Sunday, May 29

In Boxed - Takom's 35th scale T-55 AM Russian Medium Tank

Our Russian modeller Igor Sedykh has been very patiently waiting for the Takom T-55AM kit in 35th scale to arrive – and now he has it he has paused before he starts building it. He wanted to show us what’s in the box (no Seven jokes) & what he thinks about the kit in his in-box review. Let’s see what he found out…

In-Boxed: T-55 AM Russian Medium Tank
Manufacturer: Takom
No. 2041
Scale: 1:35th scale
Individual track links
Photo Etch, Clear Parts, Vinyl gun mantlet, & Metal tow cable
Posable turret & Hatches
Road wheels can be built in a damaged condition
4 marking choices supplied by Mig’s Ammo team
Product Link on the Takom Website

Russian tanks T-55 and T-54 are one of the most famous tanks in the world. Used in over 50 countries and produced in huge numbers they were developed more, than half a century ago and still used today. T-55 tank was produced in the 1960s and it had a new turret with a floor, PAZ nuclear blast protection and overpressure NBC system, gamma ray detector, improved V-55 engine and many, many more improvements to the original T-54 design. A snorkel allowed T-55 to cross 5.5 m depths at a speed of more than 1 mph. 
T-55AM or “Ob'yekt 155AM” was deeply upgrades and modified in comparison to its predecessor T-55A with new "Volna" fire control system, 9K116-1 "Bastion" ATGM system with new 1K13 BOM guidance device/sight. These tanks also received improved "Tsiklon-M1" gun stabilization system and TShSM-32PV sights, V-55U engine, improved suspension and RMSh tracks, increased armor, anti-mine, anti-napalm and improved anti-radiation protection and new R-173/173P radio set. Visual differences include a laser range-finder in an armoured box fitted over the main armament, side skirts, 81mm "Tucha" smoke grenade launchers and some more.
This tank, as its predecessor, was very successful. As with the T-54 before it, this tank was easy to maintain, cheap in production and it was balanced, simple and reliable. T-55AM is the modernized version of the T-55 with improved fire controls. The Czechoslovak version uses a laser rangefinder mounted on the main gun and a wind sensor. The FSU version incorporates the KTD-2 or KDG-1 laser rangefinder. The Polish version uses a new fire control system that integrates a laser rangefinder into the gunner's sight.
T-55AM is one of the latest versions of T-55 tanks and because of that, this kit has many details to point out and I was hoping that the final result should be brilliant. But let’s have a look inside to see for ourselves in this In-Boxed before we build the kit.
“What’s in the boooxxxxx?”
The box is very strong, so you may not have to worry about your shipment being damaged along the way, and I do like the box art, which is evocative and attractive. As on the T-54B, the kit comes in 693 parts. 432 of these are in a mid-grey styrene colour. The kit has 184 individual track links and 12 clear parts for lights and periscopes. The lower hull detail and turret come as separate pieces, and the track links are already removed from the sprue. The P/E sheet is the same that comes from any other Takom’s T-55 tanks. In the bag with the turret, there is a soft vinyl dust cover for the mantlet and two poly caps. In addition, there is a twisted steel wire for a tow cable. The instructions say that there should be two cables, but the wire is quite long, so we will see in my build if you should but it into tow wires.
The instructions  - this is the sprue map.

..and the simple instruction sheets which are typical from Takom. Easy steps clearly drawn. As in all other Takom's kits instructions are landscape format booklet with simple, easy-to-understand steps made from the 3D model of the tank. 

Sprue A (x2)
Again, the same sprues, as in the other kits: 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. This wouldn’t be a big 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 E
Sprue with fenders, rear hull plate and the unditching log. The log is already moulded with retaining straps.

Sprue F
Sprue with rubber (here in plastic) side skirts. These parts look really great, the details are clean and sharp.

Sprue H
Sprue has got the turret base, a barrel, which is not used for this version of tank, and some details like hatches.

Sprue J
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.

Sprue K
Sprue with machine-gun and a holder for it, some hatches and a cupola. If you decide to not fit the gun, then there’s an alternative cupola.

Sprue L
Sprue has got special parts for the AM version – extra turret armour, hand rails and holders for them. These parts are placed on the turret, using special marks on it. This means, that if you want to build a T-55A out of this kit, you’ll need to seriously modify the turret part.

Sprue M
Sprue with the glacis plate, mudguards and track links to use on the tank’s armour itself.

Sprue N
Sprue with the correct barrel for the AM version. It comes in two parts, so some sanding will be required, which is not that simple because you need to be careful and not lose any details.

Sprue P
Sprue with alternative front armour plate and some details to make one of the versions of T-55AM that could be built out of this kit. For more information, take a look at colour chart and instructions below.

Sprue S
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.

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. Personally, I like the way Takom made this turret, I think it will look great on the completed model.

Track Links, Photo-Etch, Cable and Dust Cover
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 if you are shy of sanding them all.

The photo-etch sheet supplies the engine screens, the fender brackets and a few other details, it is the same as the one 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. On the photo, you can also see two poly caps.

The Vinyl dust ocver for the gun is well sculpted and it will look great on the finished kit

Decals and colour Instructions
This kit includes four paint variants: Russian Marines (Naval Infantry); Angolan Armed Forces; Cuban Army; Russian Army. A small sheet of decals is provided for these markings, the decals are well printed, and I can see no colour mismatches. Sadly, there are some mistakes in the instructions and you have two small correction notes inside the bag.

Conclusions (so far)
T-55AM by Takom continues the line of brilliant kits. I think, that when this line will be completed (we can still see T-55A or engineering vehicles, based on T-54/55) it will make a perfect choice for any AFV fan and in particular of Russian tanks. In this kit I can see no real problems, except for the tires, that will need a lot of sanding and a maybe a two-piece barrel.

Well, that’s the end of my second review of new Takom’s kits. Time to build them and see the final result. Stay tuned!

Igor Sedykh

Thanks to Takom for sending this kit for Igor to review and soon to make.