by: Darren Baker [ ]
The Israeli armed forces have proved themselves very effective when it comes to facing off against the various Arab armies that surround them. The Israelis have also shown themselves to be great recyclers of captured military hardware and for that matter upgrading and repurposing their own military hardware as it becomes obsolete. MiniArt has taken the opportunity to alter their T-54 offering into the Tiran 4 spec used by the Israelis from all of the captured T-54 stock they had.
MiniArtís release of the Tiran 4 Sharir early type with Dozer Blade is packaged in a substantial cardboard tray with a card lid. There is a huge amount of plastic inside the box packed inside two plastic bags, there is so much plastic in fact that I defy anyone to get it all back in the box once unpacked unless kept in order. Also packaged as part of this offering is a large photo etched fret with some nice detail parts and decals for five different finished Israeli vehicles. The photo etched fret is protected by a card envelope which seems to be working well for MiniArt.
This offering from MiniArt is one without the interior elements, but some parts are still present which will help the modeller who wants to have hatches open. An examination of the contents reveals only one major concern to me as a modeller and that is the very fine nature of some of the mouldings that will be difficult to remove without causing damage or breaking them. With that said if they are removed with care they will add some very nice detail to the finished model, I would more likely use items such as fuel lines as guides for making metal replacements, but your opinion may differ.
The sprue guide at the front of the instructions covers two full pages and I am sure you will not be surprise if there are a number of parts that are not used in this example of the model. The high number of parts is due primarily to the approach taken by MiniArt with their models of late resulting in fewer new moulds being required for each release and so helping to keep the cost of models down. I do have a minor concern and that is that the quantity of plastic does expose the model parts to potential crush damage.
The hull of the vehicle has especially nice detail on exterior areas including the underside of the hull. The sides of the hull are separate parts that could cause issues with assembly, but due to the inclusion of an engine fire wall which fixes the issue before it arises and is a nice support for the hull top. By tackling the hull sides in this manner it has enabled a very high level of accurate detail to be included. The addition of the front glacis plate will help with the positioning of the hull sides.
The suspension of the model can be left workable if desired and so the model can be displayed naturally on an uneven surface. The tracks being supplied as individual links also adds to the ease in which the way the model sits will look natural. The wheels and drive wheels look good and as far as I can see were used on the vehicle by the Israelis. The wheels have also been designed in a way that they will rotate, while I can see a point to the drive wheel being moveable to make feeding the tracks onto the model easier I see no reason or benefit to the rest of the wheels being able to rotate. The tensioner for the idler wheel is an aspect that I would not secure in place until the track is added to insure a good fit. The tracks are supplied as individual links and so if displayed on an uneven surface the tracks will conform.
The panels that make to top of the hull are supplied in a number of pieces and so some though has been put into the model by MiniArt to make displaying the model in a sort of exploded view if desired, but that is not an aspect I look for. I am pleased to see the effort put into the engine as regards the vents as these have been supplied in photo etch and MiniArt has gone to a lot of effort where the rear most vents are concerned. The track guards are an area of the model that will please the detail fans out there but likely make a number of others swear about the number of parts used here. The detail and effort put into these two areas of the model is fantastic in my opinion and at the same time daunting, my biggest fear here is the fuel line that go to and from the fuel tanks positioned along the track guards which due to being fine will be easy to break.
The turret is the area of the model that interests me due to this not being an interior offering the inside is fairly bare and this will need to be considered if leaving the hatches open; with that said having an interior option for the model does mean that a very nicely detailed breech for the main gun and also the ranging machine gun having a good level of detail. Looking at the exterior of the turret I am especially impressed with the machine guns that are mounted on the turret, sure they could be improved with metal barrels or after market resin offerings but it is not a necessary step. I also like that the aerials are supplied in the box as these are hard items to get right from stretched sprue in both form and length. The turret hatches have very good detail on both faces and so if figures are placed in the openings a very nice result is possible. The main gun barrel is a one piece offering which has been slide moulded and I like that aspect of the model
The dozer blade provided with the model is a complex build in its on right and if my understanding is correct it performs as a ram as well as a dozer blade. Looking at the build process it will cause the modeller to exercise some advanced thought or I believe you will struggle with this aspect of the model due to the large number of small parts and that it is a part that can be deployed and stowed on the vehicle. I did quite a lot of searching for the dozer blade portion of the model and found nothing of note to provide you with and as such I was beaten. The dozer blade has been packaged for sale on its own by MiniArt as kit No 37030, so if you want to add this blade to a different model MiniArt has taken care of that as well.
The five finishing options provided by MiniArt for this release I am pleased to say are in some cases clearly identified to the best of their ability and are:
IDF, Military Manoeuvres in the Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea, August 1973
IDF, 1973 Ė 1974, the last 3 digits of serial number could not be identified
274th Tank Brigade of the IDF, Yom Kippur War, Sinai Peninsula, October 1973, the last 3 digits of serial number could not be identified
Military Parade on Israelís Independence Day, Tel Aviv, 1973
I am very pleased with the effort MiniArt has put into this model and also that they have chosen to provide the modeller with a family of T-55 tanks and their variants. The lack of an interior in this release does not detract from what is provided and let us be honest seeing the guts of a tank is not an easy thing. I am particularly pleased with the moveable suspension and individual track links due to the display options it provides the modeller. The main gun is fixed as regards elevation when added to the model, but in fairness I donít know how MiniArt could have overcome that without it costing detail.