by: Darren Baker [ ]
The SU-122-54 went into service in 1954 but really only made it made its in debut in September 1967 during Exercise Dnepr as far as the west was concerned. The West was very aware of this exercise due to the sheer number of Soviet Forces involved; I am led to believe that the Soviets dropped two airborne divisions and all of their support equipment during this exercise; I believe that means 144,000 troops dropped from how many aircraft. It was during exercise Dnepr that the SU-122-54 made its appearance in the field of conflict, but it is my understanding that the West paid little attention to this tank destroyer.
The SU-122-54 was based on the T54/55 and so was considerably different to the World War 2 SU-122 that was based on the T-34. While this vehicle was based on the T54/55 the wheel stations are different; the T-54/55 had more support at the centre and rear of the tank, where as the SU-122-54 has three supporting wheels centre to the front and two at the rear. While the SU-122-54 would seem to be a little known due to production being finished in as little as two years it is an interesting transition in Soviet tank destroyers. This tank destroyer a main gun in the form of a 122mm D-49, a much larger and different looking weapon to that seen on the SU-122 that was equipped with the 122mm M-30S gun.
This offering from MiniArt is packed in a cardboard tray with separate card lid, the card lid would be the weak point in postage situations. When it comes to protecting the kit after you have it in your grubby little paws I believe the packaging will do a good protection job. Inside is a single plastic bag that contains a further two plastic bags containing the sprues; inside one of these bags is another bag containing the clear sprues and decal sheet along with a loose card sleeve containing the photo etch fret. Packed loose in the box is the instruction booklet.
A close examination of the contents came next and I have to confess that I was unable to find anything that I would class as a moulding fault or issue. I did find a number of flow marks in the plastic and I have heard these referred to as stress marks, but I have looked at them closely and ran a fingernail over as well and was unable to detect a fault in the finish beyond the mark in the plastic that will be gone once painted. I also appreciate that the sprue gates are for the most part small and easily accessed. I like that MiniArt choice to package the clear sprues and decals in their own bag as the added protection keeps clear parts free of scratches and the same goes for decal sheets. The photo etch fret is packaged in its own card sleeve that would normally prevent damage, but there is a slight bend in the example I have here that should not however cause issues in its use. I also like that a clear film has been applied to each side of the photo etched fret by MiniArt.
Moving on to the various areas of the model
The lower hull of the model looks good due to having a nice level of detail on the lower surface. The side and rear walls of the lower hull have been provided as separate parts, this would normally concern me a little due to the potential for getting an angle wrong but this is saved via MiniArt providing the fire wall between the engine bay and fighting compartment. This approach provides the modeller with two cross members which along with the axle mounts should insure perfect alignment. I believe the hull tub has been tackled in this way to enable variations in the promised line of vehicles from MiniArt.
The suspension is a very well replicated portion of the model having a very high degree of accurate representation offered. The suspension can be assembled as an articulating element or a fixed level element; the choice is down to the modeller and is well covered in the instructions even if the English text is a little clumsy. If you intend to replicate the functioning suspension it will require a higher level of care on your part; I suggest securing the suspension arm to the torsion bar and allowing that to set before adding it to the model as this should result in keeping the parts able to move easier. The bell housing in this area is particularly nicely reproduced considering it will not be easily viewed.
The wheels on the model have a high level of detail present and should make a visually pleasing result. The detail present on the rubber portion of each wheel has been well tackled and while the detail is as on a new tyre it could easily be altered to the level the modeller desires. The internal detail present on the inner faces of the wheels should with careful painting look stunning and there are also alternate centre caps provided, but I do not know what the differences indicate. MiniArt has provided two types of idler wheel that look very different, but I cannot tell you what the differences signify. The drive wheels have a nice level of detail provided but take care during removal from the sprue as it will be easy to damage the teeth on the cogs.
MiniArt has provided individual track links with this offering that need to be cemented together; I am torn in my opinion of this. I like clip together track links as it allows me to assemble decent lengths quickly even though I add glue before putting them on the model and locking them permanently in the shape I choose depending on how secure the joint is, I am also aware that a good number of modellers are not fans of putting together runs of individual track links. Another issue here is that the tracks are added at the last stage of construction and so you will I believe struggle to get them in place. With that said the detail present on each track link is stunning. I looked at the recessed area of each track link under high magnification and in each recess where applicable there is casting data. I am not able to comment on its accuracy, but I would say that I see no other reason for providing that detail.
The rear portion of main gun and breech appear a little simplified to me even though a sliding breech block is included. I do know that Soviet armour tends to be functional rather than pretty and so I am happy with what has been provided. A nice part in this area is what I think of as a targeting machine gun a KPVT 14.5mm MG. This is made up of two parts and has very good detail on its surfaces and I also appreciate that the muzzle has been slide moulded by MiniArt. The mounting plate is quite a complex shape and again MiniArt looks to have done a good job here.
The fighting compartment is a large structure on this model and is made up of six main parts plus the roof and these look to be testing during construction due to the final shape of the compartment and so take care with the assembly of this part. A minor complaint here is that there are a good number of holes that need to be drilled before assembly takes place and while I feel that MiniArt has done a very good job of covering the location that needs to be drilled but the size of the drill bit is left to trial and error. Another element that needs to be tackled at the same time as the fighting compartment are the mud guards and again MiniArt has done a great job on location that need to be drilled out but not provided any sizes for those holes. The crew hatches can all be open or closed depending on the modellers needs and so an aspect I like seeing.
The engine deck is another area of the model that has been well tackled and provided with a great deal of detail. The hatches are again supplied separately and so could be displayed open if you have the needed details to place in void. The mesh for the air intakes and deck is supplied as photos etch parts and should look good once added to the model. I am also impressed with the effort that has gone into the exhaust.
An interesting and well portrayed aspect of the model is a second KPVT 14.5mm machine gun intended for engaging aerial targets. This weapon is stationed on the front of the loaders hatch surround; I have to congratulate MiniArt for the detail seen here as it is of a high quality and I was also pleased to see the effort with the ammunition belt. Another thing I like is that MiniArt has again utilised slide moulding on the muzzle of the MG.
The main gun has been supplied as a single moulding and so only requiring clean up of the mould seam. The muzzle brake is not as pleasing to me as it in two halves and could have been much better if slide moulded in cross sections rather than halves. The mantlet is a very well tackled aspect of the model and I am impressed with how well MiniArt was able to provide the detail in a single piece.
MiniArt has provided three finishing options for this model but they are very generic in nature. These options are:
Soviet Army 1950’s – 1960’s
Soviet Army Winter Camouflage 1950’s – 1960’s
Soviet Army 1960’s
This offering from MiniArt should with the requisite ability build into a very appealing model. There are some things I am not keen and one that I really do not like which I will quickly outline here: I feel that the tracks are added to the model in the wrong area of the instructions as it will I feel make life very difficult for modellers who follow instruction step by step. There are holes that need to be drilled in various areas of the model and while MiniArt has done a good job of indicating where the drill size has not been covered. The muzzle brake being in two halves is a disappointment to me. The one thing that I find very disappointing is that only generic finishing options are provided. A word of caution; you will need to be very careful when removing some parts as the finesse of some means they could easily be broken or otherwise damaged.
Now the plus points: The packaging is worthy of a mention as MiniArt has taken steps to ensure the product reaches you as intended. Overall the model should build into a very pleasing dust collector as my wife calls them. The loaders machine gun is exquisite in its level of detail with no additions needed by the modeller that I can see. The individual track links have an exceptional level of detail even having casting marks on the track recesses. Slide moulding has been well used in areas such as the muzzle of the two machine guns. I like that the barrel of the main gun has been provided as a single piece rather that two halves. My considered opinion is that this is an exceptional model that with care and the required skill set will result in a stunning miniature replica.