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SDV P-50 Lowboy Transporter

SDV 1/87 P-50 Lowboy Transporter Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review December 2006 Manufacturer SDV
Subject P-50 Lowboy Transporter Scale 1/87
Kit Number 87055 Primary Media 87 parts (64 parts in black styrene, 23 in grey plastic or olive green plastic)
Pros Popular world-wide lowboy carrier for many nations' armored vehicles; offered in both civilian and military options Cons Has to have a tractor which is a separate purchase
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) Approx $11.19

First Look

With all of the nastiness of the Cold War, during late 1990 and early 1991 it came as something of a shock to see former Czech military transporters carrying American and British armor out into the deserts of Saudi Arabia during preparations for Operation Desert Storm/Operation Granby. Many of the heavy haulers were the Tatra 813 heavy truck (8 x 8) towing the P-50 50 metric ton lowboy trailer. Happily, the Czechs sort of lied about its actual capacity, which is 63 metric tons – about one metric ton more than the weight of one of its most common loads, the US Army's M1A1 Abrams tank.

The P-50 is a typical European style lowboy deck-style transport trailer designed to be pulled "suicide style" behind a standard truck, rather than carried by a saddle type tractor-trailer combination. It uses five axle sets, each with two stub axles and a total of 20 heavy truck wheels underneath them to carry the weight of the load. The normal tractor in Czech service was the Tatra 813 mentioned above, also called the "Kolos" (Colossus) for its sheer towing power.

SDV's two kits are nicely done and come with all of the accessories normally associated with this type of carrier. There are two working fold-down ramps at the rear and two auxiliary ramps carried on the front of the deck. Also, the deck has five access portals in it which can either be left open or sealed with hatch covers. The only part which most modelers may want to replace with sections of brass or styrene rod are the axles, which come on the wheel sprues.

The kit is about two generations behind a lot of more modern kits, but is very well done and with care and cleanup will build into a nice model. With a Tatra 813 (also available from SDV) you can create a Desert Shield/Desert Storm transporter for an M1A1 Abrams or other US vehicle, or use it as the Czech tank transporter with any Warsaw Pact equipment.

The directions are rough Xeroxes but are more than suitable for building the kit, even though they are in either Czech or German. The only difference I could see was that it may be preferable to use a hot screwdriver/knife blade to permit the front axle set pinion to operate. Only a set of safety chevron stickers is included with the kit, but these types of vehicles rarely carried any other markings outside of a registration number/license plate at the rear.

Overall this is a very nicely done little kit and something completely out of the ordinary for both model railroaders and HO scale armor fans.

Thanks to Jan Podubecky for the review sample.