Takom 1/35 T-54B
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The T-54 and T-55 tanks are a series of Soviet main battle tanks introduced in the years following the Second World War. The first T-54 prototype was completed at Nizhny Tagil by the end of 1945. Initial production ramp up settled for 1947 at Nizhny Tagil, and 1948 for Kharkiv were halted and curtailed as many problems were uncovered; the T-34-85 still accounted for 88 percent of production through the 1950s. The T-54 eventually became the main tank for armoured units of the Soviet Army, armies of the Warsaw Pact countries, and many others. T-54s and T-55s have been involved in many of the world's armed conflicts since the later part of the 20th century.
The T-54/55 series eventually became the most-produced tank in military history. Estimated production numbers for the series range from 86,000 to 100,000. They were replaced by the T-62, T-64, T-72, T-80 and T-90 tanks in the Soviet and Russian armies, but remain in use by up to 50 other armies worldwide, some having received sophisticated retrofitting.
During the Cold War, Soviet tanks never directly faced their NATO adversaries in combat in Europe. However, the T-54/55's first appearance in the West around the period of the 1950s (then the beginning of the Cold War) spurred the United Kingdom to develop a new tank gun, the Royal Ordnance L7, and the United States to develop the M60 Patton.
Basically, the T-54B and subject of this kit differed from earlier models in having a new 100mm gun that was stabilized in both the vertical and horizontal to allow shooting on the run. Very late models had an infrared searchlight and vision system installed.
My limited experience building Takom kits have all been quite positive in that the kits, while as fiddly as Dragon offerings, were not overly so and the engineering of the kit has made for a fairly positive experience. This particular kit is of the very late build T-54B that includes the infrared system that was added to the tank in the last few months of production. Undoubtedly this system was retrofit onto earlier versions. These were also non-NBC warfare capable as, unlike the T-55, they could not be completely sealed off from the outside environment.
Designers of most modern tank models want you to have as many parts as possible so you can feel you got your money's worth and in this regard Takom is right up there. You have your standard one-piece lower hull onto which you attach all the suspension components. You are provided separate 'treads' for the road wheels which makes painting easier. There are no return rollers as you find in most Western armor and in a lot of current Soviet/Russian types. Once that is done, you can start to assemble the track links. You are provided a big full of them and 92 per side are required.
The upper hull is the recipient of quite a bit of the photo etch that is provided. Fortunately Takom has limited this material to items that are appropriate for this 2D material. That includes screen braces for the fenders and a few other items. Not all the bits are required as this fret is for other tanks in the T-54/55 family that Takom produces. Note that on the fenders you'll need to open some holes for equipment all all the pioneer gear and storage boxes are attached to them. A standard fitment on Soviet tanks seems to be a pair of fuel drums on the back and you are provided those along with their racks and a large metal pole that is for helping to get the tank unstuck.
The turret interior, like the rest of the tank, is empty so though you are offered separate hatches, which have a goodly amount of detail on the inside, unless you will be sticking a figure in there, it is best to keep them closed. Inside the turret is also the mount for the barrel to install before adding the lower plate and effectively closing it up. There are a lot of hand holds and rails to fit on the outside along with the IR equipment and the machine gun. The barrel is a two piece affair and I know that many may prefer to use an aftermarket aluminum or brass version.
Instructions are well done with large construction drawings. All the paint references are for mig paints, but you can find similar shades in other brands. Tanks are generally quite limited in terms of markings, often having little more than a small badge and tank numbers. This allows multiple options with a variety of camouflage schemes. You have tanks from Syria, Vietnam, Iran, Afghanistan and others provided on the sheet. My experience with Takom decals has been positive so I'm sure these will work just fine.
So there you have it. A very nice kit for those who like to build armor and one that may well be useful for a first go at individual track links. If you want simplified, then I'd suggest the Tamiya offering, but if a nicely detailed kit is for you, then this may be a good choice.
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