Wednesday, 27 December 2017

T-55A Medium Tank [WIP - Tank Tracks and Wheels]

It looks like I'm on track (... groan, pun intended) to finish my first Tamiya AFV project before the year is over. This second to last step before the T-55A tank is finally completed involved attaching the track and wheels onto the lower hull. A key disadvantage of working with flexible rubber band/vinyl tracks is that they do not sag naturally. First two photos you see below are the tank tracks after they had undergone a 'sagging process'. Bear with me and I'll explain this process in a bit.   

Tamiya T-55A work-in-progress - tracks and wheels attached to main hull
More importantly, the tracks have been made to sag as a heavy metal track should

Prior to attaching the tracks to the hull, they were first primed with Tamiya's lacquer-based Fine Surface Primer before receiving an acrylic basecoat of AK Interactive Track Primer. Subsequently, a variety of rust-hued pigments were applied on the tracks and sealed with white spirit. In hindsight I would've been better served using pigment binders instead. I had used white spirit as it didn't darken colours upon application unlike pigment binders. However pigment binders did a better job of sealing in the pigments. It's easier to adjust to darker hues than having pigments rubbing off the tracks. 

Outsides of the tank tracks - weathering done using pigments atop an acrylic basecoat
Insides of the tank tracks received similar weathering treatment as the outsides
Painted vinyl tracks are glued end-to-end forming a reasonably flexible loop

In keeping with my aim to portray a tank that has been operational only for about a year or so in a mostly urban environment, weathering on the lower hull (where the wheels are attached) was kept to a minimum. To be specific, weathering was limited to streaks of grime and nothing more.

Weathering on the lower hull where the wheels are attached was limited to streaks of grime
At this stage the tracks still look wrong as they aren't sagging as their heavy weight dictates they should

As you can see from the immediate photo above, when the tracks were first attached to the tank ... they looked wrong. In real life, the T-55A's tracks were made from metal and their heavy weight would cause them to naturally sag onto the wheels. But because the Tamiya track parts were of the flexible rubber band/vinyl variety, they couldn't sag due to their inherent tension. To induce a natural sag, the tracks had to be glued onto the wheels. Some wads of tissue were lodged into the spaces above the tracks to mitigate the tension in the tracks and allow the glue enough time to take hold.  

Tracks were glued onto the wheels and some tissue helped maintain the sagged shape while the glue took hold
Final result is an authentic look mimicking a heavy metal track sagging onto the wheels

So the T-55A's tank tracks are on and sagging as expected of them. All that remains to be done is to attach the turret and do a final weathering touch-up to the overall piece. Then the Tamiya T-55A will be the first ever AFV I've completed and the last project of the year. Here's hoping my final hobby-related hurrah for 2017 actually pans out with only five ... nay four more days left until the new year.


  1. Outstanding details, most impressive job!

  2. Looks fantastic ! Looking forward to the finished model.

    1. Thank you Mario ... hopefully it will be finished soon!

  3. Absolutely fantastic work! More, we want moooooreeee! :D

    1. Ha ha XD ... you're so nice Suber :) Thank you!

  4. Really helped me to remember exactly why I‘m no modeller. That said your little tank project is highly enjoyable and demonstrates what can be achieved when one is ready to invest some time.

    1. The only thing that's pulling me through the tough AFV hobby sessions is my love for the subject i.e. WW2 tanks. And thank you for the kind words Moiterei.


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