Яusso-Soviэt Forum
Russian or Soviet vehicles/armor modeling forum.
Best post-war Soviet tanks kits (1/35)
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England - North, United Kingdom
Joined: February 20, 2007
KitMaker: 1,453 posts
Armorama: 1,319 posts
Posted: Thursday, September 11, 2008 - 11:17 PM UTC
I'm considering dipping my toes into the field of post-war Soviet armour.

Since this is a completely new area for me and one that I so far know little about, I'm looking for some pointers on:

(a) which specific kits (T-54, T-55, T-62, T-72) you Soviet armour guys would RECOMMEND in terms of accuracy and / or a nice smooth build and

(b) just as importantly, any particular kits that are complete dogs and should be AVOIDED like the plague.

Some time ago, I picked up an early '90s vintage Kirin T-72 "Lion Of Babylon" for a reasonable price on eBay (one of those unplanned spontaneous buys that we all can't resist from time to time), but it's still in the stash untouched and I'm not really sure as to whether it has any major accuracy issues that need addressing.

Specifically, I'm thinking of building something in use by an Arab or African army - just in case that has any bearing on any recommendations (or caveats) coming my way.

Thanks in advance,

- Steve
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Dublin, Ireland
Joined: November 11, 2004
KitMaker: 388 posts
Armorama: 113 posts
Posted: Thursday, September 11, 2008 - 11:42 PM UTC
I remember building a Trumpeter T-54 or T-55 a few years ago. It seemed to go alright but I some problems fitting everything to the turret. The major downside was twisted and uncooperative vinyl belt tracks.
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Wales, United Kingdom
Joined: July 20, 2004
KitMaker: 3,791 posts
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Posted: Thursday, September 11, 2008 - 11:59 PM UTC
Either Tamiya's T-55 or one of the Dragon T-34-85s will do fine for most parts of Africa.

The Kirin kit is based on the Dragon T-72 which is from the days before we were allowed to gaze on Russian tanks at close range and is early Dragon with their engineering quirks to boot.

As has been mentioned here several times, don't buy the Skif T-55.

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North Carolina, United States
Joined: February 06, 2006
KitMaker: 1,544 posts
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Posted: Friday, September 12, 2008 - 01:53 AM UTC
You really couldn't go wrong with the Tamiya T55; its a great kit OOTB and can be turned into a T54 with little work. I would avoid the Trumpeter T55s - the used a relly strange formula in their styrene that won't bond glue and the hull is designed for motorization (toys)

DO run away from the SkiF kits - they are horrible.

You could also think about US armor in Africa - something like a Somali M47??

Joined: December 18, 2001
KitMaker: 12,596 posts
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Posted: Friday, September 12, 2008 - 02:14 AM UTC
As stated, the Tamiya T-55 is tops, avoid any Trumpeter T-55 Soviet style tank derivitive.

Tamiya also does a pretty nice T-72, light years ahead of the Dragon/Kirin/Zvezda T-72 or T-80 kits. It has some accuracy issues that the expert can point out, but I built one out-of-box and it was a nice kit to assemble.

Skif kits are rather clunky, but apparently fairly accurate. If you want a T-64 variant, it is your only choice. If you want a T-80 variant, it is your best choice.

Trumpeter did do a JS-3M Stalin tank that built into a Middle Eastern version. I've heard it was a good kit. Tamiya did a JS-3 as well and it is a very nice kit.

As far as a T-62, Tamiya's is the only game in town (but not a good kit), although there is supposed to be a new kit (by Trumpeter?) due out any day now.
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Lisboa, Portugal
Joined: March 04, 2008
KitMaker: 5,386 posts
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Posted: Friday, September 12, 2008 - 06:46 AM UTC
I agree, T-55 from Tamyia might be the best choice.
I liked a Trumpeter T-54, perhaps not the best, SKIF now has one with a resin turret, not sure if it's good.
PT-76 from Trumpeter, JS-2 from Tamyia and Dragon.
Zvezda kits aren't bad but get some AM tracks

Avoid SKIF's T-55, Eastern Express.
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Washington, United States
Joined: September 20, 2007
KitMaker: 861 posts
Armorama: 394 posts
Posted: Saturday, September 13, 2008 - 05:22 PM UTC
If you just want to get your feet wet, then either of the aforementioned Tamiya kits (JS-3 or T-55) would do nicely. The JS-3 is a bit of an easier build IMHO, but either kit would be a excellent one for starters.

Of course, just building one of those T-55s is going to make you want to build more. Not that that's a bad thing, mind you.

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England - North, United Kingdom
Joined: February 20, 2007
KitMaker: 1,453 posts
Armorama: 1,319 posts
Posted: Saturday, September 13, 2008 - 09:18 PM UTC
Thanks for the feedback thus far, chaps.

On the basis of the above I've had a trawl round the Web. Narely a bad thing seems to be said about Tamiya's T-55 (only praise), so I think I'll have to try and lay my hands on one.

Does it come with single-link tracks, or Tamiya's usual vinyl offerings?

- Steve
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Overijssel, Netherlands
Joined: March 25, 2006
KitMaker: 1,244 posts
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Posted: Saturday, September 13, 2008 - 09:27 PM UTC
I'd go with the Tamiya T-55 or Dragon T-34/85 as well.
Have a look at corbis.com, a photo/ press site. It has lots of pics of tanks in Africa.
Joined: December 18, 2001
KitMaker: 12,596 posts
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Posted: Sunday, September 14, 2008 - 03:14 AM UTC
Tamiya's T-55 has vinyl tracks.
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Vermont, United States
Joined: July 21, 2002
KitMaker: 3,569 posts
Armorama: 2,070 posts
Posted: Sunday, September 14, 2008 - 04:26 AM UTC
There is a lot of older DML stuff out there, some reboxed by Italeri (??) and Zvezda that is still the only game in town.
BMP 1-2, BTR 70 &80, BRDM 2, w SAM and AT4/5 missiles, two version of the ZSU 23/4
The BMP's have some rear hull dieck issues and the hatch hinges are horrid, but fixable. The BTR and BRDM's as well.
Their tank kits are like another poster said, from before the days where we got to look closely at Soviet armor and have issues.. T72's and T80s. They build up ok They have link and length tracks, but overall are not 'right'
DML also did many version of Soviets in Afghanistan era figures, but are not up to their current Generation 2 technology.

Trumpeter does a SAM6 which is like the newer released PT76 kits , nicer than their inital efforts at T55 and foreign user issues. They also do 2 Maz transporter trucks.
Supposedly they are getting ready to do a BMP3 (2 versions) and at least 2 T62's but they are not out yet.
Their 1/35th Mi24 is a HUGE kit, but loads of fun. I have not started the Hip yet.

Tamiya's T72 is a rather odd version and does not build up as a truly accurate model of some of the options, but is a modern era Tamiya quality kit. A quick search here or Missing Links will tell you exactly which version you can build without rebuilding the engine deck.
Their T55 is a great kit and the conversion potential is almost limitless, but again needs some tweeking here and there.
The T62 is ancient and the dimensions are way off.

Skif's stuf is awful, but if you want an MTLB or T64 it is the only way to go.
They do BMD's, a D30 howitzer, and several T80's as well.

ICM did a couple of figure sets, but they are not great either.

Eastern Express does several BMD variants that are generally better than the Skif stuff, but still not Tamiya quality.

A company or two do resin stuff Panzershop, Armo, but you pay resin prices for them
MTLB's Dana, and others.

Tank figures from Russia makes the best most modern Russian figures, but you pay resin prices for them as well.

Lots of folks do resin conversions, but google here and Missing Links before sinking $$$. Some have terrible reputations for accuract, completeness and customer service.
That said, Blast does really nice T55 stuff.

Not all of that stuff is applicable to the Southern part of Africa, but more info cant hurt.

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Washington, United States
Joined: September 20, 2007
KitMaker: 861 posts
Armorama: 394 posts
Posted: Sunday, September 14, 2008 - 09:08 AM UTC

As Sabot pointed out, the Tamiya T-55 has vinyl tracks. They work, but you'll more than likely have to glue them to replicate the proper track sag. You have a few options to replace them if you don't like the look. Friuls are one choice, of course, and you can't beat the heft of real metal. But I really like Modelkasten set (SK-59) for this kit. They're very well molded, relatively easy to assemble and they look great.

Just my two shekels. Good luck with the project.

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Arizona, United States
Joined: February 25, 2007
KitMaker: 1,066 posts
Armorama: 789 posts
Posted: Sunday, September 14, 2008 - 09:32 AM UTC
I have to agree, Tamiya's T-55 is the best armor kit I've ever built. Before I bought it, I put together several Trumpeters: a T-54. a T-55, and a couple of Tirans. I'm glad I did. They were good practice, and very inexpensive. But of course, you get what you pay for.
Photos of African military vehicles are not very common, unfortunately. And the ones I've seen are very short of markings. It's really too bad.
Anyway, here's something that I hope will help. Try the New Zimbabwe.com forum, if Zimbabwean military vehicles are of any interest to you. It's http://newzim.proboards86.com/index.cgi?board=general&action=display&thread=61664&page=5
There are some pics of Cascavels and some other stuff. Flip around the pages a bit, there's a T-55 or a Type 59 with ERA in there somewhere too.