Iraqi Tank T-55 "Enigma"
Tamiya 1:35 Scale Kit No. 35324
Preview by Terry Ashley

During the initial gulf war (1991) Iraq modified a number of T-55, Type 59, and Type 69 tanks with appliqué armour on the turrets and hulls composed of several layers of spaced armour plates enclosed in steel boxes and were used by Iraqi Brigade commanders. It is not known how many were produced but a few were encountered by the Saudi and US Army and Marine units in the Battle of Khafji in Kuwait in January 1991.

Several “Enigmas” were destroyed with the coalition air power reducing much of Saddam Hussein’s prized armour to rusting hulks and one mostly intact captured tank eventually ending up at the Bovington Tank Museum in the UK where it currently resides and has been used for research on this new Tamiya kit.

The kit:
This new kit of the T-55 Enigma follows their first kit of the T-55A back in 2002 and utilizes a number of parts from that kit along with new parts for the appliqué armour and other updates including a new figure. There has been a number of resin/etched Enigma updates for the original T-55 kit from the likes of Accurate Armour, AEF Designs, Cromwell Models, Legend Productions and Verlinden Productions and one has to feel for Voyager Models who have just released a large resin and etched conversion designed for the original Tamiya kit. This new kit renders those mostly to history with some probably being released with reduced parts as update sets for this new Tamiya kit?

The kit consists of:
351 parts in light beige plastic
A set of full length vinyl track
A few poly caps and small sheet of mesh for the engine screens
Instruction sheet


Sprues A, B, C and D are from the original kit with a few minor modifications on the turret for example with sprues E and F being new for this kit and as a consequence there are quite a few parts not used from the original but as Tamiya don’t include a parts layout diagram with their instructions (the only major company that doesn’t) you can’t identify these until after assembly, not that it’s a big deal in the end.

Quality of mouldings is excellent with virtually no flash or pin marks on the parts and clean crisp details on the parts with just the usual sprue burs and mould seam lines to clean up.

The one piece lower hull tub has separate axles allowing you to reposition if required with the long standing Tamiya poly caps for the wheels, idler and drive sprockets allowing easy fitting of the wheels at any stage. The one piece vinyl track lacks a lot of detail by today’s standards and replacing these with aftermarket workable track for greater detail would be the choice of many modellers, those from either Friulmodel or ModelKasten would be the better choices IMHO.

The upper hull is also moulded in one large piece and has been altered to include the fender bracing and other attachment points for the appliqué armour as well as all the other hull details included with the kit such as the various light and position markers, fuel cells without fuel lines, various storage boxes and rear fuel drums again without fuel lines.

The enigma hull panels feature very subtle weld lines around the panel edges and these could be enhanced for a better visual appearance and also include the rear mounting bracket fillets.

The upper turret shell in one piece with large locating holes for the turret armour with separate turret hatches and a two piece 100mm gun with separate muzzle cap. While the fit of the two barrel halves is very good you still have the fine join seam to eliminate and again many would opt for an aftermarket metal barrel to improve the appearance and at last count there are 7 to choose from (see a quick comparison here).

The large turret appliqué armour panels including the large standoff panel on the rear turret are nicely done with more subtle weld seams with separate hinges for the main turret panels although these are a little basic offering scope for additional detailing. The large springs on the front left panel as separate parts and the hatches can be shown open or closed with a nicely done plastic 12.7mm DShK heavy machine gun and a new Commander figure wearing Iraqi tanker gear.

No decals are included in the kit as no unit markings were present on any of the captured tanks with just the one paint scheme of overall Sand again as all the captured tanks were so painted. Photos of the captured tanks show various graffiti added to the vehicles at various stages and maybe these are candidates for aftermarket decal makers?

This is another well produced and well-engineered kit from Tamiya with good quality clean mouldings that provides all the major additions required to build the aggressive looking Iraqi “Enigma” conversion.

The model should build into an impressive looking model without any hassles as is typical of Tamiya and also provides scope for additional detailing to produce an even better model.

The Sprues:

Click on thumbnails for larger view
Detail Images


Page created February 22, 2012

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