by: Peter Ong [ ]
"In the 1960s-1980s, the Israeli army lacked Main Battle Tanks and often survived by converting and upgrading old and captured tanks into formidable fighting machines. The TIRAN 5 (designation for captured Soviet T-55s) is no exception. The I.D.F. added the following equipment in the conversion:
- The indigenously produced Israeli Military Industries M68 105mm gun
- A license-built L7A1 gun of British origin
- Large stowage boxes both on the turret rear and sides and on the rear of the hull to ease-up aerial recognition by I.D.F. Air Force
- Newly designed, partially rubber, front fenders
- Armor plates for the headlight arrangement
- Improved optics
- Additions to the crew's comfort inside the vehicle
- A new fire suppression system
- Jerry can holders
- A 60mm mortar mounted onto the turret for close-quarter defense against infantry and .30 and .50 caliber machine-guns
Conversion was not carried out as an urgent measure so not all details were present on each tank. The current status of the TIRAN is that they are either in storage or that the I.D.F. plans to sell them abroad. The T-55 [TIRAN 5] is not used in active service inside the I.D.F. anymore." (1)
This conversion kit is intended for Tamiyaís 1/35 T-55 kit.
The first ziploc bag contains over 48 resin pieces while the second has four small PE frets, brass wire rod and color instructions on glossy paper.
Legendís I.D.F. TIRAN 5 conversion kit doesnít look all too complex and it probably isnít but of course one wonít know until actual construction. For $20 USD, the kit offers several large pieces, about a dozen medium, and over a dozen small pieces. Best of all, the pieces seem aligned in such a way to make identification and cutting easier.
On inspection, most of the pieces rest on a pour block that calls for one straight cut with a razor saw or motor tool and I donít see any pieces held in a delicate fashion that calls for intricate cutting, scraping, and snipping to free the part from the pour block. Best of all, I donít see any resin residue or scrap to mar the smooth surface of the pieces (a trademark of the Legend kits I have). In the case of the TIRAN 5 kit, both sides (exposed and glued) of the pieces are smooth and flat, an indication that Legend is improving with each new resin kit.
The thin smooth walls of the turret basket and rear hull stowage bin are superbly cast with the wire frame ďbarsĒ being straight, consistent in diameter, and pretty much evenly spaced. The side stowage bin has a curve that allows it to rest against the T-55 hull but since I donít have a T-55 to test the fit of the contoured bins, all I can assume is that all bins fit according to the color photos in the instructions. The three hull fuel tanks also look superb and have a nice weight to them. The plumbing lines are cast on the tanks as well. Since I donít have a Tamiya T-55, I donít know if these are copies of the Tamiya fuel tanks or not; but original or reproduction, the pieces look stellar. Another nice design aspect is that cutting is done from the bottom of the fuel cells, meaning once glued onto the T-55 hull, no one will see the cuts. The 0.8mm brass wire is used to make the hoses connecting the fuel cells together. A resin 105mm gun comes with the kit and staring down the length of the barrel-Iím glad that the barrel is straight. The sectional rings are very prominent and sharp and thereís even a slight gap between the pour block and the bottom of the barrel so Iím hoping sliding a sharp knife into the gap can separate the barrel easily from its pour block. The breech end of the barrel has a groove to insert into the resin mantle for lock-placement but the pour blocks prevent me from test-fitting the pieces. The resin ďrubberĒ fenders look nice (and almost identical) too with evenly spaced rivet detailing and ridges. The bottoms have a pour bar but Iím not sure if this needs to be removed or if itís meant to act as a gluing surface. If the bar does need removal, I can foresee a huge challenge in gouging out the horizontal bar from a curved surface. The four water cans also look smooth and crisp. Take note of which side the bracket bar is facing before you glue them onto the T-55ís hull for the bar should face outwards. The dozens of tiny parts appear straight, erect, and undamaged which I find quite a feat considering some of the parts are exceptionally thin. I donít see any flash except where part support is required.
None of my pieces have air bubbles, ďpull damageĒ, inconsistent resin flow, or are marred by stuck-on scrap resin shavings, bits, and dust.
The Photo-Etch Frets:
Contained in its own bag, Legend includes PE for the .50 cal over the main gun, PE for the two FN MAGs and for both the resin pieces and the Tamiya hull. Grab handles are made from the 0.8mm brass rod included in the kit. This kit doesnít come with large sheets of PE but the PE pieces are minute and look razor-sharp. I highly recommend using a jig or a ruler to fold these tiny pieces.
Legend continues to improve their instructions. The instructions still are on a single side of paper but this time the instructions appear color laser printed on glossy paper. The result: better contrast, color, clarity, and resolution compared to the color photocopies of instructions found in Legendís previous kits. The focus and lighting of the photos look nice and informative and so do the camera angles. There arenít many ďwhite-on-white assembliesĒ and those white resin pieces that do call for mounting another white piece have arrows showing exactly where to mount the white piece on a white background. Still, I wish Legend could print on both sides of the paper and with this glossy paper I donít believe the colors will seep through.
Some Nit-Picks and the Conclusion:
I found my .50 cal barrel bent and Iím hoping some hot water can fix this problem. The entire barrel of a FN MAG was broken but fortunately I found the barrel intact inside the plastic bag so this is nothing a little super glue canít fix. This is probably not a problem but a warning:-the pour blocks for the turret and hull stowage bins attach to the rear of these bins and since the walls of the bins are thin, sawing may in fact damage the walls if one doesnít saw perfectly straight. Furthermore, sawing will leave ugly marks. However, the good news is that repairing the damage may be easy and just calls for plating over with sheet styrene or covering the marks with (not included) I.D.F. gear and accessories. For serious sawing damage to the bins, a modeler may choose to cover the entire bin with a tissue paper tarp. Other than these minor issues, I canít find any real nit-picks for this inbox review.
For $20 USD, this looks like an outstanding I.D.F. conversion kit and I highly recommend it for anyone who may find that the Tamiya Soviet T-55 looks too plain. The nit-picks are minor and by far not showstoppers. Legend continues to improve for one now gets color laser printed instructions on glossy paper, not to mention all bags are now enclosed in bubble paper (a ďfirstĒ and also a good idea). Due to the minute PE details, I recommend this conversion kit for the veteran to advanced modeler.
My special thanks to Chan Kie Lee of Legend Productions for the review sample.
(1) Background information quote: The Israeli T-55S "Samovar" Turret Conceptóby Jochen Vollert
Copyright ©2020 text by Peter Ong [ ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Historicus Forma or Silver Star Enterprises. All rights reserved.
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