Building the IDF Tiran 4 early (Israeli-modified version of the Russian T-54 tank) from Hooben kit for R/C 1/16 scale
by Mario Covalski © Modeler Site
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The T-55 was the Russian tank that has been produced in greater quantity than any other tank after WWII. Keeping a low profile, it owns certain beauty, and still see service in several countries. It’s a tank very appreciated by modelers and was introduced in the market in 1/16 scale by Hooben, a Chinese manufacturer.
The Tiran-4 Early tank was a variant of the T-54/55 tank used by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) between 1967 and 1974. These tanks were captured during the Six-Day War in 1967 when Israel defeated several Arab countries and seized a significant amount of military equipment in the process.
After the capture of these tanks, the Israel Defense Forces made various modifications to tailor them to their needs and standards. These modifications included the installation of Israeli communication systems and technology. The Tiran-4 Early had the 100mm main gun, the one of the T-54. This armament provided it with a respectable capability for the time.
It's important to note that specific information about early Tiran 4 variants may be limited, as modifications and improvements often varied among captured tanks. Furthermore, over time, Israel continued to adapt and enhance these captured tanks to maintain their operational relevance
El kit de Hooben
Everything started in 2011 when I bought the first version of the Hooben T-55. Although I successfully assembled it, it left much to be desired, and that's where its bad reputation comes from. Years later, in 2019, I obtained the upgraded version of the kit at a fantastic price just above $200, so I bought two. One was assembled in the standard Russian version to replace the old Hooben in my fleet. For the second one, I chose the IDF Tiran 5 version, as seen in the following image.
Finally, I took advantage of the low price again, and during 2021, I bought one more, which will ultimately be the last Hooben T-55. I plan to repurpose the one from 2011 for another interesting variant. In the following image, you can see how the Hooben T-55 looked in 2011, with a paint job that was too dark and didn't correspond to the Russian green.
The aim of this tutorial is to share with the reader the modifications made on the 1/16 T-55 from the firm Hooben, to convert it into a T-54 first. then in a Tiran 4 of the IDF (Israeli defence forces) early. The model represents a Tiran 4 as it looked in the period between 1972 and 1974.
Besides to help the reader, especially to those who has never built a Hooben T-55, to solve the problems I had to deal with, alert them to several problems that appears after some use, like it happened to me with the one built in 2011 (the old kit version). As I said before, I built a regular T-55 of the Russian army and the IDF Tiran 5, but in the basic assembly steps, I’ll concentrate in the general points. So here you will see pictures of different models, about the same topic.
El Tiran 4
Israel was one of the countries that extensively repurposed military equipment obtained in combat. During the Six-Day and Yom Kippur Wars, Israel captured dozens of T-55 and T-54 tanks. This gave rise to numerous renamed versions such as Tiran 4 and 5, with each having sub-variants, making it quite complex to choose one based solely on photos. The most practical approach, at least for me, was to try to replicate a 1/35 scale model.
As a reference, I chose the Miniart kit "Tiran 4 Early Type" #37010. It's a fantastic kit that offers variations of the same tank.
I utilized the excellent information provided by Miniart, including 3D model images, which I printed and carefully studied along with photos and other references. There isn't much available on the internet about the early version, and if you search, you will mostly find Tiran 4 models from the later versions, which is similar to the Tiran 5 that Tamiya offered some years ago.
I digitized the views from the instruction manual and printed them in 1/16 scale using Adobe Illustrator. It's a simple process where you just measure a part, such as the length of the turret, and then scale it accordingly in the image to be printed.
Firstly, the conversion to T-54
At this point, the internal differences between the T-54/5 became irrelevant for me, as I was only concerned with the external modifications. I was able to identify differences in the hull and turret.
It's worth noting that there are parts of the Hooben T-55 that won't be used, such as the infrared reflector for night vision, other lights, etc.
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