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  1. TOP Armoured recovery vehicle MiniArt 1:35 Vi Creative Models Although based on the SU-122-54 assault gun, there is very little else I can find out about this vehicle, the identifying feature of the donor tank is the gap in the wheels between the third and fourth road wheel. The main gun was removed and a large plate welded in the place of the mantlet. Large towing eyes were welded to the rear of the superstructure and rear hull plate and a small cupola fitted with a searchlight for the commander. Only about one hundred were made and mostly stayed within the Moscow military district or seen at the big parades Russia/Soviet Union likes to give. The Model Without the main gun this vehicle does look rather odd, in a typically Russian style. As with most MiniArt kits the box, with an artist’s impression on the front is full to the brim with sprues, there being a total of fifty one, which, considering there is no interior, is still quite a lot, no matter how small they are. The way the sprues are moulded is how the company gets so many versions of their kits out, as there is a lot of commonality. The mouldings are extremely well executed with no sign of flash or other imperfection, but there are quite a few moulding pips which increases clean up time. Even though it looks a fairly simple vehicle take your time to read the instructions carefully as there are a lot of small parts and options. Construction begins with the lower hull, which is fitted out with the torsion bean suspension fixtures and you have the option of fitting the whole torsion beam or just the end part. Each suspension beam/axle plate consists of seven parts and there are ten axles to fit. Once the suspension is assembled the lower hull is built up from two side plates a rear plate and the internal firewall for the engine bay, the engine being available separate should you wish to fit one. The suspension bump stops are then attached, as are the drive gearbox covers and idler wheel axles. The superstructure is next and is made up from separate plates which require holes to be drilled out before gluing together. In order to help get the plates the correct angles there is a small internal part the helps with this and give the structure strength and rigidity before the roof and mantle are attached. The roof is fitted with two, three piece vision scope and the commander’s cupola is fitted with three vision blocks. The roof is also fitted out with grab handles and other fixtures, which this reviewer cannot identify. The glacis plate is fitted out with a variety of hooks, eyes, plates, brackets and a pair of spare track links. The superstructure assembly is then glued to the lower hull, along with the track guards, and three multi-part engine deck covers. The rear of the superstructure has two large hatches glued into place, with, rather oddly, two external seats attached to them, and there are two, large four piece bottle jacks assembled to be fitted to the right hand side of the engine deck. The commander’s cupola is made up from no less than nineteen parts if you include the searchlight. There is a much simpler second hatch on the right hand side of the super structure. The front and rear mudguards are then assembled and fitted along with the very complex PE engine deck grilles, with separate shutters are built up and fitted. On the sides of the superstructure there are a lot more grab handles and brackets to be attached, while to the rear there are three large multi-part stowage bins to be assembled and glued to the track guards. The twin headlights fitted to the left and right sides of the glacis plate are assembled from thirteen parts including the base and all the support beams. On each front track guard there is a visual width pole fitted which are also fitted with reflectors. Each of the road wheels are glued into pairs and fitted with a small hub cap, as are the sprockets and idler wheels. Once assembled these are all glued into place, as are the aerials and large towing cables. Finally the tracks are assembled and draped over the running gear. Unfortunately these are of the glue together type rather than MiniArt’s latest system of pin and link, so you will need some patience, as there are ninety links per side, or go out and buy some aftermarket metal tracks, which in my view gives a better natural sag anyway. Decals The decal sheet gives the modeller three options. The decals are beautifully printed, are clear and in good register with a slightly matt finish. The options are:- TOP ARV, USSR, Moscow Military District 1970’s to 1980’s TOP ARV, USSR, Moscow Military parade, November 7th 1990 TOP ARV, USSR, Moscow Military District, presumably early 1990’s Conclusion MiniArt seem to be attempting to produce every variant stemming from the T-55, no matter how odd or obscure they are. This is great for the military modeller who is either into weird vehicles or Russian/Soviet equipment, or as in most cases, both. Once again it’ll make an interesting stand alone model or just as great in a diorama. Review sample courtesy of Miniart - Distibuted in the UK By Creative Models
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