login   |    register
Osprey Publishing [ MORE REVIEWS ] [ WEBSITE ] [ NEW STORIES ]

Book Review
Modelling the T-55 Main Battle Tank

by: Mark R. Smith [ GUNNY ]


7.25 X 9.75 Inches
80 pp
245 Color Illustrations
Publish Date-10 January 2006


I. Introduction
II. Tools and Materials
III. Czechoslovakian T-55 AM2B (Kladivo)
IV. Knocked Out Iraqi Type 69-II
V. Bosnian T-55/M-18 Hellcat Hybrid
VI. Gallery
VII. Further Reading and Research
VIII. Kit’s and Accessories Available
IX. Index and Colour Reference Chart


The Russian T-55, clearly one of the most heaviest used tanks to be produced during the“cold war” era, had it’s roots in the famous and equally formidable Russian T-34 and T-44 tanks. With a 30 years production run starting in the 1950's and ending in the 1980’s, experts estimate that a total of 50,000 of these well-built war machines were produced by Poland, China, and Czechoslovakia. There were many versions and variations of the T-55 tank produced, with modifications developed by both the original Russian manufacturers as well as it’s licensed producers throughout the world. A myriad of paint schemes and camouflage patterns makes the T-55 an excellent modeling subject, with its many interesting subject variations. The popularity of the tank can be explained very basically: simply designed and built, extreamly rugged and reliable, and a rock solid 100mm of gun muscle explains why there are still many T-55’s in use today. If you wish to learn even more about this workhorse of a tank, Osprey Publishing’s New Vanguard Series #102, “T-54 and T-55 Main Battle Tanks, 1944-2004”, written by Steven J. Zaloga, would be an excellent added companion book to go side by side with this modeling manual, as one will definitely compliment the other with needed information as you go along with re-creating this armor in miniature.

As with most of the Modelling Series line of books by Osprey, readers should notice that a basic “nuts and bolts” beginners build is not included in their pages, but modelers of all skill levels will find use for all of the projects, tip’s, and educational techniques that are found in these terrific volumes.


This volume is a combination of three talents in today’s modeling community, Nicola Cortese, Graeme Davidson, and Sam Dwyer. All three of these modelers have previously written other volumes for this Osprey series, Cortese with #9, “Modelling the IS Heavy Tank”, Davidson with #14, “Modelling the M113 Series”, and
Dwyer with #18, “Modelling the Marder SP Gun”, respectively. The combined talents of these three modelers is highlighted throughout the pages of this volume, as each one gives his own projects, tips and methods for producing the many versions, patterns, and color schemes of the T-55 in this collection.


If you are a regular reader of this series of modeling manuals, you will notice that this volume follows suit of each of it’s previous ones, with an informal yet informative introduction chapter, followed by a summary of the modelers favorite tools and materials needed for the books projects. Then straight into the “blood and guts” of the writing, which is the Build/Project chapters, and as before in the other volumes, these chapters begin with a detailed breakdown of each of the specific projects at hand, listing the subject, buildler/photographer, skill level, project base kit, model scale, additional detail sets used, and finally, decals and paints needed for each separate project. I think that this is truly a wonderful way to begin these project chapters, as the modeler gets a feel for the build before it even has begun, and can make preparations easily from the chart style format of these project overviews.

There are four separate and quite different build chapters in this volume, with four different variations of the T-55 tank, each subject unique in it’s own, with an additional two more variations shown in the “Gallery” chapter.

Not only does each of these build chapters contain excellent technique and method of construction for each of these variants, the history and informative quality of each subject depicted is superb, given completely in an easy to read, understand, and exciting manner of writing.

Now, scratch-builders will seriously enjoy this book, as each of these builds contains multiple mini scratch-building projects to achieve the final results, which I must say is amazing! Presented to the reader in full color photographs and excellent instructional text, soon the reader will be ready to tackle the advanced building techniques shown within. The artistry of these variants is top-notch, and the detail (which also covers
many tank interior projects!) makes this volume nearly priceless to the scratch-building modeler who wishes to build these variants, or incorporate the methods into a different build completely! As for instance, in the fourth build chapter, “Bosnian T-55/M-18 Hellcat Hybrid”, Nicola Cortese takes the modeler through a master build that includes such minute details such as super detailing a T-55 engine, using styrene rod for
ignition wires and engine fittings, and then proceeds to instruct how to finish, paint, and mount the engine inside a T-55 engine compartment for complete and total accuracy!…Awesome!

One of my favorites is the second project chapter, entitled the “Knocked-Out Iraqi Type 69-11, which depicts what happens at the wrong end of an Abrams gun barrel. Techniques include re-creating burned out tank wheels, battle damaged interior and exteriors, fire damaged paint, and even a tutorial of how to re-create imploded diesel fuel cells…pretty cool!

Moving on to the “Gallery” chapter in the manual, the authors now showcase 2 additional variants, “T-54-2 Syrian Army, c1970”, and the “T-55A Russian Army, Afghanistan”, each shown in detailed photo’s but only the basic project description is given for these two variants. As always, the reference chapters contain a
wealth of information for further reading and research of this workhorse, with model manufacturers, model accessories, magazines, shops and supplies all listed, each with their respectful website, and also a listing of general interest modeling websites.

The book closes with a two-page chart of kits and accessories available, which lists model scale, manufacturer, item number, name and type of each subject. All invaluable information that will help the modeler to find exactly what he’s looking for. And let’s not forget the all-too-important Osprey Colour Chart, which this time lists 9 separate color variations and explanations for finishing your work accurately.

in conclusion

From beginning to the end, this new addition to Osprey Publishing’s Modelling Series line does not disappoint; the scratch-building, finishing and painting techniques are shown in close up detail with superb color photography, and the text instruction is delivered in an informative and easy to grasp style. Even if the T-55 is not one of your main armor subject interests, the techniques covered within can be adapted and used on any armor subject to suit. On my first reading of the manual, I couldn’t put it down until I read and studied it from front to back (and then again!), so I’m going to give this manual a definite thumbs up, highly recommended from this modelers point of view.

Many thanks to Sheeba Madan of Osprey Publishing, New York, for providing me with an early pre-release copy.

In this review, we’ll get an early pre-release look at Osprey Publishing’s latest addition to it’s “Modelling Series”, #20, “Modelling the T-55 Main Battle Tank”.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:1
  Mfg. ID: 1841769002
  Suggested Retail: Mfg.Sug. $
  Related Link: Osprey Publishing Official Website
  PUBLISHED: Nov 06, 2005
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Mark R. Smith (Gunny)

I have been building models of all sorts all of my life, concentrating mainly on the coolest one's when I was younger, but now I focus directly on all military subjects, from armor to warships. After years of counting rivets, I put away the calipers, dial indicators, and micrometers and now just ha...

Copyright ©2021 text by Mark R. Smith [ GUNNY ]. All rights reserved.


What's Your Opinion?

Click image to enlarge
  • Pic016
  • Pic017
  • Pic019
  • Pic020
  • Pic021