ARM: Book Review - WWP T-54/T-55 Variants in Detail

Book Review: Wings and Wheels Publication Present Vehicle Line No. 7; T-54/55 Variants in Detail by Frantisek Koran and Frantisek Sykora; RAK, Prague,
December 2003; 192 pp.; price US $38-45 (ISBN 80-86416-325-6)
Advantages: beautifully shot and presented color photo layout of a large number of popular versions of this well-known and desirable tank family; details from the tank manuals very useful for modelers
Disadvantages: the authors are not as good in English as they would like to believe, and some rather interesting captions result
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: to all Soviet and T-54/T-55 fans and modelers
    This is a really decent series of books which originated as what the company termed "photo sniper" books, and the little lion mascot on the cover has now come to symbolize a really high quality product.
    This is a very well timed book, as it is released as the after-market boys really begin to spin up on the modification and supplemental kits for the excellent Tamiya T-55/T-55A kit. I get more questions personally on these tanks than any other subject except T-34s, so it is nice to point to a good reference for modelers to use.
    The book covers a lot of different vehicles extant in the Czech and Slovak Republics, and is broken down into sections.
    First up are 6 pages of T-54 and T-55 tanks in action, including the infamous invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Next the book provides 8 pages on confiscated Serbian T-54 and T-55 tanks, showing their rough condition as well as some of the add-on rubber armor added to try and deflect RPG fire.
    25 pages cover the basic T-54A tank – the production model from about 1956 that provided a single-axis stabilizer but was one of the first versions offered for license construction outside of the USSR. The tank is shown in full color inside and out, and as such will be a boon to anyone with an engine or interior kit for the Tamiya model.
    One page of a privately preserved T-54M tank is also shown. Of interest to me is the fact that the authors point out these tanks use a different design "drop" tank at the rear, which the authors state is a 300 liter design and not the standard Soviet 200 liter ("55 gallon drum") version. This is the same drum as provided in the Lion Roar etched brass kit I recently reviewed and thus is a hint to anyone wanting to do a late model Czech or Slovak vehicle.
    Pages 51-55 discuss the T-54K commander's model; alas, what they show is a Chinese Type 69-II tank (BZ-121C) captured in Iraq by the 1st Armored Division and on display in their garrison. Modelers must note this is NOT a Soviet tank and most of its features are unique to Chinese armor.
    The basic T-55 is shown on 32 pages and covered in great detail. This is where a large number of cleaned up drawings from the tank's operator's manual are included. This is followed by 19 pages on the T-55M in its Czech built version, not the Soviet one. It then follows that section with one of 12 pages on the T-55AM1 Czech upgrade and then 15 more on the T-55AM2 tank. This is followed by another stating it is on the T-55AM2 "Hammer" but is really the well-known T-55AM2B with the AT-10 through-the-bore guided missile capability.
    Finally, the book goes into some detail on individual components: wheels, the V-55 series engine (those who think all engines are black or grey need to see this section in particular!), T-54 and T-55 engine bays, T-55 transmissions, fans, radiators, air filters, ammunition, fuel tanks (the 200 and 300 liter ones) 8 pages on one of the mine plow sets, 4 pages on a Czech mine clearer, 4 pages on a Czech towed mine plow, and finishes up with 8 pages on the Czech Praga V-3S TPPA-M82 shop van for maintaining and repairing T-55 series tanks.
    Overall, this book probably has nearly 700 good, crisp color photos of the various T-54 and T-55 variants, and should be in the library of every modern Soviet and T-54/T-55 fan.
Cookie Sewell
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