ARM: Review - SDV Model 1/87 Scale T-55AD "Drozd"

Kit Review: SDV Model 1/87 Scale Military Serie Kit No. 87 045; Stredni
Tank s Obrannym Systemem Drozd T-55AD (T-55AD Medium Tank with
"Drozd" Defensive System); 76 parts in olive green styrene; price
in Czech Koruna Kr 240 or 10 Euros (US $11.42 from SDV)
Advantages: first kit of this specific vehicle in styrene; accurate for
this particular vehicle
Disadvantages: many tiny parts to create an accurate replica
Rating: Recommended
Recommendation: for all small-scale Soviet/Warsaw Pact fans and
The Soviets were one of the first nations to field antitank guided
missiles on the battlefield, and fielded them in far greater numbers
than most of the NATO countries. But after the 1973 Arab-Israeli war
they suddenly realized they had created a two-edged sword (as had NATO,
which then began to work much harder on fielding viable ATGMs) and as a
result found themselves at a crossroads. Upgrading the armored
protection on the tanks was difficult, as the upper level the Soviets
wanted for most tanks was only 40 metric tons, and most other types of
temporary standoff protection such as mesh or plates was too fragile
for long-term combat.
The Soviets then went two different directions - "dynamic"
protection or reactive armor, and "active" protection, which
involved shooting down ATGMs or RPGs in flight. The result of the
latter was the creation of the "Drozd" (Thrush) Active Protection
System or APS, also known by its factory designator of 1030 M-01. The
first prototype was fielded in 1977, and eventually 250 sets were made
for T-55 and T-62 series tanks. (The directions, in Czech and German,
note that due to the complexity and the high cost - approximately US
$680,000 per tank - it was dropped as not cost effective.) The
Russians do offer newer versions for the T-72 and T-80, however, but no
sales appear to have been forthcoming.
The system consists of a power booster box on the back of the turret,
millimeter wave radar on the front of the turret, and eight 107mm
munitions mounted in four boxes on the sides of the turret, two
pointing dead ahead and two angle off axis at about 5 degrees. Each
contains two munitions.
The way the system works is generally via a tipoff from a laser
warning receiver that the tank is being targeted. When the radar set
identifies an incoming missile or projectile, it slews the turret
towards the projectile and when it is within the acquisition range it
fires one or two munitions. They fly out and detonate in the path of
the missile about 7-20 meters in front of the tank, usually shredding
the incoming missile in midair. The main drawback - you DON'T want
to be an infantryman moving in front of the tank when that happens!
SDV has now produced a kit of a Czech-built T-55A with the "Drozd"
system in place or as it was known by all of the Pact countries but
Poland, the T-55AD (the Polish tank has a bustle cast into its turret
and additional radio equipment, so is not related to "Drozd".
The model is formed from the basic components of their T-54/T-55/T-62
series, namely a hull pan, fenders and upper hull sides, tracks and
outer wheels, with a Czech-built engine and radiator deck and a
standard T-55A early model turret. To this are added the components of
"Drozd" but the builder must note that the overhead sketch of the
system in the directions does not correctly orient the muntions boxes.
Two are on the sides and parallel to the direction of aim as noted, but
the upper two are behind them and angled outboard at about 5 degrees,
as shown in the photos and directions proper. Also note that on the
actual vehicle the components are connected by cables in lightly
armored runs along the top sides of the turret.
The tank also comes with the Soviet designed laser rangefinder over
the main gun. While the directions show the DShK machine gun in place,
this is an early T-55A turret and has the flush hatch and no ring, so
it should be left off.
The kit comes with no basic finishing instructions other than basic
painting instructions for the Czech light olive drab scheme or the
Warsaw Pact grey-green colors. SDV includes their standard decal sheet
from MPD with six number runs from 0-9, and markings for Soviet, Czech,
Polish, East German, Finnish, Rumanian, West German (not used),
Hungarian and one other country. (I suspect Bulgaria but am not sure.)
Overall this is one of the more interesting tanks produced in the
1970s and 1980s by the Soviets, and one which should be a fun build for
small-scale modelers. Not sure how wargamers will react, as not sure
how many miniatures rules take APS into consideration!
Thanks to Jan Podubecky for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
Stevens International, 706 N. White Horse Pike, P.O. Box 126, Magnolia,
NY 08049;
phone (856) 435-1555 fax (856) 627- 6274; e-mail:;
Fidelis Models, PO Box 1021, Poway, CA 92074; e-mail;
Howard Hookham, 11 Belle Vue Terrace, Blackwood Hall, Luddendenfoot,
Halifax HX2 6HG, Yorkshire, Great Britain; e-mail
Direct from SDV at their e-store:
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The Czech Koruna converts to US dollars at a rate of Kr 21 = US $1.
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