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T-54-1 Soviet Medium Tank

MiniArt 1/35 T-54-1 Soviet Medium Tank Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2017 Manufacturer MiniArt
Subject T-54-1 Soviet Medium Tank Scale 1/35
Kit Number 37003 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Beautiful detailing, full interior Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $68.99

First Look

T-54-1 Soviet Medium Tank Kit
T-54-1 Soviet Medium Tank Kit
T-54-1 Soviet Medium Tank Kit
T-54-1 Soviet Medium Tank Kit
T-54-1 Soviet Medium Tank Kit
T-54-1 Soviet Medium Tank Kit
T-54-1 Soviet Medium Tank Kit

In recent years, various model companies have been releasing kits of World War II era Soviet tanks (T-34, KV series, etc) as well as tanks of the cold war to present (T-55, T-62, T-64, T-72, and up through the latest Armata designs). Last year, MiniArt released the T-44 and T-44M medium tanks which were supposed to be evolutions of the T-34 but ended up as footnotes in Soviet armor history. The next step in Soviet medium tank development was the T-54 series, but even this went through several iterations in design before production settled on the design we recognize as the T-54. The T-54-1 was the first production version of this new series which continued the hull changes developed with the T-44 and used a turret that was a lower-profile version of the flat-sided T-34/85 turret. As this tank entered production, problems were discovered which halted production of the tank and a return to the drawing board for the T-54-2.

Here is MiniArt's latest release, the T-54-1 which still features a lower profile T-34/85-type turret but with a hull that evolved from the T-44M. Like the earlier T-44 releases, this kit features a full interior (engine compartment and crew compartment). The kit is molded in gray styrene and presented on 74 parts trees plus one tree of clear parts (duplicate trees not shown) and two frets of photo-etched parts. According to the manufacturer, there are 948 plastic parts and 105 photo-etched parts in this box. There is some serious mass to the box when you pick it up.

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Nicely detailed V-54 12-cylinder diesel engine
  • Detailed engine compartment surrounding the V-54
  • Positionable engine access hatches and vent louvers
  • Torsion bar suspension detail on the hull interior
  • Detailed crew compartment in the hull w/ammo storage
  • Detailed stowage and pioneering tools on hull exterior
  • Detailed machine gun modules on fenders
  • Detailed D-10T main gun and turret interior
  • Detailed DShK machine gun on commander's hatch ring mount
  • Positionable crew hatches
  • Clear periscopes provided

Painting instructions are provided using MIG paint colors which are fine for those that use MIG paints. MiniArt used to provide painting instructions for many different paint brands and it would be nice to see MiniArt return to that solution for those modelers that do not have or do not use MIG paints.

The decals/color profiles included in the kit are for:

  • T-54-1, 224, Soviet 50th Anniversary Parade
  • T-54-1, 222, Soviet 50th Anniversary Parade
  • T-54-1, tri-color camo designed for summer had it been issued to units

This is a nice looking kit and is not over-engineered. Those 1053 parts build up a full interior and engine compartment in addition to the exterior and track. We've seen kits from other manufacturers build up similar-sized vehicles with more parts and no interiors at all. If you prefer your armor kits without the extra interior details, this subject is avalable without interior as kit 37014. I also salute the snap-together one-piece track links so you won't be spending a week building up track.

While I am not certain where MiniArt is going with these releases (they just released the T-54-2), they have engineered some outstanding kits with the SU-85, SU-122, T-44, T-44M, T-54-1, and T-54-2, all with full interiors. They have the parts to push into competitive territory with the T-34 series and the T-54/T-55 which will raise the bar on these subjects. These kits offer some outstanding details without being over-engineered, but there isn't much an AMS modeler could add that isn't already in these boxes. Keep an eye on these folks as I think we'll see them put the Chinese model companies on notice.

My sincere thanks to MiniArt for this review sample!