Saturday, 26 August 2017

T-55A Medium Tank [WIP - Assembly Part 1 of 3]

A key difference between miniature figures and scale model armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) is that the latter's build (or assembly) forms a significant part of the overall process. If you were to include photo-etched and/or scratch build parts as well as take into consideration that some kits contain 1000+ parts, the build could easily take up more than half (or even two-thirds) of the total hours spent on the scale model kit. My maiden attempt at modelling AFVs, however, will be a straight out-of-the-box (OOB) build although I was sorely tempted to scratch build some fuel lines.  

Tamiya T-55A Medium Tank build, work-in-progress (Part 1 of 3)
Drive sprocket as well as idler and road wheels, shown here attached to the lower hull sans tracks

Almost all AFV builds inevitably start with the road/idler wheels and drive sprockets, and the Tamiya T-55A medium tank is no different. These were easy enough to put together but a real pain to clean up, specifically the mould lines on the road wheels. Extra care was also taken not to get glue on the poly-caps. These are tube-like polyethylene parts that allow the wheels to attach to the torsion bars and retain some rotary movement in the wheel system (see immediate photo below).

First steps of the build were spent on the tank's road/idler wheels and drive sprocket

Steps 2 and 3 saw the lower hull take form with its suspension system, fuel drum racks and other miscellaneous details glued on. Due to the nature of some of the tank's parts, namely being small and fiddly, the best glue to use would be one that works via capillary action. My favourite glue for use on AFVs is Mr Hobby Mr Cement S (check out my review here) although the Tamiya Extra Thin Cement is a good alternative. There weren't many small and fiddly (smidlly?) parts on the lower hull but they are in abundance especially on the turret but that's for a worry for later.     

Tamiya T-55A instructions: steps two through five
T-55A medium tank suspension system sans the wheels
Fuel drum racks (far right) attach via the inside of the lower hull
Closeup of the front-end of the T-55A's lower hull with what looks like bolted-on steel bars
Fuel drum racks; snorkel holders (two triangular protrusions below the racks); and tow hooks make up most of the rear 

Then it was off to steps 4 and 5 in which the initial parts of the upper hull were assembled. These included some triangular brackets; semi-circular parts to round out the turret area; rear vents; moulded hatches and inner body of the exhaust. Nothing to shout about yet but enough to set the foundation of whats to come. Rounding off the first five steps was the gluing together of the upper and lower hulls which were made a pain-free task thanks to the above-mentioned capillary glue.  

Upper hull of the T-55A with the initial parts glued on

After these early steps I get why the whole AFV process can be addictive. Just assembling the parts together already provides a satisfying sense of accomplishment. This feeling is more tangible than any felt when putting together Bandai's snap-fit model kits. Because let's face it, snap-fitting parts together provides next to no challenge which is why I rarely do work-in-progress build reports for the Bandai Star Wars model kits unless they are pertinent to the overall process.

Upper hull and lower hull combined, with wheels and drive sprockets attached but sans tracks
A view of the T-55A lower hull again but this time from the opposite angle from before

Speaking of which, alternating between Bandai's T-47 Snowspeeder and Tamiya's T-55A tank is turning out to be a good choice for me because it's keeping things fresh on a weekly basis. And approaching any project with a persistently fresh outlook is always a good thing. I'll be completing the snowspeeder pilots (i.e. Wedge Antilles and Wes Janson) soon and I can't wait to share the results of that paint job on the next post. Until then, be happy and well.


  1. I admire your patience, far too many small parts for me!

    1. And this is one of the easier AFV scale model kits too. O_O I've a few kits in my stash that I bought from a sale which have over 1000+ parts count and many of them small, tiny pieces. I certainly hope I haven't bitten off more than I can chew.

  2. Same here ! I don't do well with very small pieces.
    Great work ! I'm looking forward to more progress !

    1. The first few steps are the easiest. So that means, unfortunately, the tough bits are yet to come. Although this is considered one of the easier kits to build so I'm looking forward to it.

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks but not much skill involved in the first few steps. Pretty straightforward so far. :)

  4. Excellent dude. I struggle with these kits so kudos for doing two at once.

    1. Thanks Simon. The Bandai kit is way easier and almost effortless while the Tamiya one is considered an easy kit. So I guess I'm going to be okay for these early AFV steps.

  5. Nice start, looking forward to more :)


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