Home > Reviews > Russia > Miniart 1/35 Scale Kit No. 37003; T-54-1 Soviet Medium Tank - Interior Kit

T-54-1 Soviet Medium Tank - Interior Kit

MiniArt, 1/35 scale

Reviewed by Cookie Sewell


Stock Number and Description Miniart 1/35 Scale Kit No. 37003; T-54-1 Soviet Medium Tank - Interior Kit
Scale: 1/35
Media and Contents: 1,209 parts (1,102 in grey styrene, 84 etched brass, 23 clear styrene)
Price: US retail price US$79.95
Review Type: First Look
Advantages: Very nicely done and extremely highly detailed kit of this seminal Soviet postwar medium tank; excellent details on parts
Disadvantages: Still no transmission or radiator/fan assemblies
Recommendation: Highly Recommended for all Soviet Cold War and “54" fans


Aleksandr Morozov emerged during the Great Patriotic War (WWII) as the leading Soviet tank designer of his day and was the man who developed the T-34 from Mikhail Koshkin’s forward-thinking design into the T-34 combat tanks and the later T-34-85. But Morozov was not happy as the T-34 was not really “his” tank and always sought something equally as transitional for the Red Army. In 1944 he developed a new design that was completely different from past Soviet tanks, a medium tank with frontal armor closer to a heavy tank and a shortened hull due to a transverse engine and transmission arrangement. The new tank, dubbed the T-44, was a clear break from most of the previous thinking.

But the T-44 had a myriad of problems and it was not until the improved T-44A came out that the tank was seen as suitable for production. While some 1,250 were eventually built, one of the criticisms against it was that it was still armed with the 85mm ZiS-S-53 gun of the T-34-85 and SU-85 and not a leap forward. A second version was proposed, the T-44B now mounting a prototype 100mm D-10TK tank gun, but it was still based on the T-44 and not accepted.

Feeling he was on the right track, Morozov redesigned the T-44B and produced what became known as the T-54 Model 1945. But this tank still shared too much of its design with the T-44 and was rejected as well. An improved version, the T-54 Model 1946 followed, and while also rejected showed that Morozov was on the right track.

Following a series of “findings” by the well-known tank tester Kul’chitskiy the tank was now given a new track drive with a toothed drive wheel, a new lower hull with a shallower angle compared to the T-44 hull, new electronics and new systems and fire control. The new tank, the T-54 Model 1947, was approved for service on 23 June 1947 and entered production. 22 were built in 1947 and another 593 followed in 1948 for a total of 615 tanks. Production stopped due to many teething troubles with the new tank as well as findings by TsNII-48 (the central armor and ballistics lab for the USSR) that the turret suffered massive shot traps at the front and rear.

Over the years the tanks underwent capital rebuilding and while many systems were brought up to late model T-54 standards, the tanks generally were used in training regiments to teach T-54 crews how to operate the tank and its systems.

Miniart has gone to town with a new series of late war/post war Soviet tanks starting with their excellent T-44 and T-44M kits. Now they have branched into the T-54 family with T-54 Model 1947, T-54 Model 1949, T-54 Model 1951, and T-54B kits announced or released. Also these kits will come in both “Interior” versions as here or non-interior versions; the non-interior kit of the T-54 Model 1947 is No. 37014.

The factory and most Soviet armor historians refer to them by year of production, but NATO originally called them the T-54-1 (Model 1947), T-54-2 (Model 1949) and T-54-3 (Model 1951). That is where this kit got its name.

The kit does have a very complete interior from the bow to the rear of the engine, but once more there is no radiator, transmission, fan or oil cooler provided. The original has a flip-up rear deck and a flip-up radiator that permits access to the “guitara” transfer case, the transmission, fan drive, fan and oil cooler as well as other systems at the rear of the engine-transmission compartment.

The model is quite accurate for an original production Model 1947 with narrow steel tracks, thin cylindrical external fuel tanks, MDK smoke canisters vice the later 200 liter auxiliary fuel tanks, and the original “wing” machine gun mounts. It has the early post mount for the 12.7mm DShKM machine gun and the tarp for motor pool storage. All hatches (save the aforementioned engine deck) may be posed open or closed.

Miniart has gone to great lengths to replicate as many of the details as faithfully as possible on this tank. Only four sprues carry over from the T-44M kit (total of 100 parts) as they are common - engine block and details, driver’s compartment interior, engine deck hatches and new engine crankcase and details for the V-2-44 and V-54 engines.

Miniart provides very nice assembly and finishing manuals with their kits and this one is typical of their materials. Four full color finishing options form the end pieces and the assembly manual (directions) is in the center. A map of the 75 sprues in the kit (many are duplicates) makes finding parts a bit easier.

Assembly begins with the V-54 engine which is quite similar to the V-2-44 engine of its predecessor. No wiring or cabling is provided or shown and while easily doable will take a manual for the engine to match!

Next is the belly pan and torsion bars. The tank is a full production version so it has four lever-type shock absorbers that go on the 1st and 5th road wheel sets (early ones did not have them). Road wheel arms consist of either four or five parts each (based on whether or not they have a connector for the shock absorbers).

The driver’s compartment starts with the skid control levers and shifter, which has an etched brass gate for all six speeds (5 forward and reverse). Cable runs are molded together for simplicity.

The tank has both interior and exterior side panels, some of which need holes drilled in them and are called out in the directions. The complete “stellazh” fuel tank/ammo rack for the front of the fighting compartment is included as well as all 20 rounds and safety locks. Additional rounds rack on the sides of the hull. The engine is fitted with a six-part air cleaner assembly during installation.

Road wheels look good and while they have mold lines on them are not as pronounced as those on the Takom T-54/55 kits. Wheels are one piece with separate hubs and bearings. Hull assembly is very straightforward but as noted the rear fording doors for the radiator air exhaust and fan are closed as there is nothing under them.

All of the tanks (fuel and MDK smoke canisters) attach with etched brass straps and separate tie-down loops. Also added at this time are the “wing” machine guns to the fenders (it was only later that they dropped the wing guns and went with one fixed gun next to the driver in his compartment).

The turret has a full compliment of equipment to include five ready rounds and a radio set as well as various boxes for kit.

During assembly the gun may be left moveable or more details added to it which fix it in elevation. These are clearly identified in the directions. Sights are very complete with the gunner’s direct fire sight (telescopic) consisting of seven parts. All viewers are separate parts as well.

The DShKM mount is some 22 parts and fits on the usual rotating hip ring the Soviets used in that time frame (like on the IS-3 and IS-4). Last item to go into the turret is the SGMT coaxial machine gun of seven parts.

The rear of the turret may be fitted with the stowage tarp but also includes the foul weather hood for the driver (albeit folded, not opened up). Parts for one in the erected position is included though. Assembly takes 88 steps over 17 pages.

Finishing options for four tanks are included as are specific decal markings: Initial production batch Tank No. 6, UVZ, Nizhniy Tagil 1947 (4BO green with white 6 on glacis); Soviet Army, 1950s (4BO green, white split triangles, Bort Number 224); Soviet Army, 1950s, winter finish (4BO green with faded whitewash, while split triangles, Bort Number 226); Soviet Army 1950s, Optional Summer Camouflage for combat operations (4BO with brown and sand patches and bands, no markings).

Overall this is a truly stunning kit and one which (while daunting when you open the box!) is mostly styrene and well laid out. As noted if you are not an interior fan an exterior only kit is following this one.

Sprue Layout:

A 46 Hull, torsion bar mounts, details
Ab 38 V-2 engine, mounts
B 53 Gun details, ammo rack, interior details
Ba 21 Gun barrel, interior side panels, glacis, details
C 36 Final drives, engine bay internal details
Ca 35 Mud guards, rear plate, radiator louvers, details
D 52 Turret, turret deck and race, fenders, details
E 51 T-54 Mod 47 details -mantlet, hatches, turret roof, details
F 15x12 Track links
G 23 Driver-mechanic’ compartment, SGMT machine gun
Ga 15 Engine deck details, hatches
Gb 18 Turret ready racks, interior details
Gf 23 Interior details
H 6x7 5x 100mm rounds, guard
Hb 24 Engine block, mounts, details
Hd 8x4 Jounce stops, details
Hc 10 Cupola, details
He 13x4 Exterior fuel tanks
Hi 2x2 12.7mm ammo can
Hk 7x10 “Spider” road wheels, torsion bar, hubs
Hn 6x4 100mm round, ammo can, air tank, details
Ho 10x4 Road wheel arms, details
J 20 DShKM machine gun
Ja 9 DshKM mount details
Jb 14 Interior details
Je 23 Clear styrene
K 31x2 Idlers, interior details
Kb 1x2 Tow cables (complete)
Kc 9x2 100mm round, torsion bar mount, road wheel arm mounts
Kd 17x2 Drivers, idlers, idler mounts
Ke 27x2 MDK smoke canisters, hull details
PEa 72 Etched brass
PEb 12 Etched brass