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Mike

MiniArt
T-54-1 Medium Tank 1:35

T-54-1 Medium Tank

1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models

 

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The WWII T-34 was an excellent all-round tank, combining armour, speed, hitting power and manoeuvrability into a war-winning package that served the Soviet Union well until the end of the war.  After the war a new design was needed, and this was based upon the T-44 that had been in development during the final years of the conflict.  It was decided that a larger 100mm gun was needed to counter the new tanks that were being developed in the West, but the T-44 chassis couldn't handle the turret that would be required.  A new enlarged chassis was designed and was named the T-54, which went through such rapid development and many changes that it soon became a new prototype, the T-54-1.  That too suffered teething troubles and after fewer than 1,500 units, production transferred quickly to the T-54-2, and then the T-55, which we've all probably heard of.

 

The T-54-1 kept many of the successful traits of the T-34/85, but with a larger turret the shot-trap was significant, which ultimately led to the familiar domed turret of the T-55.  Although outdated, the T-54 stuck around in smallish numbers for quite some period in a number of guises, although by the time the last operational vehicles were drawn down, it was seriously outclassed in every way.

 

 

The Kit

This is a complete new tooling from the good folks at MiniArt in the Ukraine, and it is a major new tooling because it has a complete interior within the box, which is weighty beyond usual expectations.  On lifting the lid you are greeted by a glut of sprues, many of them quite small because of the tooling's modular nature, with quite a few parts going unused for this boxing.  There are sixty two sprues in grey styrene plus another twelve for the tracks (in the same colour), a sprue in clear, plus two frets of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, the decal sheet and finally a rather thick and glossy colour instruction booklet with painting guide included to the rear.  That little lot fills up just about all the space in the box, leaving only room for air between the sprues – quite daunting to repack too!

 

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When MiniArt say "interior" they're not just referring to a couple of seats for the crew and a few black boxes.  They really do mean full interior.  This starts with the V-54 engine that is built up from crank-case through rocker-covers and is sat upon a trestle engine mount, with a high overall part count.  The lower hull is then constructed so that it can take all the interior parts, with the torsion bars and suspension arms slid in and located at the opposite ends in pairs, after which the floor under the turret is slipped over the top of the centre bars, and ancillary equipment is piled in along with more suspension details.  The driver's control levers are built up and added to the left front of the hull floor, with a surprisingly comfortable-looking seat added next to the bulkhead that forms a wall of the shell magazine later on.  The hull sidewalls are added with interior skins providing the detail and thickness, with yet more equipment studded along their lengths, and some holes need opening up for the shell racks, as shown in a scrap diagram.  The two perforated frames attach at the front of the starboard sidewall, and individual shells slot inside the holes, with drop-down gates holding them in place during transport.  You could probably get away with painting only the percussion caps and the ends of the shell casings for those that will be stuck in there, so don't go mad unless you will be going for a cut-away in that area.  The engine is then added to the rear of the hull on its mount that latches into slots in the floor, and a pair of box-like air intakes are added at the starboard end.  A firewall is then constructed with fan, extinguisher and other boxes to fit between the two areas, after which the port side is added, and the glacis plate is fitted into place, the latter having a scale thickness armour panel, foot-pedals and periscopes  for the driver installed.

 

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The roadwheels are made up in pairs with a central hub-cap, and ten pairs are made up, with five per side held in place by a pin and top-cap in the same way as the two-part drive sprockets are fitted at the rear.  The idler wheel is installed right at the front of the hull on an tensioner axle, and is made from two parts, held in place by a pin and top-cap like the rest of the roadwheels, although it is noticeably smaller.  The rear bulkhead has two sets of brackets for additional fuel drums, which are included in the box, and this assembly is installed at the rear along with two other small facets, one of which has the rear light cluster mounted.  The hull roof is fabricated from shorter sections to preserve detail, starting with the turret ring, which has the driver's hatch within, and once in place, armoured periscope protectors, rotating hatch and pioneer tools are added around.  The engine deck is split into three main sections, within which are access hatches, grilles and louvers to allow the engine to breathe and be maintained.  The louvers are covered by an additional layer of PE mesh, and the extra fuel drums are strapped in place by a pair of PE straps each if you decide to fit them.  The fenders are festooned with stowage of various types, which are loaded up before being added to the sides of the hull along with the obligatory unditching beam and spring-loaded mudguards at the rear.  Some PE parts are used as tie-downs and handles here to improve the scale effect of details.  Additionally, a pair of ender mounted machine-guns are added in small casemates, one on each fender at the front, with a removable lid for repair and maintenance plus reloading.  You get the full breech and interior, which leaves you with some options.  Spare ammo cans are stowed next to simplify crew reloading, although doing that task under fire would be no fun!

 

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Tracks.  Always a divisive subject, as some like band-type, others like individual links, link-and-length, or metal.  The list goes on.   You might have noticed already that this kit provides individual link tracks of the glue-together variety, which don't do anything fancy such as click in-place.  The tracks are built up in segments of 9 links, with 8 links having guide-horns, and one without.  All you need to do is remove each link from the sprues via their four gates, trim them flush, glue the parts together in batches of 9 in a run of 90 links each side, and whilst still soft, wrap them around the roadwheels and set the sag with sponges, cotton buds or whatever is to hand to hold them in position.  When dry they can be removed with care, especially if you have left an idler or sprocket loose to facilitate.  Take care when prepping the track parts, as the plastic is quite soft, and easily marred with careless handling.  With the tracks done, the fenders go on, with the duck-bill shaped exhaust crossing the port fender in the rear, with a deflector attached over it.

 

The turret will be a focus of attention for most viewers, and it is filled with detail.  The two layer turret ring is added to the lower turret part, and the inside of the turret is then strewn with equipment on both sides, with a stack of ready-ammo at the rear of the bustle in a compact rack that hold seven shells.  Crew seats are added, dipping down through the aperture, and the breech of the 100mm gun is constructed from a host of parts, with two being left off if you wanted to move the barrel later.  This is mounted between two brackets that sit on the front lip of the turret, with the sighting gear and a stack of four ammo cans to feed the coaxial machine gun slung underneath.  The upper turret is similarly bedecked with equipment inside, and at this point a large portion of the roof is missing, being made up in a later step with the crew hatches, periscopes and mushroom fume vent, plus an antenna base.  The gunner's cupola has a ring fitted to it that mounts a huge DShk "Dushka" 12.7mm machine gun, which can be used with great effect against soft targets or as an anti-aircraft mount.  It is made up from a considerable number of parts, with scrap diagrams showing how to mount the ammo box to the breech with a number of PE parts as well as a length of link for good measure.  The upper turret, mantlet armoured cover, coaxial machine gun and the mantlet itself are all brought together at the end to finish the turret main construction, after which a large rolled tarpaulin is draped over the rear of the bustle, with a choice of one of the two driver's "hoods" strapped to the top of it for safe-keeping.  There is a low profile and higher profile variant included in the box, with the choice of either or none left to the modeller.

 

 

Markings

There are three options available from the box, with a variety of schemes that should suit most tastes.   From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • Soviet Army 50s – Soviet green with white 224 on the turret sides.
  • Soviet Army 50s – Winter distemper paint over green and white 222 on turret sides.
  • Soviet Army early 50s – Summer camouflage.  Green sand and black soft-edge wavy camouflage and no unit markings other than a small red star.

 

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The decal sheet is small and mostly white, with only the red stars to break up the colour (excluding the red border to the sheet).  The registration between the two colours seems good, sharpness is too, but I suspect the codes may be slightly translucent when applied to dark colours.  They can easily be used as a guide to touch in with a little diluted white on a sharp brush though, as these markings were usually hand-painted.

 

If you wanted to see what can be done with this kit, check out Dmytro Kolesnyk's superb build here on Britmodeller, which you can see more of here.

 

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Conclusion

Quite a box load!  The sheer quantity of parts and the detail therein makes this easy to recommend, and there are endless possibilities for exposing the innards of the beast, which might need just the odd wire or hose added along with some grime to make it look real.

 

Highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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It is indeed a lovely model. I've just bought the T-54-2 and it's the next stage along, with flat welded (not stamped) fuel tanks on the fenders.

 

One tip - the builder will end up with a duplicate set of hubcaps for the 5 x 2 roadwheel pairs. Depending on which you use and on the individual vehicles in photos, this can be very useful for completing the Meng T-54B kit with the spider wheels. So far as I can see the Meng T-54B kit only provides 8 hub caps of the right size for the 10 road wheel pairs! The other two hub caps are for the enlarged hub front pair as seen (usually) in the T-55, the kit being based on T-55 parts. (Rather surprisingly, the Meng Type 69 kit (Chinese T-54) doesn't have this problem, but it remains to be seen whether Meng use those moulds for the T-54 as well in the future.)

 

You still have the same problem if making the Meng kit with the starfish wheels, as the T-54-1 hubs won't do, but if you have done one with spider wheels as above you will have some spares - or you could swap wheels with the Tamiya kit of the T-55 which has a T-54 style set of 10 roadwheel hubs all the same size. I have not checked the physical practicalities of the latter suggestion, though.

 

Some interesting photos here, e.g. of T-54-1 turrets in fixed emplacements,

 

https://thesovietarmourblog.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/t-54.html

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On 25/03/2017 at 9:52 PM, Lothian man said:

..............the Meng T-54B kit with the spider wheels. ................(Rather surprisingly, the Meng Type 69 kit (Chinese T-54) doesn't have this problem, but it remains to be seen whether Meng use those moulds for the T-54 as well in the future.)...............................

 

You mean Takom T-54B and Type 69, right?

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Whoops! Stupid me.

 

Yes, I meant the Takom kits. Sorry! And many thanks for pointing it out.

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