Home > Reviews > Russia > Miniart 1/35 Scale Kit No. 37018; T-55 Model 1963 - Interior Kit

T-55 Model 1963 - Interior Kit

MiniArt, 1/35 scale

Reviewed by Cookie Sewell


Stock Number and Description Miniart 1/35 Scale Kit No. 37018; T-55 Model 1963 - Interior Kit
Scale: 1/35
Media and Contents: 1,454 parts (1,272 in grey styrene, 155 etched brass, 27 clear styrene)
Price: US retail price US$79.95
Review Type: First Look
Advantages: Extremely highly detailed kit of this interim T-55 variant; excellent details on parts; accurate road wheel layout
Disadvantages: Still no transmission or radiator/fan assemblies
Recommendation: Highly Recommended for all Soviet Cold War and “55" fans


When Leonid Kartsev was named first as chief designer for the T-54 series of tanks at Nizhniy Tagil in 1953, and later as the chief designer for the factory, he was interesting in carrying out what the Soviets called “rationalization” work on the tank to make it better, easier to produce, more amenable to use by its crew, and adapting the design to changing conditions.

As a result, in 1958 the UVZ factory in NizhniyTagil introduced the more developed T-55 medium tank which incorporated all of the advancements of the T-54B into a better crafted vehicle. This included items such as a new ventilator which was moved from the roof of the turret to the rear of the turret base, a new permanent mount for the two-section OPVT-54B snorkel under the two 200 liter auxiliary fuel tanks at the rear, a new and improved road wheel mount for Station 1 on both sides of the hull, and most conspicuously the removal of the AAMG mount with its 12.7mm DShKM machine gun from the loader’s hatch. At that time the Soviet Red Army had decided that all ground attack aircraft would be jets and too fast to be engaged by a manually operated AAMG on a tank turret. The tank entered production at Nizhniy Tagil and also at Plant No. 174 in Omsk.
During its production run the tank underwent incremental changes from year to year, but the basic design was not changed until 1969 when the AAMG and loader’s ring mount were reintroduced to deal with the new threat of attack helicopters.

Miniart has now continued its magnificent series of T-44/54/55 tank kits with this first version of the T-55. Surprisingly, they are very faithful to the design and as a result 788 older parts from the T-54B kit are carried over with some 484 new parts; many of the older ones are also not used in the new kit. It also has 155 new etched brass parts and 27 new clear styrene ones.

Miniart designates this kit as a “Model 1963" but none of my information shows such a model was designated by the factory. What it does do from what I can tell is replicate the changes made in 1963 for production beginning in 1964. This mainly includes the replacement of the original headlights with new waterproof ones, replacing the searchlight mount which was originally welded to the right side of the mantlet with a new articulated mount located to the right of the gun on the turret and linked to the gun barrel, and the auxiliary headlight added to the side of the mount. Most of the rest of the changes were internal to the tank.

As with its predecessor kits this one has 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. Miniart apparently made the decision that few modelers would want this area detailed, but I do have “hi Mom” shots of Soviet tankers in the motor pool working in this area.

Miniart provides very detailed but busy assembly and finishing manuals with their kits and this one is typical of their materials. This kit comes with TWELVE finishing options at either end of the manual. There are only (!) 91 sprues and two etched brass frets (many are duplicates) to sort through on this kit.

As with earlier kits assembly begins with the V-55engine which uses a similar parts breakdown to the early V-2 and V-54 engines.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. These are new mold parts with separate mounts for the torsion bars and many other small details. The tank has four lever-type shock absorbers that go on the 1st and 5th road wheel sets. Road wheel arms consist of either four or five parts each (based on whether or not they have a connector for the shock absorbers). This also offers up the upper and lower glacis mounts for engineer-equipment fittings (bulldozers or mine plows).

The interior starts with the fixed floor sections and 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. Note that the center section is designed to rotate with the turret when attached; with some finagling it could be left out and attached to the turret base later. 

This kit installs more of the interior before adding the sides which is unlike the previous kits. This includes the “stellazh” ammo rack and fuel tank in the right front and the controls for the driver and his SGMT machine gun. Again note that holes must be drilled in the inner side of the driver’s compartment.

The tank has both interior and exterior side panels. The left side begins at Step 18, and there are a lot of details which go on the inside. The right side follows with 100mm rounds racked up on its inside. Next is the firewall assembly which includes more rounds and internal assemblies to include the air compressor and controls.

The engine, firewall and air cleaner assembly are added next. Once the sides are attached to the hull in Step 35, the glacis is assembled and added.

Wheels and tracks start at Step 37 but note that the Station 1 road wheels are different from the Station 2-5 ones. Once the wheels are added to the hull, the hull roof is attached to the lower hull.

Next is the engine deck and rear louver assembly. This kit includes the internal armor deflectors for the louvers as well as etched brass screens. The two rear louver assemblies come with protective grill bars made from etched brass which will be a bit fiddly to install. Note that in assembly Step 51 it shows subassembly C - the protective cover over the fan for use in underwater driving - installed down. It can also be installed up leaning on the right 200 liter fuel tank so it will be your choice.

The right fender with fuel tanks and fuel lines is next. This one has the 20 liter oil tank and pump on the right fender as well. The kit provides for both early and late style pressed steel 95 liter fuel tanks so you also have that option. This is followed by the left fender with the ZIP bins and tools. Prior to installation of the fenders the tracks go on, with 90 links per side. The tow cables are added, but no wire or string seems to be provided and oddly enough only an asterisk indicates the cable. I could not find one in my kit so guess you are on your own, which seems odd considering how complete the rest of the kit is.

The auxiliary fuel tanks attach with etched brass straps and separate tie-down loops. Some may need to be annealed (heat treated) to make them more flexible however. This one also racks up the OPVT-54B two-section snorkel under the fuel tanks with etched brass strapping.

Assembly of the turret begins at Step 64. This tank also uses the “Tsiklon” stabilizer system plus the relocated ventilator and five ready rounds plus an R-113 radio set. It even provides for one round in the breech. Much of the basic gun and mount appear carried over from the T-54B kit, which is correct. The SGMT machine gun and ammo box are nicely done and the complete mount and gun requires 15 parts. The gunner’s seat includes ammo for the SGMT and guards so is quite an impressive subassembly. But there is a new level of detail inside the turret; also for once the gun is fixed in elevation due to the concentration on accuracy over operating features.

Externally you have some options such as the clear sight window or just the frame for the direct fire sight. Both the main and commander’s IR searchlights are also nicely detailed. Two lens options are given for the auxiliary headlight - either smooth (IR) or lined (white light). The mantlet cover comes in four sections to cover the beading detail but the main gun barrel is in one piece. Rain seal fittings are made of etched brass. 

The rear of the turret may be fitted with the stowage tarp but also includes the foul weather hood for the driver (here either folded and stored or opened up for installation on the driver’s hatch). Assembly takes 104 steps over 29 pages.

Finishing options for twelve (!) tanks are included as are specific decal markings. They are:

  1. Iraqi Army, suspected 51st Mechanized Infantry Division, Iraqi Freedom 2003; sand with black circles, white 22b;

  2. Vietnamese People’s Army 2000s, protective green, red circle with yellow star, bort number 208;

  3. IDF captured T-55, Six Day War, 1968, sand with registration number 609740;

  4. Egyptian Army, 1973-74, sand and brown pattern;

  5. Syrian Army, Yom Kippur War, 1973, tricolor sand/green/tan with black outlining;

  6. Cuban Army, 1970s, tricolor sand/brown/green pattern, white diamond and bort number 315;

  7. Finnish Defense Forces, 1973, protective green with roundels and registration number Pz 262-10;

  8. Ethiopia, Ogaden War, 1977, sand with red fuel drums, yellow circles;

  9. Iraqi Army, Persian Gulf War 1991, al-Khafji; sand with red rectangles, bort number 11A;

  10. Red Army 50th Anniversary of the October Revolution Parade, Kharkov, 1967, protective green with white trim, Guards markings, bort number 317;

  11. Red Army, 24th Motorized Rifle Division, Kiev, 1967, protective green with diamond in white circle, bort number 143;

  12. Red Army, Operation Danube, Prague, Czechoslovakia 1968, protective green with white cross striping, convoy marking 7 over 2-3 in white diamond.

Overall this the first of a series of T-55 and T-55A kits to come and even though having a heady number of parts are mostly styrene and well laid out. As noted if you are not an interior fan an exterior only kit is coming later.

Sprue Layout:

A 12 T-55 sides, hull roof, turret base, engine deck
B 53 Gun details, ammo rack, interior details 
Ca 48 14 x 100mm rounds, interior controls and details 
Cb 41 Turret floor, interior components
Da 62 Exterior details - lights, fuel lines, linkages
Db 46 Engine deck details, OPVT frame, louvers, covers, fender braces
Ea 13 Turret shell, mantlet, right roof section, details
Ga 1 D-10T2S gun barrel 
Gb 38 D-10T2S details, breech, recoil mechanism 
Gc 23 V-55 engine block and base elements
Gd 19 ZIP bins 
H 6x6 4 x 100mm rounds, guard
Ha 18 Fuel lines, covers, components
Hb 24 Engine block, mounts, details
Hd 8x4 Jounce stops, details 
Hf 19x10 OMSh track links 
Hj 2 x 3 Ammo cans
Hk 6x10 “Spider” wheel sets, torsion bars
Hm 8x6 “Starfish” wheel sets, torsion bars
Hn 6x4 100mm round, ammo can, air tank, details
Ho 10x4 Road wheel arms, details 
Jb 14 Interior details 
Kd 17x2 Drivers, idlers, idler mounts
Ke 27x2 MDK smoke canisters, hull details 
L 19 Turret, hull roof, new belly pan, details 
M 36 T-54B fittings, mantlet, engine waterproof frames, details 
N 51 Turret floor, stabilizer components, interior details 
Na 41 Turret interior, 100mm rounds, details 
P 55 Gun guards and details, radio, turret details 
Pa 13 Searchlights
Pb 12 Glacis, lights, wave breaker
S 40 T-54A/B hull sides, fenders, firewall, details
T 12x3 Hull details, shovel
Ta 4x2 Idlers, driver outside ring
Tc 16x3 Turret hand rails, hand holds, torsion bar mounts
Td 4x3 Shock absorber fitted road wheel arms
Ua 17 100mm round, SGMT machine gun, details 
Ub 27 Clear styrene
Ud 16 Left interior wall, left turret roof, commander’s cupola, hatches
We 3x3 95 liter fender fuel tanks
Wf 4x2 ZIP bins
Wh 18x2 200 liter auxiliary fuel tanks, tow hooks
Wi 12 200 liter tank mounts, tow cable heads, details 
Wj 6x2 Station 1 “Starfish” road wheels
Wk 3x2 Details
Wm 7x4 2 x 100mm rounds, details 
PEa 135 Etched brass
PEb 20 Etched brass