For his first build review for TMN Igor Sedykh thought he might keep his subject close to home – Namely Takom’s 35th scale T-54B Russian Medium Tank. He takes us through the features of this brand new kit from Takom before he gets into building the kit over the next few weeks. See what he thinks in Pt.I…
In-Boxed: T-54B Russian Medium Tank
Kit with photo-etch, thread for cable and soft vinyl gun mantlet.
184 Single link tracks
Waterslide decals for nine different versions of the T-54B
Russian tank T-54 is, without any doubts, a legend. Mainly, because it was used more extensively than any other Cold War or modern Main Battle Tank (MBT) to date if we would count all the versions of this tank being made, the number of the tanks produced will be almost 100,000! China copied the T-54 under the Type 59 designation and it was also largely distributed among Asiatic nations. T-54B was introduced in 1955, production started in early 1957, replacing the T-54A.
The success of this tank gained with respect to a very easy and cheap production mean that it is still built in many countries with many spare parts available. Also, despite that it was a medium tank, in fact, you can say, it is an MBT, thanks to the balance, simplicity, and reliability as its predecessor T-34. It is estimated that the T-54B variants will still be in service somewhere into the world for at least the next decade.
Let us have a look inside the box with the latest model from Takom, new kit in their big range of T-55 tanks. The box is strong, so you may not worry about your shipments, and I do like the box art. The kit comes in 675 parts, among them there are 414 parts in mid-grey styrene, 184 individual track links, and 12 clear parts. The lower hull detail and turret come as separate pieces, and track links already removed from the sprue. A P/E sheet comes from Takom’s T-55 (as you will see later in the photos). In the bag with the turret, there is a soft vinyl dust cover for the mantlet and two poly caps. Also, there is a twisted steel wire for a tow cable.
The sprue map
Sprue A (x2)
These are the same sprues as in the other kits in this series of closely related tanks: main road wheels, the idlers, the drive sprockets and suspension components.
Sprue B (x4)
Sprues with tires for the road wheels. Nice variant for those, who would like to make a more worn appearance of the tank. In addition, it makes paint job of the wheels easier, because you do not need to make masks. However, each tire has four connections, you will have to cut them all and sand them in turn and these extra connection points do take time - the real enemy of every modeller. This wouldn’t be too big of a problem because the tires need sanding anyway – because the ribbing is really very prominent and needs to be lowered, especially where tires are touching tracks.
Sprue C (x2)
Sprues with fuel drums and their mounting brackets, and some details. I made this shot with one sprue turned over, so you could see that quality of plastic is great on the both sides of each sprue.
Sprue D (X5)
Sprues with the second set of the road wheels for T-54 variants that show great detailing and very clean parts. At first, I thought, that this is a great thing, but after some examination, I came to the conclusion, that it isn’t. The kit gives you both the Starfish and Spider Web wheels, the sprues D come from T-55 kits. The first station road wheel is made with the larger bearing hub and cover, which is not right for T-54 tanks.
For an assembly of the Spider Web wheels, you need to use ten of parts A10 (you can see that in the instruction), but there are only eight of them, the other two bearing covers are the larger style and incorrect. Of course, you can use aftermarket wheels, but Takom has such a construction of the suspension arm, that making them fit wouldn’t be easy.
Sprue has got the turret base, barrel (that comes in two parts, so some sanding will be required) and some details like hatches.
This is a sprue with all basic hull details, engine cover, fuel tanks for the fenders and a pipework for them, which is really great and means, that you can have great detailing without making those pipes yourself. There are some minor moulding lines on the details, but nothing important you can’t deal with a hobby knife. I should say, that all the small details are moulded very clean.
Sprue has got fenders, fuel tanks for them and some minor details.
Sprue has got the glacis plate, front and rear mudguards, rear hull plate, yet another engine cover plate and the unditching log. Welding lines are also shown.
These excellent looking weld lines near places like the hatches and the seams are especially impressive on an injection moulded kit.
The clear sprue, it has got the periscopes and lenses for lights. Clean and clear parts, that doesn’t require any polishing or coats of clear.
Sprue with the machine gun and a holder for it. I’m surprised, but this sprue has two of them. We’ll see what’s what later on the assembly stage.
Sprue, that provides correct hatches and their details for the T-54 turret.
Lower Hull and Turret
Hull part has no warping, is very good detailed, even on the underside. The turret is shown really great, welding and cast marks are clean and captured nicely. Also here you can see the vinyl dust cover for the mantlet. There are even weld marks on the underside of the hill - quite extensive lengths gone to in the research of this kit.
Personally, I like the way Takom made this cover, I think it will look great on a completed model.
The similar slope on the turret to this educational drawing of the dome.
184 Single Track Links:
Non-working individual track links are placed in a bag and already removed from the sprue. This will make them a lot easier to use, but of course, they need to be glued together, then wrapped around the wheels.
The tracks are nicely detailed, but they have a moulding pip, that requires sanding down. They also have a couple of ejector pin marks, but they could be easily masked by mud or dust on the weathering step.
The photo-etch sheet supplies the engine screens, the fender brackets, and a few other details, it comes from the other T-55 kits by Takom, as you can see in the photo.
The wire for tow cable is really nice and should be no problems to use, glue or paint it.
As in all other Takom's kits instructions are landscape format booklet with simple, easy-to-understand steps made from a 3D model of the tank. (These are scanned so they are pixellated a little in these shots)
Decals and markings
The decals are well printed; I can see no colour mismatches. There are an LOT of schemes covered in this release and it's a credit to Takom to include so many countries
This kit includes nine (9!) paint variants which have been researched by MiG's AMMO team and the paint codes supplied in their shades:
PAVN, Saigon 1975
Red Army winter camouflage
Red Army GSFG Operation Dunai August 1968
Pakistan, Syria October 1973
The Democratic Republic of Afghanistan
Egypt October 1973, Iran.
Note - these are scanned copies of the colour schemes..
These new Takom’s kits, of the T-54/55 tanks, are finally bringing to the modellers the new level of detailing and number of options is huge! Following the old kits by, for example, Tamiya, Takom has made really good job and finally we have almost perfect models of these famous tanks. Of course, there are some questions, in this kit, particularly with main road wheels. But as I’m not a rivet counter I can say, that Takom did a truly amazing job and I am really impressed by these brilliant new kits!
Enough words, as I want to see this T-54 built, I need to get cracking. Keep looking for updates!
Thanks to Takom for sending these kits to us to review and later build…