Tamiya 1/35 T-55 ENIGMA



The Enigma was a modified  T-55 that was encountered on several occasions by Coalition forces during Operation Desert Storm. The modifications to the original Russian design consisted of hollow steel boxes that Iraqi Army engineers had welded and bolted to the tank’s turret and hull in an attempt to add more armoured protection to its most vulnerable areas. This was not entirely successful, however, as it seems all but three or four of the Enigmas encountered were quickly despatched.


A lot of extra details were added to the model. These included the Eduard P/E set designed for this kit, Aber’s turned aluminium gun barrel, as well as many scratch-built items.


One of the more elusive details peculiar to this vehicle was the locking mechanism for the hinged portion of the turret armour. I’m not sure that my attempt at replicating this is entirely accurate, but it’s the best I could manage with the available reference.


The kit’s moulded springs for the hinged armour section were replaced with new items made by coiling fine copper wire around a brass rod of the appropriate diameter. This took a few attempts, but the end result was worth the extra effort.


The rear of the turret received lots of extra bits. These were mainly modified kit parts with some scratch-built items. The rather crude weld seams where the rear bracket is attached to the back of the turret can be seen here. These were made by gluing stretched sprue along the joins using lots of liquid cement. While the plastic was still soft the texture was created using the point of a needle.


The same goes for the rear end but this time the additions were mainly P/E with a lot of scratch-built bits.


In this shot of the finished model the rough weld seams can be seen more clearly. Also visible are lots of small scratches and wear, which were added using very sharp colouring pencils. The Dushka and its mount also received quite a bit of extra detail.


Exhaust staining and more scratches.


Oil staining on the wheel hubs was achieved using a fairly heavy black/brown oil paint wash. I was also very happy with the rubber look of the tyres and the P/E mud flaps.


Visible in this shot are the lenses added to the commander’s hatch vision ports and the scratch-built latch hook on the gunner’s hatch lid.





  1. Kit weld seams on the appliqué were roughed up with the aid of a motor tool.
  2. All other weld seams were added or enhanced using liquid cement, stretched sprue and the point of a needle.
  3. Plumbing was added to the fender fuel cells.
  4. Replaced most molded-on handles with copper wire.
  5. Replaced molded plastic springs for front-hinged armour with coiled copper wire.
  6. Scratch-built the hinged armour’s locking mechanism using plastic rod and strip, brass wire and spare P/E bits.
  7. Replaced kit headlight cage with item made using .020 plastic rod.
  8. Added conduit and cabling to all electrical fittings.
  9. Opened main spotlight cover and added internal details.
  10. Added driver’s hatch external details.
  11. Replaced kit’s main gun barrel with item from Aber.
  12. Added securing bolts to front appliqué armour.
  13. Lots of extra detail added to rear end of vehicle using plastic sheet, plastic rod, brass tube and P/E.
  14. Kit tracks were replaced with WWII Productions Resin Track Set 35008. T-55 TRACK.


This entry was posted by Chris Wauchop.

5 thoughts on “Tamiya 1/35 T-55 ENIGMA

  1. Good god! What can one say but its amazing. I didn’t know you were into that fiddle diddle photo-etch stuff. I wonder where you got the info for the beast? The details are amazing. Yeah it looks real nice Chris…..I wish I had the time to do something like that.


    • Thanks Phil, and I don’t like P/E, but this was a commission build and all the after market stuff was provided by my client. I do enjoy scratch building the finer details though, and there was plenty of that to do on this one! Lots of reference on the net.


  2. Drooling, mad crazy hand skills! Paintwork is outstanding steel seams are to die for. You have some john Singer Sargent in you and a little bit of Andrew Wyeth paint skills, very masterful.


  3. Thank you Clint, you are far too kind. To be compared to these artists is extremely flattering indeed. My father’s painting technique was quite similar to John Singer Sargent and maybe a little bit of this influence rubbed off on me.


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