SDV Model 1/87 Scale Kit No. 87
020; Limitovana Serie – Stredni Tank T-54A
by Cookie Sewell
54 parts in olive green styrene; price about US $13.50
Advantages: most accurate kit of this vehicle in this scale so far; options
permit some modifications as needed; model has separate road wheels
Disadvantages: molds are rough and the fender assembly is a mess
Recommendation: for all fans of the T-54 and T-55 series tanks
I was at the Great Scale Train Show in Timonium (Maryland) yesterday
when I chanced upon a vendor selling this kit. As I am a latent HO train
buff, I picked up the kit to see what it was like.
Apparently SDV is a Czech company who, like many smaller Eastern European
companies, has a marketing arrangement in the West with other companies
such as Modellbau Tom of Germany, who appears to offer some of their other
kits in the West. (Their Tatra 813 and 815 series trucks are probably
the best known.) This kit was directly imported from what I understand,
as it is not marketed by Modellbau Tom nor carried in the US by Walthers.
The kit shows that the company offers a number of versions, first and
foremost being either a standard T-54A medium tank and the second one
being a T-55 Model 1958 (no AA MG cupola.) The differences in the direction
indicate that there are two parts that change – the turret (part
9) and the engine deck (parts 26 or 27). The former comes with the AA
MG cupola for the 54 and without for the 55; the engine decks are either
rectangular (54) or trapezoidal (55) air cleaner access hatches.
This kit, however, seems to have been mispacked as it has a T-54A engine
deck and T-55A turret. Barring that, the kit actually is not a bad representation
of the T-54/55 series tanks, and has some nice things to say about it.
The lower hull has no toylike wheel holes or big name stamping (a la early
ROCO) and the tracks come with separate outer wheels so that a realistic
groove is created between the inner and outer wheel sets. The engine deck,
radiator grilles, and turret base are all separate parts, so if you really
feel in the mood it is easy to create an interior in the engine bay. All
fender kit is separate, to include fuel tanks, oil tank, and ZIP bins.
The exhaust has a separate flange fitting (part 18) that replicates the
"flapper" mount for underwater river crossing preparation.
Other than getting the wrong turret in this kit, however, it is totally
let down by the poor state of the molding for the upper hull/fenders (part
1). This shows that while nicely designed the mold is poor and has "chunked"
– parts of the facing have disintegrated, leaving large lumps of
plastic on the molding when pulled clear and making cleanup a royal pain
in the neck. I suggest if you pick up this kit be prepared for some work.
Also it is probably a good idea to clean up the bottom side, cement the
lower hull in place (which is lovely, coming with torsion bar wells and
hatch detailing) and then cut the upper hull free from its sprue before
cutting and filing away the lumps.
Overall, this is a nice kit of sorts and is far better than its competitors
– ROCO, Roskopf and Piro ones from 30 years ago or more –
and half the price of the resin CMK or white metal Trident ones.
(For further information, either see http://www.sdvmodel.cz
for availability and cost.)