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Mike

SLA Heavy APC-54 Interior Kit (37055) 1:35

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SLA Heavy APC-54 Interior Kit (37055)

1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd

 

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During the period that the South Lebanese Army existed from 1985-2000, they had a small force of tanks that included T-54s that had been bought from Russia, with little opportunity of topping up losses.  When one T-54 was hit and had its turret destroyed, it was recovered to the workshops and had the remains of its turret removed and replaced by welded sheet metal to give it an open-topped “doghouse” to fill a new role as an Armoured Personnel Carrier, hence the designation APC-54.  It was painted a pale blue colour and was used in the 80s, surviving to end up in an Israeli museum where it has been photographed many times by visitors in a fresh coat of light blue paint.

 

 

The Kit

This is a re-tool of the recent series of their highly detailed T-54 and T-54, with the base sprues being those of the T-54 Interior Kit, which is crucial with the visibility of the hull inside through the re-engineered turret ring.  It arrives in the usual shrink-wrapped package with handsome box art and all the contents secured inside with tight-fitting heat-sealed foil bags.  Did I mention?  It’s a full box thanks in part to the extra internals but also the redundant parts that will be found on many of the sprues, which will be excellent spares box fodder once the kit is complete.  There are an eye-watering 75 sprues in grey styrene in the box thanks to the modular design of MiniArt kits, plus a single clear sprue, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass in a card envelope and instruction booklet found in the bottom of the box that has colour covers and the painting guide on the rear cover.

 

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This is a full interior kit, and not just the crew area.  The engine is constructed first, with all of the ancillaries, mounting frame, exhaust manifolds and hosing added along the way.  The lower hull is initially missing its sides, and first needs its axles mounts adding, then the suspension arm with their torsion-bar linkages (long or short) threaded through, plus the crew escape hatch in the middle of the floor, and later on some armoured covers for the axles.  The centre section is covered with liftable tread-plate sections, then the beginnings of the driver’s station is begun with control linkages threading across the floor.  The side plates are made up next, with masses of ammo boxes in racks, radio gear and various other equipment adorning the inner sides.  The engine firewall is also assembled with a small fan at one side for later installation.  The starboard side is mated with the floor, and the driver’s side bulkhead with controls and instruments are dropped into holes in the floor, as is the big power-pack in the rear, with the lower section of the aft bulkhead slotted into the large housing for the drive sprockets.  The port side undergoes the same treatment and is inserted into the hull along with the firewall, plus the remainder of the aft bulkhead.  It’s all fairly standard T-54 equipment so far, until you assemble and add a double-sided bench seat in the centre of the floor where the turret should be.  The interior is ostensibly complete, and the roof is added next that is again fairly standard fare apart from some small depressions.  The hull top is made up from sections that are detailed with lights, vision blocks and sundry equipment before it is glued in place, starting with the glacis plate, moving back to the vestigial turret ring and then the engine compartment, then adding the final drive bell-housings at the rear and suspension bumpers along the tops of the suspension mounts.  All the hatches are fitted after detailing, grilles and their mesh covers are fixed in the rear, fenders are glued into the slots in the side of the hull, then decked out with stiffening brackets plus mudguards at the rear.

 

Now for the fun part, which although it’s not a turret (that’s my usual fun part of an AFV), the three castellated armoured upstands are attached to small depressions in the deck, then the fenders are fitted out with fuel tanks, pioneer tools, the fluted exhausts, stowage boxes and even fuel cans in PE cages.  The fuel tanks are linked to the fuel system by snaking tubing that is included in the box, with PE clips to act as the tie-downs and lock parts for the stowage boxes that are lockable.

 

We’ve had no track or road wheel discussion so far, but it’s unavoidable so here we go.  The tank has five pairs of road wheels on each side, made up from two wheel parts and a hub in the inner face, held to the axle on the outer surface with a central pin and hub cover that hides them away.  Careful gluing will be needed if you wish to keep them mobile, then you repeat the process with the toothed drive sprocket and smooth idler wheel on each side.  There’s a little break while you build up the big M2 .50cal and smaller .30cal that can be attached at any of the three mounting points in the lower sections of the doghouse, with highly detailed barrels, ammo cans and mounts.  After that brief interlude, it’s time to build up the tracks, which are individual links that fit together in runs of 90 links on each side.  Each link has four sprue gates that are on the connection points, so should be quick to tidy up after nipping from the sprue, and there are no ejector marks or sink marks to be seen anywhere, which is nice.  They’re of the type you’ll need to glue and drape around the wheels, taking care to obtain the correct sag before the glue sets by packing the runs out to suit.  Pretty standard stuff, but covered with beautiful raised and engraved detail on each link that makes it almost a shame to cover them in mud.

 

 

Markings

It’s an interesting one-off vehicle, which we believe was painted pale blue at the time it saw action, as replicated in the museum where it now resides.  There are no decals, just lots of opportunity for grime, chipping and so forth.

 

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Conclusion

Such an unusual derivative of the type deserves to be kitted, and it wasn’t too onerous a task, so MiniArt went ahead and did it, adding a few parts on new sprues to achieve their aim.  There will be quite a few parts left on the sprues when you’re finished, so prepare your parts bin for action.  We've since reviewed the dozer blade equipped version of this kit, so if a red dozer appeals, you can see our other review here.

 

 

Highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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I have the Dozer version of this kit, and you get a lot of plastic for your money.

A few Photos of the real apc in action, and one from the IDF  museum at Laturn.

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Net Photos

 

 

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On 30/06/2020 at 11:16, magman2 said:

I have the Dozer version of this kit, and you get a lot of plastic for your money.

A few Photos of the real apc in action, and one from the IDF  museum at Laturn.

Cool pics :) I've updated the review with a link to the dozer equipped version, which you can also find below:

 

 

 

 

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