by: Keith Forsyth [ ]
IntroductionThe modelling fraternity have long wished for an true up to date and in scale model of the T-55, There had been others but there were always problems with the shape and scale, the ECSI one come straight to mind. Then Tamiya a few years ago stunned us all by releasing one a T-55A version which has been heralded by the modelling faithful as pretty much on the button. This in turn has allowed the aftermarket producers to have a field day by producing new resin update sets. This IS MIG productions conversion set allowing you to create and build a knocked out and burnt up T-55.
In the BoxThe kit comes in a card board box with full colour pictures showing a painted model with the kit parts on it as well as a model undergoing being built showing the location of the parts. On opening the box and removing the contents you are resented with 3 plastic zip lock bags and a set of colour instructions.
The first bag contains ten outer road wheels, the second bag also contains ten inner road wheels. The final bag contain the rest of the kit parts inc an engine, hatches, a barrel with out the fume extractor , a replacement spot light, four damaged fuel cells and a new mantel.Lets take a look at the main components in a little more detail.
The Road wheels You have enough road wheels in the kit to complete a full tank (yes i know it obvious to expect that but there are manufactures who produce kits with half of what you need, some of the M113/ M2A2 storage sets come to mind with only one side basket). the road wheels will need a good clean up as they have quite a lot of flash but they have all the detail on them and beautifully cast . The only slight down size is the fact that all the wheels are exactly the same, I would have hoped for a couple of bent and buckled to add a little variety to them. Its probably not that hard to do with a little heat and patience.
The EngineThe engine is an authorised copy of the Calibre 35 T-55 engine set and comes in 3 parts, it is the exactly the same as the Calibre 35 one but with some extra damage detail added into the moulding, it also includes a set of hatches and engine cover to fully show it in all its glory. It is also designed in such a way that it will be a straight fit into the Tamiya kit without the need for to much surgery (it may also fit other Manufactures T-55 models). The hatches and engine cover will also drop straight into the kit again with out to much work.
The barrel and mantelThe barrel is a straight replacement well cast with no air bubbles and with out the need to sand the seams. It come with out the fume extractor, and fit directly into the resin mantel. The mantel is cast so as to show it with out the usual cover (it is burnt up after all) and again shows no signs of air bubbles and looks like it will also fit straight into the kit with little clean up. Finally MIG have included a small spacer to help the barrel sit straight.
The fuel cells The Fuel cells are cast to show them expanded from heat, but not totally damaged, cast onto a small block that will need to be removed before fitting to the main kit, My only real concern is that they do not indicate were the fuel lines fit so a good set of references will be needed.
The instructionsI have for many years been a huge fan of MIGs instruction sheets as they usually come in colour, have real good clear pictures explaining where everything goes as well as a good painting guide showing how to get the best out of the kit. I'm a little sorry to say that this one whilst has clear pictures showing how the parts fit to the Tamiya kit, there are no painting instructions and in my eyes is a real let down. The model beautifully painted on the box front show what can be achieved if you have the skill and know how, I still feel that something should be there for those of a lesser skill level. On the plus side if you happen to have a copy of the Tamiya Modelling Magazine issue 113 has a full length article on painting this beast.
ConclusionThe kit is nicely cast, and the parts are there to build a burnt up T-55 using the Tamiya kit, but I still feel that it could have been so much more, and if I'm honest I do feel a little let down, with this set. I would have liked to see the full painting instructions in the kit (or at least available for download some where). Yes the set does add some thing to your T-55 and could quite easily be used to "Burn up" T-55's from what ever conflict you want, but in the end to fully utilise it you will need more than is in the box.