Tamiya 1/35 T-55A

KIT #: 35257
PRICE: $47.00 MSRP
DECALS: Five options
REVIEWER: Jack Bruno
NOTES:
 Very easy build. A First Rate Kit and HIGHLY Recommended

HISTORY

  On the heels of the ACADEMY Isherman that I built a while back, I had intentions of going to the 2008 Phantom Pflashers Contest where they had a Category titled: ADVERSARIES.  Well, we all know how intentions go, and I came down with, of all things, Bells Palsy!!!!  Well, didn't make the Show,  but I still got the Subject of this review done.....A Syrian T-55 from the Yom Kippur War.
In October of 1973 the World was turned upside down with the invasion, on two fronts, of Israel. In the West, Egyptian Forces crossed the Suez Canal and put up the now infamous SAM Umbrella which negated Israeli Air Power. All across the Western Front the Armored Divisions of Egypt swiftly grabbed the land that was occupied since 1967 during the Six Day War.  On the Eastern Front, Syrian Forces poured into the Golan Heights only to be stopped by refurnished and up gunned Centurions and Sherman's. New to the Battlefield were Russian made T-62 Tanks and the Armored Workhorse of the newly refurbished Arab Armies, the T-55 Tank. This kit represents a Tank in the Syrian Army that took part in the fighting for the Golan Heights.  The combined Battles fought during this time were the largest single confrontations of Armor since the Battle of Kursk in 1943.  Enjoy!!!!
THE KIT
 
The TAMIYA T-55 Tank is one of those kits, like a Bf109 or a Sherman Tank, that you cannot just build one example of. It remains one of the Worlds most produced and exported AFV's in History. TAMIYA did not only do it justice, but engineered it so several versions (5) can be made from the one kit.......and that's not counting the several updates from resin manufacturers.  The first thing that I did was go back to the archives and to do some picking around. I found the instruction sheet from an old ESCI kit and that camo scheme just hooked me. 

There are Five Sprues Total plus a section of Black Mesh for screening and a set of Track.   As I said in the Introduction, there are Five Versions, along with those Parts, in order to make some different Vehicles, such as Anti-Aircraft Machine Guns, Ammunition box placement, different style cupola, plus Storage box placement (Czech Army) . Decals are included for 5  Tanks, two from the Soviet Union , two from Poland and a Czech Unit. In the Aftermarket sector there are several more options such as two OUTSTANDING Conversions for an Israeli Ti-67 and another for a Iraqi T-55 with add on armor. Also, turned gun barrels are readily available as with Photo-Etched.  In addition to these goodies, there are dry transfers and numbers to reflect a Country of your choice.

CONSTRUCTION

The first thing that I did was go back to the archives and do some picking around. I found the instruction sheet from an old ESCI kit and that camo scheme just hooked me.  I started the TAMIYA T-55 by messing with the turret....going with the instructions......but adding putty casting and wire grab handles.  When I was satisfied with "THE LOOK" I moved on to sanding the road wheels and getting the lower hull in order as per instructions. Everything was going well, but I did pick up the OSPREY Book on BUILDING THE T-55 TANK which I found invaluable because of the wire gas lines that you MUST add to the Hull Fuel Cells. After all, the gas just doesn't jump into the tank!!!  You may also take note that during your research you have to add a few electrical leads with wire for the front lights too.

At this time during the construction I opted to leave off the outside/rear fuel drums. They made a real nice fire if hit and proximity to fuel was not a problem for this engagement. I must tell you that clean up of mold seams was minimum, but as long as you take care of the building basics, you'll be fine. Now, with the chasis and turret done...........I decided to go with the FRUIL TRACKS (ATL 01).  The Metal used for these tracks on the real deal does not rust, so.....a nice dark gray coat and oil wash was all I needed to do to bring the tracks into shape.
Next was drilling a few small holes and bending solder wire into shape for the fuel cell leads from the three outside cells to the tank. This was a snap because of the great reference out there and planning ahead. During this time you have to think about MV lenses and the size's. I wish I could tell you, but I'm an idiot.
COLORS & MARKINGS
 
By now you all know my basic religion is FLAT BLACK.  Following this a stated to give the vehicle an coat of a few Greens.  After it dried I cut out a cardboard pattern and started my Red Brown and Dark Yellow patches.  At this point, don't worry about the over spray OR being perfect....it just doesn't matter and you ARE a MODELER!!!!  When the Turtle Shell Camo was done, I started to spray lighter shades of the three colors within the patches. After this was my version of pleasure, I started to free hand (stop it) a Black outline around the colors. I then painted the canvas mantlet cover Khaki. This was the most fun I had since Senior Prom and I must say it came out well.  Before I gave it a shot of FUTURE for the oil wash, I used a leftover dry transfer from VERLINDEN with markings for a Syrian T-34/85 on the turret and a yellow number plate for the fenders.. Very appropriate, I thought.
                      When the fun part was done I FUTURED it and started a few progressive Oil Washes with Dick Van Dyke Brown, from WINSDOR-NEWTON.  I removed most of the film with Q-Tips and a Cotton pair of panties, blue....HAINES. My personal favorite :)
FINAL CONSTRUCTION
 
I needed a little something extra so I went with picture frame wire for the tow cables and clear red paint for the MV lenses.  I mixed up some CELLUCLAY with white glue and added some dirt/mud where I wanted it and with the left overs I covered a base that I retrieved from the Bush that Moses found burning.............don't worry, I made that up but the guyz from IPMS/SPASAM swallowed the whole story.  After some ground work that involved cat litter and stones, I painted the base and mud on the Tank the same color and oil washed it . A little dry brushing here and there had it crying. A bit of static grass gave it a little color and pizzazz...........and your done :) Please note.......My intention was to showcase the cool scheme, so I intentionally did not load up the Tank with an abundance of bedrolls, crates and boxes. Besides, according to the pics, they just did not have them because the fight itself was close to home. Besides, today it might be better for invading armies to take the local Walmart's over for quick supplies.
CONCLUSIONS

                   Well, I'm happy to say this kit won Best Armor at the Region 3 Convention in Huntsville, Alabama during 2008.  I hope you enjoyed it and use your imagination....Most of all,  have fun!!!!! 

Jack Bruno

January 2009

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