Tamiya 1/48 T-55

KIT #: 32598
PRICE: 7,95
DECALS: Five options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2020 release

HISTORY

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 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.

THE KIT

Tamiya has hit it big with its line of 1/48 military vehicle kits. They are not the first to concentrate some of their work in this scale, as Bandai beat them to it by several decades. However, Bandai stopped producing their 1/48 kits and after a fairly long time of only sporadic releases in this scale by other companies, Tamiya decided to enter the field.

The result has been nearly 100 releases of which this is one of the most recent, having been released in 2020. Tamiya follows a certain philosophy regarding these kits. Initially, they came with cast metal hulls as it was perceived by Tamiya that these needed some sort of heft. Later, that moved on to simply providing weights to go into the hull, and that is the route they have taken with this kit. Tamiya also does link and length tracks, which many of us who are not fond of individual track link very much appreciate. They also include a crew member to stick in the upper hatch.

In this kit, the hull consists of a lower section onto which two side pieces and a brace are attached. The side pieces already have the suspension molded in plce so one only has to add the road wheels, idler, and sprocket. Then the link and length tracks are attached, followed by the weights. Next the upper hull and fenders are assembled and attached.

Before getting to the turret, a lot of upper hull pieces such as storage bins, pioneer tools, and fuel tanks need to be assembled and glued in place. The turret is an upper and lower section. The gun barrel is mostly a single piece that has a half section to be attached near the end. This fits into a mantlet and then onto the turret. The rest of the turret assembly consists of the usual exterior attachments, hatches, the machine gun and a spotlight. This then slots into the hull and you are done.

Instructions are well done and offer painting information using Tamiya paints. The lone markings option is overall olive drab (TS-28) from an unknown unit, probably Soviet. The small decal sheet is nicely printed. I've not found any aftermarket options, but I'm sure they will eventually be out there.

CONCLUSIONS

It is nice to see this one being released by Tamiya. Though the T-54 is not that much different, it would be nice to see that one released along with a few other Soviet tanks.  

REFERENCES

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T-54/T-55

July 2021

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