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 world. 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 with D-5T 112 plant, Spring 1944 with an interior.
MiniArtís release of the T-34/85 with D-5T 112 plant, Spring 1944 plus interior is packaged in a very 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 have had to tackle this one sprue at a time. Also packaged as part of this offering is a large photo etched fret with some nice detail parts and decals for three different vehicles. The photo etched fret is protected by a card envelope which seems to be working well for MiniArt on most occasions.
This offering from MiniArt is one with the interior elements, and so far as I can see this is a full interior with just the wiring loom missing. 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. An examination of the sprues reveals no damage in this offering but the risk is there. 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 overcome the potential issue with the firewall between the engine bay and crew compartment which enables 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.
Having not been inside a T-34 I do not know how much the interiors altered from type to type and for that matter factory to factory and so I will concentrate on what is provided while avoiding accuracy comments. The floor of the hull has a lot of rod detail moulded on it which does appear to go from actuating points and under the engine bay bulkhead and then to the engine bay and gearbox. The escape hatch is provided as a separate part with nice detail both on it and its locating point. I will say that looking at what is a complicated aspect of the model some of the locations guiding part placement in the instructions are poor; so take your time and be sure about where a part belongs before securing it.
The driversí position has what would appear to be a comfortable seat as does the machine gunner next door. The driversí position has the tillers, foot pedals and gear selector that are well replicated and these attach to the rail detail on the floor of the hull. In front of the driver are two large air bottles and a nicely replicated axe. In front of the machine gunners location is a storage rack with a good number of drum magazines ready for use, further drum magazines are stored to the rear of the driversí position. Behind these two seats is a number of ammunition storage bins located beneath the turret that also acts as the floor of the tank. The driversí instruments such as they were are located to the left of the driversí position. The right side of the hull stores unpacked shells ready for use, another store of machine gun ammunition.
Looking on the inside of the sloped armour down the sides of the tank finds fuel tanks taking up most of the space due to the suspension system preventing any other type of storage where ease of access is required. The engine of this model is very well replicated and only requires some wire required to make a great replica in every respect. The radiators on either side of the engine are angled and you will need to get this correct in order to avoid fouling of parts. At the rear of the engine is another bulkhead that separates the engine from the gearbox. The air cooled clutch is a great piece of moulding in its own right. When this is finished off with the gearbox and drives you have a great piece of visual appeal that will be appreciated by every modeller.
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 the interior aspect of the kit, and I have to say it has been very nicely tackled for those investing in an interior model as it will make display of the oily areas an easier option. The driversí hatch is nicely done and with the interior model you need to decide if you want the hatch open or closed, as you have gone for a kit with internal goodies I think open and that requires you use a specific part as the counter balance for the hatch. 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 the result of this is a great level of detail. 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. I have looked at another of the T-34/85ís from MiniArt and the differences are very minor in a number of cases with this example losing the tanks stowege on the rear armour plate and a different main gun
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 and the station on which they are mounted. 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. A note on the tracks which are glued and not workable is that you need to do a good job of the clean in order to get a decent fit.
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 that provide some of the interior wiring detail that would otherwise not be present. 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 replication of the ranging machine gun. On the inner roof of the turret there is great detail representing the air exchangers including the wiring detail. The only other detail is restricted to ammunition for the main gun and drum magazines for the 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 it is indicated that some tanks had extra protection by inserting extra track links to work as add on armour. 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.
Unidentified Unit, Red Army, Summer 1944
2nd Guards Tank Corps, Red Army, Belarus, Summer 1944
7th Guards Novgorod Tank Brigade, Red Army, Karelian Front, North Norway, Autumn 1944
I always prefer the finished models I build to represent a specific vehicle and so I am not a fan of the Ďunidentified unití options and that is why I am so 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 number of parts that are 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 there are none of which I am aware, but I have some concerns and they are all related to packaging that could result in damage.