Friday, September 30, 2016

Egyptian Army T-54 modified tank/ 1973 "Yom Kippur War"


The T-54 has been a main battle tank in the Egyptian Army arsenal from the early 1960s into the first decade of the 21st century. Not early enough to participate in the "Suez conflict",  it's first "action" against the Israeli army was in the 1967 "Six Day War".  In that conflict,  the Egyptian army lost most of the equipment that was stationed at bases across the Sinai desert as the Israelis occupied the entire Sinai peninsula,  Tanks were either destroyed, disabled or abandoned by their crews, hundreds of this type fell into the hands of the Israeli forces.  The salvable ones, were refurbished and integrated into the Israeli Armored Corps appearing initially as the "Tiran-4 & 5" series of tanks.

Here's the Wikipedia excerpt:
  •  Egypt– 350 T-54s were ordered in 1960 from the Soviet Union and delivered between 1961 and 1966 (the vehicles were probably from Czechoslovakian production line). 150 T-55s were ordered in 1963 from the Soviet Union and delivered between 1964 and 1966. Egypt lost 820 vehicles in the Six Day War including 82 T-55s.  800 T-54s were ordered in 1967 from the Soviet Union and delivered between 1967 and 1972 (some of the vehicles were probably from Czechoslovakian and/or Poland production line). 550 T-55s were ordered in 1967 from the Soviet Union and delivered between 1969 and 1973. 50 T-54s were ordered in 1972 from the Soviet Union and delivered in 1973 (the vehicles were previously in Soviet service). 895 T-54s and T-55s were in service in early 2003 and 2004.  840 T-54s and T-55s were in storage in 2006.  260 Ramses IIs were in service in 2004 and 2006. 


This model is based on the really terrific Tamiya T-55 kit in 1/35th scale.  Of course to backdate a T-55 into an accurate T-54, there was some major conversion necessary.  I used a T-54 resin conversion kit from the "Tank Workshop" as a starting point and once I had a T-54,  I could add the Egyptian upgrade features unique to this tank in Egyptian service.   Here is the kit box:

And here is the resin conversion set I used for this project:

 The conversion involved some modifications to the turret with a large circular ventilator, the addition of a modified engine deck and an exhaust shroud.  These are provided with the conversion.  There are 10 sets of "Spider" road-wheels. They are very well detailed and these will "back-date" this tank to an earlier version, before the "starfish" pattern wheel became standard for all T-tanks.  Here are some in- process photos showing the initialT-54B conversion:  This photo shows the circular T-54 turret ventilator in position and I've removed the commanders rangefinder to prepare for the upgraded Iskra" Yugo-Egyptian laser range-finder.

Her is the new resin engine deck with the different engine access doors for the T-54.  I also replaced the engine deck, nylon mesh provided in the kit with a suitable brass screen material.

An actual T-54 tank has interlocking armor plates that form the front end of the glacis plate.  This welding technique was not incoporated in the design of the T-55 tank, so it needed to be added to this converted model.  These welds were replicated from .040 styrene half-round strips.  After it was all glued in position, I softened the strips with liquid cement and then by pressing down with the tip of a micro round file, I  replicated the texture of the weld seams.  Notice the small hole midway up the glacis plate and offset to the left of center.  This aperture is a feature of  T-54s and early T-55s to allow a 7.62 bow machine-gun to be forward fired by the driver.  A feature eventually eliminated in later versions of the T-55.

I cleaned up all the roadwheels of any excess casting material, roughend them on the exterior rim to replicate chunks of material broken loose from hard wear and positioned them on the lower hull.  The tracks are the Friulmodel metal replacements for the T-54/55/62 series.  These are a significant upgrade to the model and well worth the expense to replace the kit tracks with these.
I used exactly 81 links per side. They are "handed", so try to remember to insert your pins from the inside of the tracks.  A bonus is the extra links that are provided in each package.  If you do a few of these models, you can actually save enough extra links to do another entire model !!

Now we start to have some fun scratch-building parts...Here is the mounting arms for the AEG-Telefunken IR/White searchlight that is a modification of this upgraded T-54 tank.  I replicated these from styrene strip and the weld seams are made from epoxy putty.  The searchlight power cable runs across the top of the turret and that is made from soft, thin solder wire.  The small upright brackets along the cable are also styrene round stock cut to length and capped transversely with thin styrene strip.

Next came the Iskra" laser range-finder.  A signature feature of this Egyptian tank upgrade.  Here is a photo of the original tank and my replica.  The photos were taken on a captured tank in Israel.
and here my little copy....

Next step in the conversion is the rear turret rack.  Not difficult to build from styrene strips.

Here's my version

Now I attached my version of the AEG-Telefunken IR/White searchlight.  Here is a photo of the actual light equipped to a German Leopard-1 tank.

My German AEG/ Telefunken searchlight came from an inexpensive Revell 1/35 Leopard-1.  I can still build that tank model without  the searchlight if I choose....The base plate and connecting armature are scratched up from plastic sheet.

I wrapped my searchlight part with aluminum sheet (from a soda can).  This replicates the armored box that contains the light on an actual tank.  I ended up changing the rod that connects the gun mantlet attachment point to the searchlight armature.  After close inspection of reference photos, it appeared that it was actually a straight rod rather than "dog-legged".

I added more details to the hull, wiring conduits, the fuel tanks, fuel tank piping from thin solder wire and the storage boxes.

The Egyptian army installed water storage tanks on their T-54s that were positioned over the rear fenders on both sides.  These were an important feature to replicate and I made mine by studying photos of egyptian vehicles, then carving some scrap resin lying on the workbench.  These turned out very well (after a few trys...) and I also wrapped these with aluminum sheet from a soda can which helped to replicate the sheet metal lip that surrounds the side edges of the water tanks.


After all the little bits are glued in place I was very anxious to blend it all together with a coat of paint.  I chose Testors Modelmaster enamels. "British Gulf  Light Stone" as the basecolor.

Some detailing of hatch interior. Locking handles,  periscopes and grab-rails

Let's paint !  I went with a three tone scheme Light Stone, Italian Brown and a Green-Grey that I mixed myself.

Next came the Egyptian Army wartime markings...I wasn't able to do more than take an educated guess at the markings for this model.  Most photos from the "73 war" show tanks completely burned black with no markings visible.  So I painted a "generic" color scheme combined from multiple vehicles where the camouflage and unit markings were visible.  The white turret and fender stripes were applied to the first wave of tanks that breached the Israeli Bar-Lev line defenses.  Those tanks crossed the Suez canal on mobile Russian made pontoon barges. They were marked with large white horizontal ID stripes for visual identification of friendly (as in Egyptian) vehicles.  The Israelis were using the Tiran-4 (captured T-54s from the 1967 war with Egypt) at the time and so to avoid any friendly fire incidents, the markings were applied by the Egyptians.

Finally this project goes off the bench and into the display cabinet, moving aside for another work of modeling art to come to life.  

Thanks to every visitor for taking the time to check out this project, I hope you enjoyed it.  My next model is already on the bench.  I needed to get back into aircraft modeling after this one. I enjoy going from  replicating "buckets of dirt" all over my little armored vehicles, to the precision of a 1/32 jet aircraft.  Being able to mix it up, keeps my skills well rounded.


Yes, I will build commissioned scale models for select clients.  I can be reached by email:

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