ARM: Review - SDV 1/87 Scale T-54A

Kit Review: SDV Model 1/87 Scale Kit No. 87 020; Limitovana Serie -
Stredni Tank T-54A; 54 parts in olive green styrene; price about US
Advantages: most accurate kit of this vehicle in this scale so far;
options permit some modifications as needed; model has separate road
Disadvantages: molds are rough and the fender assembly is a mess
Rating: Recommended
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
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
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for availability and cost.)
Cookie Sewell
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