MiniArt has released several kits with interiors, over the last few years. To my knowledge there has not been released as yet a kit with a full interior. This latest release of a T-55 from MiniArt of a 1/35th scale T-55A MOD 1970 may just be just that first full interior. A 5 inch deep box is packed to the gunnels with plastic sprues, photo etch, clear parts and decals. To give you some idea about how packed the box, the instruction booklet has 4 pages covering the sprue lay out. The result of the quantity of parts in this model, results in 178 assembly steps over 44 pages and so should not be attempted by the faint hearted.
It is difficult to get your head around just how much there is inside the box, and as best as I can tell, all parts are as they should be, with no obvious moulding issues. The only unfilled space is the area is to the side of the driver and behind the ammunition rack.
The lower hull of the model is a multi part assembly, with separate side walls, rear and front, which would normally concern me as regards getting everything squarely assembled. However, with this being a full interior kit there is a lot for the sides to locate on, and be aligned with. The interior side walls of the model are separate that you attach to the exterior wall. To give you some idea, of how complete the interior is, a good amount of the cabling and piping is replicated in plastic form by MiniArt and as such I would strongly advise that only the modeller with a good amount of experience considers tackling this model. One complaint about this model is that a number of holes need to be drilled and while the locations are well covered; no drill bit size is included. From what I am looking at here, the modeller with the requisite skills will have a truly stunning model of a T-55. Everything from radios, to ammunition storage to the drivers’ position is present and covered to a very high degree.
The suspension of the model is workable, and so can easily be displayed on any surface that is desired. The suspension swing arms are moulded in two halves and are one of the few concerns I have, as hiding seams here will be very difficult. The wheels are provided with a high level of detail, the mouldings around the surface contact details is correct for a new wheel and so the modeller can heavily damage or abrade the surfaces and perhaps leave one undamaged wheel indicating it having been changed. If care is taken during assembly the road wheels, idler and drive wheel can all remain workable and rotate. The tracks themselves are very well done, being provided as individual track links with casting detail present, and so of an exceptionally good quality. These tracks are not workable.
Moving to the oily area of the tank, and in addition to the engine portion, you now also get the transmission and cooling fan section that was released as a separate kit not so long ago. If you are up to the task of building this model, the complete area of the upper rear deck could be left off; exposing all of the oily aspects of the engine bay and the filters can be assembled in a lifted position, which all adds to the interest of this area of the model. There is a reasonable quantity of photo etch, which will please the purists out there. But I should advise that some of it is very, very small, and it will be a case of blink and you miss it beyond finding it on the floor. Some of the lifting handles that are provided would I feel be better presented using wire, as it will give a 3 dimensional aspect to it, where as the photo etch will only be two dimensional. Another gripe about the model, relates to the instruction booklet which is very busy and will make it very easy to miss something, or make a mistake.
The track guards for the model are again an area where quite a bit of drilling will be required, and again no size is provided for the holes you will be making. The actual runners are made up of several parts, and that is before you get to attach any parts to them. Tool boxes are multi part offerings, giving the modeller the option to show them open or closed - although that is not covered in the instructions. A very nicely done exhaust is present, made up of four parts including photo etch. Tools that are added to the runners, have been moulded with no clamp detail in place and this means that the modeller could show the tools being utilised and the clamps that hold them still being present on the model. At the front of the track guard on each side, you need to add four photo etched ribs and a small photo etch locater, and I point this out so that any modeller taking this kit on is not surprised by the level of detail that needs to be applied. The fuel tanks stored down the right hand track guard will be fully plumbed in by the time you have added all of the detail. Tow cables need to be sourced by the modeller, using whatever material they prefer, as the tow hitches are provided ready to receive a wire into it. Fuel drums are provided for stowage on the rear of the vehicle, and these have been provided with photo etch straps and plastic clamp detail and so will look very good.
Moving to the turret interior, in addition to items such as the seating, radios and rotational drive there are also little touches, such as an AK47 rifle stored on the interior of the turret. Turret ammunition storage is also well represented, and while I have been unable to confirm placement of everything, what I have been able to identify location wise would seem correct. The internal turret machine gun is made up of several parts, and so provides a very good level of detail. This is then attached to a very nicely done main gun breach. The sort of details that I particularly like in the release is individual ammunition cans for the machine gun, placed in storage racks and locked in.
Around the interior of the turret itself, there are what I believe to be spall liners which adds another good level of detail. Periscopes are made up of multiple parts, and cover everything that should be present inside and out. The main gun barrel is a single piece moulding and so will only require the minimum of clean up. Turret hatches are detailed inside and out, and can be shown open or closed. The main gun once added to the model and all parts added will be locked in place. A model with this level of detail, should not really be messed with once assembled. Grab handles for the exterior of the turret, could be replaced with wire if preferred, and securing loops on the turret are supplied in photo etch and despite being a very small detail, I am torn between using the photo etch included or making my own with fine wire.
An unidentified canvas is provided for stowage on the rear of the tank turret, with photo etch strapping, and is one of the details I would probably replace, possibly using a cotton sheets or similar; most likely with a camouflage net. The anti-aircraft machine gun on the turret, is well catered to with a short run of ammunition belt, photo etch sights, and an incredible level of detail overall. There must be nearly 20 pieces of photo etch included for this machine gun alone; the barrel has been slide moulded and so no need to drill the muzzle. An optional extra included in this release, is the cover to go over the drivers hatch, so he can have his head out and be protected from the elements and have a better view to perform his role. The hood itself can be assembled open or closed, and has details such as photo etch wiper blades.
Five finishing options have been provided for this model, and I am very pleased to see these finishes being very different from each other, depending on the user you wish to shoe it in service with. The options are:
Soviet Army, Late 1970s
Iraqi Army, Kuwait, 1991
Republic of Croatia Armed Forces, Kupres 1990s ( One I particularly like)
Uganda Peoples Defence Force, African Union Mission in Somalia, 2010s
9th Mechanised Brigade “Marasesti”, Romanian Armed Forces, Exercise “Sabre Guardian” 2017
This offering from MiniArt is a truly stunning release that I would refer to as a very intensive build. Having been intimidated by some Dragon models, this kit knocks them out of the ball park. The amount of content and level of detail has to be some of the best I have seen in injection moulded plastic, and I defy anybody not to be impressed. If nothing else, the sheer fact that you are going to struggle, to get this anything like back in the box and gives you some idea just how much plastic is present, and the quality of the detail provided. It may seem strange, but for me it is the colourful finishing options provided for a T-55 in use with former Soviet Eastern European countries, that really grabs my attention and adds a huge amount of appeal.
I have had to use the company images for this release as my camera is being repaired.