This is Takom’s T-55AM made as a Romania’s 81st Mechanized Brigade vehicle, straight out of the box, and started a couple of years ago.
It’s one of those project where I saw a picture of the real vehicle in maneuver (see below) and decided I wanted to represent one. Full disclosure: Technically, callsign 45526 is a command tank with a bunch of little differences and additions compared to a straight AM but I did not let that stand in the way of completion :).
The Takom kit is, generally speaking, a great kit, although it’s not to the level of their Merkava 1. The roadwheel are – somewhat surprisingly – not easy to get perfectly even (I didn’t managed to get that on mine, but there was an errata in the kit about this and I don’t recall whether I used it or not), the IR spot arm assembly is a little fiddly, and so is the DSHK. These points, however, are the only ones worth mentioning. The rest of the kit is very, very good.
The T-55 is a wonderful modeling subject. There are tons of variants, it’s been in service all over the world and it’s just a bad ass looking tank. Especially the AM version with the cheek armor. This ain’t the last one I build for sure.
Objectively, I am happy with the end result, but at the same time, I see many, many things I’d like to to better. Not all of that is obvious from the photographs, but here’s a list.
Things I’m happy with
- The global vibe of the tank is more or less what I was after: an operational, relatively well-maintained (if aged) vehicle on maneuver.
- The Silouette Portrait 2 cutting machine is just so cool. Super easy to use, great results. The observant will note my turret number and roundels are smaller than their real life counterpart.
- I’m getting better at the pin wash game now. I managed to get a more controlled application.
- The unditching log. Doesn’t it look like a wonderful unditching log?
Things I’m okay with
- Weathering dosage is about right compared to my reference vehicle.
- Track finish. Not perfect, but not bad at all. They lacks a bit in character, and the photograph lighting is not ideal.
Things I could do better
- Paint finish. Cleaner, smoother base coat. This one was much closer to what I am after. For once I moved away from the rugged Tamiya XF flat finish. I need to invest more time into this stuff. It’s like super basic chop for modelers and I still don’t quite grasp the whole painting game.
- Paint finish. Corollary, but keeping the paintjob clean and free of lint is still a major challenge. I did work around this a bit with smooth sanding but I’d rather keep it clean and tidy than having to fix it.
- Paint finish. Romanian T-55s are of a much bluer green than the good ol’ Russian Green. I landed way too close to the later. I’m having great difficulties is guesstimating the proper color of uncommon tanks. I had the same issue with the AMX-30B.
- Photographing and, specifically, lighting. I still haven’t nailed a proper lighting setup for both the work area and for taking pictures of the projects. I need some secondary light source. As it stands I have a much too big gap between zenithal lighting and side light. I’m using foamcore panels to bounce some of that light but it isn’t enough.
- Suspension and track work. This is truly crucial for a tank, seriously. As soon as you get a roadwheel not sitting properly or a track not behaving likes is made of links of solid, heavy metal, it looks odd. Mine here isn’t bad but the left track and roadwheels of the tank do have some issues.
- Still getting a case of rushing things a little at the end.
Started: Sometimes , dunno, in 2018 maybe?
Finished: Early January 2021.