T-55A, Soviet Union 1962, Diorama 1:35

N.B.C. Test Area - Soviet Union 1962


It states in the Book of Genesis that "Man is the crown of creation".


I suppose we have become very clever in making things for our own needs but what of the "academic elite" of the species that have continually refined, tested and stockpiled Nuclear weapons – all sponsored by "university material" who are not content with vapourizing this world JUST once.  The epitome of destroying things by "degrees".

Heavy stuff I know, but if "the pen is mightier than the sword" then the mass of atomic weapons around the globe must be the writing on the wall.  "Man is the crown of creation?" … can't agree with that penwork.

The Diorama:
I've had this conversion in my "napper" for some time now. One of the problems I was confronted with was, not only the errors of the Trumpeter T-54B model and it's conversion to a T-55A, but how to present the finished work in it's element. I wanted something original but also something that could compliment my T-54-3 dio. I decided not to correct the lower hull as it would overcomplicate and possibly destabilise the conversion, so I needed a subtle disguise.

The idea here was to highlight the POV system to such an extent, that the eye becomes slightly distracted from the lower area. Garish metallic blue acrylic paint does it for me.
The POV system consisted of an interior lining of lead-impregnated plastic designed to protect the crew from a nuclear blast and included an improved air filtration against chemical agents. Fitting this suite into a T-55 was problematic, and so parts of it had to be mounted externally.
The reworked "periscope" on the roof is a "flight of fantasy" on my behalf, designed to give it a more scientific-test look ... I wonder how many I caught out with that one  😄
I've also backdated the scene a year before this system was officially accepted for service by the Red Army under the designation T-55A. As a test vehicle I've opted for an early version here,
without the mine-plow.
Having the spare Takom parts at hand the job went a great deal easier than I had visioned ... no "rocket science" was required  but a lot of forethought, as even the slightest of corrections altered the maths for the next problem.
All in all it was quite an interesting experience, adding and excluding the various details that make up the difference between the two versions. Even though on times, I needed the patience of a patient to see things through.
I've added some Soviet "kit-bash" N.B.C. figures to cast a surreal and unhuman shadow over the corrupted earth.
In later years, with the addition of AM components, these two AFV's bore a very close similarity to each other, but for me in their basic forms, the T-54 is the cold war ogre and the T-55A the nuclear tank.

Well folks, times up on this one. I hoped you've enjoyed the 'beast in his pen' and my scribblings, maybe you'd like to take a swing at the "Terrible-Trump" yourself one day 😉
However, if you are one of the aforementioned "academic elite" who are hell-bent on smashing up our planet up to boost your own ego – take this subscription and write down my completion date on one of your missiles … then use the thing for a suppository.


Completed: 01.04.'18

Trumpeter T-54B Conversion to T-55A

Building Report:

Trumpeter T-54B Conversion to T-55A, Building Report

Stage 1:


There three easy ways to deal with this kit: bin, ebay or as a mud/snow covered wreck.
I've decided to take the hard way and improve it. I say this consciously as no matter what you do, it will still bear hard evidence of disproportion upon scrutiny. The main problem lies in the area just above the roadwheel axles. This makes the lower glacis plate to deep. It also lengthens and raises the hull some 3mm. The rear hull is a right 'pigs ear' … no angle to the lower plate and huge brake housings.
The overall width is right but the heartburn starts when you find out that the track fenders are too wide which makes the hull ca. 3.8mm too narrow. The front idler wheels have to be re-set inside the hull and the cheap rubber track is about 1.5mm too wide. The turret rear also needs to be built up.
If you've noticed I've been very vague with measurements here. The reason being that I intend to use the spare parts of my last Takom T-54 build and fit the Trumpeter offering around them with the naked eye. Therefore if any of you fancy taking this "thing" on my way with your own scratch or AM kits any "accurate" measurements from me will put you out.
A last word of warning before you do any "Jack the Ripper" surgery on this one … think hard how your action will effect your next steps.
E.g.: do not be tempted to cut and lower the fenders in a cosmetic attempt to reduce the height.

If you do, you will find that the wheels become too close together and the fuel tanks no longer sit flush with the top of the hull.
To add some "terror" of my own to this rather "unhygienic" building report … I'll attempt to update it into a T-55A.

Right then, time to start … just get me chain saw!

The first two pictures show the upper hull before correction, note difference in width of fuel tanks and engine deck. Also the quality in wheels (Takom parts in light gray).

Trumpeter T-54B Conversion to T-55A, Building Report
Trumpeter T-54B Conversion to T-55A, Building Report


Here I've removed the connecting strips underneath the top hull, this lowers the hull ca. 2mm but pushes the front glacis plate forward over the front lip. This is'nt as bad as it sounds as it makes the glacis look wider and a little more accurate.

Trumpeter T-54B Conversion to T-55A, Building Report
Trumpeter T-54B Conversion to T-55A, Building Report


The front idler wheels have been re-set. Front glacis plate trimmed flush.

Trumpeter T-54B Conversion to T-55A, Building Report
Trumpeter T-54B Conversion to T-55A, Building Report


The turret mantlet sits dead center, this has to be moved offset to starboard about 1.2mm.The build up of the rear of the turret has begun.

Trumpeter T-54B Conversion to T-55A, Building Report
Trumpeter T-54B Conversion to T-55A, Building Report
Trumpeter T-54B Conversion to T-55A, Building Report


Having nothing better to do, I decided to replace the wheel centeres. Trumpeters caps are undersized but as of this moment that's the least of my problems.

Trumpeter T-54B Conversion to T-55A, Building Report


L/R running gear. The fenders widths have been reduced but more on these the next time.

Trumpeter T-54B Conversion to T-55A, Building Report
Trumpeter T-54B Conversion to T-55A, Building Report




Stage 2:


Using the Takom fuel tanks as a template, I cut down the track fenders. Bear in mind that you have to replace the outer strip on the edges after you do this. Another thing you have to double check before you cut, is that the (too wide) tracks do not protrude outside the fenders … that would be one virus too many for this patient.
Next I sliced the hull dead centre lengthwise. Gluing plastic sheet to the inside of the hull and using Takom's engine deck as a fixed template, I moved the hull into the correct width – checking with calipers constantly. The next day the gap was filled with strip (ca. 3.6mm) and gradually sanded flush.
The turret rear is being slowly built up, this has to be raised slightly off the hull roof - adding back some of the height. The exhaust has been moved back some 8mm and an angled plate has been fitted to the rear of the lower hull. The brake drums have been reduced – Takom's drive wheels and track hiding some of the 'wound'.
The T-55's typical horizontal weld on the lower glacis and the lip on the upper rear edge of the engine deck have also been added.


For comparison I'll leave you with a couple of pics of my efforts up against the loosely assembled Trumpeter model and it's Takom equivalent. I'll admit, in good health it is not.

Better get some antibiotics in before the next report 😉

Trumpeter T-54B Conversion to T-55A, Building Report
Trumpeter T-54B Conversion to T-55A, Building Report

Trumpeter T-54B Conversion to T-55A, Building Report
Trumpeter T-54B Conversion to T-55A, Building Report




Stage 3:


At last I've got all of Takom's spares fitted. I did'nt like the position of the exhaust so it had to be moved back a little more - taking care not to 'push' the rear tool boxes off the fender.
Adjusting the road wheels forward and upward I pinched another mil off the height. I've left off the mine plow and it's fittings, making it an early version. The T-55 also lacks the typical T-54 details such as the loaders 12.7mm AA machine gun and of course the turret roofs mushroom dome vent cover. The small T-55 ventilation slits can be seen on the lower turret rim at the 10 and 2 'o'-clock position. Notice that there is no 'thickening' of the glacis plate as on my T-54 build. The T-55's armour here was thinner here to make some extra room for the PAZ  protective suite.

Right then ... it's about time for a coat of primer to add some balsam to this eye-sore of a build.




Stage 4:


An air spray antidote in the form of black primer has extracted some of the venom out of the omnipresent and infectious T-55.


The left-over parts from both firms say it all … a TAK-TRUMP production.

Trumpeter T-54B Conversion to T-55A, Building Report

Figures up next … hope you're not allergic to rubber!!





Stage 5:


At last I can serve up the figures.

Go ahead and feast your eyes - but if they make you throw up ... don't blame me.

I told ya ... Next stop the quarantine zone!



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