ArmiesArmy T55-AM2

Today Richard looks at the Armies Army T55A2.

I recently received a platoon pack of ArmiesArmy T55-AM2 from owner Keith Armstrong to review

I really really like AAs “winter kit” Afgantsy so I was looking forward to seeing what the T55s were like.

The Tank

Early version T55

The T55 was originally conceived as an improved NBC (Nuclear Biological Chemical) of the T54, during design and early testing by the Stalin Ural Tank Factory No. 183 (Uralvagonzavod) it was decided to significantly change the design of the T54, with not only improved NBC protection, but a new engine, increased ammunition loadout (from 34-45) with some ammunition now being stored in “wet containers” and the removal of the Anti-Aircraft machine gun. The mid-50s was a period of significant change in tank design philosophy as the WW2 concept of medium and heavy tanks was replaced by one of an all purpose main battle tank (MBT), as the new design was superior in performance to the IS2/IS3/T10 series of heavy tanks and an obvious upgrade on both the T54 and T34 it was decided to move forward with the T55 and to transpose all planned T54 development onto the new vehicle. This  vehicle became the Ob’yekt 155, and entered production at Uralvagonzavod 1 January 1958 as the T-55. It was accepted for service with the Red Army on 8 May.

By the time that Team Yankee is set the T55 had been withdrawn form category A and category B Soviet units, but as we know it appears in the East German army in the Volksarmee book.

a Cuban T55 – part of the force that bloodied the South Africans at Cuito Cuanavale in Angola

Having already been in service for nearly 30 years by the time of the events depicted in Team Yankee the T55 was no longer the vehicle it was in 1958. the T55 had seen significant combat use in the intervening 30 years, in Angola, the Iran-Iraq War, and during the Yom Kippur War of 1973, and it’s low profile and small size had proved to be an advantage in combat, though the small size was also a drawback from an ergonomic perspective and crew fatigue was a problem, as was the inability to depress the gun lower than -5 degrees when in an hull down position. The 100mm gun whilst outperforming it’s NATO competitors in the 1950s and early 60s lagged behind the 105mm guns fitted to western tanks, particularly the L7 Royal Ordnance 105mm. By the 1980s the T55 had been upgraded with new sights, new tracks, laser rangefinding, side skirts, an AAMG and new radios.

T55 destroyed during 1973 Yom Kippur War

Not all vehicles received all the new upgrades and by the 1980s the NVA had around 300 of the latest T55 upgrades the T55-AM2 provided by Poland, in addition to less upgraded T55s and T72s

Footage of NVA tanks can be found here and here (with English subtitles) and lastly some fleeting T55-Am2 visible here (with a lot of helicopters).

The Model

The kit comes with a resin hull and turret, with all other parts in metal, the metal parts consist of 2 track pieces, 2 side skirts, 2 fuel tanks, a schnorkel, AAMG, 2 crew members, hull hatch, schnorkel, and 2 turret hatches (with open and closed versions of the Commanders turret). There is also a small amount of stowage with each vehicle

all the bits

Unlike some of my fellow Breakthrough Assault contributers I’m not a great modelmaker or painter (I lack the patience and skill, and basically just want to get stuff on the table and playing with it), so the final product won’t be perhaps as competently put together as either Lee or Mark’s models.

under construction

I found the kit to be very nicely cast, the hull and turret details are very sharp and stand out nicely. You get options on having it buttoned up or with various hatches open for the crew, helpful, I always find in identifying command vehicles. There are quite a lot of pieces and a small assembly diagram would in my view have been helpful, though there are plenty of depictions of the T55-AM2 in Volksarmee and online to assist so it’s omission is not catastrophic.

My only criticism would be is that as a less skilled modeller I did find it a bit fiddly to put together, there were a couple of glued finger moments especially with the fuel tanks and turret side mounted snorkel because there isn’t really any locating points so you’re left holding them in place. And like every T55 kit I’ve built the front mudguards always seem to cause me a problem !! These issues lessened as I built each kit, however as you start to get a feel for it.

Finished article

It is however a lovely detailed kit, and I’m sure that with practice on a few more I’d soon get the hang of things.

Size v Battlefront T54

Size wise I don’t have any of the newer Battlefront T55 kits or any of the PSC ones to compare it with, however it’s just slightly bigger than my Vietnamese T54s and old Skytrex T55s

size v Battlefront T54

Looking forward to pairing them with my Armies Army East German infantry which have just arrived and are on the production line.

size vs skytrex (old)

The kit takes paint nicely. I decided on standard Warsaw Pact green for two reasons, firstly because the video clips, which are reasonably contemperaneous show all over green, and secondly because there is no way I can do the multi-colour camo scheme justice.

undercoat
basecoat
starting the details
just decaling and varnishing to do

It’s a nice looking kit, fairly easy to put together. I’m not planning a T55 horde list (unlike some contributors I could mention), and the T55s will form tank attachments to Motor Schutzen formations so I don’t need huge numbers. The price competes well with BF, but obviously the plastic version from PSC is cheaper. However the ability to buy single vehicles from ArmiesArmy is definitely another plus. Another positive contribution from a great little company

Category: armies armyArmiesArmyEast GermansFlames of WarReviewsTeam YankeeVolksarmee

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Article by: Richard Hardy