by: Mitko Nikitov [ ]
SU-122-54 is self-propelled howitzer, about which many of us havenít heard much. It sounds like Su-122 SPG, but it differs from it. The latter one is based on T-34 chassis while 122-54 is based on T-54. However, it features modified wheel spacing, which makes it a bit different from the T-54/55 tanks, thus harder for one to recognize the resemblance. Besides, it is larger than the original -122. And with bigger gun too.
The self-propelled howitzer is familiar object for many of the gamers, since this vehicle is used in War Thunder PC game and that probably brought more fame to it than its original history. That history was short and obscure, typical for Soviet projects that werenít produced in large numbers. Total of only 77 Su-122-54 were built. Of those, few saw real action, and those were late-types used in Hungarian uprising. Later on during its service career, the howitzers were converted to tractors and then fell into oblivion.
All of that makes it perfect for MiniArtís line. They love to make models about not-so-famous vehicles. Prototypes, pre-production tanks and such. Besides, it is part of the T-54 family and we all know that so far, nobody provides better T-54/55 kits in 35th scale than MiniArt. So letís dig into the box of their latest T-54 family member. The Su-122-54.
Ukrainian model maker provides a lot in each of their latest releases. The boxes are not perfect, but the effort must be acknowledged. There is usually a beautiful boxart, or at least for the Interior Kit series. The rest lack the background and show the vehicle picture only. Luckily, this one represents the complete artwork. Without being part of the Interior Kit series either.
So far so good.
The box is slightly thinner compared to T-54 series featuring interior. It is done in the same way, with orange sides, showing the options of the vehicle and some not so important info. The box itself is made from nice material, but I think that it can be improved. Especially cardboard thickness-wise.
Inside everything is packed into one big transparent envelope. It is neatly arranged and I have to admit, I was impressed how well it is organized. My box arrived slightly smashed, however everything inside was in perfect order and most importantly Ė undamaged. A proof that design works.
Beneath all that lies the
The outer pages are featuring the color schemes, thus are made from slightly higher-quality material than the rest. The difference is that the paper is glossy and shows nice colours. The quality is great overall, especially for MiniArtís designs which are abundant in details. Despite that fact, each step is clearly depicted and confusion is brought down to a minimum.
What I liked a lot is that once you complete some section, on the next step it appears to be in darker shade, so to focus on the elements that you need to add next. Simple, yet clever decision. The other important thing is that the steps are not overcrowded with details and information.
MiniArt kits are very demanding due to the myriad of parts that they enclose in each of their boxes. However, the instruction sheet makes it look simple enough and easy to follow through.
As with all MiniArt kits, we get a lot of plastic. Details are all over and they are often tiny. But what I would like to start with is the fact that for the last couple of years MiniArt uses different plastic material supplier. Currently, they are dealing with Western European company and the quality of the plastic is far better than before. Actually, in my opinion, if they didnít chose that path, they wouldnít stand much chances against the growing number of companies releasing new kits on a daily basis.
Nowadays we get no cracks or breakage of the elements. No useless and nerve-testing troubles. Only pure joy from the build. And it is long and challenging one, I can assure you.
Everything that can be broken down into sub-assemblies was exploited. That makes the kit not suitable for beginner modelers, but in the same time much more pleasant and satisfying for the experienced ones.
The detail is overall great. No doubt about that. But you have to have a great set of tools to get through the process painlessly. Cutters must be top notch and various sanding aids are in order. Good tweezers are vital too. And while without those you can finish any Tamiya or Revell kit, here quality of your tools is of great importance. Again Ė a kit aimed for expert modelers.
Prepare for many sub-assemblies, many small and intricate parts, which are combined with photo-etch every once in a while. And be sure that you have the time, because the kit is demanding.
What we get with this Su-122-54 are three paint options in total. All of them are from the 50-60s, which is pretty undefined, but is understandable considering the limited information about the vehicle. All of the vehicles are stated as ďSoviet ArmyĒ, but there was actually no need for that, since nobody else used them anyhow.
Two of the vehicles are pale soviet green with the sole difference of the markings, represented by the decals. The third one is more interesting. It is a winter camouflage and eventually it will provide more options and freedom of imagination for the modeler.
Interesting thing to add here is that some of those vehicles were used while filming WWII movies and played the role of German tank destroyers. So that will give an even wider perspective of modeling, especially for a movie set diorama and German camouflage and markings. The rest is in the hands of the gamers/modelers who can replicate their virtual vehicle into a model and there the options are probably endless.
Decals are provided by a company named Decograph and are made in Ukraine. Before, MiniArt were using Begemot. Obviously not any more. Some people complained about their previous decal provider, some loved them and claimed to be trouble-less. Whatever the case is, MiniArt switched and now it is too early to judge from a single perspective. However, they look very thin and the carrier film is barely visible. So the first signs of satisfactory product are at hand. I havenít tested those yet, so I cannot be certain, but since I follow MiniArt I see nothing but firm steps towards improvement only, so I could easily bet on the sheet here.
We have numbers and technical markings in Russian, plus couple of symbols. Not much, but typical for Soviet vehicle from mid-20th century. Everything back then was made in order to confuse and complicate, often beating whatever logic you might come up with.
This is one of the strongest sides of MiniArt kits. The thinnest and most flexible photo-etch elements on the market currently are theirs. Here, the sheet is not as big as the ones you get with full interior kits, but itís decent in size and will satisfy PE fans.
It features straps mostly, as well as some connecting elements Ė holding spare tracks, tools, rope and such. The biggest PE parts are the engine deck meshes, which are very close to perfection in my opinion. They are thin and flexible, which provides two sides of the story. One is, you can easily recreate damages, bents and what not, keeping the reality to the maximum. The other is that you can easily mess things up, due to the fragility of the element. And I speak from experience here.
I use to sand most of my PE before gluing and more than once, Iíve sanded some of the mesh while in preparation, damaging it beyond repair. So be careful in order to be happy at the end. Maybe even skip sanding. All in all, the Photo-Etch is at very high level and one can only admire it. Great job from MiniArt.
Interesting and rare subject. Clever engineering. Challenging build which will be enjoyable for experienced modelers. The price is low, considering what you get in one box. Enough photo-etch for the fans, trouble-less plastic material from MiniArt. Nothing much more to ask from a 21st century kit.