by: Jim Starkweather [ ]
The Enigma was an Iraqi modification during the first Gulf War to try to defeat some of the more advanced anti-tank weapons that would be unleashed on them by the coalition forces trying to retake Kuwait in 1991. This resin conversion by Legend will convert the Tamiya T-55A into the more modern and menacing T-55 Enigma. Editors note: There is also a recent release by Legend to convert this same kit into the Czech T-55 AM2B.
There was an older 2007 conversion available from Accurate Armour. As most modelers would expect Legend has produced a slightly less costly kit, however there are some notable differences between the two (the hatch for one). However we don't have the AA kit so this information is strictly given for you to make up your own mind which is best. Most likely if you are a fan of the T-55 Enigma you already knew this anyways.
There are approximately 75 individual resin parts in this kit. It includes a brass photo-etch sheet, a brass rod, (2) thin brass wires, and a long coiled copper strand. Many of the smaller resin parts are attached to larger casting blocks and will require some careful cutting to remove. As with all resin kits or conversions, prior experience with resin is recommended for sets like this.
The resin castings look very clean and detailed. There are even weld detail on areas like the rear turret mounts. Since I am no expert on the Enigma (or the T-55 for that mater) I can't speak to the overall accuracy of this conversion, but judging from comparisons of what I can find on the web for the Enigma, this kit appears to be well researched, etc. However I did find photos of various elements that varied from tank to tank. The rear turret armor extension arms appears too long in one photo I found, but appeared absolutely correct in length when viewed on a side by side photo comparison.
The instructions are a single page (front and back) and in color. They provide shots of the completed kit and placement of parts, etc. They also show a photo of the starting top hull and what sections to remove. Parts are numbered in the photos and a part overview with numbers is provided to get your bearings. No reference photos of actual full scale subjects is provided.
This conversion would appear to build up to a very close replica of the Enigma. The cost ($50-70) of this product may put off some modelers. However the cost of the base Tamiya kit is actually low with some online sellers so that should help in that regard. I would be curious to hear from some of our subject experts on the differences between this kit and other stratch-built or vendor-made alternatives. Another question I would pose to readers is (after looking at several Legend products) how do you react to box art showing an un-completed model? Do you think you would be more or less interested if the box art showed both the completed kit (fully weathered, etc) and a show of the resin components (as it does now)?