A Russian in Somalia
Updated: May 16, 2021
I have been sitting on my Takom T-55 AM kit for a while. The original plan was to build a tank of the Hungarian army, although there was no such decal set in the kit. After a bit of search I have found one set of decals originally designed for a T-72, but I thought I could use at least some of them based on the photos of the riginal tank. The only problem was that it was sitting in the US and in the middle of the pandemic it took ages until it arrived.
In the meantime I was carried away with other projects and by the time I finally got them I lost interest in building a Hungarian tank. I started to search photos on the internet to find some inspiration. Then I saw these photos when googling.
I knew I want to build a tank packed pretty much. OK, maybe not that much, but I thought I would play it by ear.
The kit is a nicely detailed and high quality typical Takom kit. Each sprue is in separately sealed bag and it comes with a clear and easy to follow instruction book. Please watch out: there are two misprints in the booklet, although these are highlighted on separate note sheets.
The kit comes with clear parts and PE parts too and individual track links.
The assembly of the lower hull and the wheels is straight forward. A bit annoying though that the gears are attached to the sprue at 11(!) different points.
To avoid wheels hanging in the air you need to make sure all of the suspension arms are lined up.
As it is quite difficult to paint the hull once the wheels and the tracks are in place I have decided to do it right away.
I have also painted the tracks with the main colour. Later on they will get weathering and most of it will be covered by the skirts, so this is just a first step on that road.
Maybe it is only me who can't work out how to combine these two parts to end up with the set up shown in the instruction booklet. Nevertheless, if you know how to do that please contact me. Seriously.
The good thing is it is pretty much hidden on the tank, so it won't be a deal breaker, if you don't do it 100% accurate.
The protective frame around the headlights of these Russian beasts is always a challenge for every model maker. I wish I could solder them, but that is something I need to learn in the future, I'm afraid. In this kit it goes as good as it can, but still miles away from perfect.
All the PE parts fit neatly where they belong. I really believe Takom has the best PE parts: not only the quality and the material is great, but also it is wisely decided which parts should be provided with this technology.
To create the impression of glass I usually use a piece of shiny and reflective blue sticker I found on a box of vitamins.
The turret is a real pleasure to build. No hiccups, it comes together as you would imagine.
After applying some pre-sheding with Tamiya X-1 black I have oversprayed the tank with Khaki (Xf- 49).
For the camo colours I used Dark green and and some home-mixed brown so that it gets as close to the one on the photos as possible. I don't remember the exact ratio, but I mainly used Tamiya's Red, brown and White.
I have to admit that I fell in love with the idea to paint the spare fuel barrels with a completely different colour. I just couldn't resist.
The weathering was done following these steps:
1.) pin wash with oils (mixture of brown and black)
2.) enamel washes (Drak wash, Streaking grime, Rust)
3.) pigments (various)
I have to admit the I spent quite a lot of time with the accessories. I wasn't sure how to arrenage them and how I could replicate the binbags. I tried a few options (e.g. air-drying clay), but unfortunately I couldn't find a way that I was happy with. I rather stayed with the after markets towage I had in my stash.
And that was it, basically. What do I think of this kit? It is a really-really good one:
good quality and details
great price/value ratio
wide range of opportunities as this tank was used by quite a few nations in the cold war and even afterwards.
A few photos of the final build. For more please visit the Gallery.