The BTU-55 dozer blade can be added to T-54, T-55 and even to T-62 tanks that have the appropriate attachment points on the lower and upper glacis, and is used to move earth, clear snow or remove obstacles without having an extra, specialized vehicle in service for that sole purpose. Unfortunately it is very hard to Google photos of the BTU-55, so it is worth noting that some turretless engineer versions (such as the VT-55) have similar dozer blade (I am not saying identical, as I have no good photos of the BTU-55, but they seem to be the same to me but not in all cases).
has released its recent set of the BTU-55, so we have another option to further enhance the look of our T-54/55 (or-62).
The set arrives in the usual, small Legend
carton box, with all the resin parts bagged together without any additional protective wrapping. The fit is OK, the parts are not really pushed together, nor have too much space to rattle in their packaging so I had no damaged parts at all. Just to stay on the safe side, I removed the biggest one (the dozer blade itself), wrapped it in a napkin and placed into a separate ziplock bag.
The set contains 37 parts cast in grey resin, a tiny etched sheet, a brass rod, two pieces of wire and an instruction sheet in color. In general, the parts are extremely clean, with sharp details and no molding lines or any flash present. The price we pay (as usual with resin sets) is the added difficulty that we face when removing the parts from the casting blocks.
The main part here is the dozer blade, casted as a single piece with very fine details. The casting block is as wide as the part itself and is located on the back side, so in case we make small mistakes while removing it, these are still not really visible (especially with some aging/weathering). The casting block is forming a straight line with a thickness of approximately 1mm, but at some places it has some extensions to both sides in order to make the casting process more effective. With careful and clever cutting, and some sanding it can be cleaned up nicely. There are a few very tiny air bubbles on the back side which can be filled with putty with almost no effort, and my sample also had small imperfections on both the left and right side of the dozer blade – nothing that a bit of sanding could not solve though. Although the instructions do not mention it, two triangular parts should be removed from the attachment point of the height adjuster arm, however this would become obvious at a later stage as without doing so the arm cannot be glued in place. Since the shape of the dozer blade is curved, and said attachment point is located in the middle of it, it is not easy to drill out the holes needed here.
The height adjuster arm again needs careful removal as the casting block runs along one of its edges. Although the instructions sheet shows this only in a stowed position (which can be either to the left or right side), the arm is facing forward when in use. It slides on the surface of the ground and thus drives how deep the dozer blade might go. On some pictures we even see this removed. We can portray all four settings with the pins included in the set. There are three tiny holes to drill here which is not mentioned in the instructions. The slide is also movable as it is fixed with a pin.
The parts that are used for attaching the dozer blade have nice bolt details and should replace all the attachment points on the lower front glacis of the Tamiya T-55 set. I would suggest gluing these only after the dozer blade and the frame holding it is assembled, as dry fitting to these will make sure that the attachment points are aligned correctly.
The box that houses the electronics for the pneumatic cylinder is cast as one piece and has a series of bolts on it. Unfortunately it has a rather big casting block to be removed. I have noticed that on some vehicles the electricity cables’ other socket is located differently (maybe because T-55s were manufactured in several countries).
The dozer blade can be shown in a deployed position (i.e. placed on the ground) or in a locked position when it is fully pulled up and also fixed by two steel rods with small towing eyes (brass rod plus resin and PE parts). There is a useful drawing here
on the BRDM2 website that shows both.
The instruction sheet has quality photos but honestly I would have preferred 3D drawings as based on the pictures it is not easy to understand at first what should be drilled, removed, glued (or not glued) and which parts are movable. Of course with some logic and dry fitting it will go together nicely.
All in all I think this is a nice addition to our T-54/55 (or even -62) and presents a good weathering opportunity as well since the dozer blades are usually worn and dirty. An “earth mover” diorama would also look great. The quality is excellent, the construction is not complicated except for the clean-up of the parts but that is how resin kits work. As usual, do not forget to protect your respiratory system and eyes when cutting/sanding resin!