|Tamiya T-55A Medium Tank build, work-in-progress (Part 2 of 3) - front upper hull|
|Tamiya T-55A Medium Tank build, work-in-progress (Part 2 of 3) - rear upper hull|
Continuing from where I left off, Step 6 saw the start of my frustrations with this kit's assembly process. The headlights, especially, were a nightmare to work with. Tiny parts with rounded surfaces combined with small areas of contact between surfaces meant gluing them together was almost an exercise in futility. Getting the headlights to stay in the correct position before applying glue was nigh impossible. I improvised by first lightly coating the parts with extra thin glue. This allowed the headlights to stick long enough to the opposing surface in order to be positioned correctly. Once the parts were in their proper position, more glue was applied to form a stronger bond.
|Of the two parts in Step 6, the headlight was tougher (nay, a nightmare) to assemble|
|Front end of the T-55A takes shape with the addition of its headlights, tow hooks, driver's hatch etc.|
|Closeup of the detailed parts on the T-55A's front end|
After the fiddly nature of the headlights, the remaining parts of the T-55As' front upper hull were thankfully much easier to assemble and quickly fell into place. Details of note on the front upper hull include, among others, fender fuel tanks, storage boxes, spare tracks, driver's hatch and tow hooks.
|Fender fuel tanks, spare tracks and storage boxes add more detail to the front upper hull|
|T-55A Medium Tank, front upper hull with requisite parts (after Steps 5 through 7)|
Then it was the rear upper hull's turn. Tamiya AFV model kits rarely include photo-etch parts but at least a mesh was provided to simulate the grilles. Measuring the mesh against a 1:1 scale diagram representation of the grille size, I proceeded to cut out four rectangular pieces of mesh (see below). These were an accurate fit for the relevant rear upper hull sections, and subsequently glued in place.
|A mesh was cut into four correctly sized pieces used to simulated grilles on the rear upper hull|
|Grille set (left) and storage boxes (right) for the T-55A's rear upper hull|
|Early stages of the assembly for the T-55A rear upper hull parts|
|At this stage, the rear upper hull still looks bare with more parts yet to be added|
Yet more stowage boxes and fender fuel tanks completed the rear upper hull assembly. The only other accessory for the T-55A's upper hull were its tow cables which will be painted separately before being attached. Tamiya used a string to mimic the textures of a tow cable, which was fairly sufficient.
|Rear upper hull looks much better with the addition of storage boxes and fender fuel tanks|
|T-55A Medium Tank, rear upper hull after Steps 8 and 9|
Meanwhile, lots of cool details such as fuel drums, a snorkel and an unditching log were added to the T-55A's rear end. The snorkel in particular was specific to the T-55A version I was building namely the medium tank found in the Czechoslovakian army during the cold war. Both the fuel drums and unditching log were pretty much standard fare for almost all T-55/T-55A versions.
|Yet more detail on the T-55A rear end (fuel drums, snorkel and log) and fenders (tow cables)|
|Fuel drums, a snorkel, an unditching log/beam and tow cables|
|T-55A Medium Tank's rear end (after Steps 8 through 10)|
While steps 6 through 11 had rough moments, it wasn't anything a little patience couldn't solve. Tamiya's reputation for easy-to-assemble kits is well-earned and the difficulty I faced is largely in relation to what I'm used to before (snap-fit parts from Bandai or straightforward miniature figurine assembly). Only one-third of the assembly process to go before I have a T-55A ready for priming and painting. Next up will be the pièce de résistance of the kit, or any tank model kit for that matter, i.e. the turret. Until then, it's back to work on the snowspeeder. Updates in the next post, of course.