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  1. Hi Guys, This is my first work in progress, i've picked a miniart T-55A early mod. 1965 model. This is the second Miniart model i've had, in fact i bought this first from Creative Models at their 40% discount about 18 months ago for around £30, which was amazing value for money. However when i opened the box and looked at all the parts my first thoughts were, this is too much. So i bought the Panzer III ausf C also from Miniart which i built instead so i could get to grips with the Miniart way of doing things. The T-55A is quite a complex kit, its in my stash and has to be done some time, so why not now. The kit has 1304 parts with 95 sprues, 2 etch sheets and 3 decal sheets. This is the box cover, showing a 55th Marine infantry Division, Pacific Fleet of the Soviet Navy, Ethiopia 1980. This is the version that i will hopefully try to complete in the way distant future by the look of the amount of parts. The instruction book looks really well done and it takes 104 stages to complete the model. The first 8 stages complete the engine assembly. This is typical of their instructions. Here is a picture of the assembled engine with holes drilled in the manifold ready for the lead wire. Lead wire in place, now all ready for painting. Here's a few photo's of the completed engine. Now on to the base, just another 96 stages and about 1200 plus parts to go! Ed
  2. Good Evening Comrades I made the T-44 from Miniart a while ago but I have been playing around with Ammo oilbrushers in an experimental way on the tank. I enjoyed this because of the control you have and being oil they have a long drying time Unfortunately you can't see much of its highly detailed engine! I believe the T-44 wasn't a great success as they found it difficult to cure overheating problems. But the chassis then matured into the T-54 and the rest is history Hope you like it? Andrew
  3. Street Furniture w/Electronics & Umbrella (35647) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The busy streets of most Middle East towns and cities are often dotted with furniture and people sitting there, drinking tea, smoking a Hookah, and generally watching the world bustle by. In Modern Middle East, most of that furniture is moulded plastic, which is lightweight, cheap and difficult to break, unless it’s been subject to frequent hot/cold cycles such as those of Britain, which makes them brittle and perfect “You’ve Been Framed” fodder. The people-watchers tend to be older men or women, but that’s not always the case, and they sit around either watching TV on a small portable set, drinking, smoking and even playing board games to ward off boredom if the streets go quiet. An almost constant feature during the day is bright sunlight, so patio umbrellas with heavily sun-bleached canopies are often seen providing splotches of colour amongst the hubbub. This set contains just the sort of gear you would find in the description above, and arrives in a small top-opening box with twelve small sprues in grey styrene, two more in white, a single clear part, and a double page folded instruction booklet with three different canopies printed on one page and some TV pictures that you can use. Four of the sprues contain a patio chair with back and arms, one on each one. There are also two patio tables with separate legs that take up two more sprues, four sprues making up the umbrella, metal limbs and the weighted base, into which the adjustable centre-pole slots. When the parasol is built and the glue dry, you can glue one of the paper canopies in place, or use them as a template to make one of your own from another material. A wooden coffee table with curved legs fills another sprue, and the final grey sprue has a portable TV, ghetto-blaster, a hookah and portable backgammon board with pieces crisply moulded into the board. The TV is made from a front and rear part, but it also has a clear lens that can be glued into the front after you have placed one of the eleven TV screen images from the instruction booklet. I have tested them in place, and they’re really quite convincing. The two remaining white sprues contain a plate, a tray, a selection of three jugs and teapots of different sizes, three tankards, and three cups with separate saucers. Conclusion A great set to help you depict a candid scene either in the Middle East or somewhere in the rest of the world really, thanks to the ubiquity of such simple furniture and the cheapness of plastic injection moulding. relegate the hookah to the spares box and you could be anywhere from the UK to Russia. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  4. Good Evening Comrades I made the T-44 from Miniart a while ago but I have been playing around with Ammo oilbrushers in an experimental way on the tank. I enjoyed this because of the control you have and being oil they have a long drying time Unfortunately you can't see much of its highly detailed engine! I believe the T-44 wasn't a great success as they found it difficult to cure overheating problems. But the chassis then matured into the T-54 and the rest is history Hope you like it? Andrew
  5. Hi guys, hope everyone is well, onto my new build which is Miniart's SLA APC T-54 with Dozer Blade. There is only one version in the kit which is the South Lebanon Army, 1980's, so that's the one I'm going to do . I bought this over a year ago, I just liked the unusual colour scheme and that big red dozer blade, it was an easy decision to buy. As usual the kit comes in a big box, the whole lot has a good weight to it and as usual packed full of sprues. Miniart seem to have drawn upon their other T-54/T55 kits and have included multiple sprues where only one part is required. There is no turret on this model and yet I get a couple of gun barrels, oil tanks etc. At least I'll shall have some extra parts for my spares box. A couple of photo's showing the box art and then the colour scheme. The nature of the environment where this vehicle has been situated will call I think for quite a heavily worn tank and the red dozer blade should be interesting to do with lots of scratches and weathering etc. I think I'm going to build straight out the box, there's no tow ropes to buy, I'm not sure at the moment regarding the tracks. I've done these before on a T-55 and they seemed ok, but then again I really like the tracks made by MasterClub, I'll decide later on. I started work on the engine, which is typical of Miniart giving a really nicely detailed part, quite a lot of the assembly has been temporarily stuck with Maskol so that I could make sure everything fits together. I have pre-drilled the holes in the manifolds ready for me to add copper wire for the injection pipes after I have finished painting. That's it for now, I will be back when I have finished painting the engine. All the best and thanks for looking in. Ed
  6. T-55 Czechoslovak Prod. w/KMT-5M Mine-Roller (37092) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The T-54's gestation and transformation into the T-55 was long-winded and complicated by constant changes to an as yet unsatisfactory performing vehicle, and began at early as the end of WWII. Production of the T-54-1 was halted due to production and quality issues, and recommenced as the re-designed T-54-2, with the turret design changed to closer resemble the eventual domed shape of the T-55. The -2 didn't last all that long before the -3 replaced it, and the requirement for survival of tactical nuclear blasts led to the eventual introduction of the similar looking, but significantly different T-55 that we know so well. As the heavy tank fell out of favour, the T-55 became part of the burgeoning Main Battle Tank movement, with thousands of them being produced over the years in various guises. In the early 60s the T-55A was developed, providing more adequate NBC protection that required a lengthening of the hull and coincidentally added anti-spall protection for the crew. It also sounded the death-knell of the bow-mounted machine gun, which was removed to improve ammo storage, and hasn't been seen on MBTs for decades now. The Czechs built their own versions of the T-54 and T-55, with quite an export market developing due to their being of better build quality than the Russian built alternative. Of the many sub variants produced by the then Czechslovakia, many were exported to Soviet Bloc aligned purchasers, sometimes fitted with the KMT-5M Mine-roller. Mines are a problem for AFVs, softskins and foot soldiers alike, and there are different types used for different circumstances. Mines intended to disable tanks generally have larger charges to penetrate the thinner underside armour and tear off tracks and drive wheels, with a higher pressure required to trigger them. The resulting explosion can cripple or destroy a tank, leaving crew killed or injured, a valuable tank out of action and sometimes blocking the way. Most Soviet and Russian tanks are fitted with attachment points for mine-rollers that can be fitted as needed and clear a path for the tank's tracks to allow them to proceed. Other tanks without a mine-roller must follow in their tracks exactly or risk detonating mines that are outside the cleared paths. It's not an ideal solution, more of an expedient one that probably requires a more complete cleaning later when the enemy aren't shooting at them. It has been in service since the 60s and was used until the T-64 after which is was replaced for newer vehicles with the improved KMT-7 and KMT-9. It operated by breaking the ground up with toothed rollers of substantial weight to simulate the footprint of an AFV, ploughing up the ground and detonating any mines it finds. Its rugged construction means that it can survive explosions, although they do take their toll on the hardware eventually. The Kit Part of the ever-expanding range of early Cold War armour from MiniArt, who seem to be kitting every conceivable variant from the earliest T-54 to the later T-55, which will hopefully include some of the more unusual marks as well. The initial toolings were all brand new, and were designed in a modular format to ease the way toward new variants, which makes for a high sprue count. This is an exterior kit with Mine-Roller parts included, which arrives in their current orange themed box, with a painting of the tank in question on the front. Lifting the lid gives the feeling of how much is inside, as it is packed full and I'm dreading putting it all back in. There are eighty-nine sprues in mid grey styrene, many of them quite small, and some of the larger ones linked together in pairs or triplets, two clear sprues, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, two short lengths of chain in different link sizes, a decal sheet, and the instruction booklet. Detail is everywhere, and is crisp, with judicious use of slide-moulding to improve details further, and make hollows where needed. The inclusion of PE helps further, allowing parts to be given a more scale-effect. Construction begins with the lower hull, which has cut-outs for the suspension mounts, hatches and access panels, all of which are supplied as separate parts. The suspension is torsion-link, so the bars are inserted with the axles at their ends, or shorter stubby versions if you want to freeze the suspension in the level position. The hull insides are separate and are well detailed parts, which are added to the lower along with engine bay firewall and rear bulkhead. Externally, the T-55 could be fitted with a mine-roller, and one is included with this boxing, so the fitments and bracketry is included for fitting to the upper and lower glacis alongside the standard light clusters, lifting hooks and pioneer tools. With the glacis and the turret ring "bat wings" added to the hull sides, the upper hull is assembled from the top with turret ring aperture, a multi-part engine deck with individual slats added before installation, and some PE mesh panels added later with optional raised covers supplied as additional parts. The main lights have clear lenses, and fit inside a multi-part cage to protect them from damage, which will take some care to glue together neatly. The fenders have additional fuel tankage fitted with hosing between them, and lots of PE fixtures, handles and such, with even more PE bracing inside the sprung mudguard parts, tools, toolboxes and the exhaust on the port side. The kit includes plastic towing eyes, but you are going to have to provide your own cables as none are include in the kit, but given the sheer volume of parts it's excusable. At the rear an unditching log is lashed to the bulkhead with PE straps, and the extra fuel drums so often seen are also lashed to curved brackets that overhang the rear of the hull. Between them the deep wading funnel is attached by a couple of pins to the bottom of the brackets, and it has its own group of PE brackets for the bracing wires that are seen when it is in use. the wheels are handled next, with five pairs per side with separate hubs, plus the idler wheel at the front, and drive sprocket at the rear. Tracks are left until a little later and are of the individual link type, requiring 90 links per side, each of which have four sprue gates, but no ejection pin or sink marks to worry about. What is there however is stunning detail, which includes the casting numbers inlaid into the hollows of each track link, and close-fitting lugs that should make the building an easier task. The turret itself is a busy assembly, having the basics of the breech mechanism and coax machine gun made up and mated with the lower turret on two mounts at the front. The upper turret has some holes drilled out from inside and is attached to the lower, after which the two-part turret roof is fitted with hatches, vents and vision blocks. Externally the grab rails, forward mounted searchlight, commander's cupola and a choice of cast mantlet or moulded blast-bag over the mantlet are added, and the single piece barrel with hollow muzzle slips through the centre and keys into the breech. The blast-bag is finished off around the edges with PE strips, and a large folded tarp is attached to the back of the turret by more PE straps near the included stowage boxes. An armature links the gun barrel and the searchlight together so they move in unison, and an ancillary searchlight is fitted to the commander's cupola, with a choice of the driver's poor weather hood built up in either the collapsed or deployed format, with the former stowed on the turret bustle, while the latter fits over the open driver's hatch. The 12.7 mm DShK heavy machine gun is the last assembly, and is made up along with its mount, ammo box with a short length of shells leading into the breech, which is fitted into the mount in front of the loader’s hatch. The turret is dropped into the hull and your choice of location made for the driver’s poor weather hood built earlier. KMT-5M Mine Roller The KMT-5M has already been seen when included with various MiniArt kits, and here it is in another one! The instruction booklet is included in the main kit booklet, which is for good reason as it's a fairly complex build and there are plenty of steps. Construction begins with the toothed rollers, which each have three wheels on a central axle plus two end-caps. These are fitted into short bogies that have small sections of chain attached in strategic places for later fitting at the end of the suspension arms. These are next to be built and each has a pair of pads at the tank end and a hinged arm that is long enough to keep the tank away from the brunt of the blast, as well as absorb some of the upward momentum and reduce damage to the rollers. The arms spread apart so that the rollers are placed at exactly the same spacing as the tracks, and there are parts supplied to fit the roller to your model. There are a couple a styrene rope parts in the box to further secure the assembly, with another momentum-absorbing spring at the roller end. The bogies are attached to the arms via the short lengths of chain fitted to hooks fore and aft, with another chain linking the two together with a bobbin-like part loose along its length, acting as a further damper for asymmetric detonations. Markings There are three decal options, and plenty of colour variation. From the box you can build one of the following: Egyptian Army, 1967-73 Lebanese Army, 2000s Syrian Army, 2000s The decals are printed by DecoGraph on bright blue paper, and have good register, sharpness and colour density, with a closely cropped thin, matt carrier film. Conclusion These are amongst the most comprehensive kits I have seen in a long while, with even the tiniest details catered for, down to the fine chains on the mine-roller. It is a fabulous exterior kit and will keep you modelling for hours and hours. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  7. Totenkopf Division Kharkov 1943 (35397) with Resin Heads 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models The Totenkopf division were officially known as the 3rd SS Panzer Division but were more usually known as the Death's Head due to their skull and crossbones divisional badge. They were reserves during the battle of France and took part in the invasion of Russia, coming back to the Eastern Front after assisting the transfer of power to the Vichy government in France until 1943. There they took part in the attempt to stop the Soviet advances including the third Battle of Kharkov, where they were at least partially successful in holding the line for a while. They and numerous other SS Divisions were involved in a number of horrible war crimes throughout the war due to their fervent belief in their Fuhrer and the inferiority of their opponents. Although the SS were and still are a hated group, there is no doubting the fact that they were involved in the fighting and played a part in many pivotal battles of WWII. This set is a rebox of the original set and contains a group of five figures at rest dressed in winter garb as befits their involvement in Kharkov, but augmented with a set of five well-detailed resin heads to replace the originals. They arrive in a shrink-wrapped figure box, with five small sprues of figures and four of accessories all in grey styrene, plus the five heads on one casting block in a Ziploc bag. Also included in the box is a short instruction leaflet to aid in construction of the accessories such as weapons and ammo crates. All of the five are seated in various poses nursing their weapons in their laps, with thick winter clothing consisting of padded trousers and a hooded smock that only one has over his helmet. Their footwear is a mixture of leather and suede boots and one wearing boots with cloth spats over them. They all have ammo pouches, water bottles, gas mask canisters, entrenching tools and bayonets, with plenty of spares on the accessory sprues. Three figures have Kar98 rifles, and the remaining two each have an MP40 or MG42, the latter slung across his lap with a length of link shown wrapped around the breech. The link is supplied, but you might have to carry out some heat flexing and surgery in order to get it to sit right around the gun. The new heads are pretty much drop-in replacements for the styrene heads, giving you additional choices for personalisation with little effort. Just nip the heads from the casting block, give them a little wash in warm (not hot) soapy water, and trim the necks to the length and shape you want to achieve the pose you need. Each figure is broken down individual legs, arms, torso and heads, plus hoods that fit between the torso and head. The hooded character has a separate helmet front and two-part hood that closes around his head then attaches to the torso. The rest have helmets from the accessory sprues that fit directly to their flat-topped craniums, and some have woollen "snoods" under their helmets to prevent frostbite, while others are toughing it out with just their helmets. Their poses are hunched over and miserable in nature, and would suit a squad riding a tank in driving snow, or waiting for orders in bleak winter conditions. Either way, they won't get any sympathy from us. As usual with MiniArt figures their sculpting is exceptional with crisp detail and sensible parts breakdown plus loads of extras to add some detail to their vicinity if you use them in a diorama - the same goes for the new resin heads. The MG42 can be posed with a drum mag and open or closed bipod if you wish, and the MP40 has either a folded or open stock, while ammo boxes, grenade cases, oil cans, map cases, pistol pouches and plenty of spare weapons can be found on the sprues. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  8. US 1.5t 4x4 G506 Flatbed Truck (38056) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The Chevrolet G506 truck formed the basis of a range of 4x4 load-carrying vehicles that were capable of carrying up to 1.5 tonnes of cargo or equipment. They were initially made under the 4100 code, then moved to the 7100 range, and usually had a standard enclosed cab, with a 3.9L straight-6 engine under the bonnet, with a four-speed “crash” (non-syncro) gearbox putting down a little over 80hp through all four axles. Under the new coding it rapidly became the Allies’ standard light truck, and served in substantial quantities with the Allies in the West, the Soviets in the East, and the forces fighting Japan in the Far East. There were a lot of variants, some in US Army service, others in USAAF service, with almost 50,000 of two specific types, the G7107 and G7117 sent over to the Soviets under the Lend/Lease program. The civilian vehicles could be almost as varied in form as the military options with some obvious exceptions (civilians seldom have a need to launch rockets), and they were well-liked by their drivers and crews, carrying out cargo shipping duties before, during and after WWII. They benefitted from widely available spares and the know-how to repair and maintain them, and they served long after the end of WWII. The Kit This is a new boxing of a recent tooling from MiniArt, and is one of a range that is lurking about in your favourite model shop. It’s a full interior kit, with engine, cab and load area all included along with some very nice moulding and detail, particularly in the cab and those chunky tyres. It arrives in one of MiniArt’s medium-sized top-opening boxes, and inside are twenty-one modular sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue, Photo-Etch (PE) sheet in a card envelope, a wee decal sheet and glossy instruction booklet with colour profiles on the front and rear pages. Construction begins with the ladder chassis, which has leaf-springs fore and aft, cross-braces and rear towing eye fitted to create the structure, then has the fuel tank, PE rear bumper irons folded around a styrene jig, and axles installed, before the brake drums/hubs, battery and external brackets are added to the chassis rails. The transfer box and drive-shaft join the two axles together, and a steering linkage and box are inserted into the front of the chassis, then the engine is built up based on the straight six-cylinder block, with carburettor, dynamo and transmission added, plus the pulleys and fan at the front. The engine and substantial front bumper iron are fitted to the chassis, and at the rear a short additional chassis rail are attached to the frame at the rear behind the fuel tank. The exhaust and its manifold slip into the underside of the chassis from below later on, with linkages and axle brackets fitted to the rails. The crew cab is next, beginning with the firewall and forward sidewalls. The roof and windscreen frame are moulded as one, with a headliner insert and rear-view mirror that are inserted within, and the three-part radiator housing is made to be used later. The firewall and roof are joined with some of the dash pots fixed to the engine side of the firewall, while the doors and their interior cards are assembled with their handles and window winders, plus the clear window glass that can be posed open or closed at your whim. The dashboard inserts into the front bulkhead with seven decals for the instruments and stencils on the glove box. The diagonal foot panel is joined with the firewall and decked out with three foot pedals and the steering wheel on a long column that slides through a hole in front of the pedals. The driver and co-driver share a bench seat that is made up on the floor from back, cushion and a C-shaped surround that fits round the rear of the cab back wall, with small ovalised window and optional PE mesh grille fitted later. The roof and firewall assembly are fitted to the floor, with the doors installed within the frame in the open or closed position. The windscreen is two panes of clear in a styrene frame fitted to the front of the cab open or closed, and below it on the scuttle is a ventilator panel that is posed open or closed later as you like it. The cab and radiator are both placed on the chassis with spacer rods applied, and the engine cowling side panels fit between them with front wing/fender included. The aforementioned windscreen has a pair of PE brackets and styrene wingnuts that are installed either vertically for closed, or at an angle for open, with a scrap diagram showing the correct orientation of the various parts. The spare tyre is placed on a bracket near the exhaust later, and the front of the vehicle has its headlights with clear lenses plus sidelights fitted to the wings, and PE windscreen wipers hung from the top of the frame, then the front grille is built. You may have noticed that this doesn’t appear on the sprues, and there’s a good reason for that. It is constructed completely from PE, and two jigs are included on the sprues to assist with obtaining the correct shape. The lower rail and curved side panels are made up on one jig from a single piece of PE, while the centre panel is folded up on another, then they’re joined together ready to be attached to the front of the engine bay. There are two brackets stretched across the front of the radiator, and another small curved section is added to the left of the grille as it is glued in place with the help of some CA. The hood/bonnet is able to be fitted open or closed with two styles of clasp and in the open option, a PE stay is provided. Two closure clasps are fixed to the sides of the bay too. The load bed floor is a single moulding with a ribbed texture on the underside, a slim rear section with moulded-in reflectors, separate rear lights on PE brackets mounted to the chassis. The shallow sides and taller front are separate frames, and the underside is strengthened by four cross-braces. The load bed is joined to the chassis along with the spare tyre on the left side of the flatbed, then the fuel filler and exhaust are added on PE brackets. It’s time for the rest of the wheels to be made up, with singles at the front, each made from two parts each, and twin wheels at the rear, made up much earlier in the instructions for some reason. Each wheel slips over its respective axle, with the hub projecting through the central hub, with a pair of rear mudflaps behind the back wheels. The kit comes with a stack of ten barrels to be made up of four styles, all of which are made from two halves with end caps that are glued in with the embossed writing on the inside, and adding a separate tap on one end, with some of them having four-part stands so they can be laid down on the load bed. In addition, a civilian driver/loader figure is included on his own sprue, wearing overalls and a baseball cap with turned up brim on his head and work boots – on his feet, of course. He is made up from individual legs, torso, head and arms, plus the cap, which is separate so you can replace it with something else if you feel the urge. A top-hat or pineapple maybe? Markings There are five colourful markings options on the decal sheet from various eras of the types operation. From the box you can build one of the following: Indiana USA, 1940s Texas USA, 1945 Florida USA, 1940s New York USA, 1950 Philippines, 1946 Decals are printed by MiniArt’s usual partners Decograph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion We seem to be blessed with new kits of the Chevrolet G506/G7107 truck in 1:35 recently, which was ubiquitous during WWII at home, lugging goods of all types around the USA and beyond. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  9. Fruit Delivery Van Typ 170V Lieferwagen (38044) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The Mercedes 170 was based upon their W15 chassis, which was their first with all-round independent suspension, and was available as a bare chassis for coachbuilders, as a saloon, cabriolet or as a light van, debuting in the early 30s with sales affected by the worldwide depression that started in Wall Street in 1930. Sales picked up after the recession eased, and later versions had internal boot/trunk-space and sleeker lines, moving with the times. As well as sharing a chassis with the saloon, the van was essentially identical in the forward section and inside the crew cab. The bodywork from the doors backward were designed with the same ethos but differed due to the practical but boxy load area behind the drivers. These vehicles were often used for years after their original purchase passing through the ownership of several owners, especially after the war years where funds were sometimes short following the devastation in Europe. The Kit This is a reboxing of a partial re-tool of the original 2012 saloon and subsequent Beer Delivery vehicle (reviewed earlier), with the same new sprues and parts added to create the necessary changes for the wagon. The original kit is highly detailed, and this one is no different, showing just how far MiniArt have come in their design and moulding technology. There is superb detail throughout, with slender racks, realistic-looking fabric door pockets as well as a full engine and interior to the cab. Inside the shrink-wrapped box are eighteen sprues of grey styrene, one in clear, a decal sheet and a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass for finer details, protected in a card envelope. Construction begins with the 1700cc engine and transmission, which is made up from a substantial number of parts that just need a little wiring to do it full justice, and in fact the brake hoses are shown in diagrams to ensure that you obtain the correct bends, but you’ll need to find your own 0.2mm wire to begin with. The X-shaped chassis is prepped with a few mounts and a PE brackets, then the rear axle, differential and driveshafts are fitted on a pair of very realistic styrene springs that have hollow centres and individual coils thanks to some clever sliding moulds. Drum brakes, straps and brackets finish off the rear axle assembly, then the completed engine and drive-shaft are installed in the front to be joined by a pair of full-width leaf-springs from above and below with a stub-axle and drum brake at each end. The exhaust is made up with an impressively neatly designed four-part muffler, a pair of PE mounts, straight exit pipe and a curved length leading forward to the engine. With the addition of the bumper-irons at the front, the lower body can be fixed to the chassis after drilling a single hole in one of the front wings. The front firewall is next to be made up, and the pedal box is installed one side, with a set of tools and another neatly designed cylinder, this time the fuel tank, which is curiously situated in the rear of the engine bay. This fits over the transmission tunnel that is moulded into the floor, with more driver controls such as the gear lever, hand brake and steering column with PE horn-ring added at this time. The dashboard is integrated into the windscreen frame after being fitted with decals within the instrument housings, then covered over with clear faces for realism. There is also a nicely clear curved windscreen inserted before this is dropped over the firewall, joined by a rear cab panel that has a small rear window and the back of the bench seat applied before fitting. The base of the bench seat is also fitted on a riser moulded into the floor. Vehicles need wheels, and this one runs on four with a spare one lurking under a false floor in the back. Each wheel is made up from a layer-cake of three central sections to create the tread around the circumference, and two outer faces that depict the sidewalls of the tyres, with maker’s mark and data panel moulded into the sides. The hubs are inserted into the centres of the tyres, with a cap finishing off the assemblies. They are built up in handed pairs, and the spare has a different hub and no cap to differentiate it. The flat floor for the load area is a single piece with the pocket for the spare tyre to fit inside, and this sits over the rear arches and is supported at the front by a lip on the rear of the cab. The load area is then finished by adding the slab-sides and roof to the body, with a few ejector-pin marks that will need filling if you plan on leaving the door open. Speaking of doors, there are two options for open and closed, with moulded-in hinges and separate door handle, plus the number-plate holder above the door in the centre. The front doors are handed of course, and have separate door cards with handle and window winders added, and a piece of clear styrene playing the part of the window, which is first fitted to the door card before it is added to the door skin. Both doors can be posed open or closed as you wish, and are of the rearward opening "suicide door" type. At this stage the front of the van needs finishing, a job that begins with the radiator with a PE grille and three-pointed star added to a surround, then the radiator core and rear slam-panel with filler cap at the rear. This is put in place at the front of the body at an angle, with two cross-braces reducing body flex along with a central rod that forms the hinge-point for the side folding hood. Small PE fittings are fixed first on the louvered side panels, then added to the top parts in either the open or closed position. A pair of PE and styrene windscreen wipers are added to the windscreen sweeping from the top, a pair of clear-lensed headlamps, wing mirrors and indicator stalks on the A-pillars finish off the build of the van. To differentiate this from the previous kit, MiniArt have included an optional PE roof rack that is folded up and fitted to the exterior drip-rails around the roof, and seven small sprues full of fruit of various kinds and 12 double-height wooden boxes that can be used to depict cargo inside or on the rack if you use it. Markings Get your shades out for two of the three decal options. These were commercial vehicles during peacetime, so they were designed to attract attention. There are three options depicted in the instructions, with plenty of decals devoted to the branding on the sides. From the box you can build one of the following: Provinz Schlesien, Early 1940s Berlin, Early 1940s Colour based upon 50s Poster, registration from American occupation zone Decals are by DecoGraph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion This is another well-detailed kit of an old Merc van, and even if you’re not a vehicle modeller it would make for great background fodder for a diorama, possibly of post-war Allied or Soviet armour making its way through town. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  10. I finished up MiniArt's Austin Armoured Car late last year. Overall, it was a good kit and a fairly typical MiniArt experience: lots of tiny and unnecessary pieces but overall good fitment. I assembled the interior but ended up skipping out on painting it. Comment and criticism welcomed as always!
  11. Traffic Signs Afghanistan 2000s (35640) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Before GPS or Satnav became common, sign posts were an absolute necessity for navigation, and remain a useful confirmatory backup even when you are using GPS, although soon become more useful if your satnav konks out or isn’t up-to-date. This set from MiniArt offer signage for Afghanistan during part of the US led occupation, and is based upon the same sprues as recently released signs from nearby areas, with just the decals and larger paper signs differing between issues. The set arrives in a shrink-wrapped figure-sized box, and contain six sprues, two that contain a large rectangular sign plus one each square, octagonal and small rectangular, giving eight signs in total. The four smaller sprues have two round, two small rectangular, a square, triangle and long rectangle sign, twenty-eight signs in total, with a grand total of thirty-six between all the sprues. There are also eleven poles to put your signs on, and as you can see from the photos, the rear of the signs have brackets to hang them, as well as a representation of their stamped and formed construction. The paper sheet with large signs is in addition to the decals, and one of them is larger than the supplied plastic sign sizes, so you would have to make up your own backing for that one. The decals are printed by MiniArt’s usual partners DecoGraph, and have good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin satin carrier film cut close to the printed areas. A white painted background for the decals will give them a higher brightness, although signs are often old, dilapidated, weathered and damaged – even shot at in war zones or areas where guns are commonplace. People just don’t seem to be able to help themselves! Conclusion Signposts are a useful background item in any diorama or vignette, so having pre-printed signs available is just the ticket to add interest and realism to your work quickly and easily. Don’t forget the bullet holes! Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  12. MiniArt 2022 catalogue is downloadable here: https://miniart-models.com/wp-content/catalogue/2022/files/downloads/Catalog_2022.pdf A new 1/48th aircraft range is announced, first kits will be from Republic P-47D Thunderbolt - thread V.P.
  13. NVA T-55A (37083) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The T-54's gestation and transformation into the T-55 was long-winded and complicated by constant changes to an as yet unsatisfactory under-performing vehicle, and began as early as the end of WWII. Production of the T-54-1 was halted due to production and quality issues, and recommenced as the re-designed T-54-2, with the turret design changed to closer resemble the eventual domed shape of the T-55. The -2 didn't last all that long before the -3 replaced it, and the requirement for survival of tactical nuclear blasts led to the eventual introduction of the similar looking, but significantly different T-55 that we know so well. As the heavy tank fell out of favour, the T-55 became part of the burgeoning Main Battle Tank movement, with thousands of them being produced over the years in various guises. In the early 60s the T-55A was developed, providing more adequate NBC protection that required a lengthening of the hull and coincidentally added anti-spall protection for the crew. It also sounded the death-knell of the bow-mounted machine gun, which was removed to improve ammo storage, and hasn't been seen on MBTs for decades now. The Czechs built their own versions of the T-54 and T-55, with quite an export market developing due to their being of better build quality than the comparatively shoddily-built Russian alternative. Of the many sub variants produced by the then Czechoslovakia, many were exported to Soviet Bloc aligned purchasers such as East Germany, who also bought a number from Poland, which was where they’d previously bought their T-54s from. The term NVA doesn’t refer to the North Vietnamese Army as I initially thought (doh!), but actually refers to Nationale Volksarmee of the DDR, or Deutsche Demokratische Republik as East Germany was known before the fall of the Soviet Union. The Kit Part of the continuously expanding range of early Cold War armour from MiniArt, who seem to be kitting every conceivable variant from the earliest T-54 to the later T-55, which will hopefully include some of the more unusual marks as well. The initial toolings were all brand new, and were designed in a modular format to ease the way toward new variants, which makes for a high sprue count. Some of the kits have been released in augmented Interior Kit boxings, with all the extra details to open up your model as much as you please. The kit arrives in their current orange themed box, with a painting of the tank in question on the front. Lifting the lid gives the feeling of how much is inside, as it is packed full and I'm not looking forward to fitting it all back in. There are 84 sprues in mid grey styrene, many of them quite small, and some of the larger ones linked together in pairs, two clear sprues, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a decal sheet, and the instruction booklet. Crisp detail is everywhere, with judicious use of slide-moulding to improve details further, and make hollow gun muzzles and such where needed. The inclusion of PE helps further, allowing parts to be given a more scale-effect. Construction begins with the lower hull, which has cut-outs for the suspension mounts, hatches and access panels, all of which are supplied as separate parts. The suspension is torsion-link, so the bars are inserted with the axles at their ends, or alternative short torsion bars if you want to freeze the suspension in the level position. The hull sides are separate and are well detailed parts, which are added to the lower hull along with engine bay firewall and rear bulkhead. The T-55 could be fitted with a mine-roller, and although one isn't included with this boxing, the fitments and bracketry is included for the upper and lower glacis alongside the standard light clusters, lifting hooks and pioneer tools. With the glacis and the turret ring flanges added to the hull sides, the upper hull is assembled from the top with turret ring aperture, a multi-part engine deck with individual slats added before installation, and some PE mesh panels added later with optional raised covers supplied as additional parts. The twin headlights have clear lenses and a choice of bezels that fit inside a multi-part cage to protect them from damage, which will take some care to glue together neatly. The fenders have stowage, additional fuel tankage fitted, and lots of fixtures, handles and such, with PE bracing inside the sprung mudguard parts, toolboxes and the exhaust on the port side, with pioneer tools dotted around the exterior. The kit includes plastic towing eyes, but you are going to have to provide your own cables as none are include in the kit, but given the sheer volume of parts it's excusable. At the rear a tubular stowage canister is attached to the back under the extra fuel drums that are so often seen, strapped to curved brackets that overhang the rear of the hull. the wheels are handled next, with five pairs per side with separate hubs, plus the idler wheel at the front, and drive sprocket at the rear. Tracks are next, and are of the individual link type of a different design, requiring 91 links per side, each of which have three sprue gates, but no ejection pin or sink marks to worry about. They now have separate track pins that are attached to the ladder-sprues by small “bulbs” of styrene that make handling easier, but are cut off once glued. I built up a short length to test the system, and while I rolled my eyes at not having a jig initially, I ended up not minding at all, as it allowed me greater room to manoeuvre the parts. The track pins slot into place and should be secured with a tiny amount of glue around the outer nut, to attach it without flooding and immobilising the track joint. With careful gluing you can create a set of robust workable track links quite quickly. Quickly in terms of track building of course! The turret itself is a busy assembly, having the basics of the breech mechanism and coax machine gun made up and mated with the lower turret on two mounts at the front. The upper turret has some holes drilled out from inside and is attached to the lower, after which the two-part turret roof is fitted with hatches, vents and vision blocks. Externally the grab rails, commander’s searchlight and cupola, plus a four-part moulded blast-bag over the mantlet are fixed, and the single piece barrel with hollow muzzle slips through the centre and keys into the breech. The blast-bag is finished off around the edges with PE strips, and a large folded tarp that you make from your own supplies is attached to the back of the turret by more PE straps near the included stowage boxes. An armature links the gun barrel and the main searchlight together so they move in unison, and a choice of the driver's bad-weather hood built up in either the collapsed or deployed format, with the former stowed on the turret bustle, while the latter fits over the open driver's hatch. The big 12.7mm DShK machine gun is another complex assembly with plenty of parts, a large ammo box with soviet star stamped on it and a run of link leading to the breech, which is installed on the loader’s hatch along with two more stowage boxes on the turret sides. Markings There are four decal options, and they’re all pretty green apart from the winter camo option. From the box you can build one of the following: National People’s Army of GDR 1960-70s National People’s Army of GDR 1960-70s National People’s Army of GDR 1960-70s winter camouflage National People’s Army of GDR 1960-70s The decals are printed by DecoGraph on blue paper, and have good register, sharpness and colour density, with a closely cropped thin, matt carrier film. The painting guide gives codes from Vallejo, Mr Color, AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, as well as colour swatches and the colour names. Conclusion These are amongst the most comprehensive kits out of the box that I have seen in a long while, with even the tiniest details catered for. It is a great kit and will keep you modelling for hours and hours. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  14. Vegetables & Wooden Crates (35629) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd MiniArt’s diorama accessories series grows every month, and if you had them all they’d make a stash all on their own! This time we’re looking at crated veggies for placing in shops, stalls, wagons and vans hither and yon for your next model. This set arrives in a shrink-wrapped figure box with a painting of the contents on the front and brief instructions on the rear. There are six sprues in grey styrene in the box, a painting and assembly guide on the rear, accompanied by a paint chart that has swatches of colour, Vallejo, Mr Color, AK RealColor, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, as well as colour names below. Four of the sprues contain parts for four two-part double-high boxes with their second layers formed by adding an extra rectangular wall section with grab handles at the top to the shallow box that has a moulded-in bottom that has fine wooden planking moulded-in. The two larger sprues are identical and contain a ton of vegetables, both in tray-shaped arrangements, and as individual veg. that can be scattered around your scene, or used to augment and differentiate between the stacks inside the boxes. From the box you can build the following: 2 x Eggplant 2 x Bell Pepper 2 x Potatoes 2 x Cucumber 2 x Onion 2 x Carrot 2 x Tomato 2 x Beet Outside the boxes, you also get the following loose vegetables: 2 x Pumpkin (rotund) 2 x Pumpkin (pear-shaped) 12 x Potato 6 x Tomato 6 x Eggplant 6 x Onion 6 x Bell Pepper 6 x Cucumber In total you can build sixteen double-height crates, and the tray-shaped veggies have short feet in their underside corners to give the impression of greater quantities without making over-thick parts that would be subject to concerns about sink-marks. If you nip the legs off in some boxes, they can instantly give the impression of lesser quantities. You will have to deal with the seams on the two-part pumpkins, but a flooding of liquid glue followed by pressure on the seams to exude a bead of plastic melted by the glue should make that an easy task. Conclusion As usual, sculpting and moulding are excellent, and these accessories will help to bring your models and dioramas to life with careful painting and the addition of satin or gloss varnish to give them the correct patina. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  15. French Concrete Road Signs (35659) Paris Region 1930-40s 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd MiniArt have been creating a range of military and martial signs for your dioramas, and have now moved on to make sets for the general populous during the 1930s and 1940s that aren’t directly related to the war. This set includes concrete direction signs that were there before the soldiers came, although some of the direction and distance signs would have been removed as the enemy advanced, although concrete signs might have taken more effort, such as small explosive charges or a bulldozer. They were also from a bygone era when roadside safety wasn’t a major consideration, partly because accidents usually happened at lower speeds, but an impact with a concrete sign would be a dead-stop, probably in more ways than one. This set arrives in a shrink-wrapped figure box with a painting of the contents on the front and brief instructions on the rear. There are eight sprues in grey styrene in the box, plus a decal sheet on pale blue paper that contains all the painted descriptive fronts of the signs. There are fourteen signs spread across the eight sprues, the most impressive of which are two four-sided box signs on a substantial tapering stanchion, which is made up from two halves plus a pyramidal cap. Another two have twin posts with a rectangular sign suspended between them, which comprises two flag-shaped parts that join together, with the posts bulked out by extra parts. Again, two of these can be made. There are three styles of T-shaped signs that have front and back parts of varying shapes to accommodate stiffening rails, and two of each style can be made of these. The final type have a single post with a rectangular sign attached, and again you can make two of each of these. The decal sheet includes a mass of signs for destinations around the Pairs area in the 1930-40s, varying in size and shape to suit the different signs included in the box. They are printed by MiniArt’s usual partners DecoGraph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  16. Royal Engineers (35292) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Royal Engineers, or Sappers as they’re more colloquially known have been a key component of the British Army for as long as there has been an Army, and they have been clearing mines, blowing stuff up and the less intense building of things for the Army and for other clients. During WWII the Sappers were key in clearing mines, obstacles and anything that was deemed to be in the way by the D-Day landings especially. Although the Allies had flail-equipped tanks to blow whole sections of minefields at one sitting and in relative safety, they weren’t always either available or suitable for the task in hand. Sometimes the sledgehammer isn’t the correct tool for a particular nut. These brave guys went forward into unknown fields of mines of various types that had been laid to slow down or even stop the Allied advances, and they detected them with rudimentary electronic devices and rustic prodders, sometimes levering them up with an old-fashioned bayonet. Many of them didn’t see the other side of the field, which must have made it particularly difficult for the others to return to work where their friend had met his end so recently. The set arrives in a shrink-wrapped figure-sized box, and inside are seven sprues in grey styrene, a small decal sheet and a sheet of instructions of around postcard size. On the back is a painting and assembly diagram for the four figures and their accessories held on the sprues, along with a paint chart with Vallejo, Mr.Color, AK Real Color, Mission Models, AMMO, Tamiya, swatches and colour names. Each figure is hard at work detecting mines, one sweeping with an electronic detector, another with a prodder, yet another with a shovel, and the final figure is kneeling down to pick up a mine carefully from the ground. Each figure has a camouflaged battle bowler, a Lee Enfield rifle slung over their shoulder, and a full set of pouches and stowage on their backs that is attached to their webbing, which is moulded into the torso. In addition to the equipment provided on the two figure sprues, there are two general British accessory sprues with more helmets, weapons and pouches, a sprue of rifles with triple-pouches, a sprue of mines, and a sprue with mine detecting equipment and warning signage moulded into it. The decals have signs and the shoulder badges that are visible on a Sapper’s uniform, as well as some stencils for the mines included in the set. Conclusion This is a well-detailed set, with tons of accessories related to the men detecting as well as in general, with MiniArt’s usual high-quality sculpting and sensible breakdown of parts. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  17. Austin Armoured Car 1918 Pattern – Interior Kit (39016) Ireland 1919-21s British Service 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd Armour became an important part of WWI, seeing the first fielding of the Tank by the British, and numerous types of armoured car that saw various uses. At the beginning of WWI Austin’s armoured car was built on their civilian chassis, with light armour and two Maxim machine guns in separate turrets, one firing to each side, front and rear. Many were destined for Russia, but after the Russian Revolution in 1917 some of the later variants were used in British service. One such version was the 1918 Pattern, which had double rear wheels, thicker armour and used the Hotchkiss machine gun instead. A batch of 1918 Pattern vehicles were manufactured for Russia, but were never delivered, with a batch handed to the newly formed Tank Corps, to be utilised in battle using a novel method of deployment. Tanks would tow them across the battlefield through no-man’s land, after which they would peel off and roam freely along and even behind enemy lines. They caused chaos and were almost too effective, ranging miles behind enemy lines at times, and set the scene for the Armoured Car and Infantry Fighting Vehicle of wars yet to come. At the end of the Great War some were returned to the UK and repurposed, but many that were formerly in Russian possession found their way into the inventory of other Eastern European countries, and a small batch were even used by the Japanese, who were British Allies in WWI. Some of the British vehicles were used in Ireland in an attempt to quell the troubles there that went on from before the end of the war until the turn of the new decade, and some bad things happened there. The Kit This is a reboxing of last year’s newly tooled kit, with new parts to accurately portray the later mark included, including the new rear axle and wheels. It arrives in standard-sized top-opening box with a painting of the vehicle on the front, and inside are seventeen sprues and six wheels in grey styrene, a sprue of clear parts, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) in a card envelope, a decal sheet and the instruction booklet that has colour profiles inside the front and rear covers. It’s an Interior kit, so some of the sprues are small, but you get a lot of detail moulded-in, thanks to MiniArt’s diligent designers that make full use of techniques such as slide-moulding, which helps improve detail without creating too many additional parts in achieving this goal. This boxing has two small new sprues that give you a pair of tyres and some of the superstructure that make this more accurate for the period. Construction begins with the ladder chassis, which is built up from two longitudinal rails held apart by various cross-members, some of which have mounting points and pass-throughs for other parts such as drive-shafts for the rear wheels. The engine has its own bearer rails, and it is built up on the sump with a good number of parts, plus a note of where the high-tension leads should go, which you’ll need to make yourself. You are officially an “experienced modeller” if you go to those lengths. The transmission fits to the rear of the rails behind the engine, then they are dropped into the chassis as a unit, and joined by a number of ancillary parts, controls and a chunky radiator. Exhaust and leaf-spring suspension along with bumper irons are glued to the inverted chassis, and the rest of the driver controls are attached to the topside, even before the cab is started. The rods that turn control movements into actions are threaded through the chassis rails, or can be replaced by 0.3mm wires of your own stock, with PE tensioning mechanisms supplied if you choose this option. The big rear axle with drum brakes and the front axle with steering arms are fabricated and attached to their relevant suspension mounts, with more control linkages for the handbrake and steering joining things together. Finally, a little bodywork is attached, initially at the sides of the engine compartments in preparation for the gluing of the swooping front arches, then each axle gets a wheel at both ends, made up from single-part hubs at the front, and mated double hubs at the rear onto which the six cross-treaded tyres are fitted, each one having a slide-moulded seam where the sidewall and tread meet, removing the need to sand and scrape at the lovely tread pattern, simplifying preparation and preserving detail. That’s a good thing, and something I’d like to see more of. Now standing on her own six wheels, the floor of the fighting compartment and the crew cab plus the firewall and various small fittings are placed on the top of the chassis, with another insert providing the bases for the two turrets that have pivot-points in the centre for the machine gun mounts. Various stowage boxes are made up and sat next to the rear steering wheel assembly, which also has a simple seat for getting the crew out of hot water and dead-ends just that little bit easier. Two more slightly substantial crew seats are attached to the front along with steps at the sides, then the somewhat complex upper hull is built sensibly in a step-by-step fashion that stops the modeller from being over-faced. Several raised features should be removed from parts before fitting, and additional rivets are shown being added in various other locations, which you can slice from the flat section of the two Ck sprues, unless you’ve got a set of Archer raised rivet transfers. The clamshell crew flap with PE edges can be posed open to give a wider view of the battlefield for the drivers by using two styles of rods, and when in battle it can be closed down, restricting the driver to a letterbox view of the world, which although frustrating is infinitely better than being shot in the face. Plenty of scrap diagrams show the correct orientations of all the parts, so there’s little room for error unless you rush at it and don’t plan ahead. The hull has another vision flap at the rear, and a number of doors that can be posed open and closed too, with more vision flaps for additional situational awareness, and again there is a lot of hand-holding to get things in the right place. A number of small lights are dotted here & there, all with clear lenses for realism. Even the radiator has a remotely operated armoured cover, as an overheating engine could become troublesome if the flap stays closed too long. The side-cowlings for the engine compartment can also be posed open or closed, and have small PE straps holding them closed. With the addition of the rear fenders, the hull/body is lowered over the chassis, and more stowage is located around the vehicle, including a rack of fuel cans on the front left to make sure they don’t run out behind enemy lines. Pioneer tools are attached to the sides of the car, and a pair of curved-ended unditching planks are strapped-on low down on the chassis sides by some folded PE brackets. Turrets are fun, aren’t they? You build up a pair of mounts for the Hotchkiss machine guns, including a tractor-style perforated seat for the operator and a large ammo can to feed the gun, which is fitted into a braced ball-mount that is glued up against the inner surface of the two-part circular walls. A few more of those slice-off rivets are glued to the top of the turret walls, mainly for detail purposes, as adding moulded-in rivets to a curved part is very hit & miss due to the way the parts are removed from the moulds. The roof is detailed with latches, searchlights on PE brackets and other small fittings, each one fitted open or closed as you see fit. There are two identical turrets included, and these drop into the circular cut-outs in the roof of the fighting compartment, held in place by gravity unless you fix them into position with a little glue. Another searchlight is bracketed to the front of the bonnet above the radiator cooling door. Markings There are a decent five decal options on the decal sheet from the same battalion, with their five-view profiles printed in full colour on the glossy pages of the booklet, and while they all share the same basic colour, there is enough variety in terms of camo above the mid-line to offer plenty of choice. From the box you can build one of the following: 17th Armoured Car Battalion, Royal Irish Constabulary, Ireland, 1919 17th Armoured Car Battalion, Royal Irish Constabulary, Ireland, 1919 17th Armoured Car Battalion, Royal Irish Constabulary, County Clare, Ireland, 1919 17th Armoured Car Battalion, Royal Irish Constabulary, Barracks at Ennis, County Clare, Ireland, Nov 1919 17th Armoured Car Battalion, Royal Irish Constabulary, County Clare, Ireland, Nov 1919 Decals are by MiniArt’s usual partner Decograph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion This six-wheeler early armoured car isn’t as familiar as the Mark.IV tank or the Whippet Light Tank, but it’s been great seeing MiniArt filling another gap in the available kits of WWI armour, and there’s a LOT of them now. Detail is exceptional as we’ve come to expect from MiniArt. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  18. G7107 1.5T 4x4 Cargo Truck w/Crew (35383) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The Chevrolet G506 truck formed the basis of a range of 4x4 load-carrying vehicles that were capable of carrying up to 1.5 tonnes of cargo or equipment. They were initially made under the 4100 code, then moved to the 7100 range, and usually had a standard enclosed cab, with a 3.9L straight-6 engine under the bonnet, with a four-speed “crash” (non-syncro) gearbox putting down a little over 80hp through all four wheels. It rapidly became the Allies’ standard light truck, and served in substantial quantities with the Allies in the West, the Soviets in the East, and the forces fighting Japan in the Far East. There were a lot of variants, some in US Army service, others in USAAF service, with almost 50,000 of two specific types, the G7107 and G7117 sent over to the Soviets under the Lend/Lease program. The G7017 had a cargo bed with canvas top, while the G7117 was the same except for the addition of a winch to give it some static pulling power. They were well-liked by their drivers and crews, and were adapted to other tasks due to their ubiquity, such as being used by the Soviets to carry Katyusha rockets on a stripped-down flatbed. The Kit This is a reboxing of a brand-new tooling from MiniArt that is coming to your favourite model shop right now. It’s a full interior kit, with engine, cab and load area all included along with some very nice moulding and detail, particularly in the cab and those chunky tyres. It arrives in one of MiniArt’s medium-sized top-opening boxes, and inside are twenty-four modular sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue, Photo-Etch (PE) sheet in a card envelope, a tiny bag with some metal chain within, a wide decal sheet and glossy instruction booklet with colour profiles on the front and rear pages. Construction begins with the ladder chassis, which has leaf-springs fore and aft, cross-braces and rear towing eye fitted to create the structure, then has the fuel tank with PE straps, and PE rear bumper irons folded around a styrene jig, and axles installed on U-bolts, before the brake drums/hubs, battery and external brackets are added to the chassis rails. The transfer box and drive-shaft join the two axles together, and a steering linkage and box are inserted into the front of the chassis, then the engine is built up based on the straight six-cylinder block, with carburettor, dynamo and transmission added, plus the pulleys and fan at the front. The engine and substantial front bumper iron are fitted to the chassis, and at the rear a short additional chassis rail and stowage area are attached to the frame at the rear behind the fuel tank. The exhaust and its manifold slip into the underside of the chassis from below, with linkages and axle brackets fitted to the rails. The crew cab is next, beginning with the firewall and forward sidewalls. The roof and windscreen frame are moulded as one, with a headliner insert and rear-view mirror that are inserted within, and the three-part radiator housing is made to be used later. The firewall and roof are joined with some of the dash pots fixed to the engine side of the firewall, while the doors and their interior cards are assembled with their handles and window winders, plus the clear window glass that can be posed open or closed at your whim. The dashboard inserts into the front bulkhead with seven decals for the instruments and stencils on the glove box. The diagonal foot panel is joined with the firewall and decked out with three foot pedals, a stud and the steering wheel on a long column that slides through a hole in front of the pedals. The driver and co-driver share a bench seat that is made up on the floor from back, cushion and a C-shaped surround that fits round the rear of the cab back wall, with small ovalised window and PE mesh grille fitted later. The roof and firewall assembly are fitted, with the doors installed within the frame in the open or closed position. The windscreen is two flat clear parts in a styrene frame that is posed open or closed later on. The cab and radiator are both placed on the chassis and the engine cowling side panels fit between them with front wing/fender included that has Chevrolet embossed on the vertical sides and some holes drilled in the rear of the fenders. The aforementioned windscreen has a pair of PE brackets and styrene wingnuts that are installed either vertically for closed, or at an angle for open, with a scrap diagram showing the correct orientation of the various parts. The spare tyre is placed on a bracket near the exhaust, and the front of the vehicle has its headlights with clear lenses plus sidelights fitted to the wings, some German fittings for decal option 4, and PE windscreen wipers hung from the top of the frame, then the front grille is built. You may have noticed that this doesn’t appear on the sprues, and there’s a good reason for that. It is constructed completely from PE, and two jigs are included on the sprues to assist with obtaining the correct shape. The lower rail and curved side panels are made up on one jig from a single piece of PE, while the centre panel is folded up on another, then they’re joined together ready to be attached to the front of the engine bay. There are two brackets stretched across the front of the radiator, and another small curved section is added to the left of the grille as it is glued in place with the help of some CA. The hood/bonnet is able to be fitted open or closed with two styles of clasp and in the open option, a PE stay is provided. Two tie-down hooks are fixed to the front bumper iron too. The load bed floor is a single moulding with a ribbed texture on the underside, and a thick rear section with hooks, separate rear lights and moulded-in reflectors. The shallow sides and front have separate frames and a series of tie-down hooks fixed along their lengths, with PE closures and chains on the rear gate that can also be fitted open or closed, as can the seats that run down each side. The four rear mudguards are held at the correct angles by PE brackets, and on one side a pioneer toolkit is lashed to a frame with PE fixings holding an axe, pick axe, and spade. The load bed is joined to the chassis along with the toolkit on the right side of the flatbed. It’s time for the wheels to be made up, with singles at the front, each made from two parts each, and twin wheels at the rear, made up much earlier in the instructions for some reason. Each wheel slips over its respective axle, with the hub projecting through the central hub. There are two extra fuel cans on brackets with PE tie-down straps on the running boards, plus optional tilt frames that fit to the top of the vertical rails if used. In addition, a crew of three American Army driver/loader figures is included on a separate sprue, wearing overalls or fatigues with jackets, wearing caps and performing various maintenance tasks/leaning on things. Each one is made up from individual legs, torso, head and arms, plus an M1 Garand in a holster and some stowage bags. Markings There are four markings options on the decal sheet, three in green and the last one in German grey, as it is under new management. From the box you can build one of the following: 12th Armoured Division, 7th Army, 1943/44 298th Engineer Combat Battalion, 1st Army, France, Summer 1944 Brazilian Expeditionary Force, Italy, 1945 Captured vehicle, Unknown Wehrmacht Unit, Eastern Front, Summer, 1943 Decals are printed by MiniArt’s usual partners Decograph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion We seem to be blessed with new kits of the Chevrolet G7107 truck in 1:35 recently, which was ubiquitous during WWII on the Eastern and Western fronts as well as the Far East, where it played an important but unsung role in the defeat of the Nazis and the Axis, lugging weapons, ammunition, men and supplies to the front and sometimes back again. The included figures are just gravy! Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  19. Hallo This was the most complicated plastic kit I have ever built. No aircraft ever had so many parts! The assembling sequence very often I had to change my thoughts! Anyway, the interior is full there. Even grenades. So enjoy to see the photos. In WIP are more. Happy modelling
  20. Hallo This is my Panzer IV Ausführung H in 1/35 from MiniArt. Actually I wanted to build one Panzer IV with full interior. So, MiniArt was my choice. Here I have to say, after building aircraft for 25 years, the sidestep to vehicles and tanks is somewhat an astonishment. Soon, after building the main types without interior I choose to build them with interior. This new MiniArt kit is to my opinion the most detailed kit I have ever worked on. On aircraft modelling just the new Mini Base is close to this quality. Far behind also WingNut or anything else you know, Hasegawa, Dragon, Tamiya, AMK, also Takom and ReyField. The detail and the size of parts, here my eyes are on the very limit, with glasses and magnifier, even my tweezers are on the limit! Well, so I thought about assembling. Here I choose following idea: Subassemblies in one color only. Parts with different color will be sprayed separately. Masking must be a minimum, due to high degree of detailing, masking is nearly not possible! So I worked down the base plate and the rear bulkhead. I had to write a matrix to get along with this amount of ammunition. All grenades I intend to spray. The gear and engine is now done, and some parts of the rear compartment are left to do tomorrow. The brakes for each side will be next on my agenda. Well, next days I report more. Happy modelling
  21. T-55A Polish Production (37090) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd. The T-54's gestation and transformation into the T-55 was long-winded and complicated by constant changes to an as yet unsatisfactory performing vehicle, and began at early as the end of WWII. Production of the T-54-1 was halted due to production and quality issues, and recommenced as the re-designed T-54-2, with the turret design changed to closer resemble the eventual domed shape of the T-55. The -2 didn't last all that long before the -3 replaced it, and the requirement for survival of tactical nuclear blasts led to the eventual introduction of the similar looking, but significantly different T-55 that we know so well. As the heavy tank fell out of favour, the T-55 became part of the burgeoning Main Battle Tank movement, with thousands of them being produced over the years in various guises. In the early 60s the T-55A was developed, providing more adequate NBC protection that required a lengthening of the hull and coincidentally added anti-spall protection for the crew. It also sounded the death-knell of the bow-mounted machine gun, which was removed to improve ammo storage, and hasn't been seen on MBTs for decades now. The Czechs built their own versions of the T-54 and T-55, with quite an export market developing due to their being of better build quality than the Russian built alternative. Of the many sub variants produced by the then Czechoslovakia, many were exported to Soviet Bloc aligned purchasers. Poland also produced over 7000 tanks between 1964 and 1983. Polish tanks had different stowage and slightly different rear decks. Many found their way to other countries and the were used by all sides in the Yugoslavian civil wars. The Kit Part of the ever-expanding range of early Cold War armour from MiniArt, who seem to be kitting every conceivable variant from the earliest T-54 to the later T-55, which will hopefully include some of the more unusual marks as well. The initial toolings were all brand new, and were designed in a modular format to ease the way toward new variants, which makes for a high sprue count. Some of the kits have been released in augmented Interior Kit boxings, with all the extra details to open up your model as much as you please. The kit arrives in their current orange themed box, with a painting of the tank in question on the front. Lifting the lid gives the feeling of how much is inside, as it is packed full and I'm dreading putting it all back in. There are 75 sprues in mid grey styrene, many of them quite small, and some of the larger ones linked together in pairs, two clear sprues, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a decal sheet, and the instruction booklet. Detail is everywhere, and is crisp, with judicious use of slide-moulding to improve details further, and make hollows where needed. The inclusion of PE helps further, allowing parts to be given a more scale-effect. Construction begins with the lower hull, which has cut-outs for the suspension mounts, hatches and access panels, all of which are supplied as separate parts. The suspension is torsion-link, so the bars are inserted with the axles at their ends, or shorter stubby versions if you want to freeze the suspension in the level position. The hull insides are separate and are well detailed parts, which are added to the lower along with engine bay firewall and rear bulkhead. Externally, the T-55 could be fitted with a mine-roller, and although one isn't included with this boxing, the fitments and bracketry is included for the upper and lower glacis alongside the standard light clusters, lifting hooks and pioneer tools. With the glacis and the turret ring "bat wings" added to the hull sides, the upper hull is assembled from the top with turret ring aperture, a multi-part engine deck with individual slats added before installation, and some PE mesh panels added later with optional raised covers supplied as additional parts. The main lights have clear lenses, and fit inside a multi-part cage to protect them from damage, which will take some care to glue together neatly. The fenders have additional fuel tankage fitted with hosing between them, and lots of PE fixtures, handles and such, with even more PE bracing inside the sprung mudguard parts, tools, toolboxes and the exhaust on the port side. The kit includes plastic towing eyes, but you are going to have to provide your own cables as none are include in the kit, but given the sheer volume of parts it's excusable. At the rear an unditching log is lashed to the bulkhead with PE straps, and the extra fuel drums so often seen are also lashed to curved brackets that overhang the rear of the hull. Between them the deep wading funnel is attached by a couple of pins to the bottom of the brackets, and it has its own group of PE brackets for the bracing wires that are seen when it is in use. the wheels are handled next, with five pairs per side with separate hubs, plus the idler wheel at the front, and drive sprocket at the rear. Tracks are left until a little later and are of the individual link type, requiring 90 links per side, each of which have four sprue gates, but no ejection pin or sink marks to worry about. What is there however is stunning detail, which includes the casting numbers inlaid into the hollows of each track link, and close-fitting lugs that should make the building an easier task. The turret itself is a busy assembly, having the basics of the breech mechanism and coax machine gun made up and mated with the lower turret on two mounts at the front. The upper turret has some holes drilled out from inside and is attached to the lower, after which the two-part turret roof is fitted with hatches, vents and vision blocks. Externally the grab rails, forward mounted searchlight, commander's cupola and a choice of cast mantlet or moulded blast-bag over the mantlet are added, and the single piece barrel with hollow muzzle slips through the centre and keys into the breech. The blast-bag is finished off around the edges with PE strips, and a large folded tarp is attached to the back of the turret by more PE straps near the included stowage boxes. An armature links the gun barrel and the searchlight together so they move in unison, and an ancillary searchlight is fitted to the commander's cupola, with a choice of the driver's poor weather hood built up in either the collapsed or deployed format, with the former stowed on the turret bustle, while the latter fits over the open driver's hatch. Additional ammunition for the DshK is added to the turret. The 12.7 mm DShK heavy machine gun is the last assembly, and is made up along with its mount, ammo box with a short length of shells leading into the breech, which is fitted into the mount in front of the loader’s hatch. The turret is dropped into the hull and your choice of location made for the driver’s poor weather hood made earlier. Markings There are six decal options, and plenty of colour (and operator) variation, which is nice to see. From the box you can build one of the following: Polish Army, 70s Yugoslav Army 80s. Slovenian Army 90s. Republic of Bosnia & Herzegovina Army 90s (Winter camo) Polish Army, Lublin 1995. Yugoslav Army, Kosovo War late 90s The decals are printed by DecoGraph on bright blue paper, and have good register, sharpness and colour density, with a closely cropped thin, matt carrier film. Conclusion These are amongst the most comprehensive kits I have seen in a long while, with even the tiniest details catered for, down to the tiny nuts holding the snorkel to the rear of the tank. It is a fabulous kit and will keep you modelling for hours and hours. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  22. Croatian T-55A (37088) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd. The T-54's gestation and transformation into the T-55 was long-winded and complicated by constant changes to an as yet unsatisfactory performing vehicle, and began at early as the end of WWII. Production of the T-54-1 was halted due to production and quality issues, and recommenced as the re-designed T-54-2, with the turret design changed to closer resemble the eventual domed shape of the T-55. The -2 didn't last all that long before the -3 replaced it, and the requirement for survival of tactical nuclear blasts led to the eventual introduction of the similar looking, but significantly different T-55 that we know so well. As the heavy tank fell out of favour, the T-55 became part of the burgeoning Main Battle Tank movement, with thousands of them being produced over the years in various guises. In the early 60s the T-55A was developed, providing more adequate NBC protection that required a lengthening of the hull and coincidentally added anti-spall protection for the crew. It also sounded the death-knell of the bow-mounted machine gun, which was removed to improve ammo storage, and hasn't been seen on MBTs for decades now. The Czechs built their own versions of the T-54 and T-55, with quite an export market developing due to their being of better build quality than the Russian built alternative. Of the many sub variants produced by the then Czechoslovakia, many were exported to Soviet Bloc aligned purchasers. Poland also produced over 7000 tanks between 1964 and 1983. Polish tanks had different stowage and slightly different rear decks. Many found their way to other countries and the were used by all sides in the Yugoslavian civil wars. The Kit Part of the ever-expanding range of early Cold War armour from MiniArt, who seem to be kitting every conceivable variant from the earliest T-54 to the later T-55, which will hopefully include some of the more unusual marks as well. The initial toolings were all brand new, and were designed in a modular format to ease the way toward new variants, which makes for a high sprue count. Some of the kits have been released in augmented Interior Kit boxings, with all the extra details to open up your model as much as you please. The kit arrives in their current orange themed box, with a painting of the tank in question on the front. Lifting the lid gives the feeling of how much is inside, as it is packed full and I'm dreading putting it all back in. There are 77 sprues in mid grey styrene, many of them quite small, and some of the larger ones linked together in pairs, two clear sprues, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, a decal sheet, and the instruction booklet. Detail is everywhere, and is crisp, with judicious use of slide-moulding to improve details further, and make hollows where needed. The inclusion of PE helps further, allowing parts to be given a more scale-effect. Construction begins with the lower hull, which has cut-outs for the suspension mounts, hatches and access panels, all of which are supplied as separate parts. The suspension is torsion-link, so the bars are inserted with the axles at their ends, or shorter stubby versions if you want to freeze the suspension in the level position. The hull insides are separate and are well detailed parts, which are added to the lower along with engine bay firewall and rear bulkhead. Externally, the T-55 could be fitted with a mine-roller, and although one isn't included with this boxing, the fitments and bracketry is included for the upper and lower glacis alongside the standard light clusters, lifting hooks and pioneer tools. With the glacis and the turret ring "bat wings" added to the hull sides, the upper hull is assembled from the top with turret ring aperture, a multi-part engine deck with individual slats added before installation, and some PE mesh panels added later with optional raised covers supplied as additional parts. The main lights have clear lenses, and fit inside a multi-part cage to protect them from damage, which will take some care to glue together neatly. The fenders have additional fuel tankage fitted with hosing between them, and lots of PE fixtures, handles and such, with even more PE bracing inside the sprung mudguard parts, tools, toolboxes and the exhaust on the port side. The kit includes plastic towing eyes, but you are going to have to provide your own cables as none are include in the kit, but given the sheer volume of parts it's excusable. At the rear an unditching log is lashed to the bulkhead with PE straps, and the extra fuel drums so often seen are also lashed to curved brackets that overhang the rear of the hull. Between them the deep wading funnel is attached by a couple of pins to the bottom of the brackets, and it has its own group of PE brackets for the bracing wires that are seen when it is in use. the wheels are handled next, with five pairs per side with separate hubs, plus the idler wheel at the front, and drive sprocket at the rear. Tracks are left until a little later and are of the individual link type, requiring 90 links per side, each of which have four sprue gates, but no ejection pin or sink marks to worry about. What is there however is stunning detail, which includes the casting numbers inlaid into the hollows of each track link, and close-fitting lugs that should make the building an easier task. The turret itself is a busy assembly, having the basics of the breech mechanism and coax machine gun made up and mated with the lower turret on two mounts at the front. The upper turret has some holes drilled out from inside and is attached to the lower, after which the two-part turret roof is fitted with hatches, vents and vision blocks. Externally the grab rails, forward mounted searchlight, commander's cupola and a choice of cast mantlet or moulded blast-bag over the mantlet are added, and the single piece barrel with hollow muzzle slips through the centre and keys into the breech. The blast-bag is finished off around the edges with PE strips, and a large folded tarp is attached to the back of the turret by more PE straps near the included stowage boxes. An armature links the gun barrel and the searchlight together so they move in unison, and an ancillary searchlight is fitted to the commander's cupola, with a choice of the driver's poor weather hood built up in either the collapsed or deployed format, with the former stowed on the turret bustle, while the latter fits over the open driver's hatch. Additional ammunition for the DshK is added to the turret. The 12.7 mm DShK heavy machine gun is the last assembly, and is made up along with its mount, ammo box with a short length of shells leading into the breech, which is fitted into the mount in front of the loader’s hatch. This is only used on 4 of the decal options, on the other options a browning 50 Cal is provided. The turret is dropped into the hull and your choice of location made for the driver’s poor weather hood made earlier. Markings There are six decal options, and plenty of colour (and operator) variation, which is nice to see. From the box you can build one of the following: 1st Guard Brigade "Tigrovi" Republic of Croatia Armed Forces, 1990s, tank marked "Marnia" 1st Guard Brigade "Tigrovi" Republic of Croatia Armed Forces, 1990s, tank marked "Croatia" 2nd Guard Brigade "Gromovi" Republic of Croatia Armed Forces, 1990s, tank marked "19775" 1st Guard Brigade of the Croatian Defence Council "Ante Bruno Busi" Republic of Croatia Armed Forces, 1990s, tank marked "Dnimid Torcid / Martn" 1st Guard Brigade "Tigrovi" Republic of Croatia Armed Forces, 1990s, tank marked "939" 4th Guards Brigade "Pauci" Republic of Croatia Armed Forces 1990s, Marked "4025" The decals are printed by DecoGraph on bright blue paper, and have good register, sharpness and colour density, with a closely cropped thin, matt carrier film. Conclusion These are amongst the most comprehensive kits I have seen in a long while, with even the tiniest details catered for, down to the tiny nuts holding the snorkel to the rear of the tank. It is a fabulous kit and will keep you modelling for hours and hours. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  23. T-34/85 Composite Turret #112 Plant, Summer 1944 (35306) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The T-34 was Stalin's mainstay medium tank that was produced in incredible volume by sometimes crude and expedient methods, to be thrown into the fray against the numerically inferior German tanks on the Eastern Front. The designers combined a number of important advances in design such as sloped frontal armour, wide tracks to spread the load, and the ability to cope with the harsh Russian winters without freezing to a halt, which was a problem that affected the Germans badly after the initial successes in the summer of Operation Barbarossa. The part count and cost of the tank was continuously reduced during production, with plants turning out up to 1,300 per month at the height of WWII. The initial welded turret was replaced by a cast turret with more room, and later the 76mm gun was replaced by a more powerful 85mm main gun in the T-34/85 with an enlarged turret, giving even the Tiger pause for thought. The T-34/85 with the composite turret was manufactured during the summer of 1944 at Krasnoye Sormova plant #112 on the Volga River, with a simplified gun in the turret in the shape of the ZiS-S-53, as well as some other changes. The Composite turret was fitted with a flat roof that had a pair of hatches and linked mushroom vents to the rear. There were some messy welds between the various castings, which gives them a rough look that belies their capability. The Kit This is another boxing of MiniArt’s new T-34 line, and is an exterior only kit, but the box is still loaded with sprues of all shapes and sizes. In total there are sixty-four sprues in grey styrene, two in clear, a Photo-Etch (PE) brass fret, a small decal sheet and instruction booklet with colour profiles inside each of the front and back covers. Many of the sprues will be seen in various other boxings of the T-34, notably the Czech production and others that we reviewed here, which is the reason for their use of smaller sprues that make their kits so eminently modular. It makes the process easier and cheaper for them, and makes the likelihood of receiving many different options to choose from much more promising for us, which with the rate we’re receiving them for review seems to be the case. As always with MiniArt, the design, detail and crispness of moulding is excellent, and the inclusion of PE brass in the box is one less thing you need to fork out for. Unsurprisingly, construction begins with the lower hull. The floor is decked out with four tubular fittings for the suspension on each side and a lower escape hatch, then the engine firewall near the rear. The lower hull walls are next, with their Christie-style suspension springs contained in channels up the inside face. The upper hull begins with the ball-mount and DT Machine gun for the bow, with a fixed stock for the gunner’s comfort. The gun is left to swivel inside the port, so be sparing with the glue when you complete this assembly. The glacis plate accepts the gun from inside after fitting of the armoured outer protection, and has a tubular external armoured cover to protect the majority of the barrel length from incoming rounds. The upper hull deck and sides are moulded as one, and the sides have a number of holes drilled out before they are applied to the hull, with a few nubs cut from the exterior on the way, then the glacis plate it fitted to the front, some armoured plates are fitted near the turret ring, and it is then glued to the lower hull. At the rear the engine bay is still exposed, which is next to be addressed by adding a frame around the rear bulkhead then attaching this large rear panel that has a circular inspection panel fixed in the centre, with a pair of armoured exhaust covers to the sides and short exhaust stubs filling the centres. The engine deck is covered with vents and louvers that are added with a central inspection hatch, then it is fixed over the engine bay. Additional armoured covers with louvered grilles are fitted over the large flush louvers, then the suspension swing-arms and stub axles are installed under the sponsons, and the mudguards with PE detail parts are glued into place at the front, with more simplified flaps to the rear. Small parts, various pioneer tools, rails and stowage boxes are made up and fitted onto the sloped sides of the hull, with racks of winter track grousers attached to the flat portions of the side and external fuel tank cradles behind them. At this stage the driver’s hatch is also built with twin clear periscopes, hatch closures and external armoured cowls for the ‘scopes and hinges. On the glacis, a strip of five spare track links are applied to marks on the plate between towing lugs and loops. Under the rear of the tank another set of loops, hooks and eyes are fitted into marked positions between the two final drive housings. A quartet of smooth-surfaced cylindrical fuel tanks are installed on the sides and rear by using the curved brackets fitted earlier, and mixed PE and styrene straps holding them in place. Ten pairs of wheels with either smooth or ribbed tyres and separate hub caps are built with one of two styles of drive sprockets and idler wheels to complete the rolling part of the tracks. At the same time the main towing cables are made from styrene towing eyes, but you will need to supply three lengths of 94mm braided cord or wire, so make sure you have some on hand when you begin. The ribbed tyres are only fitted for certain decal options, and these are not used on all stations, so check the instructions next to that step. Now for the tracks. The T-34’s wide tracks were simple and easy to produce, as well as great at spreading the tank’s weight and helping prevent freezing of the drivetrain in cold weather, of which Russia has more than its fair share. There are two different track parts, one flat, the other with a guide horn in the centre, and both have exquisite casting details that includes the ID numbers on both parts and indeed both faces. They have four sprue gates on each link, attached on the curved hinge-points, making them easy to cut back flush and then sand smooth with a sanding stick, to ease assembly and gluing. I made up a short length as a test, and was finished in a few minutes with a little liquid glue thanks to their close tolerances that keep them together while you glue. Each side needs 72 links, which equates to 36 of each part, and once you get into a rhythm, it won’t take too long to complete the task, wrapping the still flexible links around the curved sections and holding them in place with tape and other clamps etc. to obtain the correct sag on the top run once the glue has cured. The detail is so good it’s almost a shame to weather them once painted. The turret starts as an almost complete shell with three sides moulded into it, which has inserts for the interior skin. The roof is separate and has a large cupola with clear vision blocks and binoculars built into the bi-fold hatch, plus a simpler hatch for the gunner, both of which are shown fitted closed. The roof also has two more periscopes under armoured shrouds, and two vents on the rear, which are covered by a linked armoured mushroom cover. Despite this not being an interior kit, the basic gun breech is present, with another 7.62mm DT machine gun mounted coaxially in the mantlet, before it is set to one side while the turret floor is completed. The floor part first has a lip inserted within the ring, then the inner mantlet support is prepared with the main gun’s mount, which is glued to the turret floor and has the breech slid in from behind and is joined by the coax DT with its mount. The gun tube, which is a single part is inserted into the socket on the inner mantlet and has the outer mantlet slide over it, and it has a hollow muzzle for extra detail. An aerial, a long grab handle and six tie-down lugs are added around the rear of the turret, and three PE straps are included to either hang loose, or to lash a canvas of your own making to the rear of the bustle, then the turret is dropped into place in the hull to complete the build. Markings There are seven decal options in the box and they’re all green, as you’d expect from a wartime example made in the summer of '44, but a few have white stripes and red markings to break up the green. From the box you can build one of the following: 5th Guards Tank Corps., Red Army, 3rd Ukrainian Front, Czechoslovakia, Winter 1945 2nd Guards Tank Brigade, Red Army, East Prussia, March 1945 'Vladimir Mayakovsky', unidentified unit, Red Army, Berlin, April/May 1945 Unidentified unit, Red Army, Berlin, April/May 1945 1st Polish Tank Corps., Germany, April 1945 ‘Rogacz’ (Deer), 1st Polish Tank Corps., Germany, April/May 1945 ‘With the victory over Berlin’ 10th Guards Tank Corps., Red Army, Germany 1945 The decal sheet a reasonable size, because despite this being a tank, there are a generous seven options. The sheet is printed by DecoGraph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion The T-34 played a huge part in the Soviet response to Operation Barbarossa, albeit after a substantial delay caused by Stalin’s apparent indecision. It was a stalwart of their defence then offense, sweeping the Germans aside thanks to its sloped armour and sheer weight of numbers. This kit omits most of the interior, and yet keeps all the external goodies, so if interiors aren’t your thing it's a tempting option. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  24. T-34/85 Mod 1945 Plant 112 (37091) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The T-34 was Stalin's mainstay medium tank that was produced in incredible volume by sometimes crude and expedient methods, to be thrown into the fray against the numerically inferior German tanks on the Eastern Front. The engineers combined a number of important advances in design such as sloped frontal armour, wide tracks to spread the load, and the ability to cope with the harsh Russian winters without freezing to a halt, which was a problem that affected the Germans badly after the initial successes in the summer of Operation Barbarossa. The part count and cost of the tank was continuously reduced during production, with plants turning out up to 1,300 per month at the height of WWII. The initial welded turret was replaced by a cast turret with more room, and later the 76mm gun was replaced by a more powerful 85mm main gun in the T-34/85 with the enlarged turret, giving even the Tiger pause for thought. The T-34/85 served until after WWII in Soviet service, but once it became obsolete, they were exported aggressively to Soviet friendly nations, who could always find uses for them, sometimes for a long period of service, interestingly they were supplied to Austrian units in the divided country after WWII and following reunification in 1955 the Austrian Army would use an interesting mix of western and Soviet equipment types/ The Kit This is another boxing of MiniArt’s new T-34 line, and is not an interior kit, but the box is still loaded with sprues of all shapes and sizes, including four crew figures to fill the hatches. In total there are 62 sprues in grey styrene, two in clear, a good-sized Photo-Etch (PE) brass fret, a small decal sheet and instruction booklet with colour profiles inside each of the front and back covers. Many of the sprues will be seen in various other boxings of the T-34, notably the Czech production that we reviewed here, which is the reason for their use of smaller sprues that make their kits so eminently modular. It makes the process easier and cheaper for them, and makes the likelihood of receiving many different options to choose from much more promising for us, which with the rate we’re still receiving them for review seems to be the case. As always with MiniArt, the design, detail and crispness of moulding is excellent, and the inclusion of Photo-Etch (PE) brass in the box is one less thing you need to fork out for. Unsurprisingly, construction begins with the lower hull. The floor is decked out with four tubular fittings for the suspension on each side and a lower escape hatch, then the engine firewall near the rear that performs the task of upper hull support in this boxing. The lower hull walls are next, with their Christie-style suspension springs contained in channels up the inside surface. The upper hull begins with the ball-mount and DT Machine gun for the bow, without a stock for the gunner’s (dis)comfort. The gun is left to swivel inside the port, so be sparing with the glue when you complete this assembly. The glacis plate accepts the gun from inside after fitting of the armoured protection, and has an armoured external cover to protect the majority of the barrel from incoming rounds. The driver’s hatch is hinged at the top, and the armoured cover is applied to the top edge of the aperture, and a length of tracks are installed underneath. The upper hull top and sides are moulded as one, and the sides have a substantial number of holes drilled out before they are applied to the hull, with a few nubs cut from the exterior on the way, then the glacis plate it fitted to the front and glued to the lower hull. A pair of PE parts are glued to the hull sides next to the turret ring, with two stiffener plates in PE where the front fenders will be late. At the rear the engine bay is still exposed, which is next to be addressed by adding a frame around the rear bulkhead then attaching this large rear panel with exhausts and filling the circular inspection hatch in the centre, with a pair of armoured exhaust covers for the exhausts. The engine deck is covered with vents and louvers that are added with a central inspection hatch, then fixed over the engine bay. Additional armoured covers with PE grilles are fitted over the basic louvers, then the suspension swing-arms and stub axles are installed under the sponsons, with final drive housing and idler wheel axles at front and rear. At this stage the driver’s hatch is also built with twin clear periscopes, hatch closures and external armoured cowls for the ‘scopes and hinges. Mudguards are assembled with PE strips for the front fenders, with wading deflector passing over the track links on the glacis, and at the rear two auxiliiary fuel tanks and their mounting straps are built up and added. Small parts and various pioneer tools and stowage boxes are made up and fitted onto the sloped sides of the hull, along with racks for extra track parts. Additional fuel tank support frames are fitted on the rear sides, and interlinked towing cables just forward of them. A trio of smooth-surfaced cylindrical fuel tanks are installed on the sides later by using curved brackets and five-piece tanks with PE and styrene shackles holding them in place, the cables taking up the space where the fourth tank would be. The headlight is a detailed assembly made up from PE and styrene parts, with an angled cage folded around a jig to obtain the correct shape. Ten pairs of wheels are built with two drive sprockets and idler wheels to complete the rolling part of the tracks. At the same time the main towing cables are made from styrene towing eyes, but you will need to supply two lengths of 100mm braided cord or wire, so make sure you have some on hand when you begin. Now for the tracks. The T-34’s wide tracks were simple and easy to produce, as well as great at spreading the tank’s weight and helping prevent freezing of the drivetrain in cold weather, of which Russia has more than its fair share, but their ruggedness also applied to desert conditions. There are two different track parts, one flat, the other with a guide horn in the centre, and both have exquisite casting details that includes the ID numbers on both parts and indeed both faces. They have four sprue gates on each link, attached on the curved hinge-points, making them easy to cut back flush and then sand smooth with a sanding stick, to ease assembly and gluing. I made up a short length as a test, and was finished in a few minutes with a little liquid glue thanks to their close tolerances that keep them together while you glue. Each side needs 72 links, which equates to 36 of each part, and once you get into a rhythm it won’t take too long to complete the task, wrapping the still flexible links around the curved sections and holding them in place with tape and other clamps, wedges etc. to obtain the correct sag on the top run once the glue has cured. The detail is so good it’s almost a shame to weather them once painted. Despite this not being an interior kit, the gun breech is made up from a substantial number of parts with another machine gun mounted coaxially in the mantlet, before it is set to one side while the turret floor is completed. The floor part first has a lip inserted within the ring, then the inner mantlet support is prepared with the main gun’s mount, which is glued to the turret floor and has the breech slid in from behind and is joined by the coax DT with its mount. The turret upper starts as an almost complete shell with three sides moulded into it, which has inserts for the interior skin and the roof, which has a large cupola with clear vision blocks and binoculars built into the bi-fold hatch, plus a simpler hatch for the gunner, both of which are shown fitted closed. The roof also has two more periscopes under armoured shrouds, and two vents, which are covered by armoured mushroom covers. Lifting-eyes, antennae (depending on decal option) and grab-handles are dotted around the turret sides, then the gun tube, which is a single part is inserted into the inner mantlet and covered by the outer, has a hollow muzzle for extra detail. A top mantlet cover is made up and attached on the sides of the bustle, plus a self-made canvas tarp can be fitted to the rear with PE straps, or you can depict the straps hanging loose if you choose. The turret is finally dropped into place in the hull to complete the build, with no bayonet lugs to hold it in place, so take care if you decide to inspect the underside one day. Markings The decal sheet isn’t huge because this is a tank, but the sheet is printed by DecoGraph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. From the box you can build one of the following: 4th Guards Tank Corps, Red Army, Moscow Autumn 1945 Chinese People's Liberation Army, Early 1050 Ceremonial Colours, Soviet Army, Ukraine November 1949 Czechoslovak People's Army Late 1940s Romanian People's Army 1950s Austrian Armed Forces, Early 1960; Conclusion The T-34 had a long and useful service life with many operators, with the boxing depicting a wide variety of vehicles. This kit omits most of the interior in the interior boxings, and yet keeps all the external detail plus gun breech, so if interiors aren’t your thing it's an appealing alternative. You can still have some of the hatches open. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  25. T-34/85 Mod.1960 (37089) 1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd The T-34 was Stalin's mainstay medium tank that was produced in incredible volume by sometimes crude and expedient methods, to be thrown into the fray against the numerically inferior German tanks on the Eastern Front, occasionally with wet paint or no paint at all. The engineers combined a number of important advances in design such as sloped frontal armour, wide tracks to spread the load, and the ability to cope with the harsh Russian winters without freezing to a halt, which was a problem that affected the Germans badly after their initial successes in the summer of Operation Barbarossa. The part count and cost of the tank was continuously reduced during production, with plants turning out up to 1,300 units per month at the height of WWII. The initial welded turret was replaced by a cast turret with more room, and later the 76mm gun was replaced by a more powerful 85mm main gun in the T-34/85 with a further enlarged turret, giving even the Tiger pause for thought before an engagement. The T-34/85 stayed in service until long after WWII with the Soviets, but once it became obsolete, they were exported aggressively to Soviet friendly nations, who could always find uses for them, sometimes for a long period of service. These exports were upgraded to Mod.1960 standards with new more powerful engines and other more up-to-date equipment to give them at least some chance of surviving more modern foes. Surprisingly, this wasn’t the last update, with another following on in 1969. The most recently used Yemeni vehicles were in use as late as 2015 where they suffered losses from modern anti-tank missiles, which are the bane of modern armour, let alone warmed-over WWII equipment. The Kit This is another boxing of MiniArt’s recent T-34 line, and is not an interior kit, but the box is still loaded with sprues of all sizes. In total there are sixty sprues in grey styrene, two in clear, a good-sized Photo-Etch (PE) brass fret, a long thin decal sheet and instruction booklet with colour profiles inside each of the front and back covers. Many of the sprues will be seen in various previous boxings of the T-34, and their use of smaller sprues makes their kits so eminently modular. It makes the process easier and cheaper for them, and the likelihood of receiving many different options to choose from much more likely for us, which with the rate we’re still receiving them for review seems to be the case. As always with MiniArt, the design, detail and crispness of moulding is excellent, and the inclusion of Photo-Etch (PE) brass in the box is one less thing you need to fork out for. Unsurprisingly, construction begins with the lower hull. The floor is decked out with four tubular fittings for the suspension on each side and has a lower escape hatch, then the engine firewall near the rear that performs the added task of upper hull support in this kit. The lower hull walls are next, with their Christie-style suspension springs contained in channels up the inside face. The upper hull begins with the ball-mount and DT Machine gun for the bow, without a stock to give the gunner more space. The gun is left to swivel inside the port, so be sparing with the glue when you complete this assembly. The glacis plate accepts the gun from inside after fitting of the armoured protection, and has an external armoured cover to protect the majority of the barrel from incoming rounds. The driver’s hatch is hinged at the top, and the armoured cover is applied to the top edge of the aperture, and a pair of towing hitches and small tie-downs are installed on the lower edge, followed by adding a strip to the front of the lower hull in preparation for joining. The upper hull top and sides are moulded as one, and the sides have a number of holes drilled out before they are used, then the glacis plate it fitted to the front and glued to the lower hull. A pair of slim styrene parts are glued to the roof sides next to the turret ring, and some small raised pairs of marks need to be removed on the sides with a sharp blade. At the rear the hull is still open, which is next to be addressed by adding a frame around the rear bulkhead then attaching this large rear panel with exhausts and filling the circular inspection hatch in the centre, with a pair of armoured covers for the exhausts and two cylindrical fuel tanks on brackets at the top corners, with the rear mudguards and a pair of hoses for the fuel tanks added too. At this stage the driver’s hatch is also built with twin clear periscopes, hatch closures and external armoured cowls for the ‘scopes and hinges. Mudguards are assembled with PE strips for the front fenders, with bow-wave deflector passing over a run of track links on the glacis. The engine deck is covered with vents and louvers that are added with a central inspection hatch, then fixed over the engine bay. Additional armoured covers with grilles are fitted over the basic louvers, then the suspension swing-arms and stub axles are installed under the sponsons, with final drive housing and idler wheel axles at front and rear. Racks for additional fuel tanks are installed to the rear of the sides, with many short tie-down loops and a few longer ones in the mid-section, plus some stowage boxes made up with PE clasps that mount on the narrow horizontal fenders running down the side of the vehicle. Small parts including various pioneer tools and stowage boxes are made up and fitted onto the remaining sloped spaces of the hull, including three trays of track grousers with PE straps, and two towing cables that are made from styrene towing eyes, but you will need to supply two lengths of 100mm braided cord or wire, so make sure you have some on hand when you begin. A trio of smooth-surfaced cylindrical fuel tanks are installed on the curved brackets and five-piece tanks with PE and styrene shackles holding them in place, plus two short ribbed tanks taking up the space where the fourth tank would be. Ten pairs of wheels with separate hub caps are built with two drive sprockets and idler wheels to complete the rolling part of the tracks. Now for the tracks. The T-34’s wide tracks were simple and easy to produce, as well as great at spreading the tank’s weight and helping prevent freezing of the drivetrain in cold weather, of which Russia has more than its fair share, but their ruggedness also applied to desert conditions. There are two different track parts, one flat, the other with a guide horn in the centre, and both have exquisite casting details that includes the ID numbers on both parts and indeed both faces. They have four sprue gates on each link, attached on the curved hinge-points, making them easy to cut back flush and then sand smooth with a sanding stick, to ease assembly and gluing. I made up a short length as a test, and was finished in a few minutes with a little liquid glue thanks to their close tolerances that keep them together while you apply the adhesive. Each side is built from 72 links, which equates to 36 of each part, and once you get into a rhythm it won’t take too long to complete the task, wrapping the still flexible links around the curved sections and holding them in place with tape and other clamps, wedges etc. to obtain the correct sag on the top run once the glue has cured. The detail is so good it’s almost a shame to weather them once painted. This is not an interior kit, so the basic gun breech is made up from a few parts with another 7.62mm DT machine gun mounted coaxially in the mantlet, before it is set into the turret floor, which first has a lip inserted within the ring, then the inner mantlet support is prepared with the main gun’s mount, which is glued to the turret floor and has the breech slid in from behind. The turret upper starts as an almost complete shell with three sides moulded into it plus a pair of inner sidewall layers, which has some holes drilled into the outer skin and the roof fitted that has a large cupola with clear vision blocks and another block built into the front of the hatch, plus a simpler hatch for the gunner, both of which are shown installed closed. The roof also has two more periscopes under armoured shrouds, and two vents on the rear, which are covered by a pair of armoured mushroom covers. The single-part slide-moulded gun tube is inserted into the inner mantlet and covered by the outer that slides over it and the gun has a hollow muzzle for extra detail. A PE top mantlet cover, plus a self-made canvas tarp (using your own stock) can be fitted to the rear with PE straps, or you can depict the straps hanging loose if you choose. The turret is finally dropped into place in the hull to complete the build, with no bayonet lugs to hold it in place, so take care if you decide to inspect the underside one day in the future. Markings The decal sheet is wide and thin, and the sheet is printed by DecoGraph, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas. From the box you can build one of the following: Soviet Army, late 1960s North Vietnamese Army (People’s Army of Vietnam), early 1970s Army of Rhodesia, early 1970s Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan Unidentified Unit, Yemen, late 2010s Conclusion We’ve been treated to many, many variants of this doughty and long-lived medium tank that saw service in almost as many places as the AK47 until the 1970s at least. By the time this mod came out they were already outdated, under-armoured and under-armed, so must have been very cheap to buy. It’s a great kit though, and the varied operators will be tempting for many. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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