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T-54A Soviet Medium Tank, (37009) 1:35

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T-54A Soviet Medium Tank

MiniArt 1:35

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By 1953, the OKB-520 design bureau saw the rise of a new team, under the direction of Leonid N. Kartsev. Their T-54A came equipped with the new STP-1 “Gorizont” gun stabilizer in a vertical plane with better guidance, an automated electric ejection device to purge the barrel, and the initial small muzzle counter-weight was replaced with a massive fume extractor. This new gun was called D-10TG. Now it was possible to conduct true aimed fire on the move.

 

The engine received an air cleaner with controlled blinds, multi-stage air filter and radiator control to maintain optimum performance and a new OPVT wading snorkel. The driver received a night vision periscope, as the TVN-1 and related IR driving searchlight. A new R-113 radio was also made available. The gunner received an upgraded TSh-2A-22 telescopic sight. Other modifications included an electrical oil pump, bilge pump and automatic fire extinguisher. The most distinctive change in appearance, outside the gun’s fume extractor, were the massive rear mounted extra fuel tanks. T-54A production was scheduled for mid-1954 but not produced until the end of 1955 as an upgrade, which lasted until 1957. Some 2102 T-10TG guns were completed by the Sverdlovsk and Perm arsenals for 1955 alone, 1854 in 1956 and 840 in 1957. (Taken from Tanks-Enclyclopedia.com)

 

The Model

Having reviewed the T-54-1 here, T-54-2 here and T-54-3 here recently, we are now onto the main production machines proper. As with earlier kits there are a lot of similarities but quite a few new parts as well. As with MiniArt kits with interiors there are a lot of sprues, seventy seven in this case, of grey styrene, plus two of clear, two sheets of etched brass and a smallish decal sheet. The box, deeper than a standard tank kit box has a nice painting of the tank on the front. On opening you are greeted by a mass of sprues, many of them quite small because of the tooling's modular nature, with quite a few parts going unused for this boxing. The mass of sprues fill up just about all the space in the box, leaving only room for air between the sprues, anyone familiar with the old Krypton Factor will realise getting all this back in the box is one of life’s little challenges! 

 

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Construction is almost identical to the earlier releases, complete with the full engine, which is a beautiful model in its own right, and consisting of forty two parts if you include the engine mounting cradle. The lower hull is then fitted out with a multitude of parts that include the torsion beam suspension, multi part axles, gearbox covers, and interior escape hatch plus PE beam covers.  The interior is then built up from the fighting compartment floor and includes all the pipe work, seats fire bottles, steering mechanism and internal bulkheads. The interior and exterior of the sidewalls are also covered with detail, including the large racks of shells for the main gun, with additional shells stored around the fighting compartment.

 

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The detailed sidewalls are then glued into place, as is the engine assembly, engine compartment firewall and other ancillary equipment. The upper glacis plate is then fitted as are the three piece road wheels, drive sprocket and idlers. The turret ring assembly is the attached, followed by the rear bulkhead, each fitted with more detail parts. The engine deck is then built up and the separate hatches are able to be posed open or closed as per the modellers’ wishes. The deck is topped off with PE grilles in their frames and the large hinge for the main hatch. The tracks are of individual link type, with ninety links per side, and it will be a case of assembling it like a link and length style, gluing each link together before draping them over the road wheels.

 

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The fenders are fitted with stowage boxes, fuel tanks and spare track links plus front and rear mudguards before being glued into position. The two fuel drums mounted to the rear of the tank are assembled and glued into their mounting frames, as is the unditching beam and the pipework for the fender fuel tanks. The turret is another new moulding, which has even more equipment in it than the earlier versions, due to the improved technology. As with the other kits the turret interior includes the full main gun breech, radios, training motors, seats, hand cranks, and other equipment, but with additional sighting equipment for the main gun, and more spare ammunition boxes for the co-axial machine gun, which is just as detailed as before, consisting of sixteen parts, plus another eight for the new sighting system. Ready use shells are added to the inside of the upper turret along with a multitude of brackets and clamps.  The turret roof comes complete with all the periscopes and hatch details for the commander and gunner positions, a highly detailed Dushka (DsHK) 14.5mm heavy machine gun, consisting of twenty nine parts, and rolled up tarpaulin. The single piece main barrel is glued into the breech, and fitted with a choice of two mantlet covers.  There a many more grab handles fitted to the outside of the turret on this version, not to mention brackets and clamps. Finally the driver's wet weather cover, that fits over his hatch can be posed stowed or in place.  If you are stowing it, there are some PE straps to tie things down on the bustle. The turret assembly is then fitted to the hull, completing the build.

 

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Decals

The decal sheet gives the modeller seven options. The decals are beautifully printed, are clear and in good register with a slightly matt finish. The options are:-

 

  • T-54A, No.221 of the 2nd Guards Mechanised Division of the Soviet Army, Budapest, Hungary, 24th - 30th October 1956
  • T-54A, No.411 of the 2nd Guards Mechanised Division of the Soviet Army, Budapest, Hungary, 24th - 30th October 1956
  • T-54A, No.312 of the 202th tank regiment  of the Vietnam People’s Army during the initial phase of operation “Nguyen Hue”, April 1972
  • T-54A, No.212 of an Unidentified Guards unit of the Soviet Army in winter camouflage, 1950’s and 60’s
  • T-54A of the 3rd Tank Battalion, 68th Guards Tank Regiment of the 6th Guards Motor Rifle Division of the Soviet Army, Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin, October 1961
  • T-54A, No.823 of the 2nd Guards Mechanised Division of the Soviet Army, Budapest, Hungary, 24th – 30th October 1956
  • T-54A, No. 166, Celebration for the parade, an unidentified unit of the Soviet Army 1950’s and 60’s.

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Conclusion

These beasts of tanks, and models are really coming thick and fast for the moulding machines of MiniArt and you really just can’t fault them.  There is so much detail that it could overwhelm a modeller unless their mojo was really cranked up. But if you break the build into bite sized pieces as sub-assemblies, painting as you go, there shouldn’t be a problem.  Not one for beginners or maybe even intermediate modellers, but there are versions being released, without interior,that would perhaps be more suited to their level to gain experience before tackling a full interior build. As bang for your buck goes, these have to be some of the best value kits around these days.

 

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Review sample courtesy of Miniart - Distibuted in the UK By Creative Models

 

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