Tuesday, 5 September 2017

T-55A Medium Tank [WIP - Assembly Part 2 of 3]

Assembly of the Tamiya T-55A medium tank continues with the addition of a variety of parts on its upper hull. Adding details that greatly enhance the tank's overall look, these parts consist of fender fuel tanks, fuel drums, storage boxes, headlights, spare tracks, grilles, exhaust, driver's hatch, tow cables, a snorkel, and an unditching log. Each piece contributes to a more interesting upper hull.

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.



  1. Great work so far ! Looking forward to see more ...

    1. Thank you Mario ... not much work on my part really. Tamiya kits are pretty user friendly.

  2. Wow, impressive. Quite more details than the Rhino, hehehe!

    1. LoL ... yeah, it's only when you do proper AFV model kits that you realize how simple some of the GW stuff is. :)

  3. Nice job, waiting for next step!

  4. Nice progress. You got me itching to get a Tamiya model up. Been literally decades since I did one. Looking forward to see this project

    1. Tamiya kits are fun and it helps that I like reading about WW2 history ... ever since I was a kid.

  5. That tank has some great details, this is going to be an interesting model to paint. Hopefully we will see your skills on weathering back at work.

    1. Thank you :) I'm not sure if this tank will see much weathering but never say never.


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