by: Darren Baker [ ]
MiniArt continues to release their line of T-55 tanks. This particular offering is not one that has an interior and I also cannot ascertain what it is that makes this a specifically Croatian model other than the decals for finishing the model. So without further a do lets take a look inside the box.
This offering from MiniArt is supplied in a substantial cardboard try with a separate cardboard lid, the lid will not cope with the rigors of postage, so will need some protection. Inside you will find a single plastic bag containing all the parts for the model. In addition to the bag there is a very nice instruction booklet, inside of the bag you will find a further bag that contains some of the sprues and a second bag that contains the clear parts of the model and the decal sheet. I do have concerns about packing the clear parts with the decal sheet as this could cause damage, on this occasion it has got away with it. Lastly there is a card sleeve, inside the bag that contains the photo etch fret and that is something I highly approve of.
The lower hull of the model is a multi parts affair, and so will require care during assembly. MiniArt has supplied the suspension with the option of being workable or fixed. This will enable the modeller to display the model on a perfectly flat surface, or rough surface without problems. The underside of the hull has exceptional detail covering both escape and inspection hatches. While this multi part tackling of this area requires a large number of parts, that does allow a very high level of detail which is not normally seen. A gripe from me, is that there are some holes that need to be opened up, in various locations and while identified by MiniArt no drill size has been provided.
The sides of the hull, could have proved to be tricky to install but MiniArt has supplied some interior panels that stiffen up the sides, which along with the rear of the model and the bulkhead between the crew and engine department, and this gives you a positive way of locating everything. With this model having been released in a number of variants by MiniArt, there are obviously bits and bobs you need to change, and this requires the removal of some parts and locators opened up in others. I like that MiniArt has indentified these areas clearly, but I do wish that drill sizes had been included in the instructions.
The upper portion of the hull, is again a multi part affair due to the number of different models released, but that does not make for a difficult life with regards to installation. I have built a couple of these now and have had no problems what so ever. Something that I strongly approve of is that the periscopes have been provided as clear parts, something that I do feel makes a big difference. Photo etch grills have been provided for the engine deck, and these again provide a nice level of detail. The front lights guards are quite a complex assembly, and is an aspect that I am not looking forward to. The track guards have been provided in two pieces, with a good level of detail on both faces, but again there are holes that need to be opened up but with no sizes provided.
There are a number of quite small photo etch parts that need to be added, and these will likely test your nerves and ability. A nice touch is that MiniArt have provided a good number of photo etch handles for the upper deck, and I like that these are not moulded on the engine deck but I would prefer to replicate the handles with fuse wire as the cross profile is more accurate. The tools mounted on the mud guards have been provided without moulded on detail and so I feel will meet with modellerís approval. The engine exhaust is a nice detail on this model, being provided via three parts. The fuel tanks have been provided with separate grab handles, but I would again recommend that these details are added with fuse wire due the improved profile it will supply than the photo etch provided. A particularly nice touch from MiniArt, is the inclusion of detailed fuel lines. It is details such as this, that makes the model such a visually appealing, but at the same time makes the model one for the modellers with a reasonable grounding in the hobby.
The storage boxes are provided in multipart constructions, and so with a little work the modeller could have one or two of these open if desired. A good deal of effort has been put into the rear fuel drum mounts which will look very visually appealing and surprise surprise a plastic log - I suggest taking a walk and finding a suitable piece of wood. A wadding snorkel has also been provided, with a great level of detail should you wish to include it in the model.
The wheels have been provided with a very high level of detail, that will obviously benefit from some wear and tear being imparted to it. The drive wheels have good tooth detail, but removal from the sprue will require care to be taken or there could be damage to the teeth. The front return roller has nice detail on it, but I would be inclined not to secure it or the adjustable mounting bracket until you are ready with the tracks to be mounted. The tracks themselves are individual links which I know do not meet with everybodyís approval. The detail on each link is very nice and I do not believe that any body will have issues with them.
Moving on to the complex shape of the turret, MiniArt has tackled this with a number of parts that has allowed a very high level of detail. The detail in the turret even includes the turret rings, and then continues up to the split lid that accommodates the Commander and gunner. The main gun and ranging machine gun have been slide moulded, and I greatly approve as I detest removing seems from barrels. The main gun can be elevated, but that is stopped once the cloth mantlet is added. The hatches in the turret can be assembled open or closed; the actuator arm that aligns the light with the main barrel is well catered for, but is likely to break if you breathe on it too hard. The tow cables have been provided via the eyes and you provide the cable. There are number of products on the market, and so use your preference. MiniArt has however, included the length of the cable and taken away the guess work.
MiniArt has included six finishing options for this model and these are included in the attached photographs.
Yet another great T-55 from MiniArt, which while not for the beginner will be appreciated by those with some models under their belt. The finishing options provide the modeller with some of the most colourful finishes I have seen on this tank. My only concerns with the model is that it will test your abilities as a modeller and my gripes are limited to concerns about packing the decals with the clear sprues and not including the drill size for the holes that need to be opened up. In all other respects this is another great model from the MiniArt stable.