by: Damon [ ]
Originally published on:
The Tiran 5 (IDF improved T55) has been in service with the IDF since initial capture during the 1967 war. Faced with shortages the reworked T54's and T55, designated Tiran 4 and Tiran 5 respectively were put into service with IDF forces to bolster the lack of equipment flowing from the western nations. Tiran 4/5's have seen action during the war of Attrition and during the 1973 campaign.
While other companies have produced the Tiran 5 and its other designation the Ti67, not very many have taken the time to do it right. The resin manufacturers have given us many updates and modifications for previous kits but Tamiya has now given us a comprehensive injection molded kit in Tamiya's glorious tan plastic. While this may not be the definitive Tiran 5 for all time I think that this is one of the great Tamiya kits that raises the bar while allowing ease of build.
I received this kit from the Kitmaker staff on July 18 and while it has taken ME a month to get this together and finished, this is a project that could be accomplished over a long weekend with a dedicated builder. What I love about Tamiya kits, and this one is no exception, is the easy to follow instructions and the ease of build. Even an idiot like me can make this look good.
The artwork on the box is both colourful and enticing, in fact as soon as I saw the box art for this I knew I wanted to build this kit. The box comes full of Tamiya's well known tan plastic. There are 6 sprue trees, a nylon mesh "screen" (to be cut), a nylon sting (to be cut for the tow cable), vinyl tracks, polycaps, and a set of decals for one units markings. What seems to be missing is any PE and transparent or clear parts of any kind. The instructions are standard black and white and easy to follow.
Step 1 Construction of the road wheels.
For the idler wheel the outer cap should be attached to the outside wheel then the poly cap added to the inner wheels and the two halves mated. Notches in each half prevent the misalignment of these parts, fit is very good to excellent.
Step 2, attachment of the suspension.
There are two holes that need to be drilled through on part D12 that are NOT visible from the rear as usual. These need to be drilled from the front where the pilot lines are barely visible. A good flat surface should be used to help the alignment of the road wheels and suspension. My advice is to use a long curing glue, as opposed to a quick cure like Ambroid pro-weld. Road wheels should be dry attached during this process to help alignment issues. Part J40 is VERY tiny and easily lost (trust me). I lost one and then had to putty over the hole only to find the part 3 days later. Be careful.
Step 3. Rear hull attachments.
Straight forward no issues. I did find that during the attachment of part D12 in step one this needed to be set in place well PRIOR to gluing. I had to sand the top portion of my a bit when mating the upper and lower hull piece in order to get a good seam.
Step 4. Attachment of the upper hull brackets.
Again no issues here everything is pre positioned with guides and holes, so fit is very good and easy.
Step 5. Headlights and guard.
The IR headlights are marked J19 and J20, with J19 being the IR headlight (the one that sits closest to center hull). However, with the headlight guard in place you cannot see these except from the rear, so the point is moot. If you decided to display the headlight guard in the open position, then you can put these in the correct order and properly paint them, I decided to leave it in the closed position.
Step 6. Attaching the upper hull to the lower hull. This is straight forward but when I did it I went from front to back and glued as I went to avoid any fit issues. There was a slight issue at the rear but some extra glue and pressure and the gap disappeared. The gaps that remain are at the front and rear running gear attachment areas. I went ahead and added all of my upper hull detail first before gluing the two halves as I wanted to make sure that all of my small parts could be glued from behind/underneath to avoid glue bombs.
Step 7. Assembly of the driver’s hatch and storage box.
This is an unnecessary step on its own, but there you go. I lost one of the kit supplied grab handles for the drivers hatch and had to fashion one from brass rod to compensate.
Step 8 &9. Are the attachment of the upper hull detail items.
All of these are again clearly marked and with guides and such to eliminate fit issues. I decided to leave off the jerry cans and fire extinguishers until later so that there would not be paint issues and breakage of the small details.
Step 10. Cutting mesh for the engine grille and the rear hull stowage box.
Hull stowage box was super easy to put together with the guides that Tamiya has in place. The sides fit really well and only a little glue is needed to hold it all together. However, I was disappointed that Tamiya is still using the nylon mesh as it just sucks. You need a surgical scalpel to cut it out and not have any issues with pulling and tearing. I am surprised that Tamiya did not include PE screens at least for this, would have been easy and a HUGE improvement. The string tow cables bother me as well, but that is later.
Step 11. Attaching the engine grills and such.
Again fit is about as good as you can imagine without the thing gluing itself in place.
Step 12, is the rest of the upper hull items and the rear hull stowage box.
And the infantry phone too. Fit is superb and detail on these items really nice too.
Step 13 & 14, tow cables. Again, why not find something better than string? String looks good when it’s in place as it has the sag to it, but real tow cables don’t have too much sag. Real wire would have been MUCH better and easier to paint and use. In a kit of this quality and price I would hope for PE grilles and wire tow cables at the least, I don’t think I am being unreasonable. To make my tow cables look “more realistic” (?) I soaked the string in a solution of white glue and water to get it stiff (please hold the laughter until the end). Once dry I then took some Tamiya metallic grey and added 50% water to it in a small container (like a film can), added the string and shook vigorously for 60 seconds. Let this stand in the container for a minute then remove and let dry. Once I added the ends on I set them in place, glued the string down with some white glue and then added my three layers of rust. Basic old rust which is more reddish brown and slightly metallic, the more metallic rust copper and finally a bright copperish orangy rust thinned with water to look for powdery.
Step 15. Turret construction and assembly.
This involves putting in (or not depending on your preference for hatches open or closed and interior vs. no interior) the figure “stands” as well as the gun mount, that allows it to raise and or lower, which I found becomes a moot point in a few minutes. Here Tamiya has gone away from the old screw and nut fitting for the main gun and opted for two sides that work with the poly cap. Again this all becomes inoperable in a few steps so don’t fret about the glue getting on or into things. The figure stands have the notch so hard to mess these up, although if you are going to have the hatches open you might want to add an interior. I did not want to.
Step 16. Main gun assembly and attachment.
Standard main gun with two plastic halves, which in this day and age I would think could be done much better for about the same price. What disappointed me more was that the main gun halves do not have any guides to help line things up, you have to do it “blind” so to speak. I found that lining up one end and gluing that, then working my way towards the end lining the seams and gluing was the easiest and most effective way for me. Tedious but it got the job done and looks good too.
Step 17 assembly of the commander’s hatch and antenna mounts.
Ok here is where I ran into some frustration. Parts L6 and L8 do not have a good bond when mated and need some extra attention. There was no guide to help line things up say for one small nipple that juts from L8. But L6 is small in diameter than the inside of L8 so the two do not easily mate up. You need to pull the edge of L6 to the inside edge of L8 in order to create a semi strong and permanent bond. Antenna mounts are good and fit well, although I would have liked to see Tamiya have the holes drilled out ready to receive a homemade antenna. This is geared toward the older modeller so why not engage them when you have a captive audience.
Step 18 beings the turrets details (this goes on for a while, so go grab a beer we’ll still be here when you get back). Most of these are easy and straight forward, although there are some really fiddly bits that are difficult to sand down.
Step 19, yup, more turret details.
Some of the turret items I have chosen to leave off until later as painting them on the model will be difficult and probably look terrible. So things like the extinguishers and antennas will be left off until later.
Step 20 adds the storage baskets and such.
Parts H3, H4, H8, H9 are all a bit fiddly to get on and care should be taken here to make sure things line up. There are really small raised guides but they are small and fine, so be warned. When you attaché H18 you are going to need to drill some hole so make sure everything is on the basket well and that you are not going to break something off during the attachment. One note the turret rear stowage basket had a few ejector pin marks that are easily sanded down. And honestly, if you are putting some stowage on this you will not likely notice.
Step 21 adds the grenade launcher and a few other turret items.
J14 is the launcher and I would the part to be weak in the area between the mounting bracket and the tube, mine started to bend, I still don’t know how, and almost came apart. Managed to get it glued in place and then added glue to re-strengthen the part. Seems to be holding well.
Step 22 attaches the storage baskets and boxes to the turret.
Again holes need to be drilled and care should be taken. I needed to widen my holes a bit to make things all fir right but no issues overall.
Step 23 attaches the IR searchlight,
This is the point at which your main gun will no longer elevate. (cue sad trombone sound ; Whaa, whaa whaaaaa. )
Steps 24 & 25 is the construction and attachment of the crew serve weapons.
I decided to assemble them, but not mount until after paint to avoid breakage.
Step 26, brings it all together.
Only thing left is the decals. While there are only markings for 1 vehicle, they are pretty comprehensive with decals provided for the extinguishers as well, not that I think you would ever see them. . . . During my decal application I found that the gun tube decals are oversized and either needs to be cut (not me) or need some careful fitting to help hide the overlap. My careful fitting was not quite enough and even with copious amounts of micro sol applied there were still some parts lifting on the gun tube. Having it to do over I would opt for masking and painting the tube markings. Other than that the decals were awesome.
To replicate the track “sag” I glued the track on to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th road wheels. While this may not be “perfect” it looks more “realistic” than the track levitating above the wheels. I also opted to leave off the jerry cans, extinguishers and crew serve weapons until the base coat was on, to facilitate ease of painting. I am not confident in my ability to paint “on the job” as it were. I also drilled out the antenna mounts with a VERY FINE drill bit and will be adding some stretched sprue or very fine brass rod for the antenna.
Simple right? Pretty much yes. Very quick and simple build that turns out a very nice product. I am sure that there are at least a few PE sets that will or are coming out for this kit soon if not immediately. There are some points that I wish that Tamiya had not taken the easy out on. The curious thing I found was that Tamiya gives paint callouts on almost every step of the instructions, except for the overall colour of the vehicle. I was puzzled by this until I noticed that the main color is called out on the box a 1:1 mix of XF49 and XF 66. I plan on using this to see how it looks.
Realistically this kit could be assembled in a day if you were determined and you had the mind set to do so, without the sacrifice of a nice end product. The nice part about this kit is the lack of mould lines, seams and sprue tree “burrs” that always take too long to remove, (not to mention sink holes and pin marks!). Most of the parts are easily identifiable and there is usually some “guide” to aid in placement on the vehicle. The quality of the casting and plastic is Tamiya’s usual high standard. What I was disappointed about was the gun tube, this either should have been one solid piece or a metal barrel. The famous (infamous) Tamiya rubber band tracks are a bit of a let down too. It would be great to see Tamiya do a set of modern track link to link style. I would also love to see them switch from the nylon mesh to a PE mesh for the engine deck. But I am sure the aftermarket boys are already at work solving this “problem” for us.
I really enjoyed the opportunity to build this kit. Being a fan of IDF armor for many years I am grateful that so many kit makers are finally jumping on the IDF subjects and it is not just left to the resin producers. I am hopeful that Tamiya will continue to produce more modern and more IDF subjects in the years to come. Kudos to Tamiya for taking a chance to produce this kit and for doing it so well.