ARM: Review - SDV Model 1/87 Scale VT-55A Recovery Tank

Kit Review: SDV Model 1/87 Scale Military Series Kit No. 87 042;
Vyprostovaci Tank VT-55A (VT-55A Recovery Tank); 97 parts (95 in olive
styrene, 1 in black styrene, 1 in clear orange styrene); price in Czech
Koruna Kr 270 or 11 Euros (price US $12.86 from SDV)
Advantages: only kit of this vehicle in any scale that I know of; very
nicely done and well detailed kit
Disadvantages: a large number of small and very busy parts to this kit
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: to all Warsaw Pact and Middle Eastern wargamers and
small-scale modelers
The Soviets did many things right militarily, but many other things
were based on expediency demands from the "Great Patriotic War"
(WWII) and one of those was a dedicated tank recovery and repair
vehicle. Many of their "recovery" vehicles were simply war weary
tank chassis minus their turrets and equipped with many sturdy tow
cables to pull broken-down or knocked-out tanks back to a collection
and repair point. This lasted until the early 1980s when they finally
fielded the BREhM-1, a T-72 based vehicle with a crane, spade and heavy
winch to recover and repair vehicles with a single vehicle system.
The Czechs were much brighter than that, and as such when they began
producing the T-55 tank they created a dedicated recovery and repair
vehicle based on that chassis. The vehicle, dubbed the VT-55A, was the
first handy system for use by Pact members and as such was sold to and
used by most of the Pact members, as well as other countries to include
Iraq. 1,820 of these vehicles were produced by the Czechs between 1969
and 1983.
The vehicle saw the turret replaced by a casemate for the crew of
three as well as the addition of a spade for using its 75,000 pound
pull winch, a 17,500 pound auxiliary winch, a crane with a lifting
capacity of 1,500 kilograms, a storage rack for spare parts and
equipment (normally complete engines or power packs) of 3,000 kilograms
over the engine deck, and a BTU-55 bulldozer blade for clearing a path
to a damaged vehicle.
SDV Model now offers this handy vehicle in 1/87 (HO) Scale, and it is
a dandy little kit with all of the bits - the only thing it doesn't
come with is a spare V-55 engine!
The kit uses SDV's modular construction for the kit - lower hull,
fenders and upper hull sides, and tracks with inner wheels being the
four main parts to the kit. To this are added the casemate, engine deck
with sides and braces, crane assembly, spade assembly, and the BTU
bulldozer blade assembly. Some parts are for the normal T-55 series
kits and are redundant, but most are useable on this vehicle in new
locations. Note that both Soviet-style and Czech-style engine access
hatches are provided, but this vehicle can only use the Czech one (part
15). A "whoopie light" (orange rotating beacon) is also included
for highway use.
If assembled with care the crane, bulldozer and spade may all be made
The directions are in Czech and German, and while photos of an actual
vehicle are provided due to several generations of xeroxing are hard to
make out.
No specific finishing directions are provided, but general color
callouts are given for the Czech light olive drab paint or Warsaw Pact
grey-green, and if other nations are used (e.g. Iraq) one has to
consider various shades of sand or sand-and-green paint. A generic
"Warsaw Pact" sheet with six number runs from 0-9 and specific
markings for Soviet (not used), Czech, Polish, East German, West
German, Finnish, Rumanian, Hungarian and one other country are
Overall, this is a good little kit and will serve wargamers and scale
modelers well.
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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