December 9, 2015 4 Comments
The T-72 that a made a couple of years ago is still the most popular MOC I have made; at least in terms of internet analytics. This year, I committed to making another tank, so I figured keeping in line with old Soviet armor would be rather apropos.
The T-54/T-55 line of tanks have been produced in greater numbers than any other tank. The MOC represented here is a T-55A, representing types that were assembled starting in 1970. This series included an updated NBC and antiradiation system, an upgraded engine, and also added back in the 12.7mm anti-aircraft DShK on the loader’s hatch that was part of the original T-54 spec.
As with most of my MOCs, I starting scaling the tank before any building took place. I knew I wanted to use the newer, larger track links, and I knew I wanted to use the old mid-sized wheels. This set my scale, so I got to work. Starting with the chassis and the hull I worked first on the driveline and suspension. I used simple 2×4 liftarms to connect the road wheels to a suspension axle which activated a shock absorber inside the hull. Each road wheel has its own shock absorber. Fitting them all in took some creativity, but they are all mounted inside on the left and right sides of the hull. In the end, each wheel has about 3 studs of vertical travel.
In between each suspension bank are the remaining mechanics. After the suspension was set, I worked on the turret functions. Right from the beginning, I knew the tank would have a rotating turret and an elevating gun. It was clear having the elevation mechanics for the gun in the turret would be tight, so I decided instead to have the functions placed in the hull rather than in the turret. Using a vertically mounted mLA, connected directly to the breach of the gun, I was able to develop a method that would elevate the gun throughout the full turret rotation. The turret rotation was driven by a 8z gear connected to the turntable, and reduced by a worm gear. Both motors for the elevation and rotation are placed directly in front of the turret.
Behind the turret are two PF L motors mounted transversely side by side. They drive a 1:1 gearbox which connect directly to each rear drive sprocket. The IR receivers are placed above the gearbox. For those keeping score at home, the internals are (f to r) the battery box, the turret motors, the turret mechanics, the drive motors, and finally the IR receivers.
Working on the exterior of the MOC is what took the most time. The hull came together pretty quickly, with the exception of the details over each track. Most of the finishing time came with the turret exterior. Most Soviet tanks have the distinctive mushroom turret, which considering LEGO’s cube orientation presented some challenges. The turret of the T-55 also has a slight triangle orientation when viewed from the top. Like the T-72, I designed the turret with four side orientations (left, right, front, and rear), and one top orientation. Starting from the rear, I added a basic curved structure. The sides each had a couple levels of slopes, each tapering in toward the gun. The front was a little more complex. There are two “slope blocks” made of 4 curved slope bricks, and a supporting structure. One slope block is mounted on each side of the gun. The support structure is a mess of bricks with a stud on one side, headlight bricks, and plates. The top of the turret is plates on the front, and two sloped plate sections under each hatch. The two hatches are mounted to the turret support under the sloped plate sections. The AA machine gun is placed on the top, and various external mountings are placed in various ways around the turret.
After making a lot of non-powered MOCs, it was nice to get back into Power Functions. I was pleased that everything worked flawlessly. The drive had adequate traction and power. The suspension worked well, and provided good floatation and travel. The turret rotation was smooth and allowed for precise directions changes. The gun elevation worked great, though I had to limit turret rotations to under four before the clutch on the mLA would snap. After a number of smaller builds, and frustratingly long builds, I was nice to finish something that worked well, provided constant entertainment throughout the build, and turned out quite nice.