Hooben 6602 T-55a Performance Review: By Eric Scott
Commentary:I will be using the Tamiya electronics and specifically commenting on things to watch for.
Got the kit from ETO armor, and I have to say truely great service and delivered in 7 days! Wonderful.
The Hooben T-55a tank kit 6602 is similar to the Pershing kit in build and general difficulty level.
Summary: This kit can be likened to a Bandai kit in its quality and general assembly accuracy and difficulty of construction. And then one has to figure out how to make it Full Option. The cost of the Full Option is like constructing a Bandai with Tamiya electronics.
Instructions: The instructions are well done with Tamiya style layout and graphics. The section starts with a historical narrative that brings the T-55 from its prototype beginnings at the end of WWII to operations in the mid 90’s. Some subassemblies involving intricate detail construction could have been more clearly depicted but overall very well done. Instructions include sample color patterns and decal locations of many different nationalities. Instructions are in Chinese and roughly translated English. Instructions also have electronics install and set up which is not included (as of this report) with the kit.
Kit Contents: The kit includes plastic sprues, 2 drive gearboxes, one turret rotation gearbox, one recoil gearbox, one elevation gearbox, turned aluminum gun barrel, metal suspension arms and axels, metal sprockets and idlers, racer sleeve bearing for outdrive axel, brass bushings, plastic roadwheels and rubber tires, metal idler adjust.
When you build this kit be prepared to do some minor rework and provide other accessories like spare hardware, grease and threadlock. Although the kit has the presentation of a Tamiya kit, pay special attention to assembly parts and instructions test fitting often as the build is not as intuitive as a Tamiya kit.
Hooben even sent a credit card to use on their next model issuances (kidding) although the website on it seems defunct.
Some of the parts are shown here included (electronics were not included, although the kit seems to elude to including them standard at some point).
Before showing all the build pics this is my analysis of some potential problems to watch for and some good points about the kit:
Potential problems and things to watch out for :
1. Sprockets need to have a one-way interlock guide as it is possible to misalign 90 degrees out of alignment.
2. Sprocket shaft: set screws for collar and shaft do not line up well.
3. All the roadwheels needed some work with the dremel to get the e-clip retainers to not bind when clipped on the axel.
4. The preassembled recoil gearbox had to be rebuilt and shaved in some places as gears meshed too tightly causing binding even with 7.2V applied. Some shim washers were needed for alignment. After rebuild it was driven with 1.5V.
5. The preassembled elevation gearbox had to be rebuilt and shaved in some places as gears meshed too tightly causing binding even with 7.2V. Some shim washers were needed for alignment. After rebuild it was driven with 1.5V.
6. The preassembled turret rotation gearbox had to be rebuilt and shaved in some places as gears meshed too tightly causing binding even with 7.2V. Some shim washers were needed for alignment. After rebuild it was driven with 1.5V.
7. Some parts sprues and hull had to be washed to remove residual oil.
8. The cast metal idler adjust had to be bored slightly to accept the idler wheel axle.
9. One of the articulating arms of the damper assembly had a tapped hole instead of bored hole.
10. Sprues A and C (about half the detail parts) were poorly molded having many misshapen parts, flash and voids in parts. Some parts had to be reconstructed from styrene. Many identifier numbers on these two sprues were missing or mismolded making parts identification difficult.
11. Most keyed parts do not fit well as the tabs were either too big or the keyed holes were flashed over or too small.
12. Hooben repeats Tamiya’s useless 3-bearing hull top turret race design and makes it more difficult to install.
13. The idler wheel axel required an extra washer to prevent too much play.
14. The elevation arm assembly to the recoil assembly needed spacers to properly space and clear obstructions, the Tamiya ball and joint would be a better design.
Enough with the bad now the good.
1. The drive gearboxes are well made par with Tamiya and come greased. Operation is quiet and alignment is good; slop is minimal. Nice robust design that drives well at 1.5V.
2. A raced sleeve bearing is used for the outdrive shaft that adds a third extra axel support fixed to the hull side relieving stress to the gearbox.
3. Additional front and rear plates for the lower hull assembly add increased strength.
4. The tracks are well made and pin together easily with light pressure with pliers. A slightly smaller diameter hole in one tab of each track holds the pin firmly while the rest of the track rotates smoothly. The pin is rounded at each end for ease of insertion and there is no visible cap to distract the ends of the track.
5. The lower hull assembles well.
6. The elevation gearbox has electronic stops (rectifiers) at the high and low point eliminating the need for a clutch gear system. A nice improvement over the Tamiya elevation unit. No more jerky guns!
7. Plenty of detail, many parts options and represents the real vehicle quite well.
8. If you like lights, there are plenty of opportunities to add lamps (not included) to the prepared parts for the infrared and visual lights for a nice effect.
9. Provision for an IR battlesystem has been accounted for in the build parts and the exact system is open to what you wish to use.
In the next Pic installment I will discuss where corrections had to be made.
The drive gearboxes, outdrive racer bearing and sprocket shaft assembly.
The drive gearboxes and racer bearing were pre-greased. The collar and shaft attach to the gearbox axle via the outdrive race support bearing for 3 points of main drive axle support.
And this is the drive assembled. Some wrestling to get the grub set screw to feed properly throught the collar and shaft to set on the gearbox output shaft is required. a simple cotter pin would have been easier.
Fortunately the shafts are keyed with flats to prevent sliding off.
Keep in mind there is no threadlock or ceramic grease provided in the kit - get some before you build this one. And the instructions do not tell you where to apply grease or threadlock, but our experience with similar kits (especially the Tamiya Pershing) will guide us.
The front (and rear) articulating arms are a nice mechanically working detail to add. Install the rotating pieces first then bolt together. Also shown is the suspension stays. The metal housing is well attached by four bolts.
The tension spring is installed similar to the Tamiya Pershing springs, take care to identify the correct tagged spring for each roadwheel as the tension is different just like the Pershing for front-rear weighting balance.
The idler uses a continuously variable (bolt with a lock washer and nut) design that is very similar to the Tamiya Leopard 2A6 idler adjust except more robust and capable of fine adjustment rather than stepped. A nice improvement over the Tamiya system.
The idler needed a shim washer to eliminate slop and the idler arm had to be bored slightly to accept the wheel axle. Add ceramic grease and your good to go.
The roadwheels are two halves glued together with a brass bushing between for the axle. This is basically the same assembly technique as other kit roadwheels. If bearings were desired, some additional modification would be needed.
The roadwheel assembly is held together by an e-ring clip, which did not clear the roadwheel mold to engage the axle key. All the roadwheels had to be shaved with a dremel to clear the access to the axle key in order to insert the e-ring.
To help with alignment, as the single brass bearing is a bit lacking in wobble support, a shim washer was added inner to the e-clip retainer on the axle. This is a step where ceramic grease that you supply can be applied before sealing the roadwheels.
Once the roadwheels were constructed, the axles insert into the suspension arms and secure by a set screw on a flat on the axle shaft. Fortunately, the flat has a tab on the end to prevent slipping out of the suspension arm should the set screw loosen.
The lower hull assembly has some interesting detail as well.
This next post is not so flattering but needs to be addressed.
The poor mismoldings of the A and C sprue (about half the parts) was frustrating. Many parts had to be reformed or reconstructed all together. Some parts were molded into the webbing or had voids.
It is interesting that the remaining sprues were fine.
The recoil gearbox is shown pulled apart for an overhaul to get the binded gears working again. It uses a design similar to Tamiya except the limit switch is separately wired. If using Tamiya electronics, be sure to wire the switch properly with the correct capacitors such that motor niose will not cause the electronics to work improperly.
And now we move on to the tracks. I have to say this normally
mundane task of pinning each link was actually enjoyable.
The track is high durability nylon just as the Tamiya track.
It is very well made with no obvious mold markings and each link fits perfectly.
The pins are rounded on each end to help insertion and each link has a set tab that is slightly smaller diameter to hold the pin. No glue or end caps needed for these tracks. In a few words the best track set I have worked with over the years.
Next is the main gun shroud on its frame. It does not fit so well so instead
of wrestling with it, I opt to custom make mine later. The lights are optional
and here are visual 'representations' of the IR imagers for targeting and
This vehicle has so many IR imagers.
The electronics layout is shown for Tamiya electronics and my 'best' arrangement. The Hooben kit does not make provision for a speaker box which is a disadvantage, but I located the mini speaker in the rear mounted gas drum.
This tank has amazing clearance and should clear obstacles easily.
The turret assembly is shown minus the gun shroud before it is wired to the hull.
The elevation uses a DC current so at the high point, via a micro switch, the diode ‘switches’ the motor off by way of reverse polarity inline with the motor. This forces you to engage the stick in the opposite direction to reverse DC current to swing to the low point rectifying diode.
The recoil unit is identical in operation as the Tamiya unit, however it is not quite as well made in quality of construction. (As identified earlier, I had to tear apart and rebuild completely for it to work).
The turret traverse unit is well done and powerful, it is modeled after the Tam Leopard2 gearbox using a worm gear instead of radial gears. The advantage of worm is fine movements can be done easier and the odds of slippage is very small. Hooben did well on the turret rotation assembly design.
Speaking of box art and instructions, it is obvious when one looks at the kit, Hooben intentionally mimicked Tamiya’s style and format to be as familiar as a Tamiya kit would be. Despite the look of a Tamiya kit, do not expect the build to go the same as this kit is not as well engineered as Tamiya kits.
I wonder many times while building this kit if Hooben’s R&D actually pulled a box of the shelf and tried to build one themselves –by the instructions-
Though not part of the Hooben kit, it is informative to show the custom speaker box fashioned for the space in the front of the hull.
It is a complicated design since it was desired to maximize internal volume of the sealed box for better acoustics. Cotton batting was added inside the box as well.
The kit is shown assembled with the Tamiya TBS installed in the gunners hatch.
The gun shroud still needs to be constructed along with some minor paint detail and mounting the turret machine gun.
The T-55a runs well and spot on to the top road speed, like the speed of the first generation Tamiya Tiger.
The tracks worked well with 89 links instead of 90 recommended and never threw a track in my tests.
The tracks are a bit more slippery than the Tamiya nylon tracks on rocks but otherwise climbs just as well.
The tank is balanced really well suspension-wise and running speeds. The low center of gravity helps much when climbing slopes and inclines.
Have to watch the Main gun traversing over the rear fuel tanks and fording ditches as the long gun on such a short tank is tricky!
Southeast Armored Division