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 Western Powers were concerned. 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 and it would seem quickly lost its place on the battlefield. Rather than scrapping all of these tank destroyers the Soviets went down the road of conversion. One of these variants was the BMR-1 fitted with a KMT-5M. The BMR-1 is an SU-122-54 minus its weapon system and the hole blanked off. This offering from MiniArt covers this vehicle configuration well it would seem so letís take a closer look at the offering.
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 and two grades of chain link. 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. I also like that a clear film has been applied to each side of the photo etched fret by MiniArt. The two grades of chain are packaged separately in the card sleeve.
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 crew 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. This being a vehicle for detonating mines there is an armour plate under the hull to protect from the blasts. Some may not be aware that the underside of armoured vehicles is always a weak spot and that has only recently been tackled in many types of modern vehicles due to the prevalent use of improvised explosive devices.
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 are connected via the addition of a pin on each side which is a close match for how tracks are held together on the real vehicle. MiniArt does a good job when it comes to tackling track links in this way and so with minimal care the tracks should remain moveable for all time depending on you decision. I am aware that a good number of modellers are not fans of putting together runs of individual track links, but I do feel that these are a good method for providing realism in the tracks when it comes to track sag. My only complaint here is that MiniArt has not provided a jig to hold the links while the pins are inserted. 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 crew 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 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 crew compartment are the mud guards and again MiniArt has done a great job on locations that need to be drilled out but not again provided no 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. A very nice light has been provided made up of three parts and mounted to the hatch on the left side of the vehicle. Depending on what your needs are the number of hatches that can be open or closed is a high point in my book.
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 the 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. The variable blades are provided for the intake and so is an area that I like. MiniArt has provided a two piece tarp for the side of the crew compartment with photo etch straps, I like the straps but I may replace the tarp with a scratched item instead. At the rear of the engine deck is an unhitching log that is typically seen on most Russian vehicles and supplied in plastic here, I strongly urge every modeller to get some fresh air and find a piece of wood to replace this with as nothing looks more like a log than a piece of wood.
For crew protection there is a turret on the vehicle that is equipped with a well portrayed model of a KPVT 14.5mm machine gun intended for engaging ground targets. I have to congratulate MiniArt for the detail seen here as it is of a high quality. Another thing I like is that MiniArt has again utilised slide moulding on the muzzle of the MG. There is also a smaller calibre machine gun here that while having good surface detail has not been slide moulded. The conical turret that these weapons are housed in has a secondary circular turret around it for extra protection against mine blasts I believe.
The KMT-5 mine plough is the last area I looked at and I am very impressed. The KMT-5 is designed to either detonate, damage or break up the circuits of hard wired explosive devices. The device works by having 3 cast rollers with offset blades that are attached via arms to the vehicle using it. The arms are attached in pairs but are independent of each other. The rollers are wider than the tracks of the vehicle to which they are attached and so detonate or damage anything that would otherwise damage or destroy the vehicle using it. Strung between the rollers is a chain that goes through a rolling weight; I would expect this to detonate anti personnel devices but suspect it is more intended to damage cables that may be present.
The KMT-5 has been very well replicated in this offering as regards the rollers and arms which look to be very good replicas when compared to online photographs of vehicles fitted with it; while on that subject this device has been fitted to very many vehicles and I will not be surprised to find this released as a standalone model. I have seen the KMT-5 released with a few models and of all the ones I have seen this is the best thus far. Moving back to the clamps with which it is attached to a vehicle and I am very impressed that they are workable if wished. Every aspect of this element impresses me with the exception of one, the support cables. This has been provided as a moulded piece and I feel that this would be far better replaced with a cable such as those available from RMG Resin Model.
MiniArt has provided five finishing options for this model all serving in Afghanistan in the 1980ís. These options are:
Soviet Army, Afghanistan Early 1980ís
Soviet Army, Afghanistan Early 1980ís
Soviet Army, Afghanistan 1980ís
Soviet Army, Afghanistan 1980ís
Soviet Army, Afghanistan Late 1980ís
This offering from MiniArt should with the requisite ability build into a very appealing model. Considering all aspects of the model I can only critique the fact that the holes that need to be drilled are well pointed out but the size of the needed drill bit is not. I would also have liked to see cables included with the model for the retaining cables on the KMT-5A, otherwise this is a great model. The high points for me are that exquisite KMT-5A that is by far the best I have personally seen in all regards except the cables. Another high is the individual track links held together with pins as the detail provided is divine for a kit included product; I do wish a jig had been provided though. In all other respects this has the potential for a stunning model.