by: Darren Baker [ ]
When MiniArt first started producing T-54 and T-55 models, some with large areas of the interior replicated modellers were pleased with the offerings. Perhaps one aspect that was most pleasing was that MiniArt tackled the sprues in such a way that the many different variants could be produced without leaving as much plastic unused as used. One of the latest releases from MiniArt is a Polish produced T-55A with alterations that tie the model down to specifically. I have to say that the T-55 is really a vehicle for the expert as the alterations were often tiny and take a knowledgeable eye to pick out and identify, fortunately for Joe public MiniArt has provided details on specific changes made and so makes it possible for every modeller to start spotting these changes on the real vehicle. So letís take a look at what is on offer from MiniArt of a Polish Production of the T-55A.
This offering from MiniArt arrives is a good stiff cardboard tray with a separate card lid with the art work on it; I want to take a moment to thank MiniArt for using pleasing artwork on their boxes of late as it improves their appeal. Inside of the box is a single large plastic bag that contains two additional plastic bags and a card sleeve. One of the bags contains some of the sprues for the model; the other contains the decal sheet and clear sprues and has caused a crease in the decal sheet, something I am concerned about. The card sleeve contains the photo etched fret for the model and this is an approach by MiniArt that I strongly approve of.
From the start I will say that the different aspects of the T-55 tank family are many and complex, far too many for me to get my head around and so I have taken the word of MiniArt about what features are specific and these are as follows.
Fuel line set up
MG mounting ring
OPVT wading snorkel
Tool box at the rear of the fuel cells
Hull lights and protection cage
Cloth mantlet cover
The hull of the model has a very large number of parts which while placement is well indicated it will mean taking your time to get it right. I do not know if MiniArt tackled the tub in this method to enable many different versions to be constructed or from a detail approach, but it does mean the modeller gets a level of detail that we could only dream of a few years ago. The suspension is workable which I like as despite some seeing it as a gimmick I like that it enables accurate wheel position on an uneven base; I will say that once I get it in the position I want I do tend to glue it in place. For those modellers who want to display the finished model on a level base or surface alternate parts are provided by MiniArt to enable this.
The underside of the hull that is rarely if ever seen has a great level of detail as regards escape and inspection hatch detail. One thing I do not like is that MiniArt indicates a number of locations where holes need to be opened up or more accurately drilled, but no drill size has been indicated which is a pain. The side walls of the lower hill have some interior details provided due to the interior offerings that MiniArt has provided. These side walls are added to the hull and so could be an issue but MiniArt has overcome this due to the inclusion of the firewall between the crew and engine compartment. The side walls do have a number of parts to add and you will need to take care of these are the build progresses.
The upper hull and engine deck have also been tackled in a number of pieces and this is I know due to the various T-55 kits that MiniArt offer. The details provided are very nice and while I am unable to vouch for the accuracy of the model the detail is great to behold and provides a lot of details that us geeky modellers like to point out and look at. I am pleased to see clear periscopes provided throughout the model and is one of the little touches that does add a lot to the finished product. I am a bit ham fisted and so struggle with photo etch depending on size and location, as such I am pleased to see that MiniArt has not gone overboard with it while still making good use of it. The fuel tanks have a very good level of detail with them being so obvious on this tank and includes photo etch lifting handles; in this case I would replace the photo etch with fuse wire due to it providing the correct cross profile. Another area where MiniArt has done a job is the fuel lines for the tanks that have all been replicated.
On the other side of the vehicle a mix of storage boxes with MiniArt providing optional boxes in one case. The boxes are well tackled and with a little help could be displayed open if required; again MiniArt has provided photo etched handles for the boxes and I would again turn to fuse wire as it looks better in my opinion. I am not going to critique MiniArt for the approach taken as it is good to see a company making the effort. The fuel drums at the rear of the model have again been well detailed with me being very pleased with how the strapping has been tackled and replicated. The snorkel has been very well detailed and is hidden away where we usually expect to find a log for use when stuck.
The tracks for this offering are individual none workable offerings which means they will greatly please some modellers and in equal measure upset others. Having looked at them I am really pleased with the level of detail on each link with the need to clean up four connection points being the only thing I have against them. The road wheels have a very high level of detail on them, but the modeller will need to add some wear and tear to give them a realistic appearance. The return roller has good detail and I see no issues with that aspect of the model. The drive wheel is another area with good detail but removal will require care to avoid damage to the teeth.
The turret has the very appealing curve well replicated in all respects from turret ring to hatch lid. The main gun is a single piece moulding and good use of slide moulding technology. The slide moulding technology has also been put to good use for the ranging gun in the turret and commandersí MG. The main gun is moveable up to a point as it will need to be secured once the mantlet is added. The turret hatches are listed by MiniArt as the NBC type with great detail on the hatch interior as well as exterior. The actuator arms between the main gun and light has been well tackled and an aspect I find pleasing. The finishing options are covered in the attached photographs.
MiniArt has really pushed themselves with their line of T-55 tanks and this offering is no exception. The detail throughout the model is of a very high standard, but it is this exceptional detail that places this model in the hands of modellers with a good grounding in the hobby. I have two complaints specifically about the model and they are that placing the decals in with the clear sprues resulted in a crease of the decal sheet and secondly not including the drill size required for the locater holes that need to be opened up.