by: Darren Baker [ ]
When it comes to success the T-34 line of tanks has to be considered the most successful in terms of numbers produced, how many countries have operated them and the time span over which they have been in use around the globe. The success of this family has resulted in a very large number of companies offering at least one T-34 tank in their line. MiniArt has now taken the step of releasing a line of T-34/85 tanks both with and without interiors. The approach MiniArt has taken of having a large number of sprues covering specific attributes has allowed them to use a mix and match approach to the line and so helping to keep tooling costs down. In this review we get a look at what is offered in the T-34/85 Composite Turret 112 plant, summer 1944.
MiniArt’s release of the T-34/85 Composite Turret 112 plant, summer 1944 is packaged in a substantial cardboard tray with a card lid. There is a large amount of plastic inside the box packed inside a single plastic bags, once out of the bag the plastic is hard to get back in well and I will be using rubber bands to keep sprues together. Also packaged as part of this offering is a large photo etched fret with some nice detail parts and decals for seven different 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. Due to the finesse of some parts I have found at least one part that is broken within the packing, that part is one of the grab handles that does not bother me as it can be used as a forma for a wire replacement. Another area of concern is the decal sheet being packaged along with the clear sprue which could easily damage the decal sheet.
Starting with the hull you may be surprised to find the hull sides moulded separately from the floor. This approach by MiniArt has enabled a very nice level of detail to be moulded on the parts, but it does mean care is needed during construction and MiniArt has realised that. MiniArt has included the firewall between the engine bay and crew compartment which provides a stable set up to be achieved with the sides and that will also help when adding the upper deck. I do suggest that the rear of the hull is ready to be utilised as a second data point and support for the hull sides. Due to MiniArt using parts for more than one kit offering there are a number of holes that need to be drilled in the upper hull sides and I am disappointed that no drill size is supplied.
The hull machine gun is very nicely detailed inside and out which is a nice touch. The engine deck is made up of extra parts due to this also being used for an interior kit, and I have to say it has been very nicely tackled for those investing in an interior model as it will make display an easier option. The suspension arms are not workable and so the kit is designed to sit on a level surface where display is concerned. The suspension arms are very nicely tackled and I cannot recall having seen better. The intake areas of the model are provided with photo etched screens that do add to the models look.
Areas that lift the hull are the delicate nature of items such as the grab handles which are I believe the finest in terms of thickness, but this does make them easily damaged both before and after being added to the model. The tools are supplied with clamps moulded on which I do not mind due to the ease of use. The tool chest could be left open or closed with very nicely done clasps using three pieces of photo etch. Grousers for the tracks are supplied as single items and this results in a great level of detail on the finished model. The detail extends to the fuel tanks mounted on the exterior with each element being replicated in its own right. The tow cables are not included in the model as MiniArt has provided the eyes and you supply the cable that meets your preference.
MiniArt has provided two types of road and drive wheel depending on the model you are intending to finish the model as. All of the wheels have a good level of detail and I like that MiniArt has made it very clear as to which wheels are needed for which finishing option. This model has been provided with individual track links that have some really nice details such as casting numbers that add that little extra touch.
The turret of the model is another area where you need to drill holes and again no drill size is included to help the modeller. Two armour shims are provided for inside the turret, but I do not see what is gained by this inclusion to the model. The raised cupola has been well tackled and I appreciate the inclusion of clear periscope lenses. With this model having aspects of the interior kits included we get some nice turret ring detail and a well detailed breech for the main gun and a good ranging machine gun.
Moving to the exterior of the turret and there is an exceptional detail in the form of a very subtle caste texture around the turret that really is very nice and I defy anyone to have an issue with it. The grab handles are again very fine and even the belt loops are supplied as photo etched parts along with separate photo etch belt straps. MiniArt has not tried to provide a canvas for mounting on the rear of the turret but they have suggested it, the result is the modeller is free to do what they wish in this area. Lastly the main gun is a slide moulded part and so a good level of detail is provided with a minimal amount of clean up needed.
5th Guards Tank Corps, Red Army, 3rd Ukrainian Front, Czechoslovakia, Winter 1945
2nd Guards Tank Brigade, Red Army, East Prussia, March 1945
Vladimir Mayakovski, Unidentified Unit, Red Army, Berlin, April/May1945
Unidentified Unit, Red Army, Berlin, April/May 1945
1st Polish Tank Corps, Germany, April 1945
Rogacz (Deer) 1st Polish Tank Corps, Germany, April/May 1945
Victory over Berlin, 10 Guards Tank Corps, Red Army, Germany, June 1945
I always prefer the finished models I get too to represent a specific vehicle and so I am not a fan of the ‘unidentified unit’ options, and so I am pleased to see some specifics to be included in the mix here.
This model has been moved into a high level offering due to the finesse of a large part of what is included, it is also a model for the modeller who is not afraid of small parts and photo etch. Looking at the very fine casting texture on the turret and the attention to detail makes this line from MiniArt a leader I believe. When it comes to faults I only have three and they are all related to packaging.
I found a broken part in the form of a grab handle and one piece loose in the bag.
The decals have a mark from being packed with the clear sprue.
I found a dent in photo etch
All of these issues can be overcome with a new approach to packing the contents so that they are better protected.