Home > Reviews > Russia > Rubicon Models Kit No. 280121 - T-55 & T-55A MBT

T-55 & T-55A MBT

Rubicon Models, 1/57 scale

Reviewed by Cookie Sewell



Stock Number and Description

Rubicon Models Kit No. 280121 - T-55 & T-55A MBT

Contents: 172 parts in grey styrene.
Scale: 1/57
Price: USD$35.00
Review Type: First Look
Advantages: Nicely laid out kit provides for a lot of options in building this tank either as a T-55 or as a T-55A; parts shared with T-54 series kits also included.
Disadvantages: Minor details missing or incorrect
Recommendation: Highly Recommended for all modern 28mm wargamers or any armor modeler wanting a new scale kit.


Wargaming  is not something which comes to mind when thinking of building armor kits for most armor modelers. Standard scales for those modelers have been 1/76, 1/72, 1/48, 1/35, 1/32 and now 1/16. But wargamers use odd scales which do not “come up on the radar” of regular armor modelers. Their scales run from 1/285 through 1/120 (15mm scale), 1/108, 1/87-1/90 (20mm), 1/72 (25mm) and 1/56 (28mm). The metric numbers are the values for a six foot man figure in that scale.

But while in previous days most of the models and figures were somewhat crude – they are being handled often and need to be sturdy to survive long hours  of gameplay – in recent years there have been some very considerable upgrades. And they now provide some very nice subjects – many AMPS members may recall the amazing “Warhammer 40,000” wargame tank built by Bob Collignon years ago that showed up at the AMPS International Show in a plaid paint scheme!


Rubicon Models is one of the companies which primarily addresses the popular 28mm wargaming scale with a goodly number of kits and figures both in injected styrene and resin. I recently became aware of this company via Steve Zaloga who purchased Rubicon’s amazing T-26 light tank. That kit provided parts in one box to build ANY T-26 variant from the twin-turreted Model 1931 through single turreted Models 1933, 1935, 1937, 1938 and 1939. He only was sad that only one hull came in that box!

I selected this one to see what their kits look like and for the most part they are the equal of most 1/48 and not a few 1/35 scale kits. While not as prolific in options as the T-26 kit, this one does offer all of the parts to build either a T-55 Model 1958 or a T-55A Model 1961 as well as provides a commander figure for both mid and later Cold War periods. It comes packed in a tab-locking box and with a nice book of directions.

Assembly starts with the tank commander figure. He comes in four parts of body, arms and head, but you have a choice between the WWII pattern “three bar” padded helmet or the later “four bar” pattern one.

The suspension is simplified with all of the road wheel arms and shock absorbers molded in one piece per side. Note that all of the road wheels – even though given different part numbers – are identical and the front wheels do not have the larger bearing hubs. The escape hatch is a separate section for the belly plate as well. Also the bow plate is separate and must be fitted to the hull. This comes with the plow mounts and fittings attached to it.

Steps 6a and 6b cover the fitting of the tracks. Rubicon picked the OMSh tracks for the model even though the box claims they are the RMSh type, but until rebuilt in the 1970s all of these tanks came with OMSh tracks so no harm, no foul. The kit emphasizes that the tracks are molded to accurately represent the fit to the respective sides of the tank so the directions need to be followed.

Steps 7 a to 7h cover the T-55 Model 1958 and indicate which holes must be opened in the upper hull and turret; Steps 8a to 8h cover the T-55A Model 1961. Most of the differences are slight changes in the stowage, the different turret shells and hatches, and the commander selected. Note that this model provides for an elevating gun even with the mantlet cover installed (Part B11) as it snaps intol place in either turret shell (either E11 or E12). Both versions also provide for the foul weather driver’s hood (parts B12/13) or its optional stowage on the turret rear.

The model is missing tow cables as well as the fuel lines needed on the right side fender of the hull, but does come with the early two-section snorkel fitted to the auxiliary fuel tanks.

Surprisingly NO painting directions are included or other than general finishing options! Two tanks in Protective Green #2 (postwar Soviet base scheme) are shown But it comes with an amazing decal sheet (marked as Cold War Era Markinsg Set 1) which offers two complete “number jungles” in two different fonts plus Arabic numbers and a huge number of national insignia as well as Soviet unit insignia. At least 20 different countries or marking variations are shown plus Guards and Soviet Naval Infantry unit insignias. Some of the white registration on my sheet was a hair off but for the most part these are nicely done.



In summary, this is a very neatly done model which excels at being as good as many 1/72 and 1/48 kit and approaches the levels of some 1/35 scale kits. This is a major shift from the old days where many wargaming models were more along the lines of “close enough for government work”!

Sprue Layout:

A             36           Turrets, hatches, hull plate sections, details

B             75           Wheels, tracks, hull details, turret details,

E              51           Hull, drivers, idlers, gun barrels, details, commander figure