|Tamiya T-55A Medium Tank: Largely assembled and awaiting a primer coat|
|Tracks, tow cables, fuel drums, unditching log, snorkel and crewman will be painted separately before final assembly|
Of all the different sections of the tank, its turret was the hardest of all to put together. There were a lot of small and fiddly parts to work with. In particular, the turret hooks and searchlight assembly were problematic, and both for different reasons. While the hooks were easy to glue onto the turret, their extremely tiny size meant that when I accidentally 'pinged' a few right across the room I had a hell of a time looking for them. Meanwhile, it was fairly difficult to keep the searchlight's many small parts in the correct position relative to one another and glue them together. Difficult but doable.
|Level of detail was highest on the T-55A turret ...|
|... hence it was the most challenging section to put together|
What struck me most during assembly of the T-55A were the need for new tools which weren't required even on a particularly difficult miniature figurine build. Two such tools are hobby clamps and the pin vise/drill bits. While I had used the latter before to drill muzzle holes on a Space Marine's boltgun, AFV model kits need a wider range of hole sizes to be drilled. With the T-55A being a simpler model, only two sizes were needed i.e. 1.0 mm and 1.5 mm. But more complex kits such as Meng Model's Russian ZSU-23-4 Shilka require hole sizes ranging from 0.6 mm to 2.4 mm.
|Additional must-have tools for the assembly process: pin-vise, micro-drills and hobby clamp|
|Steps 12 and 13 of the T-55A assembly process: behold the tiny hooks|
|A miss-step saw thin glue seep into the hobby-clamp and slightly damage the turret surface|
And as for the hobby clamps, they are usually required to hold two large parts together while the glue takes hold. A slight mistake on my part saw some of the extra thin glue flow into the clamps via capillary action. Luckily for me, the damage was not too extensive. Moreover I do not expect the damage to be very visible if at all once the primer, basecoat and weathering has been applied.
|Tiny hooks in comparison to a paperclip and a five sen coin ... See? I wasn't exaggerating how small they are|
|Hooks were positioned according to the Czechoslovakian Army tank version|
|Basics of the turret completed i.e. up until Step 13 of the instructions|
Apart from the hooks and searchlight, the rest of the turret came together painlessly. The only other issue of note was "storage box on turret (b)" whereby one of the four connecting points didn't touch the turret surface leaving a slight but obvious gap. To resolve this, I cut out a tiny piece from the excess sprue, wedged it between the gap and then applied extra thin glue onto it to melt the pieces together. Unfortunately I forgot to take photos of this issue so you'll have to take my word for it.
|Assembly of the first few turret pieces that are specific to the Czechoslovakian Army T-55A|
|Instructions for yet more turret parts that are specific to the Czechoslovakian Army version|
|Final two steps of the T-55A build comprising the tank commander and standard turret pieces|
|Czechoslovakian Army T-55A turret build completed|
|Tank commander sits atop a superbly detailed turret|
With the help of a bucket-load of patience the turret eventually came together piece by piece, little by little. Details are impressive for this tank from the cold war period and I can't wait to get started priming and painting the T-55A. Although a lot of hobby hours have been put into the assembly process, a lot more hours of painting and weathering lie ahead before the tank can be brought to life.
|Except for the commander, unditching log, tracks and tow cables, everything else will be basecoated in olive drab|
At least now I have an inkling of the work (i.e. hobby-hours) involved in putting together a 1/35 scale AFV. Moreover working on a relatively straightforward build has allowed me the opportunity to 'dip my toes' into AFV model kits of this scale. Going forward, there will arguably be much tougher or at least more complex builds e.g. Meng and Trumpeter kits. But for the moment, it's valuable experience gained and most importantly it has been fun. That's why we have this hobby after all.