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Яusso-Soviэt Forum: Cold War Soviet Armor
For discussions related to cold war era Russo-Soviet armor.
Takom T-54B build log
JimboHUN
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Budapest, Hungary
Joined: May 07, 2009
KitMaker: 430 posts
Armorama: 413 posts
Posted: Sunday, May 15, 2016 - 06:12 AM GMT+7
Hello Lads.

This will be my go at the Takom T-54B kit released recently and sent to Armorama for a review directly from China.

What I sum up below is based on some Russian sites, pictures, discussions and forums and some advice from knowledgeable friends. I did my best to give an accurate overview however later you will see that it is not easy to gain 100% accurate information.

The development of the T-54 battle tank – culminating in the production of the T-54B for a few short years – paved the way to the introduction of the iconic T-55 tank. Before digging deeper into the features of the T-54, one question should be addressed - why is it sometimes more difficult to model (for manufacturers and kit builders alike) early Soviet armor? The key lies in continuous upgrades and rebuilds... Series produced T-54s and T-55s were changing as time went by and more recent technologies were developed and then incorporated into production. This would not be an issue as it's normal to any vehicle that is mass produced for longer period. However the Soviet Union was upgrading and/or rebuilding their already existing tanks from time to time to level them up using some of the latest technologies that were available that time. They had a network of factories that were specialized to such upgrades/rebuilds.

As a result, surviving factory original vehicles are very rare since most T-54s were upgraded/rebuilt with later technologies to meet the standards of a T-55. Archive pictures are available, but normally these do not cover all the details of a specific vehicle in a walkaround style. The tanks seen at exhibitions were most probably upgraded, but not all of them necessarily to the same extent. Also we need to keep in mind that museum vehicles may have inaccurate features just to make a tank look more convincing or complete.

To add more to the (potential) confusion, the T-54s were manufactured in three different plants in the Soviet Union, and also in Poland and Czechslovakia, and we should never forget about on-the-field modifications (like replacing a damaged road wheel with an early style “spiderweb” design if there is no other option at hand).

The T-54A tank was developed in 1952-53 and with its production some important new features were added, such as the STP-1 "Horizon" vertical stabilizer, the D-10TG gun with bore evacuator and also night sights for the driver (TVN-1).

The T-54B that was mass produced in the Soviet Union from September 1956 until the beginning of 1959, packed more new technology: the STP-2 "Cyclone" stabilizer (both vertical and horizontal) and full night vision capability, consisting of:

- TVN-2 system for the driver (used with the IR headlight on the front)
- TPKUB (day) and TKN-1 (night) sights (these were interchangeable) for the commander with OU-3 IR searchlight mounted on the commander’s cupola
- TPN-1 gunner’s sight coupled with the Luna-2 infrared illuminator attached directly to the gun mantlet.
The T-54B was the first tank ever to be series produced with wading equipment (OVPT-54).

Now let’s see, what can be built out from the box – what is almost sure, not a factory original tank, but one that was upgraded at some point in the 60’s. Let’s see some of the kit’s details that suggest this.

The new mount used for the L-2 (attached directly to the turret and not to the mantlet) IR searchlight was introduced around April 1959 for both T-54s and -55s. By then, T-54Bs were not mass produced already(at least as per my source), so the new mount was added as an upgrade later. Probably most tanks were upgraded pretty soon as the old fashioned mount attached to the mantlet made the water proofing of the tank more difficult in case of wading.


Photo: early L-2 mount, source unknown (internet).

The two 200 l fuel drums that we have in the kit were also added later (introduced end of 1959). Before that, two BDSH-5 smoke canisters were located at the rear end of the tank. With the introduction of the new fuel drums, the smoke canisters were stowed on brackets on the rear fenders, and moved back to their original position when in use. The canisters and their brackets are not present in the kit, but they are visible on some pictures (mostly the brackets only, which can be scratched from PE strips if you wish). However the fuel injection smoke screen generation of the T-55 tank was most probably added to upgraded T-54s later. Still, the inclusion of the canisters would have been a nice feature.

In 1960 an additional TNP-165 periscope was added, on the right side of the gunner’s sight (just like on T-55s and -62s). This is not present in the kit, but it should not be an issue as most pictures I have seen do not seem to have this periscope at all.
In the Takom kit, the area around the driver’s hatch is reinforced with metal strips. On T-55s this was introduced only in 1963. Unfortunately I could not check how this was on early T-54Bs as all the archive photos I have either do not have this part visible, or already has this reinforced.


Photo: reinforced driver’s hatch area, source: Dishmodels.ru

The mine plough/dozer blade attachment points can have a factory original and updated/rebuilt configuration as well. The early one consists of 8 lines of bolts on the lower front plate and two short “arms” on the upper. Luckily both are in the box, however the instruction has the early one only (with some errors – but more on this later).


Source: ser-sarajkin.narod2.ru

Upgraded versions are the same as T-55s.


Source: Primeportal.net

The kit has two sets of road wheels, the “spiderweb” (early) and the “starfish” (later) ones. Most T-54Bs (especially after the upgrades) have the starfish wheels, however I have seen some (undated but probably quite early) photos with spiderweb wheels too. Damaged starfish wheels sometimes were replaced by spiderweb ones if no other option was available.


Photo: T-54 or -55 with both types of road wheels, source: Facebook (The T-54 and T-55 Research Group)

Two more observations – mainly for the river counters.
The commander’s IR searchlight is from the Takom T-55 kit. This is an OU-3G which is a bit different compared to the OU-3 that was on factory original T-54Bs. The difference is not too big. I was told that it was adopted in 1964 but could not verify this date.


Photo: OU-3 searchlight, source: T-54 instruction manual.

Also the driver’s headlights are newer type (FG-125 and -127) in the kit, however as per the references available to me, these were not always updated on T-54s. The difference again is not very noticeable but it’s still there. Again, I was told that this was adopted in 1964 but could not verify this date.


Photo: driver’s early headlights, source: Dishmodels.ru

All in all at first inpection I would say that the T-54B we can build out of box (not necessarily by following all the instructions) possibly existed out there…however chances are high that you won’t find pictures that show all the details of the exact vehicle you wish to build…unless you opt for a museum one. Again, this is an upgraded vehicle, so factory original drawings are useful, but not entirely accurate.

These are my initial findings, more will come during the build.
Photos will follow soon!
JimboHUN
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Budapest, Hungary
Joined: May 07, 2009
KitMaker: 430 posts
Armorama: 413 posts
Posted: Sunday, May 15, 2016 - 06:38 AM GMT+7
In-box photos below, will comment on details while building.

Molding quality is pretty good and there is a good number of T-55 parts for the spares box/conversions.

Unfortunately two of the fuel lines snapped during shipping, and some of the track links are also damaged (193 are provided, 184 are needed).































David1988
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England - East Anglia, United Kingdom
Joined: September 18, 2014
KitMaker: 89 posts
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Posted: Sunday, May 15, 2016 - 08:00 AM GMT+7
Hi Adam,

I will be following this one with interest! I think your run-through of the upgrades to T-54Bs after production is really useful.

The box calls the kit T-54B "Late type", I wonder if Takom will (at some point) release a T-54B "Early type" which would be closer to the factory original state.

You have kind of concluded that the model represents a tank upgraded at some point in the '60s. I am interested to know whether Takom have included all the updates that were applied at that point in time (or did they miss anything)?

I am building the T-55AM at the moment and loving it

David
Thirian24
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Oklahoma, United States
Joined: September 30, 2015
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Posted: Sunday, May 15, 2016 - 09:44 AM GMT+7
I'll be watching this also.
panamadan
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Minnesota, United States
Joined: July 20, 2004
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Posted: Sunday, May 15, 2016 - 02:07 PM GMT+7
Good start.
Dan
The_musings_of_NBNoG
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Oregon, United States
Joined: January 08, 2012
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Posted: Sunday, May 15, 2016 - 04:23 PM GMT+7
OMG...this looks fantastic!
Over a thousand pieces!!!!
On a Medium tank!
(just did the 2S7 1,000+ in a huge model: http://www.armorama.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=SquawkBox&file=index&req=viewtopic&topic_id=247207&page=1 )

I can build a T-54B while I'm waiting for Meng or Rye to release their M1's with an interior.

I just saw the Vid:
https://youtu.be/QNU7p5xQXmA

I wanna, I wanna,



(( Ouch...after a bit I see That the vid was posted previously... my bad ))
JimboHUN
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Budapest, Hungary
Joined: May 07, 2009
KitMaker: 430 posts
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Posted: Sunday, May 15, 2016 - 07:17 PM GMT+7
Hi David,

The Takom kit is basically their existing T-55 offering + new parts required for a T-54 (you could almost build this into a T-55 out of box).

As for the upgrades, I have seen photos from the Soviet-Afghan conflict where T-54s even had side skirts So you never know. But I think the list above covers the most important/visible changes I am aware so far. I think the wading snorkel design/location also might have been altered later, but need to check that.

Regards,

Adam
JimboHUN
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Budapest, Hungary
Joined: May 07, 2009
KitMaker: 430 posts
Armorama: 413 posts
Posted: Sunday, May 15, 2016 - 07:19 PM GMT+7

Quoted Text

OMG...this looks fantastic!
Over a thousand pieces!!!!
On a Medium tank!
(just did the 2S7 1,000+ in a huge model: http://www.armorama.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=SquawkBox&file=index&req=viewtopic&topic_id=247207&page=1 )

I can build a T-54B while I'm waiting for Meng or Rye to release their M1's with an interior.

I just saw the Vid:
https://youtu.be/QNU7p5xQXmA

I wanna, I wanna,



(( Ouch...after a bit I see That the vid was posted previously... my bad ))



Hi,

I think you are mixing up Takom and Miniart The Minart is a very-very promising kit though!

Cheers,

Adam
billflorig
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Hawaii, United States
Joined: January 20, 2015
KitMaker: 138 posts
Armorama: 132 posts
Posted: Sunday, May 15, 2016 - 07:22 PM GMT+7
Adam, thanks for the posts. This appears to be a great kit! Any ideas on how this stacks up to the Miniart kit which looks to be incredible?

Wow, the golden era of Soviet armor modeling is here!

Best,

Bill
JimboHUN
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Budapest, Hungary
Joined: May 07, 2009
KitMaker: 430 posts
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Posted: Sunday, May 15, 2016 - 07:36 PM GMT+7

Quoted Text

Adam, thanks for the posts. This appears to be a great kit! Any ideas on how this stacks up to the Miniart kit which looks to be incredible?

Wow, the golden era of Soviet armor modeling is here!

Best,

Bill



Hi Bill,

I'd need to build both to get the conclusions

Miniart seems to be pretty accurate in terms of the features of the T-54B out of the factory. It is a Kiev based manufacturer after all. Will need to see if the quality will be also high (I hope - never built a Miniart kit).

Cheers,

Adam
GazzaS
#424
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Queensland, Australia
Joined: April 23, 2015
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Posted: Sunday, May 15, 2016 - 08:42 PM GMT+7
Hi Adam,
Thank you for the detailed start to your build. I'll be following, for certain.

Gaz
JimboHUN
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Budapest, Hungary
Joined: May 07, 2009
KitMaker: 430 posts
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Posted: Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - 07:12 PM GMT+7
So the very beginning...

As step 0, the two curved parts that form the the base of the turret should be removed - they will be replaced at a later stage with parts that are slightly different in size.

Also some holes need to be filled.





Housing of the idler wheel (3 parts):



I am not sure how this was on T-54s but I will check. On some photos the tube shaped part on the right (faces rear on the kit) is on the left (facing towards the front of the vehicle). Yet on some photos there is not tube at all (like in the Tamiya kit).

I test fitted the front of the upper hull, and some part of it will need a tad bit of sanding in order to make the housing of the idler wheel sit flush on the surface.



Not pictured here, but I also dry fitted the rest of the upper hull, the rear plate and the fenders to see if they will fit properly and to show hidden/exposed areas of the hull. They do, but I'd suggest gluing them one by one to the lower half, starting from the front (as opposed to the instructions where the three parts forming the upper hull should be glued together first - getting a good fit is not easy since the parts have details on them so won't sit flush for a clean assembly).

Normally I piece the hull together with filling, sanding, welding, etc. to have a proper base before adding the details.

Cheers,

Adam
flugwuzzi
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Lower Austria, Austria
Joined: November 02, 2007
KitMaker: 549 posts
Armorama: 520 posts
Posted: Tuesday, May 17, 2016 - 09:07 PM GMT+7
Excellent start ... keep up the good work!

Greetings
Walter
dylans
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British Columbia, Canada
Joined: March 05, 2009
KitMaker: 378 posts
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Posted: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 - 01:24 AM GMT+7
off to a great start Adam. I will be following along and hopefully building along as well.
Kharkov
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England - East Midlands, United Kingdom
Joined: April 09, 2011
KitMaker: 767 posts
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Posted: Thursday, May 19, 2016 - 01:38 PM GMT+7

Now this should be fun

The tube shaped part that you refer to, is the idler adjuster, all T-54/55's should have one sitting behind each idler wheel, Tamiya simply omitted that detail in their kit.

Gets complicated though, T-54's (zig zag) had one in front of the idler as well, making two on each side, as the T-54 progressed into the T-55, the front one was removed, the design was simplified I think.

:-)
JimboHUN
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Budapest, Hungary
Joined: May 07, 2009
KitMaker: 430 posts
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Posted: Friday, May 20, 2016 - 07:12 AM GMT+7
Hi,

I am jumping to the front for a while – as said before first I will put together the hull before adding any detail...

The mine plough attachments are incorrect in the instructions, they suggest it as seen on the box art:



They add the short arms to the upper side, and nothing to the lower but this is incorrect. I will depict below the three correct options out from box. Please note that nothing is glued and positioning is approximate only – please use your references.

1) – no attachment points: just fill the gaps marked.



2) – ”early” configuration: add the arms as per the instructions and add 8 attachment points to the lower plate, you will have 4 separately in the box, the other 4 should be cut from the T-55 front plate which is also included in the kit (as a bonus both types are in the box: the square and rounded ones – so if not used you will have spares for two vehicles).



3) – ”late” configuration: use the 4 separate attachment points on the upper hull and use the T-55 lower front plate – either add the special T-54 welding to this piece or remove all attachment points and add them to the T-54 front plate. Also you will need to add the two rods next to the fenders.



That’s all for now, some more work was done but I have no photos yet.

Also news of today that Takom is releasing a corrected T-54B lower hull as currently the kit has the T-55 one which is not correct since the two are not the same. They promise replacement to every buyer, so hats off to Takom! To me it’s too late already...



Cheers,

Adam
dylans
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British Columbia, Canada
Joined: March 05, 2009
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Posted: Friday, May 20, 2016 - 07:42 AM GMT+7
thanks for the info Adam. it's too late for me as well, at least Takom is making the effort to remedy the problem.
Eloranta
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Hame, Finland
Joined: November 30, 2008
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Posted: Friday, May 20, 2016 - 03:46 PM GMT+7
This is one to follow! It's a nice touch how they supply wheels with details under hubs, and with full set of extra starfish wheels there's plenty of extras to those hubless derelict builds
JimboHUN
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Budapest, Hungary
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Posted: Friday, May 20, 2016 - 07:04 PM GMT+7

Quoted Text

thanks for the info Adam. it's too late for me as well, at least Takom is making the effort to remedy the problem.



I'd hold off the starfish wheel hubs for a while as well That's not official though.
jphillips
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Arizona, United States
Joined: February 25, 2007
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Posted: Saturday, May 21, 2016 - 11:02 AM GMT+7
These kits are a little over-engineered. I'm building the Takom T-55AMV and let me warn you, watch out when you get to the headlights and guard - mine was a nightmare. I've built the Tamiya and Trumpeter T-55s and had no trouble with this assembly, so this came as a nasty surprise.
This was my first Takom kit. Not a good first impression.
I'll probably end up taking the headlights and guard from an older Trumpeter kit; I've seen them on eBay for under twenty dollars.
JimboHUN
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Budapest, Hungary
Joined: May 07, 2009
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Posted: Saturday, May 21, 2016 - 07:35 PM GMT+7

Quoted Text

These kits are a little over-engineered. I'm building the Takom T-55AMV and let me warn you, watch out when you get to the headlights and guard - mine was a nightmare. I've built the Tamiya and Trumpeter T-55s and had no trouble with this assembly, so this came as a nasty surprise.
This was my first Takom kit. Not a good first impression.
I'll probably end up taking the headlights and guard from an older Trumpeter kit; I've seen them on eBay for under twenty dollars.



Thanks for the heads up. Looks like this way they can make the guard thinner - however on most kits it's still not thin enough.

I have checked my Tamiya, the design seems almost the same, just like on Trumpeter's T-62 series.

Best would be using wire bus I just don't have the skills for that
jphillips
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Posted: Sunday, May 22, 2016 - 06:31 AM GMT+7
They do look pretty close. I think what made the Takom guard so hard to work with was the pliability of the plastic they used. The Tamiya and Trumpeter guards were cast in a harder plastic.
I'm not capable of assembling something like that out of wire, either. I imagine such things might sell, if some aftermarket company made them out of thin wire already assembled and ready to paint.
JimboHUN
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Budapest, Hungary
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Posted: Thursday, May 26, 2016 - 11:13 PM GMT+7
Hi Folks,

I am on the road now so I just have a small update to this build log.

Before adding the details I wanted to add the engine deck so I can do the filling, sanding and some welding with no issues.

For this I had to glue the grilles but first add and paint the parts underneath.



The grilles fit nicely but to me they seem a bit too flat.



The rear plate's edges are a bit wider than the hull itself but as per my references this seems correct.





That's all for now, in June I will be back with more spare time.

Cheers,

Adam
Jennings
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Virginia, United States
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Posted: Wednesday, June 01, 2016 - 11:05 AM GMT+7
Maybe I'm blind, but I can't see the difference in the lower hull part that required a correction. Can someone point out the differences between the T-55 as supplied and the T-54B as corrected?
Kharkov
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Posted: Wednesday, June 01, 2016 - 03:33 PM GMT+7

Quoted Text

Maybe I'm blind, but I can't see the difference in the lower hull part that required a correction. Can someone point out the differences between the T-55 as supplied and the T-54B as corrected?



If memory serves me correctly...

On the T-55 they lowered the drivers seat, sunk it further into the hull floor, and also increased the armour protection in that area.

So,

If you look at the T-55 hull bottom, you will see a bulge in the floor where the drivers seat would be inside the hull, it's just in front of the floor escape hatch.

If you look at the T-54 hull bottom, you will see that it doesn't have that bulge in the floor, it's just flat in the area where the drivers seat would be inside.

Plus some other minor changes to the drain plugs and little service plugs as well I think.