T-55 Soviet Medium Tank
Media and Contents:
275 parts dark olive green plastic;
decal sheet; one small
sheet of mesh; a length of twine;
texture and details; mesh and twine included; optional parts including
early and late hatches, infra-red spotlight etc; Commander figure
included; stunning DShK-M machine gun
Vinyl tracks only;
barrel doed not move
by Terry Ashley
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It’s been a long time since the announcement of a new armour model has
generated such anticipation amongst modellers as this T-55A kit from
Other manufacturers have released kits of the T-55 to mixed reviews. Well,
lets be honest, mostly crap reviews. I myself have a few Esci kits and
actually paid money for the Skif kit, yes, well; and have numerous resin
update sets issued by various companies to try and make something of the
kits offered to date. I didn’t get any of the Trumpeter T-55 kits as I had
heard rumblings of this kit from Tamiya so I decided to wait before
spending more hard earned on the T-55 hunt.
Well the kit is here, so is all the anticipation worth the hype, let’s
have a look at what’s in the box and then decide?
The kit comprises 275 parts moulded in Tamiya's customary dark olive
green plastic, a small decal sheet, a small sheet of mesh, a length of
twine for the tow ropes and the usual array of poly caps for the wheels
plus the usual excellent instruction booklet with clear construction
The standard of moulding is all we have come to expect from Tamiya -
superbly fine details with excellent surface texture especially on the
turret with a subtle cast effect and nice weld seams and other details
moulded on. Some of the smaller parts are exceptionally fine and will
require care when removing from the sprues and in handling.
Click the thumbnails below
to view larger images:
The lower hull is the usual tub with the outer front and
rear plates as separate parts to ensure good definition of the rear hull
plate details and dozer/mine plough mountings on the lower front plate.
All the axles are separate parts to allow articulation if you wish but are
glued in place, these’s none of the working bits as on the M26, the
starfish road wheels look to have spot on details along with thick rubber
tyres, these and the drive sprockets, idler wheels have the usual poly cap
trapped between them for easy fitting to the axles. The four rear fuel
tank supports are also added to the rear plate and feature superb details
The upper hull is in one piece with again superb details included such as
the openings between the engine intake louvers being cleanly moulded open
and nice weld seam, front fender hinges and rear mud flaps with nice thin
edges, everything else on the hull top is separate parts.
All storage boxes are multi part for good definition and the front
headlight bush guard assembly is correctly depicted as a separate wire
‘cage’ welded to the front plate and not inserted into holes in the plate
as done on many other Russian kits. (see Tamiya’s T-62).
The separate driver’s hatch also has an alternate piece to add for the
radiation padding fitted to later T-55s.
There are many other small fittings added around the hull including the
position keeping lights front and rear (with wiring), driver’s periscope
covers, front towing attachment points and all separate engine deck doors
with the mesh supplied added to the large rear engine bay covers.
Some of the fender supports are included in the hull moulding while the
two rear supports on each side and the two forward left hand side supports
are separate parts.
The rear hull has the two large fuel tanks which include the securing
straps mounded on, the snorkel container or log beam, this is in plastic
but has an excellent wood surface texture effect included.
The only feature that cries out for addition on the upper hull is the
intricate fuel lines connecting the separate fender fuel tanks which will
have to be added from thin wire.
The turret as mentioned has an excellent cast effect included as well as
superb weld seams around the top hatch plate.
The main gun is in the usual two parts requiring the join seam to be
removed but on test fitting the fit was spot on and shouldn’t required
much to eliminate the seam.
large mantlet with dust cover has superb fabric texture on the dust cover
and also includes the circular plate with multiple bolt heads between the
mantlet and gun tube. The trade off of giving you this superb dust cover
is the barrel doesn’t move after assembly, but I can live with that.
The gun is correctly depicted offset slightly to the right and not on the
centre line as depicted in other kits and has a separate muzzle end piece
to give a perfectly round opening to the gun tube.
All the tiny tie down cleats around the turret rear are separate parts as
are the outer fittings over the co-ax MG slots in the front turret and the
turret grab railings.
Now it starts getting interesting with multiple choices provided for the
Commander’s and Loader’s hatches. There is the early type with bolted
surrounds and simple hatches as well as the later larger hatch surrounds
included when the radiation cladding was added, there is also additional
parts to add to the hatch tops for the cladding also. The instructions
suggests you choose early on which version you will be modelling as
different locating holes need to be opened up from inside the turret for
the type of hatch arrangement you be using.
The DShK-M machine gun for the loader’s hatch is simply stunning and
features a multipart mounting; this is probably the best DShK I have seen
in a stock kit to date, the cooling ribbing along the barrel is something
There are many other alternate parts for the turret such as side storage
boxes and ammo boxes, again dependant on the version you are building. The
large infrared spot light is also included along with it’s linkage to the
barrel fitting to allow movement with the barrel, although the kit barrel
The tracks are provided in the now standard Tamiya fair of well detailed
‘vinyl’ full length tracks. The detail on these is good for this type of
track and should look okay on the finished kit, but it does cry out for
individual link tracks to get that nice droop in the tracks.
A single Commander figure is included wearing standard Russian tankers
uniform with nice uniform and facial details and should come up well with
Markings are provided for five T-55s, all in standard Russian green finish
(only Tamiya paint numbers are given), two Russian Army, two Polish Army
and one Czech Army T-55 with white turret numbers. The decals have the
usual Tamiya thickish carrier film and will give your decal setting
solution a workout conforming to the cast effect on the turret.
With a vehicle like the T-55 which was in production for so long and
had many variants it would be hard for anyone to depict them all in one
kit. Tamiya have depicted the A model and from what I can see have done an
excellent job on that variant. With the changes in the turret hatches
being the most noticeable differences they have been generous with the
alternate choices here to cover most bases.
The quality of the mouldings and details included in the kit make this
without doubt the best T-55 produced to date, we can only hope other
variants follow as the possibilities are endless.
As with any kit there will be details that can be added (the fuel lines
being one) but this should keep the T-55 addicts happy for a while.
It also opens the way for aftermarket producers to bring out any number of
update sets for different versions as well as markings possibilities for
the many countries that have used the T-55.
Review Copyright © 2002 by
Terry Ashley and PMMS
Page Created 24 December, 2002
Last updated 22 July, 2003
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