Present Vehicle Line No.7 "T-54/55 Variants in detail"

Wings and Wheels Publications
RAK, P.O. Box 35 17006, Prague 7,
Czech Republic.

New Publications from these prolific publishers are always welcome. This one is especially and timely since the arrival of the new Tamiya kit of the T 55. It is also well timed for the Christmas stocking.

This new one in the Present Vehicle line No 7 Green series is the long awaited T54/55 tank and Variants in detail, ISBN no is 80-86416-35-6 the authors are Frantisek Koran and Frantisek Sykora. Price is not known as it is a review copy so check with your local book dealer or supplier.

It is printed in the now usual standard format on high quality paper and in landscape format it has crammed into its 190 pages, 919 full colour photographs, in very close up detail. To this is the added bonus of 59 superb quality black and white line drawings many taken from the original workshop manuals to enhance the final product.

A further bonus to the main subject the authors have included in the book the extra vehicles listed on the front cover as support accessories. These include the following sections ammunition stowed and in crates, drivers weatherproof hood, styles of rear fuel drums, mine plough and drawings of its fitting to the tank, mine clearance trailer, trench plough and trailer and lastly Praga V3 S TPPA M 82 field workshop with full details of fittings.

This a big book by any standard and it starts with the T54/55 in action pages 4- 9, then the Serbian T55 with added standoff rubber armour pages 10-17, T54A pages 18-43, T54B pages 44-49, T54M page 50, T54K pages 51-55, T55 pages 56- 87, T55M pages 88-106, T55AM1 pages 107, T54AM2 pages 120-135, T55AM2 pages 137-147, T54/55 hull construction and engine details pages 148 -159. Lastly the accessories take up the remainder of the pages 160 189. All the sections are colour coded at the edges of the pages for easy reference.

The text is in English and is kept to a minimum and is used mainly to emphasise the photographs or add to the all ready super details in the photographs that cannot be easily seen. It also has full specifications of the relevant tank as part of the write up.

It is up to the modeller or historian or even museum restorer to get the best out of this book, as each page is a gem of information and to those who like to pick the bones over T 55 models at model shows. Then they are going to have to re educate themselves and re evaluate all they thought they every knew about the T 54/55 series of tanks.

As you study the photographs in close detail, you sit back and think to yourself, just how did I miss that detail before. It is all there and when I say all I mean it, down to the tinniest individual colour of the fittings inside the tank, they are not all painted bland off white. You can even read the serial markings and proof dates on the breech of the gun.

I have under the fair review part of the copyright laws I have added an extra scan of one photograph from a page to show the level of detail. I have to say it has been a very hard decision to make; as each is as good as the next but in the end I settled on this one to illustrate the level of detail contained within the book. I hope it adds to your enjoyment and wets your appetite for the book.

Conclusions, the authors have compiled the information about each of the sub series of T54 /55 tanks in such away that you can see the progressive updates by just turning to the next section. The book as a whole reeks of fuel and paint and rubber and cold steel, it is so good that you can almost feel the steel under your hand as you turn the pages.

Each new section is a book in its own right and the authors are to be congratulated on bringing us such a wealth of information packed into one very large book.

It will be used by museums and historians as the standard reference book on the T54/55 series.

I know I will be using mine a great many times as I replace my T54/ 55 models with newer and more accurate models.

The authors have built this book up over many hard hours of work and it shows in the final product. It has to be the best ref book published on the market bar none on this a very complex subject of the T54/55 series of tanks. Personally I rate it as the book of the year for model makers and restorers. Rightly it deserves a place on the reference self of all serious model makers and especially those who are interested modern Russian tanks.

For our American readers who like marks out of ten,

I am awarding the book a full set off 10 out of 10 for each of the sections for quality of content, photographs, research, and originality and lastly a very good read. Highly recommended.

Many thanks to Franti for the advance review copy kindly given to me by Franti at Scale Model World 03.

Ian Sadler Review
2003 Nov (C)