The VT-55 (‘V’ stands for Vyprostovaci – Recovery) was produced in St. Martin, Slovakia between 1969 and 1983. 1820 vehicles were produced with the majority of the vehicles being exported to other Soviet Bloc countries, the Middle East and Africa. The VT-55 shares its running gear, tracks and engine with the regular T-55, however the upper hull is completely rebuilt: A 1.5 Tonne is crane fitted to the right hand side; a 25 Tonne main winch runs from a main engine power take off and a secondary winch runs off its own motor and has a tug capacity of 800 KG. A removable hamper is fitted above the engine decks and an anchor spade fitted to read of the vehicle to aid winching tasks. As with most Soviet Bloc AFVs, various tool boxes and stowage are located on the fenders and around the vehicle.
The VT-55 is still in service with the Czech Army and a number of other roles in various Warsaw pact countries. The Wings and Wheels
T-55 Detail Special book covers many of these, and if you want something different - a red or yellow VT-55 - is well worth a look: Amazon Link
The Legend Productions
conversion comes in a sturdy cardboard box; shrink wrapped and with a well reproduced photograph on the top. I find that a well presented model always looks better than a model wrapped in a jiffy bag and gives off a vibe that the manufacturer really cares about how their product is viewed by the consumer – I suppose this is very much a case of ‘judging a book by its cover’…
On opening the box the majority of the parts are wrapped inside two bubble wrap bundles – care needs to be taken when opening these and I would suggest cutting the cellophane tape first to avoid damaging the delicate resin parts inside, which are inside Ziploc bags. Further to the 2 resin bags, a third Ziploc bag contains the etched brass fret and a coil of rope and some rubber hose. Loose inside the box are 7 brass rods of various diameters. My only concern were a lack of replacement tracks – they are very visible on this vehicle and if using the supplied rubber band Tamiya
track may not be an option for you, this will add to your costs.
The first of the resin bags contain the larger resin parts including the engine deck; remodelled front glacis plate and the hamper floor. The parts were undamaged, well cast with no visible air bubbles. Initially I was a little concerned about the large casting blocks, but these taper to a thin connection with the resin part – so with a bit of care should be easily removable. I also noted that many of the casting blocks are located in areas that will be hidden once put together.
The second resin bag contains most of the 141 resin parts in the kit and has all the smaller parts including crane parts, lights and tools and bins. The casting on some of these smaller parts is sublime however I did note that the two long resin bars that are to be located on top of the crane were slightly warped – nothing that can’t be sorted with some boiling water. I’ve also read that other builders of this conversion have noted that the parts for the upper hamper body were warped – I didn’t notice any warping of these parts on my kit, however it may only become apparent on building. Some of the very small parts (the position indication lights for example) are moulded fully ‘into’ the casting blocks and care will need to be taken to get them off without damaging the small parts – limitations of the casting process.
The etched brass set is well numbered and laid out with minimal attachment points for the 163 parts. It will obviously be up to the builder to decide whether to use these ‘flat profiles’ where rod may be more appropriate – there’s plenty of brass rod in the box if needed! No surprises here.
The instructions are photographs of the completed model showing the build in progress with parts fitted in a sequenced process. The photographs are well reproduced and clear to see – I like these types of instruction but I will also be using on-line reference and the Wings and Wheels ‘T-55 in Detail, Special and Recovery Vehicles’ as reference for my future build. There are also a number of ‘plans’ where brass rod is to be bent to shape e.g. the brackets for the winch and crane hoists.
All in all a great, well produced and well presented conversion from one of the ‘mainstream’ resin manufacturers, which will put something different in your T-55 collection. Straight from the box, you’ll have a good looking VT-55; with a bit of extra work and reference you’ll have a fantastic VT-55! With careful cutting of the donor Tamiya
kit; and thorough clean-up of the resin parts this conversion should very much ‘fall together’. Sadly, you’ll only use the running gear, lower and upper hull from the Tamiya
donor kit – but you’ll fill the spares box with T-55 parts.
Full build featureHERE