can be easily drilled-out from the underside.  It is somewhat unclear from the instructions what the part number is for the ventilator dome as the line that normally runs from the number to the actual part is actually shown going from the number directly to the top of the turret part, however, upon closer examination it is shown that the ventilator dome part is number "J13".

The rear exterior fuel drums common to Soviet Cold War–era tanks are included and are well done. The kit includes the canvas gun-mantlet cover, which, although molded in plastic, looks realistic enough.  The rough cast texture of the turret is well-represented.  There are two types of 12.7mm anti-aircrft machine guns included, one being the DShK 1938 and the other looking somewhat like a Type 77, with the instructions showing the commonly seen DShK 1938 as being used for the model.  The kit also has single-length flexible rubber tracks, a small piece of nylon mesh for the engine deck grills, nylon string for a tow rope, and a square piece of clear acetate with some pre-cut pieces within it.

The instructions are of the fold-out type and are well illustrated with exploded views showing a 16-step construction sequence.  One interesting point is that although the instructions show a diagram of each sprue, not all of the parts on some of the sprues are shown.  There is also a section indicating which parts are not to be used, as well as diagrams showing the exact dimensions of the cut-outs for the engine screens and the tow rope, a nice touch.  The decals include markings for four tanks including a Syrian, Chinese, East German, and North Vietnamese tank of the PAVN 201st armored regiment, Dong Ha April 1972.


As mentioned above, this kit has been criticized by some due to difficulty working with the thick, hard plastic.  I’ve also read that the turret sits back a little too far and that the hull is slightly too long.  That being said, I’ve seen this kit as a finished model and I think it represents a T-54 quite well.  Although I’m sure some modifications to the Tamiya T-55 kit to convert it to a T-54 would produce a great-looking model, the Trumpeter kit is a nice kit right out of the box that is available at a very reasonable price.  I look forward to building it! 


T-54 and T-55 Main Battle Tanks 1944-2004 (New Vanguard) by Steven Zaloga, Osprey Publishing (2004)

An Illustrated Guide to Modern Tanks and Fighting Vehicles edited by Ray Bonds, A Salamander Book by Arco Publishing, Inc. (1980)

Rick Reinbott

March 2013

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