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MiniArt T-54-1

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/35 scale plastic model tank kit

MiniArt seems to be on a quest to produce every important version of the T-54. A few months ago it produced a kit of the first production version of the T-54-1 with a full interior. Now comes the same kit without all the interior parts.

Still, the kit contains more than 1,000 parts, molded in light gray plastic. Almost 100 are photo-etch, and 200 are track links. The detail is exceptional and nearly flawless. Basic interior parts are included, sufficient to allow an open turret hatch with some visible detail inside.

Color diagrams and decals provide four sets of markings: two in olive green, one with worn winter whitewash, and one with a tricolor summer camouflage. There are clear parts for the headlight and periscopes. Paint colors are given for Ammo of Mig Jimenez, Humbrol, Mr. Color, Testors, and Vallejo. A small decal sheet provides markings for the four subjects.

The multipart hull includes working torsion bars. Pay close attention to part numbers in the first five steps; it’s easy to mix up the unique ones. Installing the suspension-arm covers (parts Kc2 and Kc3), add the covers first, then their clamps (parts Ho2). The instructions are to add all the details to each hull panel, then install it. I found it easier to add the panels to the hull, then add the details. I had a little trouble getting the rear hull panels (parts E34, E28, E5) to fit properly. By adding them all at once, I was able to adjust for fit. When cleaning up the engine-cover frame (E44), I broke one of the cross bars; I replaced it with stretched sprue.

In Step 22, it’s easy to miss the indication to drill the holes in the front plate. You only need to cut the slot on the plate if you are mounting the headlight on the pillar (Part D33). Installing the rear fuel drums and their tie-downs was the most challenging part of the hull. I left off the running gear until I had finished painting the rest.

The fenders are nicely molded with good detail on the underside and only faint ejector-pin marks. Adding the stowed ice cleats (parts He1) was tricky. After struggling with adding them to the right fender, I put a couple of pieces of stretched sprue under the ones on the left fender to hold them level. I initially missed the fact that the rear fuel drum on the left fender was shorter that the other three. Also, watch the position of the left rear tank; it could interfere with the exhaust. I couldn’t get the injection-molded tow cables to look right, so I left them off.

Instead of installing all details on the upper and lower turret halves before joining them, I added internal details to the turret, then glued the halves together. I worked the seam with a file, then used a motor tool with a round burr to restore the cast texture. Only then did I add exterior details.

The barrel only required removing a fine mold seam. Sadly, the trunnions were too loose to hold it up; I had to glue my main gun in place.

The decal, applied over a coat of Tamiya clear, responded well to Micro Sol.

Once everything was painted, I added the running gear and tracks, then put the model in a squaring jig to ensure alignment. The tracks take only take a few swipes of a sanding stick to clean up. MiniArt supplies some links without guide teeth and indicates them as an option in the instructions, but without any indication of how often to use them. I used the indicated 90 links per side, exactly the number of toothed links supplied.

The finished model perfectly matched published dimensions.

I spent 47 hours building MiniArt’s T-54. If construction is your favorite part of modeling, you’ll enjoy this one. It’s for experienced builders, but the fit and detail are impressive.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the November 2017 issue.
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