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SDV 1/87 T-54B Medium Tank Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review December 2006 Manufacturer SDV
Subject T-54B Medium Tank Scale 1/87
Kit Number 87044 Primary Media 40 parts in olive green styrene
Pros Clean model of a T-54 that looks the part Cons Some tweaks and too common shared parts with a T-55 for total accuracy
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) Approx $11.42

First Look

The T-54 had a long and busy development, starting with an improved version of the wartime T-44 medium tank in 1946 and finally ended up with the modified T-54B models in use by various Warsaw Pact countries in the late 1980s.

The production version of the T-54 (Model 1951) underwent two major changes in its production life, once in 1956 when a bore evacuator and a single axis stabilizer were added to become the T-54A, and once in 1957 when the final production model from Soviet lines, the T-54B, was created with a two-axis stabilizer for the main gun. This tank was one of the first placed in production in Warsaw Pact factories in Poland; the T-54A was sold to China and entered production there as the Type 59 medium tank.

SDV's kit is another of their family of T-54/T-55/T-62 kits, most of which use the same parts, and while simplifying their production it does cause some confusion and misses on the other end. This tank has the hull of a rebuilt Polish-made T-54B which is great (adds the "starfish" wheels vice the "spider" wheels of the early models) but then has a T-55 Model 1958 turret instead of a proper T-54 series turret. The main difference is the flush loader's hatch, and while the directions show a DShK machine gun being added, there is no ring mount for it on the hatch; also it comes with the T-54 Model 1951's D-10T gun vice the proper D-10T2S with bore evacuator.

This is a shame, for the rest of the kit is very well done. It comes with the now-standard assembly mode used by SDV – hull pan, fenders and upper hull sides, and tracks with separate outer wheels forming the main assembly. The center upper hull, engine deck and radiator deck are next – here using a Soviet-style engine deck and the winterization capable Polish radiator deck. The turret is as noted clearly a T-55 type (albeit the box art shows the tank with an early model T-55A turret with the flat-topped radiation-shielded hatch) with an add-on ventilator.

Directions are in both Czech and German, but are not an impediment to finishing the model.

No painting and marking instructions are included other than basic painting instructions for the Czech light olive drab scheme or the Warsaw Pact grey-green colors. SDV includes their standard decal sheet from MPD with six number runs from 0-9, and markings for Soviet, Czech, Polish, East German, Finnish, Rumanian, West German (not used), Hungarian and one other country. (I suspect Bulgaria but am not sure.)

Overall this is a handy wargame model but the small-scale modeler will have a bit of work to "tweak" it into a normal T-54B.

Thanks to Jan Podubecky for the review sample.